THE BLOOD OF JESUS CLEANSES YOU FROM ALL SIN AND GUILT (1 JOHN 1:7). JESUS IS THE DELIVERER!!
What is it really all about? God or Deception? "Joy of the Lord", or more demons invading the church?
In December 1994 I was watching Richard Roberts on TV giving a really good sermon. About 15 minutes into the sermon he involuntarily started laughing hysterically. My Spirit was grieved just watching. I never saw anything like it. A few days later I watched him again. The program was defending some bad publicity about all this laughter. Richard's wife was doing all the talking because Richard was just sitting there laughing with no control. Lindsey said she was rather upset at all that was going on until she was in church and "got hit with it". She said she laughed so hard that she completely flipped over the pew.
Next we saw Rodney Howard-Browne on TV at a church service transferring this "HOLY LAUGHTER" OR "JOY OF THE LORD", mostly by just pointing at people. My Spirit was again grieved watching.
Next I got a large postcard in the mail advertising an "EXCITING NEW VIDEO" for $23.50 called "The Laugh Heard 'round the World" from Lakeland, Florida. Here is what is printed on the card - "This video is absolutely fantastic! ...anyone depressed would have to smile or laugh real big before they finished watching it. Charles " Francis (The Happy Hunters) In 1993, South African Evangelist Rodney Howard-Browne held a Revival at Carpenter's Home Church in Lakeland, Florida. It was there that thousands of people received the Joy of the Holy Spirit and bubbled over with laughter! All over the United States, people have been changed by this wonderful manifestation of the Spirit! And now, through this unique video, you'll see real footage of the exciting things that happened when Ken and Nancy Curtis went around the world and shared this "Holy Ghost Laughter". You'll see evidence that the Holy Spirit is the same everywhere. You'll hear proof that He really gives you something to laugh about!"
Next I got out my bible and concordance and checked all the Scriptures about laughter and joy, and nothing checked out with this new "gift from God".
Next I received the below article from Spiritual Counterfeits Project in Berkeley California, in the fall 1994 SCP Newsletter, and thought I would share it with you. You make your own mind up.
"HOLY LAUGHTER OR STRONG DELUSION? by Warren Smith
I watched the video again. It was entitled Signs and Wonders Camp meeting 1994. Pastors of huge charismatic churches were stumbling around the church stage "drunk" with "holy" laughter. Wanting to testify to the fact that "holy" laughter had transformed their ministries and their lives, many of them were unable to speak when called on to do so. But their "drunken" condition became their testimony. Their halting speech was seen as "proof" of the "power of the spirit" that had come over them. The congregation roared in approval as pastor after pastor laughed uncontrollably and then fell to the floor. Standing alongside the "drunken" pastors was evangelist Rodney Howard-Browne, the self described "Holy Ghost bartender" who was serving up this "new wine" of "holy" laughter. Many Christians today believe that Howard-Browne is God's appointed channel for imparting joy and revival to the end-times church. Other Christians see Howard-Browne as a false prophet who is inflicting great damage to the body of Christ.
Early last spring the Spiritual Counterfeits Project received a fax from someone expressing concern about a new phenomenon called "holy" laughter. He said that a San Francisco Bay Area Vineyard Church was experiencing what was being described as "revival" and that the manifestation of "holy" laughter was being cited as one of the signs of this "revival." Church members and visitors were reportedly breaking into fits of spontaneous and uncontrollable laughter during their nightly services.
Later when I talked with several members of the San Francisco Vineyard congregation I was told how hundreds of people were getting "hit" with "revival"--how some people were getting so "soaked in the spirit" they would lose consciousness for up to several hours after falling to the ground with "holy" laughter. The Vineyard members described "holy" laughter unqualifiedly as "awesome" and definitely "the work of the Lord."
I learned that their Vineyard pastors had recently flown to a Vineyard church in Toronto where God had reportedly "touched down" and where "revival" had "broken out." The San Francisco pastors participating in the Toronto "revival" had then "brought it back" to San Francisco. It seemed that one of the characteristics of "holy" laughter is that it can be easily transferred from one person to another through the laying on of hands. Thus the Toronto "revival" had now "spread" to San Francisco. Nightly meetings were now being held at the San Francisco Vineyard to accommodate the streams of people wanting to get "touched" by this "move of God."
Within weeks of my visit to Vineyard I happened to catch a program on "holy" laughter on a local Christian TV station. The panel of guests were enthusiastically discussing "holy" laughter and endorsing it unquestioningly as a latter days "outpouring" of God's Holy Spirit. Comparing "holy" laughter to the "work" of the Spirit at Pentecost, they were convinced that "holy" laughter was completely authentic. They equated "holy" laughter with the biblical notion of joy. As far as they were concerned "holy" laughter was the "joy of the Lord." Scriptural references to joy were cited; testimonies were given; songs were sung; and by the end of the program I felt like I had just watched a one hour info-mercial on "holy" laughter.
Then, several weeks later, there was a program about "holy" laughter on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. While preacher Rodney Howard-Browne was giving what appeared to be a serious message, people in the audience were laughing wildly for no apparent reason. But Howard-Browne seemed oblivious to the disruption and kept on preaching. Then when the laughter was at its height he began incorporating all that was happening into his sermon. He said that the "holy" laughter they were experiencing was a last days expression of God's "Holy Spirit." He too compared the "Spirit" that was manifesting to the Spirit at Pentecost. He reminded his audience how those gathered in the upper room had been viewed by others as being "drunk" on alcohol when in fact they were "drunk" in the Spirit.
Howard-Browne's audience continued to laugh hilariously as he spoke of a present day "revival" and how "holy" laughter was ushering in this "revival." At the end of the service Howard-Browne shuffled around the huge assembly hall, now breaking into long fits of laughter himself.
As he walked around, talking and laughing and speaking in tongues, he began to lay hands on people. After he said "be filled" and repeated the phrase "from the top of your head to the tips of your toes" people fell to the ground in hysterical laughter. As the program ended, the evangelist continued to weave his way amongst the fallen bodies, many of them still convulsed in laughter.
Also during this time I was sent a copy of a flyer saying that Charles and Frances Hunter, the authors of a new book entitled Holy Laughter, were coming to Portland, Maine. The flyer said, "God is filling the church with holy laughter! Come and receive a baptism of joy! YOU will never be the same! Don't miss this unforgettable move of the Holy Spirit!" Another book on "holy" laughter entitled Fresh Anointing: Another Great Awakening, was also brought to my attention at this time. In it, author Mona Johnian describes the "hold" laughter "revival" that erupted in her Boston church after she and her husband attended a meeting led by Rodney Howard-Browne.
In the midst of this same two-month period there was yet another program on "holy" laughter. I was watching a locally televised church service and the guest preacher was Richard Roberts, the president of Oral Roberts University and son of Oral Roberts. His whole sermon was on "holy" laughter and how it had changed his life and ministry. He described how "revival" had come to Oral Roberts University. Roberts explained how he had canceled classes for two days so that his four thousand students could personally experience the "joy of the Lord" and receive the "gift" of "holy" laughter. I was not surprised to learn that the "revival" Roberts was describing had come through the person of Rodney Howard-Browne.
And then to round out my summer crash course on the subject of "holy" laughter, the August issue of Charisma magazine had Rodney Howard-Browne on its cover. He was clearly the man of the hour. The cover story on this by now wildly popular "Holy Ghost bartender" was entitled "Praise the Lord and Pass the New Wine." The article was yet one more endorsement of Howard-Browne and "holy" laughter. And what I was starting to realize was that all of the "holy" laughter I had recently encountered--the TV programs, the books, the various "anointings" and "revivals" could all be traced back to him: Toronto Vineyard, San Francisco Vineyard, the Hunters, Mona Johnian, Richard Roberts, and all the rest. The Charisma article described Rodney Howard-Browne as the "spiritual conduit" for "holy" laughter. But I wanted to know how Rodney Howard-Browne got his "anointing?"
The Charisma article stated that in South Africa, in the summer of 1979, Howard-Browne "spent hours praying for a deeper experience with God." In the midst of his prayers he is quoted as having told God, "EITHER YOU COME DOWN HERE AND TOUCH ME, OR I WILL COME UP THERE AND TOUCH YOU." Charisma said that suddenly in the midst of that prayer Howard-Browne's "whole body felt like it was on fire. He began to laugh uncontrollably. Then he wept and began to speak in tongues." In Howard-Browne's book The Touch of God, Charisma quotes him as saying, "I was plugged into heaven's electric supply, and since then my desire has been to go and plug other people in."
And certainly one of the most outstanding characteristics of Howard-Browne's "anointing" and the whole "laughing revival" is that it is so immediately transferable from person to person. Those "anointed" by Howard-Browne can now "anoint" others. And that is what's happening. The "Spirit" that visited Howard-Browne has exponentially multiplied as it has been passed on from person to person around the world. A video advertised in that same August issue of Charisma documents the spread of Howard-Browne's "holy" laughter. It is entitled The Laugh that was Heard 'round the World.
The "holy" laughter "revival" started by Howard-Browne is spreading like wildfire around the world. A recent conference sponsored by Toronto Vineyard drew 2300 pastors from countries as far away as Cambodia. They had all come to observe the "laughing revival" that was now being called "The Toronto Blessing." Even skeptical pastors were getting "hit" with the "Spirit" and then taking that "Spirit" back to their churches and towns.
Howard-Browne's "laughing revival" has now officially moved into the Christian mainstream with a recent endorsement from Pat Robertson on his popular 700 Club. On October 27, 1994 Robertson said this about holy laughter: "...what this says to me is revival is taking place in the world in a mass wave...and we look to the coming of the Lord. I think this is a very encouraging sign in the middle of all this trouble and all these wars and all this confusion. God is saying I'm on the throne and I'm going to touch multiplied millions. It's wonderful. I applaud it."
But what does the Bible say about laughter?
Last summer, after watching Rodney Howard-Browne on TBN, I consulted my concordance to see if there was any biblical precedent for "holy" laughter. Surprisingly, I found only 40 references to laughter in the Bible; 34 of them were in the Old Testament, while only 6 were in the New Testament. Of those 40 references 22 of them referred to scornful laughter, as in Nehemiah 2:19 when Nehemiah said, "they laughed us to scorn." Of the 18 remaining references to laughter, seven of them referred exclusively to Abraham and Sarah's initial disbelief and ultimate astonishment that God would give them a child in their old age. Barely into my study on laughter I was already down to my last 11 references.
In Job 8:21 Bildad, one of Job's false comforters, wrongly advised Job that if he were in right standing with God he would be prosperous and full of laughter. The Psalmist in Psalm 126:2 recorded that when the captivity of Zion was over, "then was our mouth filled with laughter and our tongue with singing." Proverbs 29:9 says, "if a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest."
With only 8 remaining references I had seen nothing in the Bible up to this point that suggested anything even resembling "holy" laughter. In Ecclesiastes 2:2 Solomon says, "I said of laughter, it is mad." Ecclesiastes 3:4 says, there is "a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance." Ecclesiastes 7:3-4 says, "sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth." Ecclesiastes 7:6 says, "for as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of a fool: this also is vanity." Ecclesiastes 10:19 says that "a feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry."
Interestingly the Bible's last three references to laughter--the only three references to authentic laughter in the New Testament--warn AGAINST laughter. These three references actually seemed to underline Solomon's contention in Ecclesiastes that "sorrow is better that laughter" and that now is a time to weep and not to laugh. In Luke 6:21 JESUS says, "blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh." In Luke 6:25 JESUS says, "woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep." James 4:9 tells us not to laugh but to "be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness."
I had searched the scriptures to find any biblical precedent for "holy" laughter and there was none. To my amazement, I had discovered that there were surprisingly few references in the Bible to any kind of laughter. Did this mean that God doesn't have a sense of humor or that people in the Bible never laughed? No. It just meant that laughter apparently was not something that God chose to emphasize very much. And certainly JESUS' last words on laughter--"woe unto you who laugh now!"--were not ones that would seem to give any encouragement to a "laughing revival."
The Lord says, "Come now, and let us reason together" (Isaiah 1:18. Here are some of my concerns about "holy" laughter and "the laughing revival."
(1) There is no biblical precedent for "holy" laughter.
Laughter is rarely mentioned in the Bible. Yet, when it is, the Bible seems to make more of a case for holy sorrow than for "holy" laughter. Scripture supports Solomon's contention that "sorrow is better than laughter." It does not support the present "laughing revival."
(2) Substituting the word joy for laughter is a non sequitur. It is inaccurate and misleading. There is no scriptural authority for equating biblical references to joy with the involuntary manifestations of "holy" laughter. Just because there are insufficient Bible texts to make the case for "holy" laughter, it does not follow that you can simply redefine the word laughter by substituting the word joy.
(3) "Holy" laughter advocates rarely, if ever, discuss the need to "test the spirits." The Bible warns us that not every supernatural manifestation is necessarily from God. 1 John 4:1 says, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world." Charles and Francis Hunter write in their book Holy Laughter, "Once you begin to walk in the supernatural you really have to be ready for anything and everything and never question the way God does it!" (p.65)
(4) "Holy" laughter advocates rarely, if ever, talk about the Spirit's express warning that in the latter times some people will be supernaturally seduced by deceptive evil spirits into following them and not the one true God.
1 Timothy 4: warns, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils."
(5) "Holy" laughter advocates rarely, if ever, talk about the Bible's warnings of false prophets who come in the name of JESUS but bring with them "another spirit." 2 Corinthians 11:4 says, "For if he that cometh preacheth another JESUS, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him."
(6) Many laughter advocates condescendingly discourage and even openly intimidate sincere Christians who question the "Laughing revival."
According to the August Charisma article, Rodney Howard-Browne "disparages" people who "try to apply theological tests" to what he does. The Hunters' book Holy Laughter refers to skeptics as God's "frozen chosen." Mona Johnian writes, "skeptics, hesitaters and procrastinators do not get anointed." She warns "that any person or church that wavered could be eliminated."
(7) Rodney Howard-Browne's prayer to God just prior to his "anointing" ("either you come down here and touch me or I'll come up there and touch you") was unscriptural. Howard-Browne's prayer was the essence "my will be done." It was not "thy will be done," as taught by JESUS in scripture. Why should we automatically assume that it was God who answered his prayer?
(8) "Holy" laughter advocates, in talking about "signs and wonders," rarely, if ever, mention the "Bibles many warnings about deceptive signs and wonders. In Matthew 16:4 JESUS warns, "a wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign." In Matthew 24:24 JESUS says, "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." In 2 Thess. 2:9 the apostle Paul warns of the coming Antichrist, "even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders."
(9) "Holy" laughter advocates seem to lay hands on almost everybody. The Bible specifically warns against this.
The eighth chapter of Acts describes how the disciples would not lay hands on Simon, a baptized believer, even though he desperately wanted the gift of the Holy Ghost, because his heart was "not right in the sight of God." 1 Timothy 5:22 warns us to "lay hands suddenly on no man." Yet "holy" laughter is passed on from person to person without so much as a second thought.
(10) "Holy laughter advocates blatantly disregard the biblical admonition that things be done decently and in order.
1 Corinthians 14:40 says, "Let all things be done decently and in order." Mona Johnian in her book Fresh Anointing says, "decently and in order! We must do things decently and in order. The Bible itself commands it, cry those who are frightened by that which is beyond traditional order" (p. 35). She advises her readers to "break with tradition" (p.45).
(11) The chaos and confusion that usually characterizes the "laughing revival: contradicts the Bible's description of the Person of God.
1 Corinthians 14:33 states, "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints."
(12) Laughter advocates rarely if ever, discuss the well documented demonic deceptions that have manifested in past revivals.
To combat the deception that arose during the Welsh revival at the turn of this century authors Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts wrote War on the Saints: a disclosure of the deceptive strategies used by evil spirits against God's people." Both were very involved with the revival and were extremely concerned about the demonic manifestations that began to dominate their meetings. The forward to War on the Saints warns of "the grave dangers that beset the path of uninformed enthusiasm."
(13) A number of Christians have experienced the equivalent of "holy" laughter when they were in the New Age.
Indian Guru Bhagvhan Shree Rajneesh was affectionately known by his followers as the "divine drunkard" because he was reputed to have drunk so deeply from the well of the "Divine." As a former follower of Rajneesh I met hundreds of Sannyasins who had flown to India "to drink" from "Bhagwan's wine." When followers were physically touched by Rajneesh, or even if they were merely in his presence, they would often experience feelings of great exhilaration and joy. Disciples of Swami Baba Muktananda would often manifest uncontrollable laughter after receiving Shaktipat (physical contact) from the guru.
(14) The "laughing revival" could one day merge with what the New Age calls the coming day of "planetary Pentecost."
Barbara Marx Hubbard, (revered New Age leader and a 1984 Democratic nominee for the Vice Presidency of the United States), writes in her book, Teachings from the Inner Christ, how the human race will soon experience a day of "Planetary Pentecost." Hubbard, claiming to be in contact with "Christ," writes: "the Planetary Smile is another name for the Planetary Pentecost. When enough of us share a common thought of our oneness with God, Spirit will be poured out on all flesh paying attention" (p.79). In her book The Revelation, Hubbard says "Christ," in describing the planetary smile, said: "an uncontrollable joy will ripple through the thinking layer of the earth. The co-creative systems, which are lying psychologically dormant in humanity will be activated. From within, all sensitive persons will feel the joy of the force, flooding their systems with love and attraction...as this joy flashes through the nervous systems of the most sensitive peoples on earth, it will create a psycho magnetic field of empathy, which will align the next wave of people in synchrony, everywhere on Earth. This massive, sudden empathic alignment will cause a shift in the consciousness of Earth" (p. 234-235). Writing in Happy Birth Day Planet Earth, Hubbard repeats what she heard from "Christ." He said, "as the planetary smile ripples through the nervous systems of earth, and the instant of co-operation begins, and empathy floods the feelings of the whole body of Earth, separation is overcome, and I appear to all of you at once (p. 10-11).
The controversy over "holy" laughter is already splitting congregations and causing deep divisions in the body of Christ. And while many people have already taken sides, there are many more who are still trying to figure out just what is going on. Is this really a move of God, or is this the kind of deception the Bible warns about in Matthew 24, 1 Timothy 4:1, and in the second chapter of Thessalonians?
Unity is indeed the heartfelt desire of every sincere Christian (Psalm 133:1). But the Bible warns of massive deception that will come at the end and in Christ's name. Before the Church--in the name of unity--free falls into a worldwide "laughing revival," we had better be sure what it is we are uniting with.
In reflecting on "holy" laughter during these very troubled times, I recalled a music special I had seen on television a number of years ago. In the midst of an otherwise polite Hollywood type crowd, a male vocalist sang straight faced and sober into the teeth of their celebration. His words were electric and piercing, and they seemed to hang in the air. He sang, "you're laughing now, but you should be praying. You're in the midnight hour of your life."
END-TIME DELIVERANCE MINISTRY NOTE: Of all the ministries I know which are involved with this "holy" laughter, I don't know of any of them who teach DELIVERANCE or believe that Christians can and do have demons, and especially they don't think THEY have demons.
"HOLY LAUGHTER" UPDATE
We received several letters concerning the "holy laughter" article in the March 1996 Newsletter.
"Concerning your article on "Holy Laughter", I'm not saying whether it's of God or not. I just want to tell you something I read recently. This is from a book entitled, "Smith Wigglesworth--Apostle of Faith", written by "Stanley Howard Frodsham". The following is found on page 47.
It says, "I (Smith w.) Was giving out the last hymn when the secretary of the mission stood up and said, "I want what our leader has received." The strange thing was that when he was about to sit down he missed his seat and went right down on the floor. Then my oldest son arose and said he wanted what his father had, and he, too, took his seat right down on the floor. In a short while there were eleven people right on the floor of that mission. The strangest thing was that they were all laughing in the Spirit and laughing at one another. The Lord had really turned again the captivity of Zion and the mouth of His children was being filled with laughter according to the word of the Lord in Psalm 126:2."
Another wrote: "Just went through your paper and it is excellent. Only a few of us here have not fell for this laughter ministry. Those who endorse it, do not use "The Word"."
Another wrote: "In regards to the new movement which is called "holy laughter", it is said to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. I believe we had better seek the Lord's guidance and wisdom in this movement. During prayer I sought the Lord's spirit of truth in this area. The words I received was that it was a form of hypnosis. Do not participate in it. It's once again causing division within the body of Christ and we should be trying to get strength and unity and encouragement with one another. I've been in churches when this uncontrollable laughter occurs. It was very disturbing to my spirit. It caused confusion to say the least. The different camps that are advocating this movement have said several things in letter form and verbally to me. The attitude or spirit is one of arrogance, compromise, rudeness, haughtiness and control. It's been said that if we question it and analyze it we can lose our gifts and anointing with the Lord, contrary to Romans 11:28 which says that they are irrevocable. The letter given to me said and I quote, "Don't question it". I do not think God speaks this way. I believe He wants us to test it. By accepting this statement we are opening ourselves up to controlling demons. I believe the Lord allows laughter and wants us to show and have joy, but not in the manner in which it seems to be happening. Decently and in order it is not. The word of God is put on a back burner so everyone can have a good laugh for themselves. God forbid. We need the joy of the Lord which is our strength. But uncontrollable laughter does not seem to fit in with the Scriptures. It may be a temporary reprieve from a downcast spirit but it is not a permanent healing. The Lord, His Word, His Blood, His Presence, His Truth and our own personal relationship and growth will set us free. Lord help us not to be deceived and let your truth come forth. In the name of JESUS Christ."
If you are on the DELIVERANCE referral list and you are actively involved in the "holy laughter" movement, I would like to take your name off our list. We don't want you transferring this spirit to people seeking help from other problems.
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