Brought to you by
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
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
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
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
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
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
The Lord says, "Come now, and let us reason together" (Isaiah 1:18.
Here are some of my concerns about "holy" laughter and "the
[b](1) There is no biblical precedent for "holy" laughter.[/b]
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."
[b](2) Substituting the word joy for laughter is a non sequitur. It is
inaccurate and misleading.[/b]
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.
[b](3) "Holy" laughter advocates rarely, if ever, discuss the need
to "test the spirits."[/b]
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)
[b](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.[/b]
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."
[b](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
(6) Many laughter advocates condescendingly discourage and even openly
intimidate sincere Christians who question the "laughing
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."
[b](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.[/b]
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?
[b](8) "Holy" laughter advocates, in talking about "signs and
wonders," rarely, if ever, mention the Bible's many warnings about
deceptive signs and wonders.[/b]
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."
[b](9) "Holy" laughter advocates seem to lay hands on almost
everybody. The Bible specifically warns against this.[/b]
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.
[b](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).
[b] (11) The chaos and confusion that usually characterizes the
"laughing revival: contradicts the Bible's description of the Person of
1 Corinthians 14:33 states, "For God is not the author of confusion, but
of peace, as in all churches of the saints."
[b](12) Laughter advocates rarely if ever, discuss the well documented
demonic deceptions that have manifested in past revivals.[/b]
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."
[b](13) A number of Christians have experienced the equivalent of
"holy" laughter when they were in the New Age.[/b]
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.
[b](14) The "laughing revival" could one day merge with what the
New Age calls the coming day of "planetary Pentecost."[/b]
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."
Some Examples of Holy Laughter in Other Religions
1) Kundalini Energy is typically described as a
powerful energy source lying dormant in the form of a coiled serpent at the
base of the human spine. When freed it reputedly has the capacity to effect great physical healings. Christina and Stanislov Grof, New Age authors
of the book The Stormy Search for the Self, describe how the awakening of Kundalini energy can be triggered by an advanced
spiritual teacher or guru. And how the awakening can bring up memories of
past psychological traumas. The Grofs state that
"individuals involved in this process might find it difficult to control
their behavior; during power rushes of Kundalini
energy, they often emit various involuntary sounds, and their bodies move in
strange and unexpected patterns. Among the most common manifestations . . .
are unmotivated and unnatural laughter or crying, talking tongues . . . and
imitating a variety of animal sounds and movements" (p. 78-79). The Grofs state that "careful study of the
manifestations of Kundalini awakening confirm that
this process, although sometimes very intense and shattering, is essentially
Bwagwhan Shree Rajneesh, the former Oregon guru
tells one of his followers in his book, Dance Your Way To God, "just be
joyful . . . God is not serious . . . this world cannot fit with a
theological god . . . so let this be your constant reminder - that you have
to dance your way to God, to laugh your way to God" (p. 229). Often
referred to as being "drunk on the divine," Rajneesh encouraged his
followers to come and "drink" from him. Bahgvan's
spiritual "wine" was often passed along with a single touch to the
head. Many of his Sannyasins would fall to the
floor in ecstasy after their encounters with Rajneesh.
Ramakrishna, an Indian saint, "daily went into 'samahdi,'
a trance in which one involuntarily falls down unconscious and enters a
rapturous state of super-conscious bliss (ananda),
complete with beautiful visions and often involving astral projection. These
states could last anywhere from a few minutes to several days and were often
accompanied by uncontrollable laughter or weeping. He could send others into
this state with a single touch to the head or chest" (unpublished
article by John Rice on file at SCP).
Swami Baba Muktanada would transfer what was called
"guru's grace" to his followers through Shaktipat
(physical touch). This "grace" triggered the gradual awakening of
the Kundalini which in turn produced various
physical and emotional manifestations. Manifestations included uncontrollable
laughing, roaring, barking, hissing, crying, shaking, etc. Some devotees
became mute or unconscious. Many felt themselves being infused with feelings
of great joy and peace and love. At other times the "fire" of Kundalini was so overwhelming they would find themselves
involuntarily hyperventilating to cool themselves down (Per former Muktananda follower Joy Smith).
2) African Kung Bushmen of the Kalahari. The Grofs,
in their book The Stormy Search For The Self , also
cite an interesting parallel between the Kundalini
awakening and the trance dance of the African Kung bushmen. During rituals
the bushmen “enter a profound altered state of consciousness associated with
the release of powerful emotions such as anger, anxiety, and fear. They are
often unable to maintain an upright position and are overcome by violent
shaking. Following these dramatic experiences, they typically enter a state
of ecstatic rapture. According to the bushmen tradition, the dance releases
from the base of the spine a cosmic healing force called ntum
or ‘medicine.’ This is then passed by direct physical contact from one person
3) Qigong (ancient Chinese practice) Yan Xin, a
Chinese Qigong master known to most of the over one billion people in China,
gave a talk in San Francisco in 1991. Seventeen hundred devotees, most of them
Chinese, showed up at the Masonic auditorium to listen to Yan. The San
Francisco Chronicle on 5/16/91 reported that "minutes into his talk,
several began experiencing what Yan Xin calls
spontaneous movements." The Chronicle reporter said that "before long,
the scene resembled a Pentecostal prayer meeting with many people waving
their arms and making unintelligible sounds." Yan told his audience,
"Those who are sensitive might start having some strong physical
sensations - or start laughing or crying. Don't worry. This is quite
normal." The article said that "since 1985, when a Qigong revival
started sweeping China, 50 to 60 million Chinese have gone to see Yan."
4) Subud. According to The Encyclopedia of American
Religions by J. Gordon Melton, the central element of the Subud
faith is the practice of "latihan." Latihan is the way one surrenders to the power of God. It
is a group process. The Encyclopedia says, "the latihan
proper is a time of moving the consciousness beyond mind and desire and
allowing the power to enter and do its work. . . . often
accompanying the spontaneous period are various body movements and vocal
manifestations - cries, moans, laughter and singing. These occur in the
voluntary surrender of the self to the power. During this time, people report
sensations of love and freedom and often, healings. All reach a higher level
By Warren Smith
of Hope has a lot more about movements and faiths
follow on twitter http://twitter.com/MinistryOfHope
The following Video’s show the LAUGHTER MANIFESTATION
For the first time in the ministry of Kenneth Hagin,
and Gloria Copeland participating in the Laughter manifestation.
Next Video, Rodney Howard Brown en Richard Roberts, son of Oral
home pages of Ministry of Hope