Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion

by Warren B. Smith 

LTRP Note: Several years ago, Warren Smith, author of Deceived on Purpose, wrote an article about the Holy Laughter movement. Because of what is taking place at the Todd Bentley “revival,” we are presenting Smith’s article.

“Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion”
by Warren B. 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….

[W]hen 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. Click here to read this entire article.

To read more about “Holy Laughter,” “Latter Rain,” “Kingdom Now,”and “Word-Faith,” movements, read The Other Side of the River by Kevin Reeves — One man risked all to find the truth and to save his family.

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