Unholy Laughter – Part 1
by Dr. Cathy Burns
In a previous article we looked at the origins of the March for Jesus. In this paper we are going to examine one particular phenomenon which some of the founders of this march are involved in. The founders were Graham Kendrick, Lynn Green, Roger Forster, and Gerald Coates, and the phenomenon to which I am referring is the so-called “holy” laughter.
Roger Forster, who also heads Ichthus Fellowships, and Gerald Coates, who also leads the Pioneer network of charismatic churches in England, are two among many who have endorsed this movement.(1) Coates “noticed limited incidents of people laughing and crying uncontrollably, or falling on the floor as if overcome by God’s power.”(2) He also learned of other churches in which people were laughing and collapsing to the floor.”(3) Charisma magazine reports:
“Without him referring to the phenomenon from the pulpit, the laughter broke out at his own church, Pioneer People, in southwest London. ‘We saw it happening throughout the month of May,’ said Coates, who also is a leader in the March for Jesus organization.
“According to Coates, congregations have been transformed since the movement began. In his own church there has been ‘a new spirit’ and a fresh generosity among members. Stories of changed lives pour into his office daily. ‘It’s a different church,’ he said.”(4) Coates adds: “This could be the biggest thing to hit the church in my lifetime.”(5)
Such a report of “changed lives” may sound wonderful but we need to know more of the background of this phenomenon before we jump on the bandwagon.
Holy laughter, also known as the “Toronto Blessing,” “a time of refreshing,” “another Pentecost,”(6) and “laughing in the spirit”(7) is encircling the globe including places such as Argentina, Cambodia, China, Switzerland, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden, Britain, Canada, Ireland, United States, and South Africa.(8) The person who is most responsible for this phenomenon is Rodney Howard-Browne, a South African evangelist who was born in 1961.
In his book, The Touch of God, Howard-Browne describes an experience he had in 1979:
“Suddenly the fire of God fell on me. It started on my head and went right down to my feet. His power burned in my body and stayed like that for three whole days….”My whole body was on fire from the top of my head to the soles of my feet. Out of my belly began to flow a river of living water. I began to laugh uncontrollably and then I began to weep and then speak with other tongues. “I was so intoxicated on the wine of the Holy Ghost that I was literally beside myself. The fire of God was coursing through my whole being and it didn’t quit….Because of that encounter with the Lord, my life was radically changed from that day on.”(9)
In 1987, Howard-Browne “prophesied that God would send missionaries to America for revival, which he has defined as manifestations of ‘supernatural signs and wonders.’ “(10) In April 1989, while he was preaching, some unusual manifestations began to take place: “People began falling out of their seats; some were laughing and others were crying.”(11)
By the Spring of 1993 Howard-Browne was attracting large crowds of people including individuals from Africa, Argentina, and Great Britain who were drawn to his meetings because of the unusual phenomenon of laughter taking place. Charisma magazine revealed: “No matter what Howard-Browne did or said, hundreds who attended the daily sessions always ended up on the sanctuary floor in helpless laughter. When the services were broadcast on the radio, more curious seekers showed up to join the fun.”(12)
This laughter can break out during a communion service or even when serious sermons are preached. Rodney Howard-Browne reported: “One night I was preaching on hell, and laughter just hit the whole place. The more I told the people what hell was like, the more they laughed.” “The Holy Ghost…might have you do something that no one’s ever done before, and he might have you do something that’s totally unique. But don’t question, and don’t argue, and don’t ask, and don’t try to devise and to plan it out but just follow the prompting of the leading of the Spirit of God and, oh, great and wonderful things shall be done, for God will move in diverse ways and with diverse anointings in these last days.”
Obviously, laughing during a communion service or during a sermon on hell can hardly be called the “leading of the Spirit of God,” yet we are being told that this movement is of God. For example, Charles and Frances Hunter, proponents of “holy laughter,” relate: “There is a powerful new wind of the Holy Spirit blowing, but it’s lots more than a rushing mighty wind! There’s an energizing, forceful sound that’s coming with this new wind of the Spirit and it is the exciting sound of joy, joy, joy, joy! Not only an inward joy, but it’s bringing a vocal joy, a holy laughter, right along with it. It’s energetically stirring us to higher levels with God!”(13)
The Hunters also brag: “The Spirit of God is swiftly moving in breathtaking and sometimes startling new ways, and people of every tongue and every nation are letting out what is on the inside of them….they are running at a fast pace to ‘Joel’s Bar’ where the drinks are free and there is no hangover!…one of today’s signs ‘in the earth beneath’ is the ‘holy laughter’ which is supernaturally overcoming people in services all over the world!”(14)
Jill Austin exclaims: “The joy of the Lord started with bubbling and ended with a flood of laughter in Toledo, Ohio, as the refreshing move of the Holy Spirit touched the people. We had never seen such a wide-spread outbreak of hilarious laughter hit a group for almost an hour. Adults and children acted like there was one big ‘swimming party’ and they enjoyed themselves to the fullest!”(15)
Unsaved Hippies Zapped
Can anyone be filled with this “holy” laughter? Apparently so! Howard-Browne enjoys “zapping” people with this anointing by commanding them to laugh. Of course, they don’t have to be saved before receiving this “infilling.” Howard-Browne “proudly says that he lines up on the stage a row of unbelieving hippies with their mohican haircuts and earrings, and then goes down the line laying hands on them and making them fall over, again and again, until they ‘accept the Lord.’ “(16)
Tricia Tillin reports that in one video of Howard-Browne’s meetings, she “saw little talk of repentance or holiness and there was no reverence of God. People were ‘zapped’ no matter what their lifestyles or circumstances, no matter if they were saved or not. The Spirit of God is not indiscriminate. Satan is!”(17)
The Bible clearly tells us that the Holy Ghost is only given to them that obey God (Acts 5:32). John 14:17 states that the world cannot receive the Spirit of truth. Ephesians 1:13 reveals that it was only after an individual believed that he was sealed with the Holy Spirit. Since “holy” laughter can be received by those who are unsaved, we can plainly see that this phenomenon is not of God.
Also, under the so-called “anointing” of “holy” laughter, some people even start to rip their clothes off.(18) There’s one place in the Bible which tells us about a person taking his clothes off. This individual, however, was not a Christian. Luke 8:27 tells us that this man “had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs.” In other words, he was demon possessed. After Jesus cast out the demons, the Bible reveals that this man was found “sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind” (Luke 8:35; Mark 5:15). People in heathen lands who get saved also have a tendency to put clothes on, but in the meetings where so-called “holy” laughter is taking over, people are taking their clothes off. Isn’t this fact alone enough to reveal to us that this movement is not of the Holy Spirit but is of the spirit of Satan?
Laugh Or Suffer The Consequences
Not only is this move not of God but people who attend these meetings are actually coerced into experiencing the laughter. Howard-Browne intimidates and humiliates people by calling them “ugly,” “sad,” etc., if they don’t laugh.(19) Al Dager even reports: “On several occasions I’ve witnessed him ‘slay people in the Spirit,’ and if they didn’t begin to laugh he would place his foot on their stomach and tell them to laugh. Some he would kick as they lay there, and accuse them of not yielding to the Holy Spirit. He would keep at it until they would obviously begin to force some kind of laugh out of themselves.”(20)
With such tactics, it’s no wonder that even Howard-Browne has described one of his services as “total pandemonium.” In fact, here are his own words: “I remember one service where I just went and sat down for an hour and a half. I just went and sat down. Well, there was nothing else I could do. Total pandemonium–people falling off of their chairs, people crying, people laughing and some were wailing–some were shaking. So, I just said to the people, I said, ‘Look, just come up when you’re ready and lift your hands and God will touch you.’ I was sitting on the platform–just sat there and watched them for about an hour and a half. People came right up, got to the front, lifted their hands–BAM!–on the floor. I just sat there. I didn’t even pray. You say, ‘What’d you do?’ I just sat there and twiddled my thumbs. I thought, ‘Lord, I wish every meeting was as easy as this.’ Now I had preached the word already and taught the word of God, and then I went and sat down. And they came walking up, got to the front, lifted their hands–BAM!–under the power of God.”(21)
Who Is In Control?
Some other phenomena that take place at these laughing revivals include: “shaking, jerking, loss of bodily strength, heavy breathing, eyes fluttering, lips trembling, oil on the body, changes in skin color, weeping, laughing, ‘drunkenness,’ staggering, travailing, dancing, falling, visions, hearing audibly into the spirit realm, inspired utterances–i.e. prophecy, tongues, interpretation, angelic visitations and manifestations, jumping, violent rolling, screaming, wind, heat, electricity, coldness, nausea as discernment of evil, smelling or tasting good or evil presences, tingling, pain in body as discernment of illness, feeling heavy weight or lightness, trances–altered physical state while seeing and hearing into the spiritual world, inability to speak normally, disruption of natural realm–i.e. electrical circuits blown, the ‘fire of God’ burning you that you have to remove some clothing, pawing people and roaring like a lion, walking like a chicken, howling like a wolf, digging the ground with hoofs like a bull while prophesying, flying like an eagle, throwing communion bread around to show your joy in the Lord, screaming AHHHHH as a mighty warrior to stop the preaching of the word of God during a service, incoherent babbling, pounding the floor with your arms while holding a conversation in tongues with the minister in charge of the service, feeling electricity shoot through your body, affecting electronic scanning devices in airports, etc.”(22)
Do the above disturbances and commotions sound like something that is Scriptural? Hardly! I Corinthians 14:40 clearly states: “Let all things be done decently and in order.” Think of the sacredness of a communion service and then envision having this bread which represents the body of our Savior, Jesus Christ, being thrown around and desecrated. Not only is something of this nature not “done decently and in order” but is it extremely disrespectful and blasphemous. Blasphemy and irreverence, however, seem to proliferate during these laughing meetings. For example, Rodney Howard-Browne calls himself the “Holy Ghost bartender.”(23) He claims he is serving “new wine”(24) and Charles and Frances Hunter refer to this as ” ‘Joel’s Bar’ where the drinks are free and there is no hangover!”(25) Howard-Browne encourages people to: “Take another drink…the bar is open….Be filled! We loose the power! Have another drink!”(26) Romans 14:17 tells us: “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Also, we cannot loose the power. Only God can do this.
As can be seen, the Holy Ghost is taken lightly. Not only is Howard Browne supposedly a “Holy Ghost bartender” but Frances Hunter makes mention of “Holy Ghost glue.” Describing her laughing experience, she relates: “We went to a Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship banquet in Houston….The man [the speaker] said, ‘Well, Jesus, bless Frances!’ Down I went faster than you could blink an eye, followed one second later by my precious husband!…I tried to get my hands off of the floor, but nothing happened. I couldn’t believe what had happened to me, because it was physically impossible for me to move….I felt as though someone had given me a divine alka seltzer because way down deep in the very center of my being I began to feel a most peculiar type of `bubbling.’…then it abruptly came out of my mouth in the form of the loudest laugh I have ever heard….no pressure on my mouth could keep the laughing back. I laughed, laughed, laughed and laughed….I stopped laughing just as quickly as I started, and suddenly I was released from the bed of Holy Ghost glue in which I had been resting!”(27)
Laughter Brings Demon Oppression
We opened this article with Gerald Coates (a co-founder of the March for Jesus) claiming there were changed lives from this laughing phenomenon. Proponents do point to changed lives and other seemingly positive results. However, Al Dager reveals that “there are also reports of demonic oppression, suicidal feelings, and loss of faith after the holy laughter experience.”(28) Obviously, such results would not take place if this phenomenon were of God. In fact, Galatians 5:22-23 points out that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
Actually, the spectacle of uncontrollable laughter and animal noises may be new to the church world but the occult has known such phenomena for a long time. Joy Smith, an ex-follower of Swami Baba Muktananda discloses that the Swami “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 overpowering they would find themselves involuntarily hyperventilating to cool themselves down.”(29)
We also find that Anton Mesmer, a Mason and the founder of “animal magnetism” or “mesmerism,” which was the forerunner of hypnosis, and who called his sessions “seances,” was able to cause uncontrollable laughter. One occult book gives this description of his sessions: ” ‘His patients sat round a large oak tub which was filled with water, iron filings and powdered glass, and from which iron rods protruded. The patients applied these rods to the afflicted parts of their bodies while Mesmer marched about majestically in a pale lilac robe, passing his hands over the patients’ bodies or touching them with a long iron wand. The results varied. Some patients felt nothing at all, some felt as if insects were crawling over them, others were seized with hysterical laughter, convulsions or fits of hiccups. Some went into raving delirium, which was called “The Crisis” and was considered extremely healthful.’ “(30)
Another report of his sessions reveals the following: ” ‘Some are calm, tranquil and experience no effect. Others cough, spit, feel slight pains, local or general heat, and have sweatings. Others, again, are agitated and tormented with convulsions. These convulsions are remarkable in regard to the number affected with them, to their duration and force. They are preceded and followed by a state of languor or reverie…Patients experienced more or less violent perspiration, palpitations, hysterics, catalepsy, and sometimes a condition resembling epilepsy.’ “(31)
Yet another interesting factor is that Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was called the “divine drunkard” by his followers.(32) Hundreds of people flew to India to “drink” from Rajneesh’s “wine.”(33) “Often referred to as being ‘drunk on the divine,’ Rajneesh encouraged his followers to come and ‘drink’ from him. Bhagvhan’s (sic) spiritual ‘wine’ was often passed along with a single touch to the head. Many of his Sannyasins [disciples] would fall to the floor in ecstasy after their encounters with Rajneesh.”(34) (Does this sound strangely familiar?! Something is wrong with the church when it starts to experience the same phenomena as the occultists.)
In an additional article we will look at several more individuals who have endorsed the laughing revival, but in the meantime, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1).
–Dr. Cathy Burns
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1 Tricia Tillin, “Is It Revival?,” Mainstream (Summer 1994), p.3.
2 Christian News (November 7, 1994, Vol. 32, No. 41), p.3.
6 Ed Tarkowski, “The Laughing Phenomena: From South Africa to St. Louis to Toronto to Your Church” (Part I), The Christian Conscience (February 1995, Vol. 1, No. 2), p.21.
7 Ed Spurlin, “Unholy Laughter,” Voice in the Wilderness (February 1995, Vol. 2, Issue 2), p.1.
8 Tarkowski, “The Laughing Phenomena” (Part I), op. cit., p.23.
9 Ibid, quoting Bill Randles, p.22.
10 Ibid, quoting from “The Good Life” program which was broadcasted April 20, 1994.
11 Ibid, quoting Bill Randles; Albert James Dager, “Holy Laughter: Rodney Howard-Browne and the Toronto Blessing,” Media Spotlight, (1995), p.2.
12 Tarkowski, “The Laughing Phenomena” (Part I), op. cit., quoting Bill Randles; Albert James Dager, “Holy Laughter: Rodney Howard- Browne and the Toronto Blessing,” Media Spotlight, (1995), p.11.
13 Albert James Dager, “Holy Laughter: Rodney Howard-Browne and the Toronto Blessing,” Media Spotlight, (1995), p.6.
14 Ed Tarkowski quoting David W. Cloud from O Timothy magazine Volume 11, Issue 9-10, 1994.
15 Jill Austin, Passion & Fire Conferences.
16 Tillin, op. cit., p.5-6.
17 Ibid., p.6.
18 Ibid., p.5.
19 Dager, op. cit., p.7.
20 Ibid., p.7, 9.
21 Tarkowski, “The Laughing Phenomena” (Part I), op. cit., quoting from a TBN video-taped service which was broadcasted on May 1994, p.23-24.
22 Ed Tarkowski.
23 Joel C. Gerlach, “Holy Laughter Is No Laughing Matter,” Christian News (April 17, 1994, Vol. 33, No. 16), p.4; Dager, op. cit., p.10.
25 Tarkowski quoting David W. Cloud, op. cit., p.22.
26 Ed Tarkowski.
27 Tarkowski, “The Laughing Phenomena” (Part I), op. cit., quoting from David Cloud, p.25.
28 Dager, op. cit., p.1.
29 Warren Smith, “Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion?,” SCP Newsletter, (Fall 1994, Vol. 19:2), p.14.
30 Alan Morrison quoting Richard Cavendish, The Serpent and the Cross: Religious Corruption in an Evil Age (Birmingham, England: K & M Books, 1994), p.249, 473-474.
31 Ibid, quoting R. B. Ince, p.249.
32 Joseph R. Chambers, ” ‘Holy’ Laughter” (Part II), The End Times and Victorious Living, (January/February 1995, Vol. 9, No. 1), p.1; Smith, op. cit., p.1.
33 Smith, op. cit., p.1.
34 Ibid, p.14.
Unholy Laughter – Part 2
by Dr. Cathy Burns
In the last issue we covered a phenomenon that is growing like wildfire in the churches around the world, which is called “holy” laughter. Other names for this spectacle are “Toronto Blessing,” “a time of refreshing,” “another Pentecost,” and “laughing in the spirit.” The person most responsible for this is Rodney Howard-Browne. We saw how the phenomena of shaking, laughing, screaming, heat, incoherent babbling, etc., that take place at these meetings have a parallel in the occult. In this issue we are going to list a number of individuals who have endorsed this new movement and see what they have to say about it.
There are literally thousands upon thousands of churches throughout the world that have been experiencing the laughing revival.(1) In fact, according to Charisma magazine, “an estimated 4,000 churches in England had been impacted and at least 7,000 churches in North America.”(2) This, of course, doesn’t take into account all the other nations where this phenomenon has erupted. Some of the biggest names in the church world have endorsed this movement. Many brag that this is a new move of God and that revival is breaking out. This, however, is not true.
Who are some of these “big names” promoting and supporting this happening? Here are just some of these individuals.
Rodney Howard-Browne (Rodney Howard-Browne Evangelistic Association)
John Wimber (Vineyard Christian Fellowship/Vineyard Ministries International)
Roger Forster (March for Jesus/Ichthus Fellowships)
Gerald Coates (March for Jesus/Pioneer network)
Billy Graham (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association)
Pat Robertson (“700 Club”)
Guy Chevreau (Minister)
Charles and Frances Hunter (Authors/Speakers/Healers)
Bill Bright (Campus Crusade for Christ)
David Mainse (“100 Huntley Street”)
Karl Strader (Carpenter’s Home Church)
Wallace and Marilyn Hickey (Marilyn Hickey Ministries)
Richard Roberts (President of Oral Roberts University and son of Oral Roberts)
Joyce Meyer (Speaker)
Leanne Payne (Disciple of the late Agnes Sanford)
Kenneth Hagin (RHEMA; Kenneth Hagin Ministries)
Paul and Jan Crouch (Trinity Broadcasting Network)
Ben Kinchlow (700 Club)
Jill Austin (Master Potter Ministries)
John White (Psychiatrist/Author)
Randy Clark (St. Louis Vineyard)
Leonard and Sandra LeSourd (Catherine Marshall Center)
John Arnott (Toronto Vineyard)
Paul Cain (Kansas City Prophet; Latter Rain teacher)
Marc Dupont (Toronto Vineyard)
Kenneth Copeland (Kenneth Copeland Ministries)
Richard Dortch (Former Jim Bakker associate)
Dr. Patrick Dixon (Author)
Hugo Anson (The Stable)
John Adlington (Vine Christian Fellowship)
Ron Atkinson (YWAM/Ichthus/The Stable)
Wes Sutton (Vineyard Church Loughton)
John and Eleanor Mumford (Southwest London Vineyard)
Jim Wilkinson (Hollybush Christian Fellowship)
Steve Chalke (Oasis Trust)
David Pytches (Kingdom Power Trust & New Wine Convention/St. Andrews)
Ewen Huffman (Carshalton Beeches Baptist)
John Hosier (Church of Christ the King)
Larry Tomczak (Writer)
Benny Hinn (TV preacher/Healer)
Oral Roberts (Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association)
David Bryant (Concerts of Prayer, International)
Jackie Buckingham (Jamie Buckingham’s wife)
John Sandford (Elijah House)
James Ryle (Boulder Valley Vineyard; Board of Directors of Promise Keepers)
Stephen Strang (Charisma magazine/New Man magazine)
The list of endorsers keeps growing and growing. Also, as can be seen, some of those who are endorsing this movement have millions of people under their leadership because many of these promoters have large radio and/or TV programs where they have great access to multitudes of unsuspecting people.
Now that we’ve seen some of the people involved, let’s look at some of their statements concerning the laughing revival. “For example, ecumenical leader and confidant of popes and presidents, Billy Graham, upon observing it, declared, ‘I’ve never seen so many people come to salvation in such a short period of time.’ (Fortean Times, #77)”(3)
“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.'”(4)
Guy Chevreau, a Baptist minister, is also a participant in this renewal. He remarks: “What we are talking about here is God’s manifest presence, such that He is seen, felt and experienced and folks’ lives are getting changed.” He added: “It’s redefining the church, reminding us that church shouldn’t be boring,” and declares the renewal is “a party with the Lord.”(5)
If so many people are getting saved, where are the changed lives? The Bible clearly states that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17). In the past, when revivals broke out, people were quite aware that God was working because restitutions were made, sinful habits were no longer being engaged in, and many other changes were apparent. However, with today’s so-called “revival” this is not the case. The proponents claim that lives are changed but the changes are not the type of changes that come with being “born again.”
Gerald Coates “noticed limited incidents of people laughing and crying uncontrollably, or falling on the floor as if overcome by God’s power.”(6) He also learned of other churches in which people were laughing and collapsing to the floor.”(7) Charisma magazine reports: “Without him referring to the phenomenon from the pulpit, the laughter broke out at his own church, Pioneer People, in southwest London. ‘We saw it happening throughout the month of May,’ said Coates, who also is a leader in the March for Jesus organization.
“According to Coates, congregations have been transformed since the movement began. In his own church there has been ‘a new spirit’ and a fresh generosity among members. Stories of changed lives pour into his office daily. ‘It’s a different church,’ he said.”(8) Coates adds: “This could be the biggest thing to hit the church in my lifetime.”(9)
Whenever “holy laughter” hits the congregations, the churches are different–but the transformation does not honor God. John Arnott, an endorser of “holy laughter” explains what is now occurring: “And so now we’re starting to see people prophetically acting like lions and oxen and eagles and even warriors… it’s a wonderful thing and we’ve seen it spontaneous… We had all four of those manifestations happening at the same time. So what did the man look like? He looked like a warrior, just yelling Ahhhhh!!!!….[It–Ed.] just may be the Holy Spirit putting an empowering, like a warrior, on them.”(10)
Another proponent admits: “‘One of the disconcerting aspects of this movement has been the animal sounds and mimics that some have felt compelled to make. There are “signs and wonders,” and almost everyone is wondering about this sign. Some of it is demonic. Some of it is mere human foolishness. Some of it is really inspired by the Holy Spirit. There will always be tares in the wheat, but this is something that the Holy Spirit is doing, and it is important.'”(11)
Rodney Howard-Browne himself has stated that he doesn’t care if the devil is present at the meetings. He comments: “You can’t have revival without stirring up the flesh….When revival comes you will see manifestations of these three things in meetings: (1) the Holy Spirit; (2) the flesh, and (3) the devil. But, I’d rather be in a church where the devil and the flesh are manifesting than in a church where nothing is happening because people are too afraid to manifest anything…Don’t worry about it. And if a devil manifests, don’t worry about that, either. Rejoice, because at least something is happening!”(12)
Of course, these manifestations are not of God. Larry Thomas, a minister who is opposed to this phenomenon, reminds us that in Jimmy Swaggart’s Argentina crusade in the late 1980s “there were literally hundreds of people…who would begin to laugh hysterically and throw themselves down on the ground. They would howl like dogs…they would roar like lions, they would make all kinds of wild sounds, and when these things began to happen, the ushers went and physically restrained them, took them out of the coliseum to a tent outside, and they cast the Devil out of them. But now when you do that, it’s evidence that the Holy Ghost is doing something great in your life! (Vineyard movement founder John Wimber also admits that, despite the current popularity of such outbursts in his churches, ‘there have been times in the past when we’ve attempted to cast demons out of people who made “animal noises.”‘”(13)
In spite of these demonic noises and manifestations, the phenomenon is supposed to be a “revival” and a move of God.
Richard Roberts, President of Oral Roberts University and son of Oral Roberts states: ‘[I–Ed.] went to preach in a church where revival had broken out in laughter and the joy of the Lord. Ever since that service, I have also been laughing, engulfed in the joy of the Lord.'”(14)
Roberts then relates “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.”(15)
Canadian religious broadcaster David Mainse has now endorsed the “holy laughter revival” on his television program, “100 Huntley Street.” He claims “that he waited a year before speaking out on the Toronto Blessing, and consulted with several non-charismatic church leaders to get their assessment. He says that Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright told him that he felt God’s presence in the movement, while church historian Ian Rennie told him that similar physical manifestations have accompanied revivals in the past. Mainse himself went to view the phenomenon first-hand before speaking out in support of it.”(16)
In February, Mainse and John Arnott (Airport Vineyard pastor) went to a conference in England where he was convinced that the current spiritual phenomenon is legitimate.
“‘I was busy being a fruit inspector,’ Mainse told an audience of 3,000 at the Airport Vineyard in March, explaining his delay in embracing the renewal. ‘But I should tell you that I found the fruit [of this movement–Ed.] to be very good.'”(17)
“Mainse believes the Toronto Blessing will contribute to a great revival, and said he expects that Billy Graham’s Toronto crusade in June will be visited with signs of such a revival.”(18)
“Estimating the number of souls God will reach through the laughing revival being globally ‘distributed’ through Toronto’s Airport Vineyard, Wes Campbell said, “‘And I’ll say this, and I’ll say it publicly, ’cause Mike Bickle said it for years publicly. The Lord has showed him that the Lord is going to bring in one billion souls in the sweep of time. A billion souls will come into the kingdom.'”(19)
As noted earlier, Pat Robertson also believes that God is “going to touch multiplied millions” through this phenomenon. In another program he remarked: “I do think we are entering on the greatest spiritual revival that has ever taken place in the history of mankind. It is going to build in intensity over the next five years. There will be literally hundreds of millions of people who will come to the Lord, and I think we can look to an incredible ministry time….”
“But I believe God is going to send a great revival in the next five years that will exceed anything that our minds can conceive. I’m talking about hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of millions of people that will come into the Kingdom, all over the world. It’s going to be fabulous.”(20)
In their article, McMillan and Thompson envision the joy of this great harvest associated with Tabernacles: “‘The manifestations of joy and spiritual drunkenness which we are seeing and hearing in these days are only the beginning of the great rain of the Holy Spirit that God promised to pour out in these times. They are a witness that He is bringing restoration and hope to people for the largest harvest of souls that has ever occurred–the Feast of Ingathering or the Feast of Tabernacles.'”(21)
Tied up with this belief of a last-days revival and a great harvest of souls is the supposition that the church will establish God’s kingdom HERE ON EARTH. According to those who promote this belief, after we take dominion of the earth again we are to set up righteous rulers and begin to prepare the kingdom so that Christ can return to earth again and rule the kingdom that WE have prepared for Him. Lee Grady “believes that God is establishing His Kingdom on earth THROUGH the diligent and gradual WORK OF THE GODLY….”(22) Thomas F. Reid declares: “We must make ready the world for Christ’s coming. The ayatollah could not return to Iran until his followers had sufficiently prepared for his return. In a profoundly deeper way, THE CHURCH MUST PREPARE THE EARTH FOR THE RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST.” Yet another promoter of this Kingdom Now/Reconstructionist theory is Earl Paulk. He writes: “In Matthew 24:14, Jesus clearly says that HE CANNOT RETURN for His Bride UNTIL she has demonstrated the Gospel of the Kingdom to all the nations of the earth. Until the church can demonstrate the alternative Kingdom, JESUS CANNOT COME AGAIN. God no longer has the authority to send Christ back to earth, because He will not circumvent His eternal plan. While no man knows the day or the hour, I can say with the authority of God that CHRIST CANNOT AND WILL NOT COME BACK UNTIL we have demonstrated the Gospel of the Kingdom to the nations of the earth. That task demands a mature church, which will have become an alternative to the kingdoms of the world. That is what the church is all about and JESUS CHRIST’S RETURN IS UP TO US.”(23)
There is one MAJOR problem in establishing the kingdom here on earth NOW. According to the Bible there will be a kingdom established ON EARTH but it WILL NOT be God’s Kingdom–at least not the kingdom of the Christians’ God! (For more information on this, see my articles “Thy Kingdom Come” and “Will the Church Be Raptured?”)
To achieve this kingdom on earth, these proponents claim that we must all come together as one united whole. Herein lies the problem. “Because denominational differences fade under the influence of the laughing phenomena, it will be very useful in bringing about the restoration of a united Church as well as supplying the manpower to handle the coming harvest.”(24) In other words, the laughing revival will play a prominent role in uniting peoples of different faiths and religions to help bring in the one world church that the New Age movement is working for.
David Bryant, founder and president of Concerts of Prayer, International, recently told his audience at the National Association of Evangelicals “that America is in the early stages of a true spiritual awakening–an unprecedented world revival bearing down on us. He said God is digging trenches with the tools of renewal among Pentecostals, Catholics…in His church. He said 80,000 people have gone to Toronto to see what God is doing….He said the Holy Spirit is in charge of the Toronto [‘laughing revival’–Ed.] movement, and this is one of the ‘feeder streams’ that is flowing together in the river of revival.”(25)
Jill Austin, another supporter of this phenomenon states: “Prophetically, the child Isaac, which means “Laughter,” is being released in nation after nation as the new wine is being passed….It’s a global move. What is beginning now is a picture of what will be worldwide….God is strategically stirring the nations and changing the governments of the world and the Church….I [am now–Ed.] REDEFINING the Church to prepare you for My Bridegroom.”(26)
Ed Tarkowski warns: “Take note of this: the stated purpose of the laughing revival is to bring forth the “man-child” of joy that will subdue the earth. National ministry leaders have now said God would impregnate, has impregnated, has brought that impregnation to full gestation and has released “the child” into all the nations to bring about God’s harvest of souls and His endtime army. But there is no mention in Scripture of such a prophetic utterance or release after the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, ‘God with us.’ Nor does Scripture speak of a release of any other spirit but the Holy Spirit, sent once and for all at Pentecost to announce the glorification of Christ at the right hand of God. This new move is founded on progressive revelation, ‘truths’ never heard nor seen before, a typical mark of the Latter Rain Movement. It’s no wonder, then, that ‘Sarah’s child’ sounds exactly like the Manifest Sons of God of the Latter Rain doctrines.”(27) (For more information the “Manifest Sons of God” movement, see my article “Thy Kingdom Come.”)
Sadly, the laughing revival is leading us towards the one world religion where Scriptural doctrines and beliefs are ignored for the sake of “unity.” You probably already know that when sheep are lead to the slaughter, there is a goat (called a “Judas goat”) that goes before them to lead them to their death. After the goat has guided them to their destination, he turns aside while the sheep blindly are led to destruction. I’m afraid that the so-called “Christian” leaders in many cases today are leading the people as sheep to the slaughter.
Remember how the animals noises such as lions, eagles, oxens, etc. have been manifesting in the meetings? Also, as was mentioned in my last article, Rodney Howard-Browne calls himself the “Holy Ghost bartender” and claims he is serving “new wine.” Charles and Frances Hunter refer to this as “‘Joel’s Bar’ where the drinks are free and there is no hangover!”(28) Howard-Browne encourages people to: “Take another drink…the bar is open….Be filled! We loose the power! Have another drink!”(29) With all this in mind, listen to the words of Jeremiah: “They shall ROAR TOGETHER LIKE LIONS: they shall yell as lions’ whelps. In their heat I will make their feasts, and I will MAKE THEM DRUNKEN, THAT THEY MAY REJOICE, and sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the LORD. I will BRING THEM DOWN LIKE LAMBS TO THE SLAUGHTER, like rams with he goats” (Jeremiah 51:38-40). This is an amazing prophecy when you consider what is taking place with the holy laughter movement.
As Christians we should have no part in this movement. “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:14 ).
–Dr. Cathy Burns
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1 “Charismatics and Promise Keepers Working Together,” Christian News (April 24, 1995, Vol. 33, No. 17), p.1.
2 Stephen Strang, “More, Lord!,” Charisma (May 1995).
3 Ed Spurlin quoting from Fortean Times in “Unholy Laughter,” Voice in the Wilderness (February 1995, Vol. 2, Issue), p.1.
4 Warren Smith, “Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion?,” SCP Newsletter (Fall 1994, Vol. 19:2), p.1.; Joel C. Gerlach, “Holy Laughter Is No Laughing Matter” Christian News (April 17, 1995, Vol. 33, No. 16), p.2).; See also Calvary Contender (May 15, 1995, Vol. 12, No. 10, p.2.; Ed Tarkowski, “The Laughing Phenomenon: The Abrahamic Covenant and Joyous Feast of Tabernacles” (Part III), The Christian Conscience (April 1995, Vol. 1, No. 4), p.17, 19.
5 Bill Randles, Weighed and Found Wanting: Putting the Toronto Blessing in Context,, p.22.
6 Christian News (November 7, 1994, Vol. 32, No. 41), p.3.
10 Ed Tarkowski and Sarah Leslie, “Promise Keepers: A Militant Unity?,” The Christian Conscience (April 1995, Vol. 1, No.4), p.18.
11 Joseph Chambers quoting Rick Joyner in “Rick Joyner & False Teachings,”(The End Times and Victorious Living, March/April 1995, Vol. 9, No. 2), p.14.
12 Bill Randles quoting Rodney Howard-Browne, op. cit., p.162.
13 Christian Research Journal (Winter 1995), p.6.
14 Ed Tarkowski, “The Laughing Phenomena: From South Africa to St. Louis to Toronto to Your Church” (Part I), The Christian Conscience (February 1995, Vol. 1, No. 2), p.25.
16 “His ‘Toronto Blessing’ Endorsement Brings Broadcaster Criticism,” Christian News (April 17, 1995, Vol. 33, No. 16), p.2.
17 “Mainse Endorses ‘Toronto Blessing,’ Christian News (May 29, 1995, Vol. 33, No. 22), p.21.
18 “His ‘Toronto Blessing’ Endorsement Brings Broadcaster Criticism,” op. cit., p.2.
19 Ed Tarkowski quoting from Tricia Tillin; See also: Ed Tarkowski, “The Laughing Phenomena: The Impregnation of the Church: The Man-Child of Joy” (Part II), The Christian Conscience (March 1995, Vol. 1, No. 3), p.19.
20 Ed Tarkowski quoting Pat Robertson on the 700 Club, January 2, 1995.
21 Ed Tarkowski, “The Laughing Phenomenon: The Abrahamic Covenant and Joyous Feast of Tabernacles” (Part III), The Christian Conscience (April 1995, Vol. 1, No. 4), p.19-20.
22 Lee Grady, “Debts, Deficits and the Collapsing Worldview,” The Forerunner (June 1986), p.16.
23 Ralph G. Griffin, “Dominion Theology,” The Gospel Truth (April 1988, Volume 29, Number 4), p.2.
24 Ed Tarkowski, “The Laughing Phenomenon: The Abrahamic Covenant and Joyous Feast of Tabernacles,” op. cit.
25 “Bryant Praised Holy Laughter Movement at NAE,” Calvary Contender (April 1, 1995, Vol. 12, No. 7), p.2.; Calvary Contender (May 15, 1995, Vol. 12, No. 10, p.2.
26 Brochure from Master Potter, Summer 1994 entitled “The Glorious Intruder.”
27 Ed Tarkowski, “The Laughing Phenomena: The Impregnation of the Church: The Man-Child of Joy,” op. cit., p.23.
28 Ed Tarkowski quoting David W. Cloud, “The Laughing Phenomena: From South Africa to St. Louis to Toronto to Your Church,” op. cit., p.22.
29 Ed Tarkowski.