Unholy Laughter

Dr. Cathy Burns

Part II

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.
7 Ibid.
8 Ibid.
9 Ibid.
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.
15 Ibid.
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.
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