I recently read the debut novel of a cyber-friend of mine. The novel, which is called The Resurrection, is about how spiritual forces clash in a small town, kicked off by the resurrection of a dead child. I wrote Mike a note after reading the book, and told him that it reminded me quite a bit of the novels of Charles Williams, who also wrote spiritual/horror thrillers from a Christian perspective. Mike also writes an excellent blog, and is on Twitter and Facebook.
Anyway, I asked Mike if he might like to do a guest post here at BHR, and here's what he sent me. I think you'll enjoy it. Drop Mike a note and let him know what you think.
Lord, Save Us from Our Stuffiness
By Mike Duran
There is considerable debate about whether or not Jesus laughed. In fact, a Gallup poll once found that half of all Americans thought that Jesus was not fun loving. One need only to look at His followers to understand how this conclusion could be reached.
Through the ages, the saints have frowned on laughter. By the 4th century, church leader John Chrysostom had declared that Jesus never laughed. This is why many medieval paintings portray Jesus as serene and always sober. Christendom’s sense of humor didn’t improve much over the next millennium. In the 1400s, the Council of Constance decreed that any minister or monk who spoke “jocular words such as to provoke laughter” would be damned to hell. See, this laughter stuff is serious business!
Apparently, laughter has always carried a harsh sentence in the Church. The famed British preacher Charles Spurgeon was often criticized for his use of humor. On one occasion, he answered one of his critics by saying, “Ma’am, if you knew how much I held back, you’d commend me.” Nevertheless, the Church is still full of gloom-inducing Pharisees. H. L. Mencken once defined a Puritan as a person with the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy. Is it any wonder many pastors are custodians of propriety, their stiffness akin to spiritual rigor mortis, and their houses of worship like museums of torture, with solemnity being the rack upon which their parishioners are painstakingly splayed?
Don’t tell this to the first-century believers. One of the greatest days in Church history was the day they were accused of being drunk. The Holy Spirit descended and a party ensued (Acts 2); thousands of new Christians “broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people” (2:46-47). Amidst the tongue-speaking, foot-stomping, rip-roaring revival, the only possible explanation was, “They have had too much wine” (vs. 13). What other reason could there be for such gaiety, especially when the religious leaders of the day were such unrelenting sourpusses?
And maybe that’s our problem – Nobody accuses Christians of being drunk anymore.
In his 1964 classic The Humor of Christ, Elton Trueblood suggests that we cannot begin to understand Christ’s life and teaching, without acknowledging the joy, wit and whimsy He brought to this world. In a way, humor may be the most neglected key to ciphering Jesus’ message.
Our journey to Christ-likeness means being saved from lots of things: bad habits, bad attitudes, and their eternal consequences. One of the things we need saved from is our stuffiness. I mean, how can we ever hope to woo people to Heaven, if our Leader can barely even crack a smile?
Yes! I can trace specific theology I adhere to back to the Puritans, but I'm sure they weren't nearly as stuffy as the common stereotype.ReplyDelete
My pastor has been preaching through the book of Luke. Jesus' parables often are downright ludicrous. The "get the plank out of your own eye"? He said that the Greek term for plank is referring to something along the lines of a 2x4.
And why would Jesus have loved the little children so much if He were dour?
Love this post! The Mencken quote is going on my FB wall.ReplyDelete
However you feel doctrinally about it, we were part of the "joy revival" in the '90s and witnessed people being healed, delivered, and set free from all manner of torment through Holy Spirit-inspired laughter. Some of those folks who testified publicly said they hadn't laughed out loud in YEARS. Can you imagine? If that's not demonic I don't know what is.
BTW... happy birthday, Mike! May the Lord bless your year to come with abundance, productivity, and "joy unspeakable and full of glory."
Matt Mikalatos and Mike Duran joining forces? The interwebz will never be the same.ReplyDelete
Good stuff guys!
Jesus never laughed? That is ludicrous on all fronts. Children were drawn to Him, He was accused of being a drunkard, and the last time I looked joy is a fruit of the Spirit.ReplyDelete
I am a Spurgeon fan, Calvinistic leaning, and I enjoy life.
What a great post! If using humor and laughing sends one to hell, then I've definitely secured a place in the pit for myself!ReplyDelete
I think when people become Christian and are reborn they think they have to give up their entire personality. Which is silly, because God gifted us with our uniqueness. I hope as believers draw closer to Christ and mature in their faith they can see the error in their bland, somber ways. But I fear if stuffiness abounds in Christendom that it is a sign that spiritual maturity does not and that many Christians are stagnant in their walk...
I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I touched a little bit on this topic here http://www.3-foldcord.com/2011/04/i-yam-what-i-yam.html
and even more here http://www.3-foldcord.com/2011/04/crazy-couple-chronicles-volume-1.html.
Beware though, I'm pretty open about my jocularity and strangeness.
Excellent post. I agree wholeheartedly that Christians need to laugh more (its good for the heart :))ReplyDelete