Laughing with God
A lecture summary of distinguished scholar Terry Lindvall.
As part of the Distinguished Lecturer series, prominent scholar, Terry Lindvall, led an audience of students, faculty, and visitors through a humorous view of Christian history with his speech on “The Mocking of God: A History, Theology, and Ethics of Christian Satire.”
Lindvall points out many areas of the Bible that are comical, and states that God regularly uses satire to teach us lessons. He explains that “laughter is a reward for following Jesus,” using Luke 6:21 as an example: “...Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” God is promising the gift of humour to those who are in gloomy situations. Even Elijah offers a reward to anyone who could bring laughter into his life. To be able to laugh and be merry is to embrace His spirit. For Hebrew Christians, laughter is new life and feasting.
Lindvall states that “satire rouses us, that there is a fire, and we should do something.” He explains that we, as humans, must recognize that this signal needs a response. The Bible even uses satire to make fun of God’s enemies. Take Goliath for example, at nine feet and nine inches tall, armoured in 125 pounds of chain mail with a 15 pound spear. And yet he is slain by a small shepherd boy—with a pebble. You can imagine the cheers and laughter that erupted around the campfires that night as the story was retold.
The two major accounts that outline humour in Christianity are the Creation and the Fall. In the Creation, everything created was good—including laughter. Men and women are so similar, yet so different, which depicts God’s great sense of humour. In the Fall, laughter turns dangerous. Since vernacuour hearts can be wicked, our laughter can be wicked as well. Pride is a result of the Fall, and many people take things too seriously when we become too concerned with our own dignity. Lindvall declares, “God writes great comedy, He only has bad actors.”
Trinity Western University Communications professor Dr. Ned Vankevich followed with a commentary on Lindvall’s lecture. He articulates that satire is done out of love and is never hate speech: “Great humour is challenging and tolerant, but not always politically correct.” So it’s all too appropriate (or inappropriate) that he concluded with a joke about monks stripping off their clothes and running into the forest.
Humour is not just a superficial rhetorical act, but it can offer deep psychological, sociological, and philosophical knowledge as well. So ease up and bask in God’s gift of humour. You better learn to enjoy it now because you’ll be overwhelmed with it in Heaven.