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Testimonies

Holy Laughter and Animal Noises

by Theodore Wright.
 


There have been various phenomena experienced by believers in Jesus in regard to the diverse activities of the Holy Spirit. God acts according to His Word, as recorded in the Holy Bible, but He is full of surprises.
 

In 1984, being born-again for one year at that time, I was prayed for in front of the church. Being touched only lightly on the forehead, I was knocked out. When I opened my eyes again I found myself having received a deliverance from God. I could feel the Holy Spirit springing up inside my chest continually like a fountain.
 


As 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Some have referred to this experience as “Slain in the Spirit”. I will simply say that I received a spiritual deliverance from the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, I have had even a number of experiences from the Lord where He helped me in unusual ways.
 

Many years later, I was an assistant pastor in a Pentecostal church in the United States during the mid-1990s. The experience of the “Toronto Blessing” was hotly criticized. Christians who attended the Toronto Airport Vineyard Christian Fellowship (now called Catch the Fire) were experiencing what was called in this denominationally generated Pentecostal article as the “Holy Giggles” or what is generally called “Holy Laughter”. People reported manifestations of laughing as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit. What was also cited was that certain people spoke in what were called “Animal Noises” with people barking like dogs and roaring like lions. I found this disturbing and found it unusual that a movement regarding this resulted. This article was read in the Pentecostal church by the pastor more than once and said, in its conclusion, that none of the experiences there could be supported by Scripture. I had accepted what was said at the time from this article when I knew nothing of what went on in Toronto then.

 

In the mid-2000s, a Vineyard pastor who I was friends with, loaned me a book written by Derek Morphew from the New Wine Movement in the Episcopal Church in England. This book gave a Biblical and otherwise apologetic defense for what happened at the Toronto church. He noted that the greatest critics to a new revival are those who were the recipients from the previous one. As a result of this book, I kept an open mind regarding the Holy Laughter that happened at Toronto in the mid-1990s but was still very skeptical about what was called “Animal Noises”. Though, at that time, I had accepted that “Holy Laughter” was a result of legitimate revival. I still thought that those “Animal Noises” were the result of religious excesses. In any God given revival, the devil cannot stop it. Therefore, the devil will try to give the movement a push forward of his own to try to get it to fall on its face. This was my conclusion about what was going on at Toronto.

 
In 2012, my friend David gave me two magazines, dated October 1995 and February 1996 titled “Spread the Fire”. The first one was from the “Toronto Airport Vineyard Christian Fellowship” and the other simply from the “Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship”. (That church is now called Catch The Fire.) I said, “Dave, do you know what these are that you are giving me? Are you sure you want to part with these? These are the very magazines that the Toronto Airport church published during the time of the breakout of Holy Laughter and then its break off from the Vineyard.” Because he gave these collector item magazines to me so freely, I gave David something he wanted which was my collector Chick Tract Kiss The Protestants Good-bye. That Chick tract was never sold but as far as I know was only sent to place such as Christian bookstores during the mid-1980s.

So, it came time I started reading the Spread the Fire magazine dated October 1995 which featured the article “Close Encounters of the Divine Kind”. It had articles such as “Prophet Margins” by Mike Bickle describing how prophecy and prophetic words can often cause controversy in the church and how he draws on his experience to give guidelines on handling prophecy.

 
By the time I got to page 17, I saw another article. This other article was written by Steve Long and was titled, “What About Animal Noises?” I gave a big smirky smile at my desk when I saw this and sarcastically said, “What about animal noises? I would like to see this guy give any kind of apologetic defense for this!” So I started reading. When I got to the third paragraph it read…

‘When we talk to “roarers”, they often tell us of very profound images, visions, and feelings they have had from God. Among interpretations that keep emerging, two appear quite often: the “roaring” sometimes signifies an impartation of boldness to evangelize; it sometimes represents a type of intercession which breaks down stronghold of the enemy.’

I was stunned by what I read and stopped right there and said, “OH … MY … GOD.”

 
Then I continued and said, “He proved it! He actually proved it!” I said this because I remembered how back in the mid-1990s, after I received a deliverance, I also received a boldness to evangelize. But also, I recalled that evening, after I got home that night, I felt the Holy Spirit rising inside of me but it was not tongues. I felt like roaring. I did not understand this. The feeling got stronger so I looked up to Heaven and said, “O.K., God. I am going to do it once and get it over with.” I roared and maybe I even roared twice. Afterwards, I had not done that again. Then it seems I forgot all about it over the years until I was again reminded.

 
I thought this was an interesting experience but forgot all about it until I read that article. I then said to myself, “What does this mean?” I thought it over then said, “It means I took something of God and called it the devil.” Upon saying that, I clumped down on my desk, as I did when I first got saved about thirty years before, and repented.
 

I remembered again how “I roared like a lion” and how this was called “Animal Noises”. Then I said, “That wasn’t an animal noise. It was a human noise that only sounded vaguely like an animal.” I knew what an animal noise sounds like. I once heard a dog barking at someone’s house when my wife and I were home shopping, but it wasn’t a dog, it was a little boy. My wife and I heard how it really sounded like a dog. It was freaky and demonic. What I experienced was not like that.

 
Shortly after this, I had a home Bible study, with just four of us. During worship, I felt the Holy Spirit rising inside of me. Again, this wasn’t tongues. I felt myself about to break into laughter and there was nothing in the natural which I found to laugh about. I thought to myself that if I wanted to do this, this was going to be the safest public time to do it, so I let it go and started laughing. At the Bible study they asked me, “Why are you laughing?” I laughed and said, “I don’t know! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.” and kept laughing. This happened continually to me for about two weeks where I had episodes of laughing. It did happen during some awkward times such as driving home. I had to try to with great effort stay quiet during quite inopportune moments.


I later contacted the national director of Catch The Fire U.S.A. in Raleigh, North Carolina and spoke to the pastor there concerning my previous criticism of their movement and how I repented of that. I told him what happened to me I then said to him, “That being said, I have a number of questions about this.” From his answers I found my experience matched theirs.

 

My reason for writing this is not to promote Holy Laughter nor the practice of making Animal Noises. I do believe in being sober-minded but there is, after all, a “time to laugh” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4). I am only mentioning my experiences to share with you that God is full of surprises. What He may do in your life might be something different from others but if it glorifies God, and furthers His gospel of the free gift of eternal life and forgiveness of all sins through trusting faith in Jesus, then it is from God. I could quote to you Isaiah 5:29-30 where people were roaring and Hosea 11:10 when the Lord Himself roared and could even tell you about Sarah saying in Genesis 21:6, “God hath made me to laugh” but I do not believe I need to do this.

So what does the Bible show about “Holy Laughter”? This is just the result of the fruit of the Spirit known as JOY. There are various reactions that people have had resulting from the work of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life. If the fruit of the Lord is evident, who are we to cast judgments? What we are supposed to do is to be led by the Word and Spirit of God and discern but use proper judgment even regarding your own skepticism.

All I can say is that the apostle John said in John 20:30-31, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” The Holy Bible is complete in its message but it does not say everything that God does. We dare not, though, go against the Bible with contradictions. However here, I do not find such contradiction.

 

Yes, this certainly surprised me like any other believer in Jesus. Even more so, since when I first “roared” there was no “Toronto Blessing” as yet. It was nine years before that happened. Those who had experienced such like this before then, I had never heard of nor seen. Indeed, I was skeptical about the “Holy Laughter Movement” when it came to news until I remembered that I, myself, was a recipient of what they called “Animal Noises”. Can you imagine having to deal with something like that?

I am sorry but I do not know what more I can say about this. I was just as surprised, if not more than others. Please, continue to trust God’s word, the Holy Bible, as the basis of your faith and doctrine. I should seriously suggest that holy laughter and animal noises not replace regular ministry. I only recommend that you keep an open mind on what God can or will do for God is full of surprises. The Holy Spirit does do amazing things.

I first heard this song “God’s Not Dead” by the Newsboys for the first time when it came out just after my 2012 experience…

“He’s living on the inside
Roaring like a lion
God’s not dead
He’s surely alive.”
– Newsboys, 2012.

 

 

Related links…

It’s not always what it looks like
from The Cognitive Man

 

 

 

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