The god of laughter and earnest preaching

Our era is marked by an addiction to humor. Plot-less movies bring in millions of dollars in revenue simply because of their power to make fun of life or otherwise humor the viewer. At the same time this era we live could be much more serious about the eternal world about to crash into each soul. Preaching must stand in contrast to this god of laughter because we serve a God who expects a seriousness and fear from us.

The following quote by John Angell James, written before television and the entertainment/comedy boom, says this addiction to entertainment is another motivation for serious and earnest preaching.

“It is hard to conceive how earnestness and spirituality can be maintained by those whose tables are covered, and whose leisure time is consumed, by the bewitching inspirations of the god of laughter. There is little hope of our arresting the evil, except we make it our great business to raise up a ministry who shall not themselves be carried away with the torrent; who shall be grave, without being gloomy; serious, without being melancholy; and who, on the other hand, shall be cheerful without being frivolous, and whose chastened mirthfulness shall check, or at any rate reprove, the excesses of their companions. What a demand does this state of things prefer for the most intense earnestness in our Sabbath-day exercises, both our prayers and our sermons! In this modern taste we have a new obstacle to our usefulness of a most formidable kind, which can be subdued only by God’s blessing upon our fidelity and zeal. Men are wanted, who shall by their learning, science, and general knowledge, give weight to their opinions, and influence to their advice, in their private intercourse with their flocks; and shall, by their powerful and evangelical preaching, control this taste, and counter it by a better.”

John Angell James, An Earnest Ministry: The Want of the Times (Banner of Truth, 1847/1993) pp. 198-199.

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others” (2 Cor. 5:11, ESV).

One thought on “The god of laughter and earnest preaching

  1. I really appreciated this. I’ve been struggling with how much of humor seems to be based in mockery, and this really reminds me how thought ought to be.

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