Q. A new believer I know attended a service where people were fainting, demonstrating holy laughter, dancing in the Spirit, etc. He was told it was a demonstration of people giving themselves totally over to the control of the Holy Spirit and humbling themselves before the Lord. But I wondered what purpose of God is served by having believers act that way. I can’t find any scripture to support such a manifestation. I am concerned for this person because I don’t want him to think His walk with God is based on feelings or emotions, but on faith. Can you please give your perspective on this?
A. So-called Holy Laughter is also called the Toronto Blessing, because it first showed up at a church in that city. You’re right in saying the Bible doesn’t mention things like this, and it does seem degrading to many observers, leading them to say it can’t be from God. Others claim that it’s a manifestation of God’s Spirit that comes to those who are open to it. And the Toronto Blessing is far from being the most bizarre behavior I’ve seen Christians exhibit in worship.
I too am personally skeptical of things like this because they tend to produce bad effects both in those who receive them and those who don’t. One group becomes prideful while the other is made to feel deficient. And each group’s defense against the other’s criticism promotes division, not harmony.
There’s a good reason why we’re told that true faith comes from hearing the word of God. (Romans 10:17) Since God’s word is unchanging, it doesn’t depend upon the latest thing in supernatural manifestations for validation.