Thursday, July 06, 2006
This religious revival is a laughing matter
I am standing behind the main stage at a huge rock music festival in Illinois called Cornerstone.

For the past 24 hours, I've been hammered by thunderous sounds of modern Christian rock, in large part an ocean of thrash bands complete with tattoos and piercings, but very much with Jesus in mind.

I've been on the religion beat a lot lately, and have become aware of a great struggle among Christians to determine what their faith will be, can be, should be in America today.

In Florida recently, I met Rodney Howard-Browne, a South African minister who believes faith is, literally, a laughing matter.

When he speaks, hundreds of people in his congregation are seized by what they call holy laughter. They chuckle, guffaw, howl, and scream with mirth as, they say, the Holy Spirit fiills them. Sometimes the laughing fits last for minutes, sometimes for hours.

I have no idea how to judge the sincerity of their belief, or even if I should, but whether faced with laughing crowds or mosh pits, I hear Christians all over asking if their timeless faith is changing and wondering if that is good or bad.

What do you think?
Posted By Tom Foreman, CNN Correspondent: 5:18 PM ET
It's a good thing. A religion that is not flexible is destined to fall to one that is more in touch with modern society. Just look at the Catholic church and the rise of Protestant religions during the 16th century. Religion is an ever changing institution.
Posted By Anonymous Catherine Ward, Fountain Hills, Arizona : 5:36 PM ET
Hi Tom,
I think in this day and age if you can find some peace and comfort in faith..more power to you..Laughter and music...It works for me..Having been raised a Catholic, I don't think we will be having Open Mike Comedy Night anytime soon..BUT..You never know..Sounds interesting...Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton,Calif. : 5:41 PM ET
Rodney Howard-Browne is a FAKE...of the worst kind. The Holy Spirit doesn't force men to perform unholy acts--which have been witnessed at Browne's meetings: people rolling on the ground, barking like dogs, growling like lions, passing out...and laughing out of control for no reason.

This is a COUNTERFEIT of the real thing. The Holy Spirit wants to bring genuine revival to America...but it starts with recognizing sin and repenting.
Posted By Anonymous Nita, Aliso Viejo, CA : 6:03 PM ET
I think Cornerstone has something for everyone. Studies, all types of music, fellowship and prayer. It is where people can just be themselves and get some answers.
Posted By Anonymous Janna, Los Angeles, CA : 6:08 PM ET
I want to say that laughter is the best medicine. True christianity is a joyful, powerful, real experience. This ministry clearly is involved in the real thing. I reccommend it to all.
Posted By Anonymous A. J., Mango, Fl. : 6:16 PM ET
I would have to agree with Nita from Aliso Viejo, CA. It's all FAKE.
Posted By Anonymous Ginger, Woodstock, GA : 6:27 PM ET
That is interesting. I have no sense of what Cornerstone draws in terms of demographics - young, old, Prebyterian, Pentecostal. Could be it is not more than a weekend retreat with a social conscience - concerts, booths for donations to AIDS relief in Africa - but not an honest treatise on Christianity in America.

There is one reality that cannot be overlooked I imagine. Whether an adherent of Christianity or another world relgion, we would all be famililar with the now cliche phrase - walk the talk. I think it was a Christian saint - Paul the Apostle -who said - 'If I speak in the tongues of angels and have not love, I am but sounding gong, a clanging cybal.' I Corinthians 13. The metaphor is great -
It must be true at some level that our response to hurricane victims, neighbors down on their luck, or a refugee matters more to our spirituality or Deity than an evening of prolonged laughter - without some expression of compassion or forgiveness to follow. What good could it accomplish as an activity standing alone?

Posted By Anonymous Marie, St. Louis Missouri : 6:28 PM ET
God said that he changes not and is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Christians are supposed to be God-like, so that would mean they change not also. Holy laughter is a real thing. The Holy Ghost will move and work in peoples lives in mighty and sometimes unusual ways, if they are willing to let it.
Posted By Anonymous GG Leesville, La : 6:30 PM ET
Well, liturgical dancing raised eyebrows when it came into "progressive" catholic churches. Now it has been more widely accepted. If these people are still living according to the bible and preaching the bible, why should it matter what the expression is?
Posted By Anonymous xtina - Chicago IL : 6:33 PM ET
What do I think?

I think the same thing that Denis Diderot (and many other very wise people throughout history) thought back in the eighteenth century:

"Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest."

That's what I think.
Posted By Anonymous Jo N., - Los Angeles, CA : 6:37 PM ET
My only problem with any of the organized religions is the idea that if you don't believe as they do then you're doomed. Christianity preaches that the only way one is saved is if you believe in Christ. I will never accept any religion that says one has to believe exactly as they do or never get to heaven. This eliminates just about every popular religion in this country and I have alot less guilt about just being human.
Posted By Anonymous Steve, Jasper, AR : 6:38 PM ET
I have seen people have fits of laughter while being immersed in the Holy Spirit. That I can believe... but if these people are howling like animals, that is a sign that this isn't from God.

I think the changing of faith is both good and bad. There are many who are falling away from the faith, and many who are being deceived into accepting false doctrines and teachings. But at the same time there are many people coming to Christianity also. And I do believe we are on the brink of a great Christian revival where many will grow much stronger in their faith.
Posted By Anonymous Sarah, Lima, Ohio : 6:41 PM ET
I believe Christianity is about relationship with your God in a daily basis.Experiencing and trusting Him daily. So if you go to a conference or
that holy laughter thing and wish something can change in your life right away (say your husband cheating on you)....and you expect things to change because you got a holy laughter??? The focus is important.Feeling can last only minutes even hours, but when you know that your security is secured in Christ, then you have your life secured. because you know that God is your helper. One probably feel joyful in their heart, when she/he goes to see Rodney Howard-Browne . But will it last? what will happen after you left the conference? Christ is the answer to life itself not the high ecstacy of feeling.
Posted By Anonymous Siska, Los angeles, California : 6:44 PM ET
Your instinct to question whether you should judge another's faith serves you well. No person (or group of people) on earth is qualified to judge another's faith in the slightest -- that is the province of God and God alone. Faith is a living, dynamic force in one's life. It waxes and wanes. It always changes. It is also important to recongize that there is a HUGE difference between faith and religion, the former being a personal relationship with God, the latter being worldly organizations that practice, in the words of Thomas Jefferson, "that special tyranny over the minds of men."
Posted By Anonymous Craig Cook, Sterling, VA : 6:47 PM ET
I believe in going out and doing good, than beating or drumming and praying loud.

If I had time to pray or do something that will do good, I would do good !

I can t understand how just praying will change.

Faith without action is empty !

Christian religion is sweet, but has to be practiced with sweetnes.

When I went to India, I saw two types of churches, one where prayer and social work takes place. another where people simply sit and pray loud with speakers.

Excuse me do ur work, make money and be comfortable in life, than sitting simply in front of the pastor chanting constantly.
Posted By Anonymous Sundara Kumar, Tamil Nadu, India : 6:52 PM ET
god is a god of order
Posted By Anonymous bryan cleveland oh : 6:53 PM ET
Yes, Catherine, except the Catholic Church hasn't fallen and continues to stand while Protestantism continues to splinter itself into ever tinier divisions. This is just another one and one of the sillier ones at that.
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer, Boston MA : 6:56 PM ET
Well, it's no more weird than running around with snakes, shouting therapy or blood sacrificing animals. Face it, pretty much any religion is a crock.

Religion is a personal thing, not a group thing. Tou don't find god in any holy book or nonsensical dampness on subway walls.

The answer is deceptively simple. If you want to find god study Cosmology. That's god. You find god in new fallen snow, mountain streams, birth, life and death. You find god in your ability to ponder the question, in science and math. You find god in Physics, Chemistry, the four forces.

The catch is you never really find god. There are always more questions than answers. Religion isn't really about finding god, it's about the path you take to try to find it.
Posted By Anonymous Shawn Fessenden, Aurora IL : 7:01 PM ET
The sovereign God of our universe is a God of order. I believe that people have to be provoked to have this kind of behavior (just like people have to be "taught" how to speak in tongues). The bible tells us in 1 Corinthians that if any person speaks in tongues, he or she must interpret what they just said so that others can be edified. If a worship service does not do this, and everyone is laughing, or speaking in tongues, outsiders cannot learn the Gospel of Jesus and just think the people are a bunch of lunatics.
Posted By Anonymous Doug, Denver, CO : 7:02 PM ET
It is funny how in the "christain" faith today, they are still taking up old pagen habits and just silk screening it with Jesus. This reminds me of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, where Nebuchadnezzar ordered the people of all the land to bow down or face the furnace, well the people did except the three who placed their faith in God...this story is the same thing that happened to early christians with the Roman empire (church), well look how everyone has bowed and forgotten God's holy ways of living. We have traded in those Holy ways for pagen dates of worship (we bowed down). I would think to stop arguing over what makes you feel good, and go back to God's holy ways of living. Jesus knew those ways, he followed the Torah in perfection (as Paul did), and if we are to do as he did, why abandon it? So stop laughing for a bit and go to the source!
Posted By Anonymous Brad, Tucson AZ : 7:06 PM ET
In our generation the popular religion is CONFUSIONISM.

It is never worthwhile to argue about the religion you haven't got.

The person who boasts of having no religious prejudice quite often has no religion.

The man who expects to go to heaven must take the time to study the route that will get him there.

You have to do more than just examine religion. It won't satisfy your thirst unless you drink it.

If your religion leaves your life unchanged, you'd better change your religion.

A religion that does nothing, costs nothing, suffers nothing is worth nothing.

Christianity should be the motor of life, the central heating plant of personality, the faith that gives joy to activity, hope to struggle, dignity to humility, and zest to living.

Christianity is like music--it does not need defense, but rendition.
Posted By Anonymous Derek Stratton, Brantford, Ontario, Canada : 7:07 PM ET
I have attended both Cornerstone and Howard-Browne meetings and found both to be instructive, Bible based ministries that emersed body, mind and soul in a positive, life affirming and changing way. If it's not for you, don't go so others can be blessed! Power up!
Posted By Anonymous Gary Riley, Big Lake Alaska : 7:09 PM ET
Christian Rock Music? There is no such thing. In fact, these three words should not be next to each other.

So...the HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD ALMIGHTY now fills/annoints His believers with Laughter? Open your bible Mr. So-Called Minister from South Africa and show me Chapter and Verse PLEASE!
Posted By Anonymous Andy Collins, Tucson Arizona : 7:09 PM ET
There are so many variables to the above blog that there are likewise numerous ways to view and interpret what is really going on. To begin with examine both sides of the belief that these people are being filled with holy laughter. One could certainly attend one of these performances and not laugh, stand stone faced, and still be a Christian who has faith. This alone cannot prove it is fraud, because likewise one can argue that the person is not allowing the holy spirit to enter them and include them in the gathering.

The rolling and barking is a completely different issue. I agree thoroughly that the Holy Spirit would not bring forth such behavior, and that it is from another source. But then again, is it not fair game to argue that the Holy Spirit could be saving a person and their actions (barking etc) could be their sinful aspects exiting the body. This is all very interesting indeed...
Posted By Anonymous Warren Nesteruk Jr, Wilton Connecticut : 7:10 PM ET
My problem with religions concerned with heaven or hell is the basic motivation of coversion, or compliance, with the regulations of the doctrine. Those who teach religion seem to be no more than fire insurance salesmen for the afterlife. Would any Christian or Muslim be willing to go to hell for their religion?
Posted By Anonymous Joshua, Greenville, SC : 7:11 PM ET
If we were truly Christ-like we wouldn't have to change. We would be creatures of kindness, caring and love of one another. We would never judge.

When we told someone that we were born again Christians they would smile with an acknowledgement that we are at peace with ourselves vs a look that is sometimes at best puzzled and at worst disdain.

Many times I recoil to hear the venom that comes from the mouths of "Christians" particularly those who are preceived to be Christian leaders. Christ never spoke like that why should you?
Posted By Anonymous Wanda, Littleton, CO : 7:17 PM ET
I say that I am a Christian because I believe that through Christ I am saved. But I believe that laughter in church or out of church is an amazing way to spread the goodness of the soul to others. If my laughter and actions can show another person what a Christian is, then so be it. But I also know that my prayers for others will help as well - as will my donations to relief organizations or the dollar I gave the homeless man on the street the other day. Christ said for every time we help our fellow man we are helping him.. so I will help where I can and spread laughter where I can and hope that my beliefs will be tolerated as I tolerate and do not judge the beliefs of others - it's not my place to judge anyone.
Posted By Anonymous T.B. Fortuna, CA : 7:19 PM ET
Cornerstone is amazing. It is wonderful being around different types of believers. Believing and faith in Jesus' grace is what it's about. Everybody is welcome, nobody is excluded. It's very freeing believing that Jesus died for my sins and because of that I try to be a better person. It's not excluding anybody....everybody is welcome!
Posted By Anonymous Julie Des Plaines, IL : 7:23 PM ET
Perhaps I am old fashioned, or perhaps it is that I am a product of sixteen years of a Catholic education, but I think religion is "no laughing matter." I believe that our Higher Power is also our Father and,thus, He deserves all the courtesy and respect demanded by His role We need to all follow the Golden Rule; I think that would make Him very happy. We also need to give ourselves over to times of prayer. I find four minute bursts of laughter rather senseless and immature. Would He prefer to be honored like Emily Dickinson in the beauty of nature or in a conventional church. My mature self says "yes." These silly venues sound like fun, but they are not very conducive to giving thanks and self reflection. But then, perhaps, it is not for me to judge how others choose to worship.
Posted By Anonymous Angie Holliday;Laredo,TX : 7:24 PM ET
Faith is an unquestionable belief and complete trust and confidence in God.If a person really has faith it doesn't change.Religions go through phases and sometimes change but faith, if it is genuine, is a constant through any circumstance or event.
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer, Durham NC : 7:27 PM ET
A few months ago I was in Mexico with friends when I fell. I broke AND dislocated my shoulder. I went to a Mexican village hospital. I was really frigntened and in MUCHO DOLAR!!. One of my friends is Pentecostal and was so scared he began speaking in tounges when I was rolled into surgery. I am Catholic so I had never heard this before. There was something so sweet and sincere about his way of asking God to help me. I respect all religions and anyone's sincerity about reaching to find God.
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann Nacogdoches, Texas : 7:32 PM ET
Years ago when I was seeking what was real and not real in Christianity, I felt the Lord speak to my heart that it mattered not what church I went to, but what mattered was what was in my heart and that Jesus lived in and through me. It matters not what I didn't do, but more what did I do with His son Jesus? My faith is simple and while there are things that I see in the Christian realm that bother me, I know that God works in different ways for different people. What might not minister to one, ministers to another. Again it all comes down to what, or should I say who is in your heart and the fact that Jesus is living in and through you.
Posted By Anonymous Sherrill, St. Louis, MO : 7:38 PM ET
For me, religion is a personal spirtual experience, but as far as any of the organized religions go, I don't care what any of them do as long as they don't dictate what I can do.
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 7:38 PM ET
Religion and spirituality are two diferent things. Modern religion is marketing to every niche it can find. Spirituality is not for sale. Spirituality comes from the inside out as we live -- not in chaos or for gain. Ole JC said the faithful will always be the lessor.
Posted By Anonymous Patrick in DC : 7:40 PM ET
Rodney Howard-Browne denies the sovreignty of God and the centrality of the person of Jesus Christ and makes a mockery of the Holy Spirit. His brand of religion is definitely a turn for the worse.
Posted By Anonymous Amy, Buffalo, NY : 7:46 PM ET
Do think my folks grew up with tents in the field for the Holy Rollers (those who were reborn to 'Bringing the Sheaves' and rolling in the aisle) to have a Revival.

Whatever, but I do know that Franklin Graham on The Situation Room is not my thing. Never will be. If you bring in the evangelical Baptists, then you gotta bring all the many from each denomination, non-demominational and other faiths.

CONTRARE: Baptist is not the national religion and is offensive to many.
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista, ar : 7:46 PM ET
This sounds fishy. Are they laughing until the collection plate is full? Are they laughing and rolling on the floor? Does this laughter teach them anything about the bible? Yes, laughter is good medicine, but there is a time and a place for everything. This is not to say that laughter should not occur in a house of worhip, but this sounds like it is being taken to far; it sounds like disorder.
Posted By Anonymous Shelly Saunders, Brooklyn NY : 7:51 PM ET
I was there when CNN and Reporter Tom Foreman was in Tampa at Dr. Rodney's River at Tampa Bay. The service was really a mighty move of God. The compassion was right with the Joy. Plans were made that night to go into New Orleans, which Dr. Rodney and his team did. They blessed New Orleans, they blessed South Africa before that giving a new house away every night. Rest assured, This is That spoken by the Prophet Joel. Get in the River!
Posted By Anonymous Steve, Riverside, California : 7:55 PM ET
I think change is good. Christians will be required to do no more than what everyone does - adjust to the changing times of society and the greater demands of an advancing age. Christians have to grapple with new questions of morality on an almost daily basis - and this is both necessary and healthy. For too long have the majority of Christians in the United States remained docile, stuck in a theology that is timeless yet outdated. A changed, spiritually entagled church is the only answer to the continued survival of Christendom - to remain the same would be religious suicide.
Posted By Anonymous Michael, Chicago, Illinois : 7:59 PM ET
I've seen the Holy Ghost fall on people and give them joy that breaks them out of depression. Depression they got from loved ones dying, or from catastrophies in their life. I've seen people get healed of cancer, AIDS, and other incurable diseases all from the Holy Ghost. This ministry is of God and they do NOT make animal noises or promote any ministry that does. It's real and it's up to you to believe the truth.
Posted By Anonymous CE, Antioch TN : 8:00 PM ET
"Those who seek me, find me." God wasn't kidding when he said makes little difference what you believe, or what I believe, there must be an absolute truth right? I mean, for us to have any idea what truth is there must be an absolute. The Bible, being the most historically accurate book ever written, is God-breathed scripture, it is the very essence of truth. God is unaffected by what you think of him, whether you believe he exists or not...but try seeking him with all your heart...I garauntee...and so does God...that you find him, and he will reward those who earnestly seek him.
Posted By Anonymous Derek, KC, MO : 8:03 PM ET
Religion throughout history has been nothing more than a method of establishing law and order through fear in God. Organized religion, up until today, remains just that: a way to mold or shape societal norms and behavior to the liking of some through the instillation of fear of the "ever LOVING God who will CONDEMN you to eternal hell". That always sounded like a contraditcion to me. Personal faith as a way of inner peace and understanding is always positive (be it through the nobel and worthwile teachings of Jesus, Mohamad, Buhda or even through personal un-conventional beliefs). However, collective organized religions are the poison in our society for they try to impose their restrictive world view and condemn others who in any way shape or form. Organized religion is a tool to to achieve another mean, be it political power (republicans using evangelicals for votes), economic power (filthy rich pastors who build those riches on the backs of their followers), social power (men who use islam as a way to keep the other gender in submission) etc. All because of "fear of God". Does anyone realy think God would want women to be treated as they are in the middle east? Does anyone realy believe God will condemn homosexuals for the simple fact of loving one other? How can someone realy believe God would want a poor person to give money so that his pastor can live the good life? As the bumper sticker says, in all truth, "God, protect me from your followers".
Posted By Anonymous Noel Los Angeles, CA : 8:05 PM ET
Rodney Howard-Brown is the pied piper of a movement that has brought ridicule and scorn on true Christians for years. Faithful Christians know what Howard-Brown is. He is an idiot and a rank heretic who has nothing to do with true, historic, Biblical Christianity. True Christians aren't barking like dogs or laughing their sides off for hours, they are in the trenches living out the Great Commission of Jesus Christ and demonstrating the love of their Savior to a hurting world.
Posted By Anonymous Ingrid Schlueter, Milwaukee, Wisconsin : 8:06 PM ET
When religion becomes fashionable by any means, it is no longer religion - just fashion.
Posted By Anonymous Dennis, Washington, DC : 8:07 PM ET
Tom you were a real professional and a gentleman down in Tampa covering Dr. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne. I'm sure a genuine reflection of Anderson Cooper and 360. The ministry of The Browne's is wonderful. Many other religious folks endure barely an hour of service trying to stay awake. Joy filled Jesus believers at the River stayed with over 3 hours and left refreshed and full of joy. That's a Jesus Action!
Posted By Anonymous Debbie, Miami, Florida : 8:10 PM ET
The only thing I can say is: "Whatever works for you!"
Posted By Anonymous Lucy, Las Vegas, NV : 8:14 PM ET
Cornerstone is more than this summer concert get together. There is Cornerstone Community Outreach, and so much more that is done for the glory of Christ by helping the poor, and sharing the truth of the good news of Jesus Christ.
Browne is definetly a false teacher. Jesus said there would be plenty of them. Just enough religion to keep people from the genuine truth.
Posted By Anonymous don sands Catonsville, Maryland : 8:32 PM ET
It's plain and simple. Jesus Christ didn't rock and roll but simply preached the word without much "funfare". We're supposed to be children of God. What the Father does, the children do. I can't imagine Jesus Christ would be beating his drums and laughing like what these false prophets do. It's just plain CRAZY.
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Abela, Davao City , Philippines : 8:40 PM ET
I think overall its a good thing. I'm a 40 year old Pentecostal Believer and have seen and felt a progressive move towards this type of manifestation.I've been somewhat conservative in my opinion of Holy Laughter, but I know I've had some pretty intense experiences on my own, in the privacy of my own home, just listening to some awesome worship music. My new Pastor tells a great story. He himself used to think that Holy Laughter was just people getting in the flesh until he was at a conference in Southern Cal and the Spirit came upon him at a time where he said he was spiritually dry, it has since brought refreshing and a zeal back to his life in ministry. He is still very balanced and its not like this happens all the time...He explains his experiences now a days as just immense Joy that comes over him. So He has made me a believer of it.
Although some reeeeeeally conservatives would say that its of the Devil, I think we need to let God be God and trust him that he would never force anything on us, but if others are open to it and its not damaging their faith but adding to it, and the rest of their lives line up to scripture, then why swet the small stuff.
Hope that helps someone...

Posted By Anonymous Patty, Burlingame California : 8:41 PM ET
Christ once said to a disciple of his when asked about another and their future importance....."what is that to you?" A relationship with Christ is personal. However as Christians, we are His ambassadors. If we act like the world and do not fulfill His commands how are we supposed to make a difference?
Posted By Anonymous Frank, Blue Ridge, Ga : 8:43 PM ET
I think what seems to be happening with regaurds to religion is a growing feeling of panic, that because of the events of the world, disasters whether natural or unnatural are so disturbing, we are clinging to some semblance of normalcy by going to the extreme with religion, be it laughing or chanting or crying. Whatever helps to keep us with a hope for a better, saner world, happy with our world and our God. I say hey, whatever it takes. Its better than grabbing a gun and running into a crowd shooting everything in sight.
Posted By Anonymous Bev. Whitby, Ontario, Canada : 8:45 PM ET
I believe that Jesus said (albeit in Aramaic) Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your might. Love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the laws and all the prophets.

Now, do these intitutions follow in that teaching? Do *we* follow in that teaching in OUR daily lives and work--especially work? I leave it up to all the rest of you to decide each for himself/ herself and to act accordingly.

I never exactly found more love for my neighbor or God by playing/dancing to whatever slam/thrash was called in the 80's, but it certainly de-gitched my yayas sufficiently to allow for a more gentle approach to interpersonal challenges with my neighbors.

The silence upon walking out of the stinking bars up the hill and into my ancient creaking apartment certainly had elements of the peace of God which passes all understanding, but I received the same blessing when my car broke down 45 miles outside of Clayton, NM, just after sunset in the middle of the winter. It was quite a stroll.

As long as our neighbors are not making political capital out of it or attempting to forcibly convert us, are any of us correct to damn another's form of worship out of hand?
Posted By Anonymous andy, Greensboro, NC : 9:13 PM ET
That revival of "laughing" was nothing more than the release of endorphins. We had such people come to our church and cause a split. The evangelist who brought it to us ended up taking half our church off to start his own. He ended up divorcing his wife,and the preacher he put to run his new "church" also committed adultery. There's not much laughing among those people today because it was nothing but another one of Satan's many ways of deception. People want to "feel" something..but the true Joy of the Lord leads us to the same joy the angels of God have when one sinner repents.
Posted By Anonymous Mary E. Adams Wasilla, Alaska : 9:13 PM ET
I have to disagree with GG from Leesville. Scripture says that God's character doesn't change, but there are examples when, due to peoples' actions and/or requests, he has decided to change his course of action. (and I apologize that english limits us to such gender-fied terms as "he.")

The cultural and philosophical landscape of America and the world has been changing in big ways for a few decades now, and many Christians -- including myself -- are simply trying to re-envision the faith of following Jesus in the midst of these changes. Scripture is also filled with stories about this "contextualizing" of the gospel.

What I think you've been observing, Anderson, is one angle and portion of this re-envisioning. It's not so much a departure from tradition -- some old traditions such as liturgy are making a comeback -- so much as it is a repackaging for relevance. I think it's a good thing...but it needs to be done carefully and with much reflection so that we don't end up departing from truth.
Posted By Anonymous Craig, Seattle, WA : 9:14 PM ET
I went to a Rodney Howard-Browne meeting some years back. I fell on the floor laughing, and laughed hysterically for a good thirty minutes. Why? Because everyone else was laughing. It was good for me; it improved my day and even my week. As that was the only effect, and as I got nothing from the experience that I couldn't have gotten from a Chris Rock or George Carlin DVD, I do not believe the laughter was "from" or "of" God in any way other than normal, everyday laughter is. Surely a direct touch from God would be more than something I could've gotten from Chris Rock. *shrug*
Posted By Anonymous Holly; Huntsville, AL : 3:23 PM ET
It is only proper that an American brand of Christianity be born in a land where accessorizing, customizing and materializing possessions are part of our cultures attempts to measure the distance from it's aim of acquiring the ever progressing American dream. It's no longer the little white house with the white picket fence and 1.5 children. It's currently the deluxe package Hummer with the satellite radio and 22'' rims with chrome tipped everything, towing the boat towing the jet skis up to the three story lakeside manor. It's seemingly fitting for the culture to supersize it's faith so it can keep up with the contemporary movement by adding hip entertainment, existential experiences and keep in pace with the latest modern therapeutic trends. The core of Christendom is Christ crucified but this can be easily accessorized with costs varying from doubt to despair to eternal distress. Judge all things by a proper reading of the word of God in which He has made it known that it is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, for His glory alone that a true believer is sustained through all trends, current sciences and endless skeptical defiance till he is face to face with his Savior.
Posted By Anonymous Pat, Houston, Tx : 3:49 PM ET
I think it is not about what I think or you think or what anyone thinks. We think we have the right and the capability to run our own lives apart from what God thinks and we are wrong. You ask the wrong question. What does the Bible have to say on the matter? It is our instruction manual on how to live our lives and what God commands.
Posted By Anonymous Lori Warren, Alpharetta, GA : 3:50 PM ET
I posted this up earlier this morning but I guess my post was just the truth. It's called the Holy Spirit for those of you that do not know. "Dont judge a book when u haven't even read it" - meaning some of you haven't felt the holy spirit; and yet you say all this.
Posted By Anonymous Esther, Atlanta, GA : 4:13 PM ET
The crux of Christianity is the cross upon which Christ died. The Gospel or "good news" is that in Christ's death he supernaturally atoned for the sins of all who would put their trust in Him and the accomplished work on the cross for eternal salvation of their souls. Christianity has never been about anything other than a rescue mission championed by God himself. If it has become anything other, then it is not Christianity, but merely man's self-made religion. God is the Gospel.

The message is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Man is sinful, sin demands death, Christ' death was the substitutionary atonement for sin opening the door of eternal salvation to all who will believe and trust in Him.

Yes, culture changes and I think it is important for Christians to remain conscious of that. As far as I can tell based upon scripture and historical facts, there will forever be sinful men and women and so we Christians must be committed to living, sharing, preaching the Gospel message because that is the message of hope for all.

As a Christian, I also believe we must adhere to the instructions of the apostle Paul in Romans chapter 12 and verse 2 where he wrote, Do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

In the end, Christianity is not about "holy laughter" or "Christian rock festivals" or the other but it's solely about creator God rescuing us sinners from erternal damnation.
Posted By Anonymous Billy Schiel, Magnolia, TX : 4:26 PM ET
Congregational meetings are suppose to empower people in the christian faith. Laughing for a minute or two is okay but for several minutes or hours.... I think they are missing the point of christianity. Scinetifically laughing is good and of course spiritually but when over emphasized, the context changes. I think emphasis should be laid on the teachings of the Holy Bible in congregational meetings and any encouragements should be done in regards to the teachings. There are numerous exapmles in the bible for us to follow and not invent to suit our imaginations and interpretations .
Posted By Anonymous Lum Fube, Hyattsville,MD : 4:31 PM ET
What ever happened to "Love thy neighbor as thy self". Wouldn't that solve alot of problems. Forget about all the world's relgions and just live by that one quote.
Posted By Anonymous Carla, Toluca Lake, CA : 12:00 PM ET
This laughing because of the holy spirit is another gimmick by an increasingly desperate religious community to bring relevance to their silliness. There is no plan, no creator, no master, and no holy spirit. It's just us and we are stuck with it and each other.
Posted By Anonymous Tom McCoy Burnsville Minnesota : 8:18 PM ET
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