I don't think this is a topic to be focused that much on but I would like to bring about some more positive sides of such occourances and allow people to see how not [b]all[/b] such occourences are bad or to be debunked.
Jonathan Edwards describes the reaction of some who were converted in the Great Awakening revival: Their joyful surprise has caused their hearts as it were to leap, so that they have been ready to break forth into laughter, tearing often at the same time issuing like a flood, and intermingling a loud weeping.
E.M. Bounds records Wesley saying, The power of God came mightily upon us, so that many cried out for exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground.
Charles Finney wrote that after he testified about his experience of being baptized in the Spirit, a usually serious elder of his church fell into a most spasmodic laughter. It seemed as if it was impossible for him to keep from laughing from the very bottom of his heart.
Jessie Penn-Lewis recounts manifestations of holy laughter and being drunk in the Spirit taking place during the Australian Keswick Convention of 1891: The Convention was marked by clean-cut surrender to God for all His will to be done at all costs, and by an overflowing joy which followed in hundreds of hearts, so that, as Mr. George Soltau wrote, Literally our mouths were filled with laughter and our tongues with singing. . . . It was impossible to restrain ones heart, the Lord giving us such a foretaste of heaven. Talk of fleshly excitement, I wish to bear my testimony that it was nothing less than the fulness of the Spirit. We were verily drunk with the joy of the Lord, and with the vistas of the possibilities of faith opening up to the fully surrendered life of the believer. But it was equally manifest to us all that this joy and blessing is only to be received and retained and increased by the death to self and of self and the most painful crucifixion of self.
A. W. Tozer also spoke positively of holy laughter: Now I say that worship is subject to degrees of perfection and intensity. There have been those who worshiped God to the place where they were in ecstasies of worship. I once saw a man kneel at an altar, taking Communion. Suddenly he broke into holy laughter. This man laughed until he wrapped his arms around himself as if he was afraid he would bust just out of sheer delight in the presence of Almighty God. . . . So worship is capable of running from the very simple to the most intense and sublime.
John 'Praying' Hyde, a staid Presbyterian, is described after a time of intense prayer at the Sialkot Convention (similar to Keswick), He begins to sing, Tis done, the great transactions done, and he is so full of joy that his whole body begins to move, he claps his hands, then his feet begin to move, and look! he begins to dance for joy, and others join him until the whole place rings with God's praises.
I am sure that this is a very confusing subject and there is much disagreement and controvesy over particular occourences in our day that are claiming that this gift of 'holy laughter' is being poured out on the church-wide from God. Again I think to clarify the situations and statements above will help immensily in understanding the true from the spurious.
I would have to say that ALL of the above situations of 'Holy Laughter' would only occour when there was given such a vision of the Love of the Son of God shed abrod in peoples hearts allowing them to grasp the depth, breadth, width of God so much so that they were filled with the fulness of God. A wonderful result of this is JOY and people basked in this joy. I would say in prayer a few times I peserved with God and all of a sudden there was such an extereme outpouring of Gods love and joy in my heart I couldnt help but smile broadly and almost chuckle to myself praising God and magnifying His Son in me.
Now this is drastly different then a contagious laughter in a building or place with many other gathered, or a laughing that is abnoxious and spurious when there is preaching on sober subjects including that of HELL? There is no gifting or annointing of Holy Laughter its a result of experiencing the Love and Joy of God in us and is peculiar and not something to be sought after ie the manifestation.
A most interesting occourance of this manifestation was in the Life of that saintly apostle of prayer "John Hyde" he would enter into the garden of gethsemate with Christ and plead and groan for souls for hours on end and then once the victory came and he knew he prevailed with God a sense of Joy would come over him and at times he would have this 'Holy Laughter' come and he would praise God for the Victory that is in Jesus and the answered prayers. Now that is an intresting balance.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon