If you’ve been to more than one church, I would be willing to bet at least one of these two churches has been an experience:
1. Stand up comedy with the Bible sprinkled on the side
2. A service so rigid that you were surprised it wasn’t a funeral
Amongst younger evangelicals the stand-up preaching may be the more regularly abused, but the latter is no better. Afterall, even the first three letters of “funeral” spell something:
Dr. Barry York in The Humorless Pulpit offers some very serious advice. Very serious. Not tongue-in-cheek at all.
Some might try to say that since John Calvin himself taught the Psalter contains the whole range of human emotions, laughter would be included. Then they might try to use that to justify using some humor when explaining a text of Scripture. But Calvin did not mean this because laughing is not a godly but worldly emotion. Laughter is not reverent. Listen, I tell you that I am RR and sing the Psalms, so I know about not laughing in worship. Trust me.
Others point to Luther’s use of sarcasm. Do you really think it’s funny that he told Erasmus when they were discussing the serious subject of sin’s bondage that “Perhaps you want me to die of unrelieved boredom while you keep on talking”? Or worse, when he told other opponents such things as “You are a toad eater,” or “I beg you put your glasses on your nose, or blow your nose a bit, to make your head lighter and the brain clearer,” or “For you are an excellent person, as skillful, clever, and versed in Holy Scripture as a cow in a walnut tree or a sow on a harp”? Maybe those quotes are a bit funny and, sure, he helped start the Reformation, but again remember that Luther did not believe in the regulative principle…
…I’ve heard others try to be elegant in their defense of humor, such as saying humor can pop open the cork of truth and allow us to pour into downtrodden hearts the wine of gladness. But I say our sermons need to be dry, free from the wine of wittiness.”
And while the church may have many adversaries seeking her destruction, I think its safe to say this bunch isn’t going to be kicking in our doors any time soon.