This blog is the combined effort of four senior pastors of different churches. Their desire is to point you toward living a God-centered, gospel-focused, Christian life.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Can You Take a Joke?

“It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.” -- G.K. Chesterton

There is much to admire in Chesterton, a Roman Catholic, and he is eminently quotable. I highly recommend his “Father Brown” mysteries as delightful children’s reading with great moral applications.

The point he makes in the above sentence is worth contemplation. We all tend to take ourselves too seriously. This does not mean that such a thing as blasphemy does not exist, for it does. But it seems to me that there are a lot of people who find their job is to defend God, as though he is not capable of doing a perfectly good job of defending himself. There also are atheists who see their job being to angrily dismiss God (without seeing any humor in the notion that their anger is so directed at someone they do not believe exists).

It is just the person who is secure in his religious view who can take a joke about it. As an evangelical Christian, there is much that I find humorous about my faith and the way it is practiced. To be jumpy and offended every time someone finds something humorous about my faith would be evidence that I am not very secure about its truth.

Charles Spurgeon once said, “Defend the Bible? I would as soon defend a lion! Unchain it and it will defend itself.” Spurgeon is making the point that, rather than defending the Gospel, one might give consideration simply to proclaiming it. A careful, reasoned and kind defense of the Christian faith is sometimes helpful, indeed necessary. However, to fail to see humor in parodies of the Robertsons or of Tim Tebow seems to me to reflect an insecurity unbecoming of the Christian faith.

It goes without saying that some religions do not countenance joking. “Saturday Night Live” has creative freedom to do a parody of Jesus meeting Tim Tebow, but I think we will wait in vain for a network television parody involving some religious views. That is because joking is not allowed on threat of death. The folks at “Saturday Night Live” feel pretty secure in the idea that their parody of Christianity will not lead to death.

To me, and to Chesterton, that is a test of a good religion.