We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh, and this is true of our relationship with God. Thomas Aquinas spoke of the sin of having too little laughter as well as the danger of having too much, while Martin Luther said, ‘If you’re not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don’t want to go there.’ Having a sense of humour is essential for maturity in faith and holiness, but sadly, the role that laughter plays in life and spirituality have often been neglected.
Laughter and the Grace of God restores laughter to its central place in Christian spirituality and theology by examining its role in Scripture and highlighting its presence in unexpected places, including the story of Abraham and the formation of the covenant, and the tragedy of Job. Laughter can be found in the incarnation, the resurrection, and even the crucifixion – Jesus is himself the great laugh-maker – and it is nothing less than a participation in the life and love of God.
1. Humor and the Christian Vision
2. Mapping the Theo-Comical Territory
3. Jesus the Laugh-Maker
4. Parables, Comic Characters, and the Gospel
5. Laughter as the Language of Faith
6. Covenant Laughter and the Comic Vision
7. God, Heaven, and Humor
8. Grace and Truth through Laughter
9. Laughter at the Cross
10. The Comic Christian Life
Endorsements and Reviews
Brian Edgar challenges us on the peril of ignoring humor in all its forms, as the beginning and end of reflection on theology and spirituality. He turns scorn, ridicule, and mockery on their heads, into a revelation of divine joy. The book is insightful and controversial, but deeply satisfying; we will, despite ourselves, experience the joy of being able to laugh all the way to heaven.
Justin T. Tan, Vice-Principal, Melbourne School of Theology
I read Edgar’s Laughter and the Grace of God as a follow-up to the award-winning The God Who Plays, and I think it just as compelling. Edgar appropriately differentiates between laughter as an expression of triviality or even flippant mockery, and laughter as the expression of joyful seriousness. Perhaps the honest person can admit existence is completely absurd if there is not a personal God, responding with a cynical smirk – but Edgar correctly asserts the physicality of joy known as laughter is one wonderful way the follower of Christ expresses trusting confidence.
James R. Thobaben, Professor of Bioethics & Social Ethics, Dean, School of Theology & Formation, Asbury Theological Seminary