01 October 2006

Some Serious Thoughts about Humor

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote space at the beginning of each week to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following excerpt is from Lectures to my Students, volume 2, Lecture 3: "The Uses of Anecdotes and Illustrations." For more on Spurgeon's sense of humor, see chapter 81 of his Autobiography, a chapter titled "Pure Fun."

do believe, in my heart, that there may be as much holiness in a laugh as in a cry; and that, sometimes, to laugh is the better thing of the two, for I may weep, and be murmuring, and repining, and thinking all sorts of bitter thoughts against God; while, at another time, I may laugh the laugh of sarcasm against sin, and so evince a holy earnestness in the defense of the truth.

I do not know why ridicule is to be given up to Satan as a weapon to be used against us, and not to be employed by us as a weapon against him. I will venture to affirm that the Reformation owed almost as much to the sense of the ridiculous in human nature as to anything else, and that those humorous squibs and caricatures, that were issued by the friends of Luther, did more to open the eyes of Germany to the abominations of the priesthood than the more solid and ponderous arguments against Romanism.

I know no reason why we should not, on suitable occasions, try the same style of reasoning.

"It is a dangerous weapon," it will be said, "and many men will cut their fingers with it." Well, that is their own lookout; but I do not know why we should be so particular about their cutting their fingers if they can, at the same time, cut the throat of sin, and do serious damage to the great adversary of souls.
C. H. Spurgeon


Jonathan Moorhead said...

and considering that God Himself uses this kind of language and emotion, why would it not be acceptable? Of course we must always examine our motives for how we present an argument, and consider the ramifications for how we do.

For example, as I have said before, too often a debate ends up being over how someone said something (in their cute sarcasm) over the issue at hand. That is unfortunate. I don't know too many people who have been won over by ridicule and sarcasm rather than by a patient teacher.

James Scott Bell said...

This form of argument, which Spurgeon seems to be saying is to be employed on "suitable" (relatively rare) occasions, is more aimed at the observers than the adversary. Many an opponent in a debate will not respond to any kind of instruction.

BTW, I love the tone and look of this site. I've never taken it less seriously because it's jaunty. I don't understand that criticism from the 'sphere.

Keep it up, fellas.