Steve Wilkens: What’s So Funny About God?

What’s So Funny About God?: A Theological Look at Humor
(IVP, 2019)

WHO: Steve Wilkens, professor of philosophy and ethics at Azusa Pacific University.

HE SAYS: “This is nothing more than a series of meditations on thinking humorously about theology, thinking theologically about humor, and attempting to encourage a conversation that I believe will be valuable to faith.”

THE BIG IDEA: We should employ the structures and mechanisms of humor to gain insight into the Christian faith.

The chapters in this book are constructed around the incongruities found throughout theology: Jesus as both human and divine, man as both animal and with a soul, the Christian as sinner and saved, life coming from death in the resurrection. Scattered throughout are jokes and observations on humor and God.

“Funny isn’t the opposite of serious.”

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Why a book on theology and humor?

I was interested to see where the intersections were, but very few people seemed to be addressing this connection. I concluded that to find such a book I was going to have to write it myself. In addition to finding a lack of interest in humor and laughter, I also wanted to address the fact that theological writing almost always lacks a sense of play, levity and joy. This seems to be a mismatch of medium and message since hope, joy, delight and similar themes are major theological motifs.

Where do we find God’s sense of humor around us and in Scripture?

Humor works through a number of tools such as misdirection, redefinition, surprise, sarcasm, irony, paradox and particularly incongruity. Ideas that seem contradictory but yet require each other stand at the heart of the faith. A comedic sense allows us to see where they appear in Scripture and understand them as God’s joke for us.

Steve Wilkens
Steve Wilkens

Steve Wilkens is a professor of philosophy and ethics at Azusa Pacific University.