Laurel or Yanny- Who’s Right Theologically?

I don’t know about you, but there isn’t any amount of convincing that will change what I heard! I’m referencing the current debate on whether you hear Yanny or Laurel. How can two people listening to the same recording hear two different things? On that same note, how can two people read the same scripture and end up in two different theological camps? Who’s right? Is it possible both are? What about authorial intent?

The Mind of Christ (Authorial Intent)

Scientifically there is an answer to the debate over Laurel or Yanny. I could end the discussed right here, but I wont give it away just yet! The original recording was done with one of these two words. In the same way God the author of Scripture said what He meant and meant what He said. How it is heard and interpreted is a whole other story.

If each believer is equipped with the mind of Christ through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:16) then how could even the most highly educated believers end up disagreeing over issues such as baptism, election, spiritual gifts, or women in leadership?  We all seem to hear totally different messages from God.

Consider the heated disagreement between Paul and Barnabas recorded in Acts 15. The seemingly innocent issue of bringing Mark on a missionary trip, perhaps not a deeply theological one, seems like Paul heard God say Laurel and Barnabas heard Yanny. Their disagreement was so severe they separated ways.

Yet time has a way of changing perspectives, doesn’t it? Paul eventually reconsidered and even called for Timothy to bring Mark along on his next visit as “he would be helpful in ministry”. (2 Tim. 4:11)

What changed? Or who? Mark or Paul? Maybe both, we don’t know but at any rate Paul hears differently from the Lord this time.

We All Have Bias

Here’s the secret. The audio illusion happens when it is played at different frequencies, the words are heard interchangeably to the listener. Yanny is heard at a lower frequency and Laurel at the higher. But what makes this tricky is that each person’s sound card (eardrum) has it’s own frequency filter. So for instance if you emphasize or minimize either the higher and the lower frequencies, you can toggle between the two words. And each person toggling point will be different.  It is said that age and maturity of the eardrum contribute to this as well as your brain. Our brains fill in the missing gaps. Whatever end result we hear is somewhat formed by our previous experiences.

This is exactly the same with Scripture. Theology is not as black and white as we think.  Age, maturity, and past experiences all play a role in how we understand God’s Words.

We process our beliefs through a pinball-like box . Filled with fears, failures, experiences, agendas, culture, traditions, personal preferences.. etc. and any given topic must bounce its way through all of these before it eventually reaches filtered conclusions.

We all come to scripture with incredible bias, whether we realize it or not


If we are not careful we will use the Bible and it’s truths to support our personal agenda and bias rather than seek out authorial intent (understanding seeking faith). We must be diligent to seek out God’s opinion on a matter and put aside our own, this is called faith seeking understanding.

If Seminary taught me one thing it was, maybe there are other views I hadn’t considered. My previous dogmatic approach led to self-righteous assertions which made me feel superior that I had “truth” on my side (in my opinion). I’ve since been striving to come to scripture unbiased and open.

“Lets not forget that truth is not found so much in a theology or philosophy or even a system but in a Person – Jesus Christ. ” Paul Tripp

We Can’t Change What People Hear or Believe

What should comfort us is that it is never our job to convict, convince, or convert anyone to hear what we hear. We can’t save people from mishearing, misapplying or even misusing the Bible. That is God’s job alone.

We can and  should certainly share our convictions, stand up to false teachings, but with humility and love.

I used to say if I could be anyone in the whole world I’d choose to be the Holy Spirit. Doesn’t that sound great!? Just get right to the serious spiritual business in every heart, changing people, growing real fruit… except someone challenged me one day and completely burst my bubble..

The Job of the Holy Spirit would be the most grievous jobs of all. Consider even the Spirit doesn’t force its will or way on people. That, many times the Spirit is grieved by our Sin and waits patiently for our hearts to soften or return to God. If God doesn’t force us to hear something different than we want to, we should take that as a queue.

We Can Love and Respect Without Agreeing

“I am deeply persuaded that the foundation for people-transforming ministry is not sound theology; it is love. Without love, our theology is a boat without oars…. the hope of every sinner does not rest in theological answers but the love of Christ for his. Without it, we have no hope personally, relationally or eternally.” Paul Tripp

When you get right down to it, God isn’t as much concerned with what you heard, than whether you repeated what you heard in love…

Berating and demoralizing others because they heard differently will not earn a potential for reconsideration. Consider how lovingly communicating your differences could.  Even right theology can be wrongly executed without love.

Love is amazingly effective at changing the frequency by which we communicate truth so others can hear it.

 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. ….If I do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Cor. 13:1-3)

Spoiler Alert: The original recording and frequency was done with the word Laurel. Yet, at first I heard Yanny all day long, now I hear Laurel loud and clear!

Funny how the way we interpret Scripture can be this same way.  Believing one way and then having a different understanding later. What  do you think Church, does this communicate to you? I invite your comments below!

Another test that will blow your mind! Listen to this!

Take the test and Learn how Laurel vs Yanny works here…

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3 Replies to “Laurel or Yanny- Who’s Right Theologically?”

  1. Jennifer not only did you pour out your heart, you echoed mine! It is so important that we respect each other’s “hearing” of the word because God speaks through love and not through bias. I pray we all listen to each other out of respect as fellow Christians. But we also need to respect and come alongside those who think differently. Otherwise love is lost! Thank you for sharing your gift with us.

  2. I THINK the solution is to really truly once and for all let go and let Christ act through us. I’ve not gotten the hang of this myself, so have your grain of salt ready, but “who’s right” is part of our own ego, and we are supposed to be putting that aside. We know for a fact who is truly right on all these issues, and that is GOD. So, it follows that if His Spirit is what is coming out of us, it will be right. And, to your point, yes, what will come out will be , first and foremost, love. GOD knows for a fact that He is right and we are wrong, but that is not what He beats us over the head with. Instead, he hammers us with His relentless, unconditional love. Great post! Thanks for making me think about this.

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