Drama Is Not Preaching

Drama (Theatrical acts or “The art or practice of writing or producing dramatic works”) cannot be equated as presenting the Gospel message. A few reasons (all salient points) for my belief in this:

  • The apostles did not employ such methods, although it was present and thriving in the context of that day.
  • Too subjective. Gestures, visual, audio and pacing combined differently gives off different messages to different people.
  • Audience need to employ their word base knowledge in understanding a preached message. The differences are based on background, education and culture. Drama brings in three or four times the amount of problems, as ‘gestures, imagery, sound and pacing’ differs across those lines (might be more dimensions involved).
  • Drama gives off a point clearly, but not a message. Details and defenses are not conveyed accurately (loss in translation).
  • It dilutes the importance of individual Gospel preaching. ‘Christians’ are contented with being a part of a drama Gospel show, than to actually do the real thing. Provides excuses for a ‘quiet Christian’ life without the guilt of it.
  • It stagnates the need for creative Gospel preaching (A general message is given after a ‘creative show’. Surprisingly, a message needs to be given to clarify the details that could not be brought out in the drama).
  • It’s entertainment folks. At most, it tells people that there is ‘a’ lesson to learn. Preaching brings home the point that there is ‘the’ lesson to learn.
  • Children are not dumb. The deaf are not stupid. The blind are not slow. Start giving thought to preach to these people without giving just a general point (e.g. God is love). They can learn more, if you give them credit and be more hardworking!
  • Parables are not mini-dramas, no matter how you spin it. They are preaching styles employed to push a point.
  • A drama takes a long while just to push a point. Given the same time, you could teach or preach a few points clearly to people.
  • Symbolism is used in the Bible to ‘hide partially’ the revelation of God (e.g. OT sacrifices and temple worship, was only fully revealed in the ‘type’ – that is Jesus). Why should we be employing a method that is clearly used to create ambiguity by God to preach a clear precise message to the people?
  • Anyone can preach the gospel using clear words of communication. Not everyone can act, sing, dance, use an instrument, etc.
  • It pushes the people who are involved to think that they are doing something more ‘spiritual’ since not many can be a part of it. So different from the preaching of the gospel (Paul gave praise to Timothy’s mother and grandmother for their roles in teaching Timothy the gospel).
  • Worldliness. Caution.
  • It undermines the need of ‘labourers’ in the Kingdom of God. It shows the general attitude of the church people.

I personally, would discourage strongly the use of drama, even in drawing in the crowd. In the end, the real work of the Word Ministry is depreciated when dramas are encouraged, especially for those who ought to learn otherwise (the youths). Yes, preachers and Christians should learn how to gossip the Gospel again, in their lives, and not only rely on once off events to ‘reach out’. Go into the world and preach and teach. The church has to do it as a group of people. Everyone, doing their part in preaching.

That’s the command from the Lord.

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11 thoughts on “Drama Is Not Preaching

  1. Well.. Obviously you subscribe to Calvin’s view of “Do only what Scripture commands”, as opposed to Luther’s view of “What Scripture does not prohibit is permissible”!!

    Neither view is totally correct, nor are they totally wrong. For example, Scripture does not prohibit smoking or abusing drugs, but this does not mean that smoking and drugs are good. Scripture makes no mention of cars either, but that does not mean that Calvin’s followers shouldn’t drive!

    So, to simply say that just we should not use drama because the Apostles did not, is not totally sensible either.

    Sure, I agree that we should not use dramas /exclusively/ without preaching. I know not of a church or even Christian drama groups that rely /solely/ on dramas to present the gospel. There could be conceivably some churches that are reliant exclusively on dramas, but I have not come across any.

    Dramas should be considered as aids to biblical preaching, and as such the drama artform is the ‘handmaiden’ of biblical preaching. In fact, parables could be considered dramas in words, without actual actors, with the dramatisation playing out in the imaginations of the listeners!

    It all boils down to whether the drama effectively /aids/ preaching, without detracting from the message of the gospel, and helps the listeners understand and remember the message.

    There are good dramas and bad dramas. Don’t let the bad one detract from the good ones. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

  2. I am well aware of the Regulative Principle of worship, which I wholly agree to (in contrast to the Normative). In fact, isn’t it interesting to note that Luther, for all the reformation that we seem to prescribe him (generally anyway) did not reform the church enough in the areas that were a snare to the believers then, and it took a whole next generation to complete (to a larger extent) the true reformation which we now (broadly speaking) enjoy?

    Anyway, your argument basically boils down to the ends justifying the means.

    The examples of driving a car and smoking, etc. is really a bad choice of example. Apples against oranges. Smoking is bad because of the indirect application of real biblical principles of the holiness of our physical body. The former example of driving, again is a matter of ‘common decisions’ akin to choosing a dress color or the type of socks you wear for the day. Scripture allows for our enjoyment of what God gives in our existence in the world, although that does not justify the use of wisdom based on context.

    You see, the issue is: what happens if you strip off the drama activities for a church? What you are left with is merely the true realisation of how much real growth the congregation is actually left with, especially in the area of evangelism. How much smaller and unprepared the people really are than what is shown through such endeavours.

    And based on my experiences, and the repeated examples in the scripture (Jeremiah 6:14, John 3:10 – Nichodemus showing ignorance of true spiritual condition of the people) not many people would want to face up to that reality of spiritual shallowness in congregations (see salient points 5, 6, 12, 13, 14, 15) until God really strips down the ‘normative’ principles by a show of force of some kind.

    The first point, of apostles’ non-adoption of a ‘worldly’ method, is the best credence we can ever have to put the Regulative Principle into practice. Their abstenance from such is loud and telling of our own determination to use what they did not use.

    Anyway, for those who hold to the Regulative Principle on this matter, we should just thank God for whatever good that comes out of it (Phillipians 1:18 ) but stay away from it lest we ourselves fall into what we know is stumbling.

  3. Lern, regarding the Regulative Principle, you mentioned that you “wholly agree to” it and then later went on to say “stay away from it”. Could you please clarify your position on it.

    On the issue of using drama as a tool of evangelism, the issue may not be as straight forward as it seems. When we hand out a Christian tract, use the internet to spread the gospel (blogs!), or write songs and novels, create artistic impressions, these are mediums employed which the believer needs to be careful in using. Thus, could I also include music & drama into the mix. A medium can be amoral but the content and the way it is used (this is wide ranging) may not be. I believe it’s important to make the distinction, between medium and method and message. I also believe an honest study of the implementation/execution and even the ‘results’ of using drama as a tool will show us whether it is a suitable one to be employed in a given situation.

    With that said, we should be very cautious in using drama as a tool in evangelism. Many participants in drama teams deceive themselves that they are really serving the Lord while their spiritual lives are a contradiction. The Greek word for a hypocrite is ‘actor, stage player’. On the flip side, let us be wary that the ‘actor’ is not the ‘hypocrite’ (biblical usage) instead. Er Lern has asked an insightful question as to what some are left with if this drama deal was stripped away.

    1 Corinthians 1 tells us that Paul’s used foolish methods in the eyes of the world, preaching. Both method and message were ‘foolish’. It’s when Christians fear looking foolish in the eyes of the world, and try to blend in to attract them in… that we really have a problem. Instead of creating new methods, why aren’t Christians getting back to God’s prescribed method?

    Do the churches these days dare try to bring in the crowds for an evangelistic meeting without some form of ‘entertainment bait’ ? Let’s say we remove the bands and drama teams and leave it down to a preacher and a congregation backing the man in prayer. The results speak for themselves as we see a growing trend of superfluity.

    btw, brother Moses, nice to hear you again after all these years.

  4. Adrian:

    It is clear already. But since many may not be reading in context, the ‘it’ in the context of the previous thought, refers to “normative principle”.

    You are not clear on the message of the post, Adrian. It was on Drama (visual representation), in contrast to relying on words to convey the message. Moses got it right on the main issue which I was addressing on; which is Drama itself. I have no qualms with whatever word-based presentation of the Gospel.

    Tracts, leaflets, booklets are one thing. But music, films, dramas, are not. The point which evangelical persons are not still looking at is what the Bible itself attest to; the Word is conveyed through words, not sounds, not music (notice the hymns are recorded without the notes, although they could have), not visuals. John could have appended the book of Revelation with gestures and visions, but CHOSE not to, even though the sight which he saw was a mix of everything and more than his senses could bear (hypertextual). Why is God exclusive on this? For that is the way the Word of God is conveyed and this is how He blesses His people. Which is why some churches put the apex of worship on everything else except the preaching of His Word. Either it’s the prayer, singing, Lord’s Supper, silence, whatever, no one wants to come to Him on His terms (the basis of Regulative Principle). Therefore, no one wants to do the things according to His Word (1 Samuel 13 & 15).

    We cheapen God’s Word by conflating it with worldly ‘mediums’. Slapping an amoral tag on the medium is merely one’s own presupposition. It is not what the Lord reveals in His Word. Prescribing a results based analysis on the acceptableness of an application is just bad theology, which is what sin itself is based on (Genesis 3:6).

    Our generation is so easy on their stances and are more open to the Normative principle. I suspect this is because they would rather ‘the freedom’ of doing what they want in the ‘unsaid’ things of the Word, than to ‘confine’ themselves in what is prescribed. Bluntly, it is a struggle in humility. This is in contrast to their fixation over minor matters.

    I am convinced that the larger Christian community is afraid of relying on the sure method of evangelism which is God ordained because it is one that will really bear true spiritual fruit. And just as it was in the times of the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:8), their preaching the gospel through words and deeds bore much fruit, and also much affliction (persecution). Instead, this generation contents themselves in conflating worldliness to get a more palatable ‘fruit’ which does not persevere to the End.

  5. Dear bro Lern,
    I pointed the discrepancy in your post for the benefit of others. 😉 Thanks for clearing that typo up.

    If you read my posts, you will not see me disagreeing on many of your points. You’ve put in good thought into it and it is an excellent piece on your position. I however was just trying to make a distinction between various means employed all in the context of the subject of drama. The points you brought up have far reaching aspects especially since you are discussing the regulative principle. But you are of course at liberty to put me down that I’ve failed to follow the train of thought. In fact much of what you retorted reinforces our mutual concern that the preaching of the word is being eclipsed by things which i termed ‘superfluity’.

    Also, while I used the word ‘result’, i did not mean for you to misconstrue my point that we use the ends to justify the means. Forbid it. I was alluding to the point that with hindsight (which you, i and others have after seeing how dramas are done), the results are telling. We can learn from the results, after all that’s why history has a lot to teach us. I also didn’t say the findings were by any means glowing or positive in nature.

    I’m just wondering… is drama moral in and of itself? Is it not the content and manner of the presentation that determines whether it is right or wrong? I refer to you on the subject of music. Is it moral or amoral? But when you bring in method and message, that totally changes it.

    Now if we’re talking about drama, You yourself use some form of dramatization when preaching all the time. While that certainly isn’t “drama” per se, just consider where you draw the line on this issue on visual presentation.

    I think one thing i can take from this discussion is that certainly, Christian liberty is a responsibility each of us must employ wisely. I have the same fears you have expressed as to where the Christian community is headed if things stay status quo.

  6. Adrian:

    1) It was not a typo at all.

    2) “Dramatization” is exactly what “storytelling” is. That’s off tangent to the main point. You’re mixing terminologies as if it can be the same. There’s no confluence that I need to consider.

    3) You can deal with your presuppositions as you see fit. My advice would be to deal it biblically.

  7. Pingback: The Seduction of Poles « Thoughts, Unleashed!

  8. God can use any medium to touch a soul. Many have been preached to for along time without result and then saw the passion of the christ and gave their hearts and lives to jesus. There are many people who have not even heard the gospel and jesus revealed himself to them in a dream. God uses dreams and pictures or visions even without a single word to draw people to himself. Do not condemn the power of visuals to reach souls, people react differently to different mediums, some respond through tracts, others through other means including drama. There are many people who have received divine revelation about drama or music ministry to preach the gospel.

  9. It is the Holy spirit that convicts a sinner of his or her need to repent and accept Jesus Christ, no matter the medium used.

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