The Christian and the theatre.
Five: Why would a practicing Christian even want to be involved with
are any number of good reasons why anyone is attracted to participation
in theatrical art. But as in most arts, it isn’t
for the money! Whether as a career or vocational
activity, nobody becomes actively involved with theatre unless they find it satisfies
some need for creation or expression which cannot be fulfilled in any other way.
Usually the individual who stays involved does so because they discover
they have the talent to be at least moderately successful in the undertaking.
And they discover that the theatre allows them other incentives, such as
personal pleasure, meaningful social interaction, and an outlet for service to
all can happen at a very early age, as if some people are destined for the role.
Many can’t remember when they discovered their artistic instinct.
Most theatre artists have always been theatre artists, but
must gain the techniques to polish their expressive abilities.
why would it be any different for a Christian? The
form itself is sacred if our use of it is sacred. Is
there a trepidation concerning the theatre environment? We’ve
suggested answers to that above. We can only argue
that any human enterprise is subject to misuse.
are, in fact, some cogent arguments which can be made (but not in total for this
abbreviated discussion) that a theatre-gifted Christian has an
obligation to actively pursue the art. A simple,
teasing listing of four or five will have to suffice:
Christians are commanded to pursue the dissemination of the gospel.
In much evangelical thinking, this is limited to the pronouncement of sacrifice
and salvation, usually accompanied with strong denunciation of sin.
While this is certainly appropriate, it overlooks the fact that God created
human beings complete, and that the purpose of His redemption is to restore them
to that completeness. The gospel, therefore, is the
announcement that being fully human, sanctified by sacrifice, is to be celebrated.
The art of theatre is an excellent means of exploring the nature of the
human condition, and therefore introducing the claims of completion and change
which lay at the heart of the gospel.
methodology, theatre communicates through example, abstractions, and metaphor.
Among its many tools for communicating is storytelling, in the manner of
parables. This, of course, was a primary teaching
tool employed by Jesus for the dissemination of his message, and in this
sense He opened the use of the method to the spreading of His gospel.
Christians with proclivities for theatre are under mandate to employ it
for the spreading of the good news.
The scriptures speak of the “gifts of the spirit” which are distributed
to persons for the uses of God. Among these gifts
are those of healing, teaching, preaching, and prophecy, all of which may be applied
as effects of the practice of good theatre. Christians
to whom God has given special artistic talents—unavailable to most people—are
mandated to offer their use back to His service. Anything
less would be a failure to be a completed, redeemed person.
In this sense, artistry is a call to a worthy sacrifice (and one we are
given joy in doing). Such sacrifice asks us to contribute
ourselves wholly in His service, a call we cannot dismiss.
Given the prayerful and careful choice of our involvements, be they acting, play
writing, designing, or construction, the dedication of our gifts to of talent
to God and the full involvement with our “selves” which the art requires
serves as an act of worship, wholly accepted by Him.
This is our reasonable service, one which comes from the core of our being
and special abilities.
God created us in His own image. This is not usually
taken to mean that God has shoulders and elbows, and eyelids and other body parts,
but rather that we are modeled in spiritual essence and capacities after His possibilities.
A major attribute of God is that of creation: the ability to foresee an
end at the beginning, the exercise of choice in causing a thing to exist, an endowment
of purpose to a thing which never was and now is. The
artist, as are all persons, is designed for the capacity of creation, and given
special tools for a special kind of creation. We
must create in the ways we are directed by our personalities and
abilities. We come to know God by attempting to emulate
By the teachings and example of Jesus, Christians are instructed to
assume the role of servanthood in this world. Because
of the talents we have been given, we are commanded to be complete artist/servants,
and by this means fulfill our task in the world in preparation for the next.
Christians so gifted must obey the special call of artistry
in their lives. And our attitude as artists must be
that of the servant to those persons around us.