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Shoulds skits or drama pieces  be used during AY sessions and if yes what limits or guidelines should be followed so as to not let become entertainmet rather than something spiritually uplifting and edifying.?

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Clearly Ellen White was against theatrical productions.  She was also against fiction. 

I would make a couple of points, she is a prophet, but her writings are not part of the Bible.  There are other prophets as well, some of whom probably disagree with views on theatrical productions.  The church has chosen not to conscript her views on theatrical productions into a belief statement or baptismal vow.  When writing about theatrical productions she is stepping way out in front of the Bible which has no such injunction - so her writings in this one area can not be "tested" by the Bible.  And, her views were not out of step with what some of her contemporary religion writers were saying about theater productions at the time.   If White were writing today she would probably not dwell on theatrical productions.  Religious thought leaders now days focus on issues like abortion,  immigrant rights, racism, sexism, issues that the Adventist church does not take a strong enough stance on since it is so pre-occupied with 19th century issues.


Now I've seen some arguments that say she was only against "bad" theater, using this quote:

"Can you glorify God by being educated to represent characters in plays, and to amuse the audience with fables? Has not the Lord given you intellect to be used to His name's glory in proclaiming the gospel of Christ." If you desire a public career, there is a work you may do. Help the class you represent in plays. Come to the reality. The Lord has given evidence of His love for the world."--RH June 21, 1898.


But I'm not going to go there, she was obviously against theatrical productions and we have to deal with it.  If someone chooses to canonize her statements on theatrical productions then they should stay away.  But do not accuse those who don't canonize those statements of leading the church into the depths, despair, and Babylon; White herself did not say that. 

It's a little silly to say "Annie" for instance is an evil play. To prohibit that would require prohibiting all fiction and all television and film, which I recognize that some Adventists want to do.  I would say stick to it if that's what you truly believe; but that is not an SDA belief.

White spoke out against a Christmas program that contained drama at the Battle Creek Sabbath School as well, I don't think it was just the theater she was opposed to; I think she was pretty much opposed to drama, kind of along the lines of what Rush4hire is saying.

I agree that there is nothing wrong with Christian drama, or Annie for that matter.

You went to SAU and you still can't get a job?  You better get a trade to fall back on.

Jill Hogan:

"When writing about theatrical productions she is stepping way out in front of the Bible which has no such injunction."

There are also no injunctions in the Bible about tobacco, coffee, marijuana, etc.  But there are things that compare.  It says we shouldn't even eat with drunkards, who call themselves brethren, (1 Cor. 5:11).  A drunkard is someone who is so addicted to a substance, that he can't live without it, and this is comparable to idolatry, as stated by EGW many times.  Otherwise, how can the Bible condemn it, if it doesn't break God's commandments?

But, she says the message can't be jazzed up with drama.  "The precious truths given us are to be spoken in all solemnity and with sacred awe."  {19MR 125.3}   Who can argue with that?

1 Peter 3:15    But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:  

Luke  21:15    For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.  

2 Tim.  4:2    Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.  

Mark  1:22    And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.

Meekness, fear, wisdom, longsuffering, doctrine, and authority are what we need, and these can be undermined by pride and love of display.  That's what she saw.  Pride and vanity are condemned in the Bible.  Or, was she seeing things that were not really there?  Was her discernment faulty?

But, she must have been talking about a certain kind of drama, for a good preacher has to be somewhat dramatic to be effective.  Their preachers, back then, where very dramatic.

Alexander Scourby is my favorite Bible reader, and he got his experience in Shakespearean acting.  So, that was useful.

When we read the Bible, we are creating a reenactment in our minds.  A wholehearted, and well performed, reenactment can attempt to do that for us, if they really are trying to illustrate a story.  She couldn't have been talking about this.

But, I've given an example of what she surely meant.  I also recall magicians and juggling clowns, trying to entertain, while they somehow "sow the seeds of the gospel", at the same time.  That's just inappropriate.

Can you guys think of an example of what she meant?  That's what I'm hoping to hear from you all.  But, all I'm hearing is "She was just wrong", or "It's not the Bible", etc.

We can make a good case from the Bible for the whole health message - even if the Bible doesn't mention coffee.  There is no Biblical case for a broad strike against drama which would cover Annie for instance.  Philippians 4:8 covers all off color dramas of course.

Philippians 4:8 covers all off color dramas of course.

The verse names things that are: "true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, any excellence, anything worthy of praise"

Every knows about the discomfort that a too funny, too dramatic or even too good performance can create in church. Sometimes God sees it fit to do just that. I'm not entirely sure how to reconcile that with some of the SOP statements - maybe "desperate situations demand desperate measures"?

Here's some rather drastic biblical examples of "performance art" that would definitely fall through in every church with our logo on it:

  • Hosea marrying a prostitute and naming his kids "no mercy" and "not my people" to prove a point
  • Ezekiel in model destroying "the" city and laying around on one side for more than a year
  • Elijah mocking the priests of Baal and greatly exaggerating the incombustibility of the altar with what little water the people had left
  • The prophet Micaiah lying to king Ahab when consulted about the will of God

Maybe presentation is less important than intent and form less important than the message. In our world art is often used to "express one's self". This is where I see the difference to biblical art, however grotesque it may seem to us today. God spoke in "many ways" to our fathers, I don't see why He can't speak in many ways to us today. However, speaking for God is one of the greatest responsibilities we humans can face.

I agree, don't do drama in church of those examples.  But some people on this board want to strike ALL drama, there is no support for that in the Bible.

Good points, Marko.

"However, speaking for God is one of the greatest responsibilities we humans can face."

Exactly.  And that's why I've quoted this three times, now:  "The precious truths given us are to be spoken in all solemnity and with sacred awe."  {19MR 125.3}

Jill Hogan:

"There is no Biblical case for a broad strike against drama which would cover Annie for instance."

She's talking about the precious truths that we are responsible for, not the moral lessons of "Annie".

But, you say Ellen White is making a broad strike against drama?  She has admitted to enjoying a fireworks display, and a concert that was not Adventist.  These are forms of art, like a floral display, or a museum, or gallery.  An educational, and worthwhile film can fall under this category.  It is also art.  But if you're just going to be dragged down a hole, where all the Devil's agendas are promoted, then it's probably not worthy of your precious time.  If you've seen one, you've seen them all. 

And, if you're into the ministry, as EGW was, theater is a waste of time, because real people are more interesting than the people you see on the screen, which we should admit, often do promote the Devil's agendas, like fornication, adultery, murder, vice, the Devil's music, taking the Lord's name in vain, etc.

Psalms 139:20    For they speak against thee wickedly, [and] thine enemies take [thy name] in vain.   139:21    Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?  
 139:22    I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. 

Psalms  101:3    I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; [it] shall not cleave to me.  
 101:4    A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked [person].  
 101:5    Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.  
 101:6    Mine eyes [shall be] upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.  
 101:7    He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight.

Exactly.  And that's why I've quoted this three times, now (...)

My point was God's messages don't always have to be spoken. And when, it's not always what you'd call solemn or in sacred awe. A good example for selective reception though.

Selective reception?

Wait.  All I had to do is look it up.

Ignoring, distorting, or discounting a message that is inconsistent with the recipient's attitudes, opinions, or beliefs. People use selective reception on a subconscious basis to avoid cognitive dissonance. Selective reception presents a challenge to advertisers trying to change strongly held beliefs. For example, a health-oriented consumer will probably discount any medical research claims made by a tobacco company on the assumption the claims are biased. See also two-sided message.


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