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Kevin Vanhoozer’s Theodrama

Kevin Vanhoozer argues that doctrine is direction for our fitting participation in the Theodrama.  The advantage of this view is that it protects us from simply repeating what happened in the Bible without taking account of our change in settings.  (Hence we are catholic, recognizing that the people of God have lived out the gospel differently in different settings.) On the other hand, it protects us from an “anything goes” attitude.  (We are evangelical.)

This is certainly a difficult model to put into practice.  It is difficult to come up with creative expressions of our faith for our situations.  It is even more difficult to make sure that our creativity is “fitting” or an authentic re-presentation of the gospel.  If it is truly creative, it will not look quite like what has gone before.  “Fittingness” seems to be more a matter of degrees than of right/wrong, and that can get messy.

I have two questions stemming from this:

1. What motivation do we have to keep participating imaginatively when it gets tough?  Every move of God has its detractors, usually from within the church.  And if we are really being creative, we will probably get it wrong from time to time.  What’s to keep us from throwing up our hands in frustration and saying the whole endeavor is just not worth it?  It’s much simpler to try to repeat what happened in the Bible.

2. What motivation do we have to keep our participation “fitting?”  I’m thinking specifically of how to pastor church members who are living their lives under a different set of “stage directions” like the pursuit of worldly success.

Or at a corporate level, what motivation does the community have to listen to the advice of the dramaturge?  As an undergraduate I took a course in theatrical stage lighting, and I had an assignment to develop a lighting concept for hypothetical production of a play.  I decided that my imaginary director and I were going to produce the play at odds with the intent of the play’s author.  Where the author had intended disunity, we would try to interpret the lines ironically, and instead emphasize the theme of unity.  I’m not sure my concept would have really worked in practice, but it wouldn’t have stopped me from trying.  Now if I had had a dramaturge, telling me I was not being faithful to the intent of the author, what authority would she have?  Why would I want to abandon my vision for the play for that of the author?

In other words, why should the community adopt a “cannon linguistic approach” over a “community linguistic approach”?  Why shouldn’t a church that preaches the prosperity gospel be content with the way their community interprets the scriptures, especially when it seems to “work” for them.  Or what motive is there for a church that has accepted homosexuality to change its views?  Or closer to home, what motive can we give to churches to give up “the way we’ve always done things” in order to find new and fresh ways to live out the gospel in our communities?

I’m very curious to find out what others think about these things.  I really love the concept of Theodrama, but I am having trouble figuring out how to work out the practical implications for real life.

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