Iconoblog reminds me of an occasion in Germany 19 years ago. I was a PhD student staying in Mainz, Germany for a few months, working at Johannes-Guttenburg University in their elektronen-beschleuniger (electron accelerator).
One lunchtime, while walking through the campus, I came across a crowd gathered and some loud music playing. I realized that there was some mime artists working to the music. This was not the Marcel Marceu kind – you know – black cat suit, white face, pretending to be stuck behind glass. This was quite serious stuff. In fact, it didn’t take long before I realized that this was a Christian student group acting out the crucifixion story.
I found it quite powerful. I have seen lots of Christian drama since, but nothing has stuck in my mind quite so much as this. The combination of atmospheric music, slow motion skillful mime, portraying physical suffering was particularly gripping. The large crowd was gripped too. You could see them hooked.
Then it finished, the artists moved to one side and a guy got up and started speaking, obviously a student. He didn’t have a great voice or charismatic personality. But as far as I could tell from my pidjin-German he was attempting to preach the gospel.
The crowd scattered, almost instantly. They had enjoyed the drama, but come to the presentation of the truths the drama introduced and the people would not have it.
We can’t get past this kind of problem. No matter how we try and make the gospel attractive, hearers at some point must come face to face with straight, challenging, threatening, life changing, sharp, pointy, uncomfortable gospel truth. No one is in the kingdom because they found it was an entertainment centre.