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The Puritan View of Entertainment

You’ll get a kick out of this: A fascinating treatise published by the Puritans in 1616 was discovered that gives us an idea just how far back anti-entertainment sentiments go in the Christian community. Signed only by the initials “T.G.,” it cited numerous reasons why Christians should not see plays or participate in their production:

• The theater has its origin in pagan ritual.
• Plays deal in “murder and mischief.”
• The players take on false names, often wear inappropriate clothes and have to act out sins.
• By approving of plays we take part in the sins they act out.
• The fruit of play going is ill-spent money, time wasted and the New Man is weakened.
• The church historically has warned its members against the theater.
• God has judged the theater by allowing accidents to happen to actors and playgoers.

Whoever “T.G.” was, he had no vision about how dramatic storytelling could change people’s lives.  Sometimes we try so hard to keep from making mistakes, that we limit our potential, and certainly our ability to share a message of hope!

Get out there and take a risk today!

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16 Comments

  1. My question to T.G. – may he still be resting in peace – When the Puritan Missionaries went into Africa or elsewhere and saw naked women and practices they disapproved of did they still stay and evangelize? I hope the answer is yes, why should plays, movies, and what ever be any different. If you agree I have a screenplay in the “TITLE” contest at http://www.bluecatscreenplay.com entitled “Christian Sex and Violence” that needs your vote. It potrays what the title suggests with the outcome being love, grace, and redemption. The secular world will watch it if it ever gets made and some just might be led to the Lord.

  2. you have got this all wrong!!!!!!!!!!! All theaters were shut down because cromwell believed that leisure time was a sin and that they could only work  because they wanted to get a place in heaven. so i think you need to read up more and dont feed out lies on the internet i am still only in high school and i even know what happened and i dont pay attention in class!

  3. Hahahahaha! These are sentiments echoed today by so many Christians I have encountered. There really is nothing new under the sun. I’m off to the theatre now, on principle…

  4. These attitudes persist among protestants. Evidenced by very small budgets for storytelling and a huge budgets for didactic preaching.

  5. I’ve experienced this thinking and had to leave a Bible school because my wife and I wanted to take our children to a Disney Movie. During our counseling we tried to tell the staff we needed to support G rated movies so more will be made. We were told by going to G rated movies we were supporting R rated movies.

    You should have seen the trouble I got into when I talked in chapel about witnessing in a bar over Christmas vacation. All my friends went to the local watering hole and when they heard we were in town, that was the place we went to talk and catch up. I ended up witnessing, counseling and praying with over 13 folks that came to me in private while I was there. Watching their burdens lifted touched me so deeply. I was so happy I could be used this way but I was almost thrown out of the school after I shared what had happened. That experience touched me deeply too but not in a positive way.

    1. Wow sounds like that church has truly lost it’s purpose and spends all its time defending the status quo. I suspect it’s a social club disguised as a church.

  6. Ridiculous as it was serious. Great point Phil.
    The residue of Puritan and Reformation anti-art sentiments are still here 500 yrs after the reformation.

    Puritans understood much about piety, but not about culture. If they only examined Scripture with a broader view. i.e. – The life of Hosea and Gomer, Jeremiah acting out a play for Israel which included cooking over his own feces as God commanded(thereby defiling himself in the name of using a play to communicate truth).
    Our Institute gives practical rebuttals to this and other myths and misunderstandings Christians have about art and creativity. Too many Christian creatives are hindered by such hangups, leading them to give up working in L.A., NY, London, etc.
    http://a-e-m.org/arts-entertainment-institute

    Thanks again Phil for a reminder that even great theologians are fallible.

  7. There’s truth in what the Puritans said.
    I’ve seen both the puritan forcing viewpoint and the non/anti-puritan forcing viewpoint;
    both methods are to control another person’s choice to match their own viewpoint and neither are focusing on Christ.

    I don’t think Jesus would sit around watching hours of Game of Thrones for instance but he would deeply love on the people in it and working for it, maybe even appreciate the artistry in it and would go onto the sets where He chose to wisely go as God directed and leave and dust off His feet as God directed.

    I’ve seen a lot of Christian’s do extremely foolish things in the secular industry and honestly it makes my job harder as a Christian in the industry. I could use seeing more hesitation from them than just bulling it in a China shop as many seem to be doing. But the bottom line is either God asked you to be in it, or He didn’t and you obeyed accordingly or listened to your own will.

    So I’ll give the Puritans a plus one for attempting to be dead to themselves and dedicated before Jesus but of course follow Jesus before following anything else in any man made culture of the world as we are meant to create His culture everywhere we go as He did.

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