Sort of on the same lines as the last few posts on worship, here’s Vanhoozer on the church’s drama (he’s not talking about movies or skits!).
“It is an unfathomable, if not unpardonable, sin to drain the drama out of the biblical story of redemption. Dedramatization happens in one of two ways: either one dilutes the action to a moral or a message (i.e. by principlizing) or one fails to draw the audience into the action. To be sure, the material is pure gold; yet the church all too often manages to turn the drama of redemption into cultural dross. The church becomes deadly theater when it loses its prophetic edge or when its members become passive spectators who feel no call to become participants. The church must hallow, not hollow, God’s name.”
Or, in Sayers’ terms, “It is the neglect of dogma that makes for the dullness.” Vanhoozer continues: “Doctrine provides direction for doing the truth of Jesus Christ” (emphasis his). …The church does not have to stage revolutionary performances; it is revolutionary theater. For everything the church says and does in its liturgy and its corporate life continues the theo-drama, and hence is subversive of mere worldly powers and structure.”
These quotes are taken from chapter 12 of The Drama of Doctrine (Louisville: WJK, 2005). If you lose, water down, or replace the dramatic doctrine of Scripture with warm fuzzies, chicken soup for the soul, or moralism, the church sort of implodes, explodes, or just becomes another talking building in town. However, if the dramatic doctrines of Scripture are embodied in the liturgy and lives of the saints, the church is a counter cultural drama of what God has done in Christ.