Monday, January 3, 2011

God's stage play

We humans have great difficulty understanding the Creator and His ways.  I should know - I've spent decades of my life trying.

One of the best ideas I have had in this pursuit is to think of the events of the world as a stage play in which the Author, God, has written the script and the Director, Jesus, has been given the authority and responsibility to ensure the script is faithfully performed on the stage.

The stage play idea has some weaknesses if taken too far, as all illustrations and parables do, so I have only been using it tenuously and privately in my mind until this week, when I discovered other authors suggesting a similar idea.

For example, C.S. Lewis in "Surprised by Joy" wrote that he thought God might project us in the same way a dramatist projects his characters, and Lewis could no more meet God than Hamlet could meet Shakespeare.  In his journey towards awareness of a personal God, Lewis decided that if Hamlet and Shakespeare were to ever meet, it must be Shakespeare's doing, as Hamlet could initiate nothing.

Interestingly, Lewis also conjectured that Shakespeare could make himself appear as 'Author' in the play and write some dialogue between Hamlet and himself.  He then explained that the 'Shakespeare' in the play would be, at the same time, both himself and one of his characters, a bit like God and Jesus in the real world.

William W Bentley, Jr. wrote a short essay called "The Simple Story of the Universe" which was presented as a play of 5 acts, with several scenes in each act.

And Thomas Heywood, an English playwright of the 17th century, once said, "The world's a theatre, the earth a stage, which God and Nature do with actors fill."

Amazingly all three of these writings came to my attention in the space of just one week, the week between Christmas and New Year, so I decided I should give my stage play idea more serious consideration than I had previously done and jot down my thoughts for you to consider.

So, to begin with, please consider this brief outline.......

God wrote the script for a play through which His eternal purpose would be accomplished.  He designed the stage and chose the role and character of each actor in the play.

God produced a Son, called Jesus Christ, through whom the stage and the cast were created.

Jesus was given the script and the authority and power to direct the play from beginning to end.  During the course of the play Jesus donned an earth-suit and played the starring role.

After the final scene of the final act, Jesus will present the whole cast to God when every actor will be warmly welcomed into God's eternal family.

This way of looking things helps me in several ways.
It reminds me that God is really in control of our world - everything is predestined.
It reminds me that we have no choice in what part we play in the grand drama of life. (who has chosen their parents or their nationality or their birth date or their personality or their .....?)
It reminds me to love even the villains in our lives, as their roles have been pre-determined by God (remember Judas?).
It reminds me that God is love and fair, and that every actor will eventually be welcomed into God's eternal family, even if the villains have to be cleaned up a bit before they are presented to Him.
It reminds me that God really is all in all.

Well, that's the first time I can remember sharing this idea with anyone.  
What do you think?
Do you think it is worth fleshing out further, by revealing the script?


  1. Hi Barry,

    I do like what you are saying. It parallels my study into Arminianism and Calvinism - major strongholds in Christian thought that need to be deconstructed where they are not appropriate.

    I'm intrigued that we and others are being drawn in this direction. The view of sovereignty that Calvin had is quite good, so it had to be messed up by the kingdom of darkness by adding predestination to damnation, that forced people into an Arminian stream with all its inherent flaws that dilute the power of grace.

    Yes indeed, I do say it is worth fleshing out Barry. Good work brother! :)

    Cheers, Rog

  2. In following up Roger's challenge to 'flesh out' the stage play idea, I've had some really interesting thoughts. I thought I would share one of them with you.

    Since God, through Jesus, created everything, Satan was created by God. Many Christians say that he was created a good angel and became bad and rebelled against God's authority. They incorrectly use some verses in Isaiah and Ezekiel to justify this view.

    But think about this.

    Jesus said the devil was a murderer from the beginning. (John 8 : 44)
    God said that He created the destroyer to work havoc. (Isaiah 54 : 16)
    God also said He created darkness and evil, as well as light and good. (Isaiah 45 : 7)
    He was the Creator of everything.
    If God wrote the script for the Great Drama of the Ages and created the characters and assigned them their roles, then Satan was created to do the job he is doing (right from the beginning).

    Paul said that the creation was forcibly subjected to futility or frustration because of God's choice. (Romans 8 : 20)
    Solomon called this an experience of evil to humble us (Ecc 1 : 13), which Paul described as
    God having consigned us all to disobedience. (Romans 11 : 32)
    Job also recognised that we and the one who deceives us are both under God's direction. (Job 12 : 16)
    If God wrote the script for the Great Drama of the Ages and created the characters and assigned them their roles, then Satan had a starring role in it that God clearly gave him.

    Here's the thought I want to share with you.
    I think Satan is more obedient to God and more successful in his role than we are in ours.
    What do you think? Barry


All relevant comments are most welcome. However, please express any disagreement you might have without being disagreeable and with grace towards those who might not hold your point of view.