Read any number of articles I’ve written, and you’ll know I’ve talked a lot about trends or biases that make it hard for evangelicals to value art.
One trend I haven’t talked much about is how Puritanism affected those biases.
Many people in the Puritan movement saw art (especially the theatre) as being inherently sinful or a waste of time.
Since Puritans were one of the earliest Christian groups to settle in America, their ideas about various topics still impact us today – including how we see the arts.
I’d like to remedy that situation by making a rebuttal to some Puritan arguments.
In 1616, an anonymous person wrote a treatise condemning theatre plays as sinful, signing the document as T.G.
As Phil Cooke noted, T.G. made several objections to theatre plays, including:
– Plays originally come from pagan rituals
– Plays deal in “murder and mischief”
– In plays, the actors use false names, wear inappropriate clothing and sometimes act out sins
– Approving of sinful plays means taking part in those sins
– Going to plays is a waste of money
– Church has warned members throughout history against attending plays
Even though this document only attacked theatre plays, it raises strong objections we can apply to all of the arts. Therefore, it’s important to see whether we can respond to those ideas.
Essentially, T.G.’s treatise raises 5 important questions:
- Can an originally pagan activity be good?
- Is portraying sin in stories sinful?
- Is relaying a fictional story the same as lying?
- Is spending money on entertainment wasteful?
- Do we sin by approving of stories where sinful things happen?
I will give my answers to each of these questions in later posts.
Stay tuned for Part 2. In the meantime, do you have any thoughts about this?
Let me know in the comments