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Majiloon
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Hello-

I am very much interested in conducting a discussion of the proper place for a so-called gospel magicians- as exactly labeled. I see this topic in books, videos, and some entertainers call themselves such.

On what basis of scripture is a person given authority to use magic stunts with the gospel as its theme – in a church service?

Please don’t think that I am picking a fight- quite the opposite!
I am not naive about such a topic, as I have grappled with the fundamentals of this problem for 25 years. It goes without saying- but I will say it anyway- that anyone of faith must be courageous enough to be transparent about his motives and responsible enough to continually clarify himself to God, always moving toward perfection.

So- does the term “gospel magician” have a place- and if so, by what authority? What would be the most appropriate place for this type of presentation?

Please do not send me the FCM web site—I believe that it makes a definition based on the very assumption that I am questioning here.

Does the term Vocation and Ministry ever come together? Can they both be accomplished at the same time?
Okay that’s too many questions in one post- sorry,

But some of you may be keen to what I am getting at… this should be positive and very healthy. Thank you!


Cheers,
Kelly Duro
No longer taking Private messages , thank you.
Macbeth
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Quote:
On 2005-01-25 04:22, Majiloon wrote:
Hello-

I am very much interested in conducting a discussion of the proper place for a so-called gospel magicians- as exactly labeled. I see this topic in books, videos, and some entertainers call themselves such.

On what basis of scripture is a person given authority to use magic stunts with the gospel as its theme – in a church service?

Please don’t think that I am picking a fight- quite the opposite!


I don't think that you are picking a fight

If you replace the word Magic in your question and replace it with dance/puppetry/storytelling/drama/video presentations/pictures/film clip/background music etc. you will have the same sort of issues.

Without quoting FCM my answer is as follows:

We want people to hear and respond to the Gospel, Advertisers want people to hear about their product and buy it.

Advertisers utilise peoples want to be entertained and appeal to their learning styles (see end of message). Adverts are more interesting that just listening to someone prattle on for 45 minutes, whilst sitting on a uncomfortable chair.

Magic helps present a message that is both entertaining and challenging whilst touching on all learning styles.

If you ask a Church member what is more important? The Gospel or the latest washing powder, they will say the Gospel.
Whilst we all know it is the Gospel, we often feel that the presentation of the message is unimportant. However people respond to presentation as well as the message. Non verbal communication accounts for a majority of what we "hear".

Let's use magic for what it is. A helpful tool for presenting the Gospel and building relationships.


Does this answer your question. I apologise for it being a bit disjointed.

There are different Learning styles, Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic & Tactile Magic can touch on all 4. If you get people doing something (Pointing fingers and joining in with magic words) Listening and watching, then the message is remembered longer and more likely to take an effect.
ThePartyMagician
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I agree with everything Macbeth just said!

Doing Gospel magic just for the sake of Gospel magic is pointless. But...

....When it is done at the right time and for the right reasons, it can be incredibly powerful.

The most powerful 'sermon' I have ever heard was when Pete McCahon did a straitjacket escape with a Gospel message. It made an impact on me that I still remember, and literally changed my life.

Kind regards
Mike
Leland Stone
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Greetings, Magi:

I don't know of any Scriptural admonition to graft the Gospel onto a presentation of Magic -- or drama, puppetry, dance, or any other art form, for that matter. It seems to me that any such hybridization is the result of human vanity ("let's add something, and make the Gospel more appealing. That way, more people will listen and respond!")


It is true that God has ordained the means as well as the end, and it is impingent on all who bear the Gospel to so in diligence and wisdom. Nevertheless, I believe the question of "presentation" is moot.

Ezekiel was commanded to speak in a graveyard, prophesying to the dry bones these words of the Lord, "...you will come to life." Paul said that "neither he who plants, nor he who waters, is anything; only God, Who gives the growth." Paul further noted that his preaching was "...not with wise and persuasive words... ."

Believers are required to use their trade as a witness to God's providence and a demonstration of faithful stewardship of His blessings. But Gospel Magic...or Gospel drama or Gospel carpentry or Gospel whatever...is in my opinion a synergistic approach to evangelism that has no Scriptural support.

The Gospel isn't effective because it's implemented, but because it's ordained.

Sincerely,
Leland Edward Stone
thesecretllama
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Let those who have ears hear. I think that those who use the gospel as a tool to improve their trade or client base would certainly not demonstrate stewardship. Thankfully, we know God blesses the message, not the messenger. However, I cannot deny the effectiveness of using tools to help those who would not otherwise understand. Christ did it with stories all the time. I didn't begin to understand grace until I read the story of the "prodigal son" which would much more appropriately be called the story of the "gracious father." Was it synergistic, human vanity that Christ himself used the art of story in such a way? I don't know. Maybe you don't see this as the same thing. What I do know is that we are called to make disciples. I have never witnessed (and perhaps this is my own lack of experience) someone begin the Christian journey at the foot of a street preacher, who proclaims the hellish consequence of not hearing God's law. I have however, known folks to begin that Christian journey at a gospel magic show. As for scriptural admonition, well, interpretation goes a long way. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 is a good start (overused, but a good start).

I agree with Mr. Stone that "the gospel isn't effective because it's implemented, but because it is ordained." But God's people are effective because of faithful obedience in sharing the Gospel. But I feel that in some way, we want to de-legitimize gospel magic because somehow the we have seen some Gospel magicians who have not brought any value to the art and are just not that good. We seem offended by this. In the same way I have seen magicians who are quite good in the field of magic, but their theology and biblical interpretation just doesn't cut it. In these cases, should the question be "On what basis of scripture is a person given authority to use magic stunts with the gospel as its theme – in a church service?" or should it be "On what basis do you think God doesn't require our very best?"

humbly,
Evan Abla
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Two things that we try to live by. By live by, I mean in all that we do, wether it be our ministry, vacation, hobbies, whatever.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23
For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the Law I became as one under the Law (though I myself am not under the Law) so that I might win those under the Law. To those outside the Law I became as one outside the Law (though I am not free from God's Law but am under Christ's Law) so that I might win those outside the Law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I might by any means save some. I do it all for the sake of the Gospel, so that I might share in its blessings


The other is the parable of the talents.

I think this parable is eluding to the fact that God gave us the world and it is up to everyone of us to build up his kingdom by bringing more people to Christ.
Also it says that since God has been merciful to us by giving us talents we should show mercy to others and preach the word and make disciples of all nations. Because God has blessed us all with different capabilities in order to Glorify God and he expects us to use all he has given us to build his kingdom. If Christ lives through us we are supposed to be the light of the world. On judgement day our Father will ask what we have done to glorify his name, what we have done with the talents and the time God has given us.

I specifically chose to only post the verses from 1 Corinthians and not our opinion or comprehension of them. But instead, to let the readers here think about for themselves what it means.

Hope that helps. I think this discussion will be very healthy and look forward to hearing other's thoughts.

Kevin
Living Illusions
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Kristen Johnson aka Lady Houdini
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Majiloon
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Thanks Leeland,
Your comment;
I don't know of any Scriptural admonition to graft the Gospel onto a presentation of Magic -- or drama, puppetry, dance, or any other art form, for that matter. It seems to me that any such hybridization is the result of human vanity ("let's add something, and make the Gospel more appealing. That way, more people will listen and respond!")

Is near to my original question.-- This hybridization is what I am trying to highlight. It occurs to me that this idea is not given precedence anywhere in the scripture. Nor is anyone with any sort of learned skill given authority based on his or her skill level in order to be a public minister.

As far as being blessed with abilities, I don’t think that God blesses us with talent. I believe that God blesses us with the opportunities in order to develop skills, and we adopt them based on our pre-disposition. God has no more to do with our display of learned talent than a football player scoring a touchdown. Did God give us the touchdown?

Cheers,
Kely Duro
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thesecretllama
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Your original question was "On what basis of scripture is a person given authority to use magic stunts with the gospel as its theme – in a church service?" The answer is none per se. But are you asking your question to legitimize or delegitimize what ministers of the Gospel (who as in Pauline theology are called to become all things to all people) do?

Accorging to your secondary question "So- does the term “gospel magician” have a place- and if so, by what authority? What would be the most appropriate place for this type of presentation?" I would say that perhaps the answer is in the preceding paragraph, "anyone of faith must be courageous enough to be transparent about his motives and responsible enough to continually clarify himself to God, always moving toward perfection." I assume here you are referring to some theology of holiness. If in fact the "gospel magician" is "transparent about his motives" and always being perfected (with emphasis in the present progressive Kingdom of God, the already/not yet)then one would know that there is no authority in who one is as a magician. Our authority is only given by God and ordination by His church. Our authority is the Great Commission, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and him crucified to go into the world and make disciples.

In your third question regarding vocation and ministry. I think Eugene H. Peterson's works on pastoral ministry speak well to this. In "Working the Angles" he describes the difference between a profession or craft and a job. He writes, "A job is what we do to complete an assignment. Its primary requirement is that we give satisfaction to whomever makes the assignment and pays our wage." And regarding professions or crafts he writes, "In these we have an obligation beyond pleasing somebody: we are pursuing or shaping the very nature of reality, convinced that when we carry out our commitments we actually benefit people at a far deeper level than if we simply did what they asked of us." I think this speaks to all ministers of the Gospel. And can speak to those of us who are Christian first and merely everything else second. It is the Word, the Gospel that transforms the nature of reality (the message), not the preacher, teacher, minister, speaker, magician, storyteller (the messenger).

However, if you are questioning or critiquing the many times trite Christian "subculture" that has risen out of the second half of the 20th Century, then perhaps you could be more direct in your questioning. This is the sense that I get from your questions: that perhaps there is a problem with an institution that creates for itself a place so that it does not have to face the world to which we are called to disciple. I agree with you if this is a part of what you are saying. I hope this is not putting words in your mouth. I am sorry if it is.

humbly,
Evan Abla

Leland, thank you for your thoughtfullness, in this:

"I don't know of any Scriptural admonition to graft the Gospel onto a presentation of Magic -- or drama, puppetry, dance, or any other art form, for that matter. It seems to me that any such hybridization is the result of human vanity ("let's add something, and make the Gospel more appealing. That way, more people will listen and respond!")"

How do you understand "Gospel?"

In the way that I understand what you are saying, I think that this to some degree limits the gospel to words. I think this marginalizes who the Gospel is. Your assumption that tools dilute the Gospel is also very marginalizing to folks who don't always understand word and would certainly not understand the gospel in words. I think the point is that the Gospel who is Jesus Christ is internally comprehended (inward grace) and this produces an external response (outward sign). If we are limited to speaking the words of the gospel, then we limit the creativity that God has blessed us with in creation. God, in creating us in his image, has blessed us with His creativity. Creation is a creative and redemptive act. As the Holy Spirit shapes us into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:17-18), we are also learning to speak, act, move in creative/redemptive ways in our lives to share the Gospel, thus reflecting the God in whose image we were creatively created.
Leland Stone
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Hiya, Evan:

The literal meaning of "Gospel" is, of course, "Good news." That is, we who are born condemned by the Law and whose only end is death may receive instead everlasting life through faith in Christ.

I do believe that this message is primarily, if not exclusively, communicated through words. Jesus taught with words, the disciples taught with words, the Epistles taught through words; in fact, words were so highly regarded as the means of transmitting Scripture that Jesus rebuked Satan by appealing to the record, "It is written..."

Others have suggested that Gospel Magic is an attempt to communicate the Good News through the art of storytelling, as Jesus supposedly did with His parables. But this is wrong: Jesus did not use parables to explain the truth, but rather to cloud His meaning (Luke 8:9-10.) Note, too, that Jesus had to explain each of His parables to the disciples; if the intent were to make things clear through storytelling, the parables failed.


I enjoy much reverent art that is based on Scripture: "The Last Supper," "La Pieta," "Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring," and "The Chronicles Of Narnia." But these are allusions, or allegories -- signs, if you will, pointing us in the direction of the Good News. I believe it's appropriate to enjoy our art and exercise the creativity with which God has created us, and I think it's all right to have a Gospel message woven into an artistic presentation. I'm just not convinced that crafting Biblically-themed art is the same thing as telling the Good News.

Leland
Majiloon
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“Let those who have ears hear”?
I’ve been banging my computer speaker for 10 minutes, can’t hear a thing!…

Holy- smokes… I’m sorry, but I was hoping for a down to earth discussion, hoping for some straight talk. – Nothing sinister going on here- just a discussion of the origins of this thing we have called – Gospel Magician.

So far none of the scriptures, nor especially the parables give authority to this type of presentation that I can see. I could even entertain the notion that if Jesus were here today, would he hire a Gospel magician to come perform for his congregation?

- Imagine him sitting there, saying to himself,- hey – I know how he did that!

Seriously though, what could you possibly offer His congregation in the form of magical illustration? For me, I think that I would sooner drop the apparatus, and speak frankly about ---

Somehow my magical talents and techniques seem inadequate. What of this thing called vanity?

Cheers,
Kelly Duro
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Kevin Ridgeway
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Kelly...
It will be hard to get you to understand my position on using one's talents for reching people, if you don't even believe that out talents come from God.
No God didn't give him the touchdown...but he gave him the breath of life, obviously motor skills and most importantly free will to decide what he would spend his time doing, ie...football.

I also apologize, I didn't see where you were asking at the beginning about magic used in a service. Which is exactly what is happening this very Sunday at our church. Our pastor is using three illustrations that Kristen and myslelf are doing to get across his message. Also, several times a year our pastor has Sunday at the movies, where he take clips from movies and uses them to illustrate his message. Don't forget people retain far more when they see than when they only hear. Is his message watered down?...no. It is reinforced.

Also, I believe in my humble opinion that we are having a straight talk, that you somehow don't believe we are having. You have posed a question, people have answered with thier opinions and beliefs. Wether you agree with them or not does not make it any less straight.

I hope you find what you are looking for.

Kevin
Living Illusions
Ridgeway & Johnson Entertainment Inc

Kevin Ridgeway &
Kristen Johnson aka Lady Houdini
The World's Premier Female Escape Artist

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Majiloon
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Nope- I wasn’t talking about you Kevin- you and Leeland have been straight talkers - and authentic as far as I can tell…

Nothing is hard for me to understand- at least with regard to this issue- I am not naive-- but I am open minded-

Boy- this is a lot of discussion within the first day of its post--- lets not try to tie everything up in one day- or make assumptions about my limitations of understandings.

Perhaps I am not confused, but interested in others benefiting in this open discussion.

BTW—Kevin- as a matter of my own curiouslity- are you being paid for the show you plan to put on for your own church?

Cheers,
Kelly Duro
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Kevin Ridgeway
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Kelly...
For what we are doing this Sunday morning, we are not being paid. I wouldn't describe it as a show, just meerly an illustration.
Now two months ago we did our full evening show at our church(first time ever at our own church). We donated the show to help raise money for a new parking lot. It was a ticketed public event.

I'm sure this discussion will last more than a day as well.

Kevin
Living Illusions
Ridgeway & Johnson Entertainment Inc

Kevin Ridgeway &
Kristen Johnson aka Lady Houdini
The World's Premier Female Escape Artist

www.LadyHoudini.com

www.livingillusions.com
thesecretllama
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I will say that this is a fantastic discussion. It is exactly what we all need to hear/see.

Leland,
Yes the literal meaning of Gospel is "Good News," no contestation here. However, I think you are still marginalizing word over image. I blame this on the fallacy of Modernity. I think it has spoiled the proper Biblical hermeneutics. The "Imago Dei," or Image of God, is spoken of in scripture far more often than word. We still have to understand that the scripture wasn't cannonized for two to three hundred years after Christ, not Christ written down, but Christ the actual fully God, fully man, imminent Christ. All this to say as we are being shaped into the Image of God, this is not done through words, but by the Holy Spirit.

I think what you have to say in your last paragraph is perfect, and to me, justification of what we do as Christians who happen to be magicians. You wrote, "But these are allusions, or allegories -- signs, if you will, pointing us in the direction of the Good News." I would not marginalize word to such "allusions" as the icons, art depicting our Saviors life, death, and resurrection. You are exactly right, they do point us in the direction of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist did the same thing, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." This is our job. This is what we do, we point the way. Like a voice in the wilderness. What we do connecting word with illustration/allusion/allegory is to discover the mystery of the real presence of Christ found at the table during communion. It is the balance of word and image, the Word and the Imago Dei. "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." (James 1:22) This is that balance between word and image. In my experience the "Do what it says" part is an infinately more effective bearing of witness than listening.

I am always careful to avoid marginalizing those 70% or so of folks in this world who are functionally illiterate, or who do not speak English, Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew or whatever language we find the story of our God written in. I do much better with word, lecture, sermon, text than image. But I also know that most people do not. It is too easy to expect them to understand without showing them (pointing) the way.

I think Kelly's questions are fantastic questions. Thank you for bringing them up. I notice this subject comes up a lot. I always enjoy the discussions and always learn something from them. I hope it continues. I love that God's children are so different, even in the way we learn. Dialogue just happens to be the way I learn best.

humbly,
Evan Abla
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I have been presenting the Gospel in the context of an illusion program for more than 27 years, for audiences as large as 25,000 and as small as a few hundred on 4 continents. Please know that I don't share this as a boast, but to say that I obviously believe in this medium as an avenue to talk to people about a relationship with the Lord through Jesus Christ.

I grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home and would not normally have considered going to church. When I was 18, a friend of mine shared his faith with me through genuine friendship. Eventually I began visiting his church on Sunday evenings, and eventually heard a clear presentation of the Gospel. I turned from my self-centered life to accept the forgiveness and undeserved grace offered to me through Jesus paying for my sin by giving His life on a cross. My life was drastically changed and I ended up being alienated from my family because of my faith.

After receiving my bachelor's degree, I received my Master of Divinity in Theology. I have served as a pastor for 11 years and now am a seminary vice-president in Canada. I am also working on a doctoral degree in ministry. For 15 years I traveled full-time with Illusions & Reality, and now I travel on a more limited basis.

Throughout my 27 years of being a Christian, I have always desired to share my faith with those who don't yet know Jesus. (1 Peter 3:15) I have never forgotten what it feels like to feel like an alien when attending a church service for the first time. There are always issues of unbelief, but I realize that many people have a stereo-type of both the Christian faith and a caricature of the Biblical Jesus. My goal is to build relationships with people, whether in person or from the stage, to share what the Bible says about people (we're sinful), Jesus (He was God incarnate), His atonement (He alone lived a sin free life, yet paid for our sins on the cross), and the resurrection (He rose from the dead to validate His claim of Deity; conquer death and send His Holy Spirit to indwell His followers.) My heart's desire is to share with people who would not normally go to church because of their pre-conceived notions or previous bad experiences. During the past 27 years I have shared with 100s of thousands who would fit into that category.

In my years of ministry, I have met many people in ministry with either purely wrong motives (hey, look at me; I can make money doing this; I have a captive audience so they have to listen to me), to people with mixed motives (I want people to know Jesus, but this also provides for my family's needs.) Although I would love my motives to be 100% pure, I would not be speaking with integrity if I said that my motives are always pure. By the way, I am not just speaking about people "onstage." The same could apply to anyone in ministry. Many have different motives. God is the One who judges our hearts, and we should constantly be asking Him to purify our motives. (Psalm 139:23, 24)

I also do corporate programs, because the quality of our program attracts people to book us. Although I don't share a Gospel message from the stage in these instances, I do share my faith before and after with anyone who God opens doors for me to share with. I also share my faith with my neighbors, with people through e-mail and with other relationships that I build over time. I strive to be authentic, humble, transparent and a person of integrity in all of my business dealings. This often builds bridges to gain the right to be heard.

What is my point in all of this? A person should share their faith using any avenue that God gives them. But I think that we always need to be asking ourselves the following questions:

1) What are my motives for sharing? Is it to bring attention to myself or to point people to Jesus? Would I still do this if I were persecuted for doing this?

2) Am I doing this for God and in His power? (John 15:5 and Proverbs 16:2)

3) Am I clearly communicating the Gospel, or am I just sticking in some Christianese and Bible verses to gain a Christian audience?

4) If I am trying to reach non-believers and the unchurched, am I using Christian cliches and Christianese (can I get an amen?) Why would we want unbelievers to act like those belonging to a Christian-subculture? (Matthew 7:21-23). Actually, why do Christians use Christianese anyway? Jesus spoke in ways that people could clearly understand.

5) Am I faithful in the little things? Do I spend daily time with God in prayer and in reading the Bible? Am I a servant to my family, friends and church? Do I give faithfully? Am I a person of integrity, whose "yes" means "yes" and "no" means "no." (Luke 16:10).

Please forgive me if I sound self-righteous or holier than thou. I strive for the things that I have mentioned above. I was not only saved by grace, I need God's grace daily. But I have discovered that in 27 years of walking with Jesus, that one of the greatest turn-offs to those who don't believe (including all of my family), are Christian hypocrites. It doesn't matter whether they are hypocrites from a stage, pulpit or in business dealings.

On the other hand, there is power in the Gospel message. In Philippians, chapter 1, Paul speaks of those who share the Gospel for assorted wrong reasons. But he doesn't care, as long as the Gospel is preached. He knew that (as stated in an earlier post), the power is in the message, not in the messenger. I have a friend, who years ago, watched Jim Bakker on television just to mock him. My friend was an unbeliever. One day, Jim Baaker shared the Gospel and my friend turned from mocking to Jesus. Jim Bakker's own confession was that his motives and theology at that time were wrong. But God blesses His Word, and He used it in my friend's life.

Kelly, the only reason that I use an illusion show to share the Gospel is because God uses it to bring people to Himself. He also uses the friendships that I make with people. (By the way, they stay my friends even if they reject the Gospel.) I tell people that I share because Jesus is the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me. Whenever you have experienced something wonderful, you share it with others.

May each of us walk in humility, filled with God's Spirit, in awe of His grace and willing to be used as He sees fit.

Lou Leventhal
Majiloon
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YES! –

Thank you Lou, I didn’t know that about you… In any case, you have brought up some things that I hoped for— namely qualifications---

Don’t most legitimate vocations have a system whereby qualifications and or credentials are set, in order to establish the validity of the practitioners?

Then comes the society of practitioners who follow and adhere to a ‘catechism’ (of sorts) so as to maintain the integrity of the vocation?

It seems (to me anyway) that there has been such an overemphasis of the encouragement of – well- what evangelicals call the sharing of the ‘gifts’ that little thought is ever given to preparation, qualification, legitimization, and pre-perspiration.

Lou is one of the most qualified people to present magical illustrations with a Godly message that I have run into yet! Unfortunately- I have run into too many magical preachers running around foolishly thinking that they are somehow helping God.

The Gospel by its very nature is offensive; if it is not- then it is not being presented properly. Sharing your personal testimony is another thing altogether, but the distinction is rarely recognized- with most so called – “Gospel magicians”, so they do both without consideration for the audience. Most of them do it badly- its rampant!-- and as a result give the precious few left, a bad name.

Cheers,
Kelly Duro
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Hi Kelly,

I certainly don't consider myself the most qualified at anything. But I deeply appreciate men like Andre Kole whose goal is to elevate both the authenticity of people's walk with the Lord and Christian message, as well as the quality of the illusions that they present. Andre has gained the right to share his faith in any arena not only because he is a brilliant inventor, but because of his humble spirit, generosity and genuine walk with the Lord.

Some may ask, "which is more important," walk with the Lord or professional excellence? I would always say one's walk with the Lord and understanding of the message that they are communicating. Does this mean that the quality of our presentations can "just get by?" Not at all!

Colossians 3:23 says that whatever we do, we should do it unto the Lord, not unto men. That means that if we are trying to "impress the Lord" and not people, what we do becomes an act of worship. He should always be our primary audience. The by product of this is a better communication tool for sharing the most important message ever conveyed.

Kelly, your absolutely right — the Gospel is offensive, but we shouldn't be! The Gospel is offensive because it says:
1) We are sinners. We're not basically good. We are dead and need new life.
2) The Gospel calls for change. That's what repentance is. People don't like change.
3) It calls for an admittance of weakness. I can't save myself — I need a Savior. People don't like being weak.
4) It calls for humility. Admitting before God and others that "I've blown it and I have no one to blame but me" is a hard message to swallow.
5) It calls for absolute truth. Jesus said that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one has problems with Jesus being "a" way. When you share His claims that He is "the" way, you begin making enemies! People like "relative truth," not absolutes!
6) Jesus said that we shouldn't be surprised if people hate us for being His followers, because they hated Him.

So can we be non-offensive communicators of an offensive message? I have a list below that are Scriptural principles that will add legitimacy to what we do.

We need to remember that apart from Jesus, we can do nothing (John 15:5).

I think that we need to ask God to help us to always speak the truth in love.

I think that we need to live what we teach and pay close attention to how we live. (1 Corinthians 11:1 & 1 Timothy 4:16).

I think that we need to present a persona on stage that is friendly, caring, humble and technically excellent. We should be building bridges to peoples' hearts to share the Gospel. By the way, excellence is doing the best you can with what you've got!

I think that we need to treat spectators kindly on stage.

I think that we should be seen as humble servants before and after the show, no matter how large the audience, whether sponsored by a church or performing secularly. As Daws Trotman of the Navigators said, "How do you know if you're a servant? How do you respond when you're treated like one?"

I think that we should never bad-mouth other entertainers, Christian or otherwise. If we have something negative to say, that will be constructive, we should talk to them, not about them. (Ephesians 4:29).

Thanks again Kelly, for bringing up these questions. It is always good to spur each other on to be the best we can be for the Lord, inside and out. Too often we are on the "cutting edge of mediocrity! Smile

I look forward to seeing where this discussion goes.
Lou
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Okay- let me put it to you this way;

Andre Kole – as far as I can remember- is careful to separate the 2 functions of his program- first the entertainment, then a distinct break where he illustrates a biblical truth.

He doesn’t mix the two, and doesn’t take license without respect for the audience, and is careful not to offend God. He does this in a plainly obvious manner so everyone has an understanding, and given the opportunity to decide whether they want to hear it or not. This maintains a level of respect for his audience, and the audience toward him.

I think the main problem that hasn’t been brought up is –

That we are dealing with an arena as defined as the THEATER OF DECEIT —where we involve the theater of the mind by stimulating the imagination as a form of entertainment. In order to deceive, we (as magicians) have to suspend their disbelief- by conveying physiological and theatrical techniques. Audiences surrender and disengage normal beliefs to the degree they wish to enjoy themselves in this theater.

Conveying biblical truth requires- just the spoken word, and confronts deceit from every angle.

--Is it appropriate to think that mixing Biblical truths demonstrated within this ‘theater’ can be a troubling notion?

Children (or even some adults) that are not developmentally adept at handling abstract thinking very well could easily be misguided by such impressions.

Cheers,
Kelly Duro

Perhaps this question is too sharp a turn within this thread which is asking for the Authority needed for such a Gospel presentation, so I will restate this question and start another thread,

On what basis of scripture is a person given authority to use magic stunts with the gospel as its theme – in a church service?

Thanks,
Kelly Duro


Cheers,

Kelly Duro
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illusions & reality
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Hi Kelly,

I hope that I'm addressing your questions below. It would be easier to do this over a cup of coffee!

I never use the term "Gospel Magician," although I have no problems with those who do. To me it carries baggage of people who do not conduct themselves in a professional manner. Of course there are "Gospel Magicians" who are extremely professional and humble and godly people. Truthfully, I have found that to be the exception, not the norm (ouch!) Again, this is why I so deeply appreciate Andre Kole's heart in trying to help Gospel magicians grow personally and professionally. If I can help, I want to do the same. I have tried over the years, but again, it is because of Andre Kole's wonderful example.

Andre Kole does use illusions to illustrate Gospel truths (both his light bulb illusion & 3 ball illusion.)

Biblically, Jesus used visual aids, stories, miracles and parables to illustrate Biblical truths. When Jesus said that "I am the Bread of life" He didn't mean that He was a box of matzoh or loaf of wonder bread! He was comparing Himself to the manna that the children of Israel ate in the wilderness. In John 15, when Jesus said that He is the vine and we are the branches, He was illustrating the point that we must draw our very life from Him. The point is that He used visuals (a farmer scattering seed; a mustard tree; grapevines; birds of the air; etc.) to help illustrate God's truth.

Regarding illusion (or magic) being the theater of deceit, I would disagree. I always make it clear that what I do is done by natural means, and that anyone could learn to do these tricks. (As Andre says, any 5 year old could do this with 12 years of practice!) Although I do many large illusions and have been booked for major international corporations and churches of 10,000+, in the past 27 years, no one has ever accused me of having special powers. I think that people "suspend their belief" in the same way that we do when we see a play or movie. It is strictly a theatrical means to illustrate truth.

I perform for adults, and youth. There are often children in the audience (we request 5 years and older only), but they are accompanied by parents or an adult. If a child or adult cannot distinguish between illusions and reality (hence, the name of our program and ministry), they would have problems with any medium and message (cartoons, movies, etc.) Hopefully exposure to these types of programs, with proper guidance from parents, will be a part of the education process to help them differentiate the two.

I also speak at many large conferences and churches, without using illusions. I often use stories and illustrations, and people often comment on how much those help them understand Biblical truth more clearly. Again, it is vitally important that one understand Biblical truth before using a story, illustration or visual aid to illustrate it. People need to leave with a deeper understanding of the Biblical truth. If our stories, illusions or illustrations are remembered instead of the Biblical truth, we have failed. Again, a story, illusion, visual aid or illustration should point to Jesus and Scripture, not to ourselves.

In the Book of Acts, Simon the sorcerer wanted to be able to pay for the power to impart the Holy Spirit on others. (Acts 8:13-24) It is obvious that Simon the sorcerer is more concerned with what people think of him than of receiving God's gift. That's why the the Apostle Peter rebukes him. Again, this comes back to motive and heart issues. Are we pointing people to Jesus or ourselves?

As I have stated earlier, a part of the problem with "Gospel magicians" is poor theology. Whether one is a pastor, Sunday school teacher, author, or Christian entertainer, we are held to a higher level of accountability (see James 3:1) when we are teaching others God's truths. I do not believe that one needs to have a seminary degree to have solid theology. But when one is more concerned about double lifts, the newest trick or the latest issue of Magic Magazine, instead of growing spiritually and theologically, we are walking on shaky ground. Just sticking a Bible verse, or a catchy Christian cliche into our presentation, does not make it a Christian or Biblical message.

With the plethora of Christian books, internet access, Bible schools, seminaries, church discipleship classes, Bibles, etc., there is no excuse for someone standing up in the name of God and teaching "half-baked" truths! If you cannot discuss intelligently what you believe and why offstage, you have no business being onstage!

I do agree that it is fine to share your personal testimony in the context of a performance. But again, if you are speaking about what God has done in your life, please make sure that your life reflects the Life of the One you claim now indwells you! You can share your testimony as soon as you become a Christian (John 9 - the story of the blind man who's eyes were opened. "I don't know all the facts about Jesus, but I do know, once I was blind and now I see" - my paraphrase.)

The idea that we don't need to be prepared and discipled, as well as technically ready is ridiculous. A teacher, lawyer, athlete, doctor, missionary, (the list goes on) who wants to serve God takes time and diligence to do the necessary preparation. It is far to easy to purchase a trick this morning and perform it that evening. Of course God can use us when we have beenn put in circumstances beyond our control, but how often is this really the case? We usually are too interested in being on stage instead of taking the time to prepare our hearts, skills and theology. Again, this is a generalization, but it is part of the reaon that "Gospel magicians" have a bad reputation.

The Apostle Paul tells Timothy the following, "Keep a close watch on yourself and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right, and God will save you and those who hear you." (1 Timothy 4:16, New Living Translation)

Kelly, I'm not sure if the above addresses your questions and issues, but I'll keep trying!

Warm regards,
Lou
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This thread is essentially duplicated in http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......6&17 A Gospel Dilemma begun by the same poster as this thread.

Therefore this thread has been locked and further discussion should be moved to the aforementioned topic.

BroDavid
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