Imagine William Shakespeare wrote a play (hard to imagine, I know). It’s such a great play that many people think that actors should be hired to act out the play on stage. The problem is that the play is supposed to be five acts, but we only have the first four acts and the beginning of the fifth in our possession, with hints of how it will end. Most of the fifth act has been lost forever. What do we do?
It seems like the best thing to do would be to hire actors who are well-versed in Shakespeare, give them copies of this unfinished play to study, and then have them act out their interpretation of what they think the fifth act would look like.
In the same way, the story of reality, the story of God, the story the Scriptures reveal to us, is a play with the first four acts and the beginning of the fifth written out for us. We humans have been hired, so to speak, to act out the fifth act of this great play on the stage of life, knowing what we know of the first four acts.
This play was not designed to be read and enjoyed by only a certain group of people, but rather is intended for anyone and everyone. In the same way, the story of God, the story of reality, the story of the Scriptures is meant to set the stage for anyone and everyone to act out the fifth act; it’s meant for all humanity.
Since we don’t have the final act of Shakespeare’s play, it wouldn’t be right to complete the drama once and for all. Even the well-trained actors need to be open to different versions of the play. After all, the play will look different as it is acted out by different people in different time periods. The goal is not to once-and-for-all decide what Shakespeare meant to do in the fifth act.
In the beginning of Rob Bell’s book, Velvet Elvis, (review of Velvet Elvis) he says something similar to this, but he uses the illustration of an Elvis painting instead of a Shakespearean play. Bell then concludes the introduction by saying, “Welcome to my Velvet Elvis” – I.e. this is my interpretation of act five.
Throughout Christian history, and in our world today in 2006, there are many different groups giving their interpretation of act five. Most of them, unfortunately, will tell you not, “This is my Velvet Elvis” or “This is my Act Five,” but rather, “This is the Act 5.”
My goal is to become an actor well-versed in the first four acts so that I can faithfully live out on the stage of life the fifth act.