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I've been told Kierkegaard suggested that worship be a form of theater where the congregants are actors and pastors are directors. (This is the only on-line reference I could find, does anyone have a link to a more authoritative source for this?)

Kierkegaard is regarded as an Existentialist. Existentialists stress the importance of Authenticity.

Can someone please explain how it would be possible to worship authentically if a worshiper is merely acting?

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    Does this guy have any following among Christians today? Or was did his self-contradictory view pretty much fizzle out when he tried to explain it to anybody else? Pretty much nobody I've ever heard of in Christianity thinks worshipers are just acting (or at least shouldn't be, those that are are not considered real Christians and their acting isn't considered real worship.) – Caleb Dec 4 '11 at 21:55
  • Richard John Neuhaus wrote about Kierkegaard, but I didn't see this issue addressed. – Kirk Kuykendall Dec 5 '11 at 21:41
  • @Caleb. Well, any list of influential philosophers would include Kierkegaard. – TRiG Jul 25 '12 at 10:24
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Kirk, I just came across this question from way back in December. Actually, one of the primary points that Kierkegaard was making is that what happens in worship is done for the sake of God (who is the audience). It is a corrective to the idea that worship is entertainment for the congregation or that the pastor/priest is the primary performer. The primary action of worship is the praise and prayer of the congregation offered to God; the role of the pastor/priest is to support the work of the congregation. The word "liturgy" is actually in its derivation "the work of the people."

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You are misunderstanding the point being made in the article linked to. The 'drama' description is being used as an analogy to what people are doing in the worship service, not to whether they are 'pretending'. In other words some people are 'directors' (telling others what to do) some are 'actors' (doing stuff) and some are 'audience' (watching stuff being done). When they talk about people being 'actors' they don't mean they have to pretend - it means they have to do stuff rather than just watch (that's the original meaning of the word actor - one who takes action).

The point being made on the web page, and presumably by Kierkegaard (though there isn't any reference to back it up), is that there are churches where the congregation are mere audience - watching what is happening without taking any part. He believes this is wrong, and that the congregation should take an active part in the worship. It doesn't mean they have to 'pretend'.

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  • Thanks for responding. So should I take action only when the spirit moves me? Or should I discipline myself to act - even when I feel like I'm just going through the motions? – Kirk Kuykendall Dec 5 '11 at 16:53
  • Anything I said here would just be my personal view. I recommend asking your priest or minister or some other wise person. – DJClayworth Dec 6 '11 at 0:22

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