So you think you can (Prophetic) Dance?

A church in greater Cape Town has a “Prophetic Dance” ministry.

I like dancing as much as the next person, but this dance ministry over-reaches in its claims.

 “The dance ministry is prophetic of nature. This simply means that the dancer proclaims God’s truth through the use of their body…A variety of dance forms are used and combined for ultimate worship…Dance is also a powerful way to evangelize and at two opportunities a ‘Flash mob’ dance was done in a Shopping Centre and the dancers used this opportunity to minister to the people.” 

I’m sure I understand the Apostle Paul correctly when he wrote that “faith comes from hearing” (the gospel).  cf. Romans 10:14

The New Testament is consistent in its claim that the good news about Jesus needs to be communicated in words.  Gospel workers are called heralds, witnesses, teachers, preachers and evangelist.  The common trait in all these people is that they use words.

St Francis of Assisi was wrong when he (apparently) said, “Preach the gospel, use words if necessary.

According to the New Testament, you always have to use words when communicating the truth about Jesus.  Jesus who died for sin and rose to new life to rescue us from the power of sin, death and Satan.

The gospel about Jesus cannot be danced – or even lived.

You can live out your response to the gospel.  You can dance for joy as a result of the gospel.  But the gospel itself contains a body of truth that necessitates words in order to be communicated.

According to the church’s website, the vision of the Prophetic Dance ministry is:

  1. By being instruments of God and to minister to His children through dance.
  2. To breakdown strongholds and proclaim God’s truth in the spiritual realm. Psalm 149:6 – 9
  3. To minister through dance and to full fill the great commission, to share the gospel and to evangelize. Luke 10: 1 – 11. 19 and Mathews 28:19 and 20

I’m not sure that Psalm 149 is the best Psalm to quote for your ministry. V3-5 are lovely:

Let them praise his name with dancing,

    making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!

For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;

    he adorns the humble with salvation.

Let the godly exult in glory;

    let them sing for joy on their beds.

The Psalm takes deadlier turn in v6-9:

Let the high praises of God be in their throats

    and two-edged swords in their hands,

to execute vengeance on the nations

    and punishments on the peoples,

to bind their kings with chains

    and their nobles with fetters of iron,

to execute on them the judgment written!

Psalm 149 is not speaking about the spiritual realm, but the destruction and captivity of the real, physical enemies of God’s people – as did happen in Old Testament times.

By the time we get to the New Testament this is no longer the way we treat our physical enemies. We are called to love and pray for our physical enemies, knowing that our real battle is against spiritual enemies.

The good news is that Jesus has conquered our spiritual enemies by his death and resurrection – and we share in Jesus’ victory. (Cf. Ephesians 1:19-23)

As people hear and believe the gospel of Jesus they are transferred from spiritual darkness to light. (Cf. Colossians 1:3-4, 13-14)

Evangelism (using words) is therefore the real spiritual warfare.

To view Psalm 149:6-9 as legitimizing a dance ministry to conquer spiritual strongholds is an abuse of Scripture and a minimizing of efficacy and power of the death of Jesus.

Do you really think your modern dancing or flag-dancing can “breakdown strongholds and proclaim God’s truth in the spiritual realm”?  The only strongholds Christians are called to breakdown are ungodly arguments and opinions (2 Corinthians 10:4-5) and believers are commanded not to seek to communicate with the spiritual realm.

I sincerely hope point 3 of the vision refers to word-evangelism and not to using dance to “do” the evangelism.

Sure, start a dance ministry at your church.

Promote it as superb exercise for your God-given body, an excellent way to express yourself and a great place to meet friends.

Please don’t call it prophetic.

Nor evangelistic.

Unless you invite your non-Christian friend and tell her about Jesus over a smoothie after class.