Welcome Guest [Log In] [Register]

Welcome to ZionFireFriends. We're glad you're here! Our public forums are open, but you must be logged in to participate in the discussions and member forums. You can become a ZFFriend just by submitting a quick registration. You be notified by email with your login information, usually within a few minutes. If you do not receive a validation email, first check your bulk or spam folder. If not, then please contact us through the Help Me! button below and we will validate you.

Posted Image Who we are, what this forum is about
Posted Image Benefits of of becoming a ZFF member
Posted Image click here for registration form
Posted Image Can't register or log in? Ask for help.
Posted Image Take a tour of our worship banners

Join our community!

If you're already a member please log in to your account to access all of our features:

Username:   Password:
Add Reply
is "dancing in the spirit" a scriptural concept?
Topic Started: Oct 25 2007, 08:05 PM (5,016 Views)
Member Avatar
"more is more"

We've heard people say, "oh, she was dancing 'in the spirit', wasn't that amazing?" Usually that means that someone is moving around the room in some kind of rapture with their eyes closed. Sometime it is identified as someone engaging in involuntary movements disconnected from any intention of the dancer. Some have referred to it as "dancing with the angels".

Or perhaps you have another definition of "dancing in the spirit"?

The question is: Does it have a scriptural basis? And if so, where is it spoken about in the scriptures? Is it the same as "dancing before the Lord"? And if not, what is the difference?
Posted Image....See our banners in the ZionFire.com Gallery
Online Profile Quote Post Goto Top
No Avatar
[ *  * ]
(Warning: long and a bit of a rant!)

My view has always been that "dancing in the spirit" is a man-made term and is not biblical. As far as I am aware, its origins are in the Pentecostal movement and I don't think it is in widespread use outside of these circles.

The only biblical basis that I'm aware of is 1 Corinthians 14:15, which says (quoting two different translations):

"So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind" (NIV)

"What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also" (KJV)

The tenuous implication is that if you can pray and sing in the spirit, then you can dance in the spirit as well, and this is somehow different from (maybe even the opposite of) dancing with the mind or understanding. However, I don't think I've ever read or heard this derivation from any advocate of the phrase.

A very brief study on this passage and subject suggests the following:

  • The context indicates that this verse probably refers to praying (and presumably singing) in tongues.
  • Paul seems to be stressing the communal nature of worship and the need for everything to be understandable and of benefit to the whole congregation.
  • We don't know precisely what he meant when he wrote verse 15, so we must be very cautious when extending the concept into new areas.
  • The passage is referring to spoken communication, and I'm not sure it is valid to suggest that it can also apply to dance.
  • Paul both affirms and criticises singing/praying in the spirit. This carefully-considered approach is seldom adopted by people who use the term "dancing in the spirit".
To see what is understood by the term, I did a Google seach on the subject and found the following on the Assemblies of God web site:

Dancing in the Spirit. Dancing in the Spirit must be clearly distinguished from social dancing and from choreographed or orchestrated dancing, even if the latter were to take place in the church sanctuary. Instances of dancing in the Spirit, as seen in the 20th century Pentecostal revival, have generally involved a single participant spontaneously "dancing" with eyes closed without bumping into nearby persons or objects, obviously under the power and guidance of the Spirit. But again, this manifestation by itself is not an indication of greater spirituality, or a pattern that all worshippers are to seek. If the experience happens, it is because the worshipper has become so enraptured with God's presence that the Spirit takes control of physical motions as well as the spiritual and emotional being.

The biblical account of David dancing before the Lord is not an example of dancing in the Spirit. Scripture says "David danced before the LORD with all his might" (2 Sam. 6:14), thus describing the personal joy and thanksgiving that David consciously expressed to the Lord. Based on this account in Scripture, some contemporary charismatic churches have instituted orchestrated and rehearsed dancing as part of the worship service. Traditional Pentecostals, like those in the Assemblies of God, regret the replacement of an edifying, spontaneous, beautiful manifestation of the Spirit by a humanly planned and executed natural dance. Some justify choreographed dancing in the worship service as a restoration of the Old Testament "Davidic dance"; however, such teaching selectively omits the unrehearsed spontaneous manifestation of the presence of the Holy Spirit that represents a higher expression of worship.

This is probably the official position of their denomination, and is the closest you'll find to a formal definition. I'm afraid that I have major problems with it.

It strikes me as being the typical human response where the practices of one particular group are regarded by them as being the only correct way of doing things. I fail to see how it can be supported from the Bible. It's the "either/or" approach rather than "both/and". One can also read elements of replacement theology into it.

Here are my concerns:

  • The main shortcoming is that their definition of "dancing in the spirit" seems to be based on what happens in their churches, with little reference to the Bible.

  • Why can't "choreographed or orchestrated dancing" be dancing in the spirit?

  • Their reference to a "a single participant" contradicts the biblical examples of communal dancing.

  • The fact that they place "dancing" in quotes suggests that the movements have little or no resemblance to any known style of dance!

  • How do they know that the dancer is "obviously under the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit" and not just having an emotional experience?

  • How do they know that "the Spirit takes control of physical motions"?

  • On what grounds do they say that David's dance was not "dancing in the spirit"?

  • I would question whether the sort of dance they are referring to is always "edifying, spontaneous, beautiful" and a "manifestation of the Spirit".

  • Why can't a "humanly planned and executed ... dance" also be of God and in the Spirit, especially if it is prayerfully created and presented by spirit-filled believers who are skilled in the field?

  • Surely the sermons in their churches are, for the most part, "humanly planned and executed", so does that mean that they are not "in the spirit"?

  • If this approach was applied to music, it would only allow improvised singing.

  • I would absolutely reject their claim that dancing in the spirit as they define it "represents a higher expression of worship". This is judgmental nonsense similar to what Jesus condemned in John 4. Worship is the response of our hearts to God, and the biblical criteria is for it to be "in spirit and in truth". We can't say what is going on in someone's heart based on their method of expression.

I found another web site with a somewhat different view to the AoG:

But it surprises me what some Pentecostal churches call "dancing in the Spirit." I think that it is an insult to attribute such lousy dancing to the Holy Spirit. Dance which comes from the Holy Spirit, who created our bodies, should have grace, flow, beauty, and joy to it. It should be more than just jerky body movements.

Here's another quote, this time from Todd Farley, a respected movement artist:

"I just want to dance in the Spirit." This phrase never appears in Scripture, only dancing "before the Lord," as David did (2 Sam 6:14). Often it is used as an excuse for lack of clarity, training, or skill.

Why is the distinction between dancing "in the Spirit" and dancing "before the Lord" important? What's the difference? Throughout the Bible, the Spirit of God never took over an individual to make him or her dance, and when prophecy took place through movement (see Ezek. 3:26-27; 4:1-3) it was always clear and understandable (even when it contained "mystery"). Nor is dancing in Scripture ever a mysterious manifestation of our spirit, it is an expression of the human body. In its simplest form, dance clearly expresses joy; in its most complex form it expresses a story (Ex. 15:20-21).

We can navigate this whirlpool by understanding that we can only dance through the instrument of the human body. In Scripture, dance is first and foremost the physical expression of joy (Ps. 30:11; Jer. 31:4, 13; Lam. 5:15). Our whole being can be used to serve God (Luke 10:27-28).

I'm sure the term "dancing in the spirit" was coined by someone with no dance background or training. Is it really appropriate for definitions to be created by people without expertise in the subject?

My own dance ministry is probably divided 50/50 between improvised (a term most dancers prefer to spontaneous or free dance) and choreographed dance. So I have absolutely nothing against non-choreographed dance. And, based on 20+ years experience, I can say categorically that both styles can be used to minister to the Lord and to a congregation, and it is wrong to claim superiority for one over the other.

To conclude, I personally feel that this is an extremely unhelpful phrase that causes a lot of problems because of the connotations it carries. I don't like it and I don't think I've ever used it. The use of the term implicitly (and explicitly, as seen in the AoG quote) denigrates choreographed dance as not being "in the spirit". This causes huge offence to many. The sooner it falls out of use, the better.
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
Member Avatar
"more is more"

I hope the reason there haven't been a string of responses to this topic is because everyone is trying to digest all of what Dave has said in his post, because he makes point after valid point.

I would also say that "dancing in the spirit" is not a scriptural term. And as a descriptor, paints a very narrow picture. I would hope that whenever I dance before the Lord or before a congregation that I am truly dancing "in the Spirit", that is, that I am moving in the unction of the Holy Spirit. Whether it be spontaneous or choreographed.

There is another odd practice in the pentecostal movement in churches that forbids choreographed dance. It is called "living videos". Apparently, it is alright to interpret a song with dance movement as long as you are lip syncing the words at the same time. Mouth not moving? Sorry, you can't dance. I'm not sure why mouthing the words makes the dance acceptable....maybe someone can enlighten me. But from a communication standpoint, it is like speaking at your audience in two languages at once. Also, the dancer's most powerful communication device is his/her face. If the face is busy lip-syncing, the ability to communicate by facial expressions has been silenced.
Posted Image....See our banners in the ZionFire.com Gallery
Online Profile Quote Post Goto Top
No Avatar
[ *  * ]
Oct 30 2007, 06:12 PM
I hope the reason there haven't been a string of responses to this topic is because everyone is trying to digest all of what Dave has said in his post, because he makes point after valid point.

And I thought there were no responses because I was talking rubbish :P
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
1 user reading this topic (1 Guest and 0 Anonymous)
DealsFor.me - The best sales, coupons, and discounts for you
« Previous Topic · Miriam's Dance Studio · Next Topic »
Add Reply