God's Man in Texas by David Rambo
"Faith and egos collide in the age of mass-market religion at Houston's Rock Baptist Church...A search committee has been formed to find a successor to Rock's legendary pastor, eighty-one-year-old Philip Gottschall, a vigorous marvel and master strategist both in and out of the pulpit. Young Jeremiah Mears is asked to audition for the job by preaching a month of Sunday evening guest sermons...Gottschall protects what he has spent a lifetime building at Rock by backing Mears as his replacement; but as Jerry gains a foothold, Gottschall's grip on his pulpit becomes as firm as his faith. When Hugo Taney, the pastor's sound man, and Jerry discover their lives are astonishingly linked by past events, Gottschall fears their alliance and becomes haunted by "whisperings and secrets." The Biblical struggle among this trinity of men climaxes during Rock's spectacular annual electrical Christmas parade; there is a sacrifice, a resurrection and, finally, salvation as God whispers to a listening heart."*
I read this play because I had heard it was loosely based on the Joel Gregory/W. A. Criswell struggle at First Baptist Dallas. I was in seminary in Ft. Worth at the time of this struggle, attended the church Gregory had pastored before FBC, and had a friend on staff at FBC. Heck, the drama team I was involved with at seminary actually performed at one of W. A. Criswell's birthday parties. I wanted to see if this play did justice to the source material. As it turns out, it is definitely loosely based but the essence is there. I am hoping to watch a video of the performance of this play at Taproot. A play is not meant to be read but to be seen on stage. That said, I enjoyed this play. I did find that the whole theme of the struggle seemed to get a glossy treatment. I've been enbroiled in smaller church controversy before and I know how ugly it can get. The ugliness is muted in this play. All in all, though, the play does successfully communicate it's message of power, corruption, ego and faith and it does it pretty well. I just wish there was a stronger way to get this message out to all churches. These struggles happen all too frequently and it's wrong. Good people get hurt and bad people thrive in the name of God.
Okay. I'll climb down off my soapbox now.
*Source: Dramatists Play Service