Editor’s note: As usual, opinions of Guild members do not reflect the position of the Guild as a whole. As an organization, we neither condemn nor endorse any given entertainment product. However, neither do we discourage members from offering their own opinions.
What makes a game “Christian?”
If I handed you a rock and said, “Here you go, this is a Christian rock.” You would likely respond with, “How can a rock be Christian?” Yet if I were to hand you a DVD, CD, video game, or book, then said the same thing about those items, you would not question my meaning like with the rock. The question at hand is “why?” I suggest that it is the understanding of the intent of the item. Christian entertainment is by definition understood to be influenced by Christian ideology. This leads us to another question, “Can a rock sculpture be Christian?” If we can agree that it’s the intent that allows the title “Christian” to be applied to inanimate objects, then I would say yes. The rock sculpture can be a Christian sculpture. Let’s go back to the rock at the beginning. If I handed you that rock and said, “This is a Christian rock because we’re going to build a church with it.” Now, the intent of the rock is to create a building that is supposed to exemplify Jesus and Christian doctrine. I, for one, would say okay. Like the sculpture, I can now agree this rock is a Christian rock, through its intent and purpose. Before you giggle, remember what Jesus said in Luke 19:40 that even the rocks would cry out.
This leads us to an even deeper topic. What do they mean when they say “Christian?” In a 2008 study found on Pewforum.org, we find a very startling bit of information. In this survey they found that 65% of Christians surveyed believe that salvation can be found in other religions other than Christianity. This is despite the fact that Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44 MKJV) Then, to round this out we read “Everyone who denies the Son neither has the Father. The one confessing the Son also has the Father.” (1 John 2:23 MKJV) These exclusivity claims by Jesus and His disciple John are foundational to the Christian faith. It’s a little scary to think that 6 out of 10 people that claim to be Christian fail the litmus test provided by the namesake of their religion*. If we want, for the sake of this discussion, assume these statistics hold true. We can assume that 6 out of 10 Christian game developers may not be Christians at all. At least in the Biblical sense of the term. Your mind also might be blown when you find out a lot of your Christian entertainment is produced by individuals who don’t even claim Jesus in any form. They will happily claim your payments at the register though.
Jesus tells us “Therefore by their fruits you shall know them.” (Mat 7:20 MKJV) In a day and age when western churches appear to be glorified country clubs, rather than soul-winning centers, it’s easy to see why so many have gone astray. If the fruit of the Gospel is “best life now, name it claim it, word of faith escapism,” then it would not be an issue if our entertainment would present itself in the same way. But is that the real fruit of the Gospel? Let’s read what Jesus has to say about it: “And He said to all, if anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever will save his life shall lose it, but whoever will lose his life for My sake, he shall save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world and loses himself, or is cast away?” (Luke 9:23-25 MKJV) Jesus explains here that the real fruit of the Gospel is denial of self and willingness to die for your Lord and Savior. So how do we justify this with the idea of Christian entertainment? Does what we entertain ourselves with help to instill these biblical values? If we answer no, should we call it Christian? These are tough questions.
The Name They Claim
There are many well meaning new believers who are not being taught Biblical Christianity. It is not their fault when a “Judas” church leads them astray. Though they are responsible for their own continued growth in the Holy Spirit, many of these new believers come out of some hard situations. They get on fire for Jesus and want to share what has happened. Brian “Head” Welch from the band Korn comes to mind. In his first major public appearance, he starts explaining the miracle God had performed in his life, while cussing up a storm in the church. No one faults him for that. We must ask ourselves what would happen if he ran out and wrote a book that very day. Many of the stains of his former life would seep through. Unintentionally, he would taint the truth with un-restored lies taught by the devil. Unfortunately, this is happening in the Christian entertainment industry. Many believers have not fully grown up spiritually. Rich Mullins, the guy who wrote the song Awesome God, said this very same thing. At the end of the movie Ragamuffin, commenting on Christian musicians he says, “We don’t know jack about anything.” He also said, “If you want spiritual nourishment, you should go to church.” I will confess that I have a hard time listening to many popular Christian songs on the radio. They are so unbiblical; they have more in common with mysticism than Jesus. Then on top of that, many listeners create their Christian world-view through these songs, developing their own theology. This is also occurring in the Christian game industry. Many new Christians are given a platform and can only relay what is in their heart. Be it true or false, this is what you get. When they claim the name of Jesus, who and what are they actually talking about? Is it the Jesus found in the scriptures or the one they made up in their own minds? Much like the movie Talladega Nights, when Will Ferrell’s character says, “Dear lord Baby Jesus… I like the Christmas Jesus best… I like the baby version the best…” That entire scene is an indictment against modern Christianity. Because unfortunately, this is often how people go about picking for themselves what they want out of Christianity. Not to mention the entertainment industry built around its pocketbooks.
White Washed Paganism
Many might not know that the Catholic Church wanted to remove the Songs of Solomon out of the Bible. They felt it would lead to lustful desires. I say this to share that the Bible has many dark and deep things. The intent though, is to teach us powerful memorable lessons, all the while revealing Jesus to us. The story of David and Bathsheba found in 2 Samuel 11 comes to mind. It has lust, betrayal, adultery, and homicide, all ending with the death of an illegitimate child. Sounds like it would make a great movie. What we are missing is that it is in the Bible to teach us how to avoid these mistakes and that God loves us enough to restore us if we fail. If a “Christian” game can do this, then it is well on its way in the right direction. Often, what we find is white washed paganism. The Chronicles of Narnia come to mind. Having owned the books, I had to throw them away along with the movies and video game demo. I realized that while it had a white glaze of syrupy sweet Christianity, it was rotten at its core. We read, “Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For also Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” (1 Corinthians 5:6-7 MKJV) Just a little stain of sin is enough to start infecting the entire thing. The same goes for so-called “Christian” games. If in their design they incorporate features that stand in opposition to Biblical Christianity, then the game should not be called Christian.
Christian-Themed vs Biblically Christian
I have had the resent pleasure of talking with the CEO of a major Christian game publisher. He is a very nice guy. I contacted him to discuss my Christian game I had recently developed. In our conversation, I learned that they have a new licensing agreement with a variety of name brand games. They are going to take popular games and make “Christian” versions of these popular games. I have no issue with that idea. The question is can we call these games Christian games? If I took Monopoly and changed all the names to Bible names, switch out the money to shekels instead of dollars, and now you’re buying Israel instead of Park Place, should this be considered a Christian game? I would say no, it is a Christian-“themed” game. The intent is not to teach you Biblical Christianity. It’s meant to entertain you with a loose association to the Bible. Many western Churches do the same thing. They teach moralism with a thin paint of Christianity. Providing you nothing more than Christian-themed moralism. Another example is Santeria. “Santeria” is a mixture of Afro-Caribbean witchcraft and Catholicism. Just because it holds some elements of Catholicism, does not mean it is Catholic. It’s nothing more than Catholic-themed witchcraft. We have to stop thinking that the word “Christian” is a logo of the “God Company, Inc.” The same goes for the name of Jesus. The “Jesus brand” sold in America is apostate. The Bible says “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but try the spirits to see if they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1 MKJV) Often what is being promoted and produced is Christian-themed, with very little Christian content. It’s like comparing the difference of a band full of Christians, to a Christian band.
I could continue to write about what Biblical guidelines you might use to determine if a game is Christian, but that would go beyond the available depth of this article. Maybe in the future I will be asked to write part 2. Before I go, I would like to cover one more thing.
Jesus informs us, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him. God is a spirit, and they who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24 MKJV) There is a truth to find in the conversation of what makes a game Christian. I would also offer that there is a new “ism” in our midst: “Christian Game-ism.” Like most “isms,” it’s an evil and cruel master. This beast is meant to subdue your heart and mind for the kingdom of darkness. We would be wise to remember this warning: “Did not even Satan marvelously transform himself into an angel of light?” (2 Corinthians 11:14 MKJV) Just because it is painted in Christian logos by the “God Company, Inc.,” does not mean it’s endorsed by the maker of Heaven and earth. Lest we forget, to call anything “Christian,” we are taking the bloody sacrifice of Jesus and applying it to the product we have made. It will either be to our detriment and destruction, or our benefit and future glory. We will have to give account for every word spoken, so speak wisely before you call it “Christian.”
“But I say to you that every idle word, whatever men may speak, they shall give account of it in the day
of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.”
(Matthew 12:36-37 MKJV)
*For more on this topic, Brother Lance provides the following Youtube video, where he talks about it more extensively:
Is Christianity Dying