Faith and Gaming: Preliminaries

The following article was originally published in April 2001 on the Christian Gamers Guild’s website. The entire series remains available at its original URL.

In 1978 I had the benefit of receiving a bachelors degree from Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts. I arrived there in 1975, brought with me an associates degree from a small Lutheran Bible college, and studied many subjects in a new but ancient light. Gordon was a member of The Christian College Consortium, a confederation of Christian undergraduate and graduate schools who were serious about both Christianity and education. In those days at Gordon there was a lot of emphasis on an idea incorporated in this phrase: the integration of faith and learning.

What this meant was that being Christian was a total commitment, a complete identity of person with something which, although much more, was at least in part a philosophy, a set of ideas and ideals, a world view which should permeate our approach to every part of life. We were to learn in a way that reflected our faith; and we understood things from the perspective of our faith.

Faith and Gaming Expanded Edition is available in print.
Faith and Gaming Expanded Edition is available in print.

Some will have the wrong idea about this. I should explain what this did not mean. It didn’t mean that our biology classes taught creationism and shunned evolution; rather, they encouraged us to examine issues and evidence and see the strengths and weaknesses of both views. It did not mean that our political science classes spoon-fed us right-wing polemics; instead we examined how the Gospel demanded of us both moral and social responsibility, and saw that no major political party truly presented a thoroughly Christian—or a thoroughly unchristian—platform. All truth is God’s truth it was said; the Gospel need not fear science or intellectual inquiry, because the only thing truly at risk in such a debate is our own misunderstandings of the truth we were given, and not the truth itself. The integration of faith and learning was about seeing how the Gospel mattered in everything we learned, everything we said, everything we did; it was about integrating all truth into one truth, and living lives which did not compartmentalize religion into one of many isolated boxes but instead declared that faith, in every sense of that word, was part of the basic definition of who we are, and therefore essential to everything in our lives, from our reading to our relationships.

And that understanding of reality has stayed with me as the decades have passed behind it.

And so as I come to write a series of articles for The Christian Gamers Guild I remember this truth, that everything we do ought to be done with reference to Him, to our faith, to the truth we have learned; and that includes our recreational activities. I had a close friend once tell me that he was mindful of God’s presence and involvement in his life even in his fantasies, and that is how we should be. We need to understand that whatever we do we are to do all to the glory of God. That clearly includes the games we play.

So I’m presenting this series in an effort to come to some understanding of how our faith infiltrates our gaming. I don’t have those answers yet—at least, I don’t have all of them. Sometimes it involves our religious expressions within the game worlds, but that doesn’t mean Christianity has to be fully present in those fantasies. Sometimes it involves facing clear moral issues, but that doesn’t mean that our characters must all be saints or even that we can’t play the morally and ethically reprehensible roles if done for the right reasons. Sometimes it involves little more than good sportsmanship and fair play, being a light to those with whom we share our time, building up and not tearing down, in the same ways in which we are called to do that at school, at work, and anywhere else where we share our lives with others.

And if you have any ideas about how we do this, please share them with me. I’m eager to learn more myself. Together we might find answers we would not find separately. You can reach me at Mention this article, and give me your thoughts.

For anyone for whom such things matter, my degree from Gordon is an A.B. in Biblical Studies. I also have a J.D. from Widener University School of Law. I am co-author of Multiverser* and its current and anticipated supplements, plus many articles scattered across the web. More biographical information and links of interest can be found on the author information page.

*editor’s note: The Multiverser web page has been inactive for some time. The link here leads to the last known image on the Internet Archive. 

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