This is Faith in Play #33: Psionics, for August 2020.
About eighteen years ago, in July 2002, I published Faith and Gaming: Mind Powers, and thought I had said everything that needed to be said on the subject of psionic powers in fiction and games. It was republished fourteen years later on our refurbished reformatted website, August of 2016.
I could not have foreseen that seventeen years after it was originally written, November 2019, the republished copy would be discovered by someone who wanted to discuss it in enough detail that it has expanded to eighty comments, fewer than half of them contributed by our webmaster and me, filled with questions and links and references attempting to determine whether these “powers” were actually part of the “occult” practices condemned in Deuteronomy 18. Many Christians think so; for reasons covered in that article, I do not. However, the morass of commentary there obscures the critical points, and so I have returned to address the question again.
The issue we addressed was whether, within a fictional setting, it might be plausible to include characters who for one reason or another had developed “natural” mental abilities beyond those common to humans today—the mutant Jean Grey, for example. We demonstrated that in fact modern humans had mental abilities that were completely unknown less than two millennia ago, and that while it could not be said that we therefore would have greater powers in the future, it just as certainly could not be said that we would not. There was no harm in imagining such naturally developed mental abilities in fictional characters. Read more
“Magic is a matter of symbolism and intent.” —Randall Garrett, Too Many Magicians
Most role-playing games (RPGs) include some kind of magic or occult phenomena as part of the game. This fact makes some people uncomfortable. Some Christians go so far as to insist that any activity—games, movies, whatever—including the portrayal of magic must be avoided in order to maintain a right relationship with God and to follow His moral guidance. On careful examination, however, the arguments used to support this stand are weak, both from a logical and Scriptural perspective.
There are two aspects to this controversy: 1) what is actually happening when magic appears in an RPG, and 2) what does Scripture have to say about this? In this essay I address the issue of fact rather than the application of Scripture—not because Scripture is less important, but because it is impossible to apply Scripture properly without knowing the factual truth about any situation barring direct divine inspiration, which lies outside the realm of the merely rational mind. Read more
A few weeks ago, Nintendo released an “augmented reality” game called Pokémon Go. The game has attracted millions of players and, as it did when the Pokémon trading card game debuted, it has also attracted plenty of criticism from some Evangelical pundits. The following article was originally published in 1999 by the Christian Gamers Guild.
Recently the Reverend David L. Brown, Th. M., wrote an article (the original article is no longer up; we link to a version in the Internet Archive for historical purposes) in which he delved into the evils of the Pokémon fad and of the collectible card game in particular. We appreciate his efforts, and agree that there are dangers to this fad. However, some of the Reverend’s statements should be examined more carefully. His research into Pokémon was of necessity cursory, and he may have misunderstood the phenomenon, and the game in particular, and so made charges which could be embarrassing if repeated to someone better informed. Reverend Brown is right to be concerned about the activities of his grandchildren, but should be certain that he presents the right reasons for this concern. Read more