Thursday, July 28, 2016

Oh no, Pokémon Go? (A Christian's Response To Pokémon Go)

            Why is this topic “Could Christians play Pokémon Go?” even relevant?

            Expert in the occult, William J. Schnoebelen of “With One Accord Ministries” explains the innate spiritual dangers of Pokémon (pocket monster):

            “1) Pokémon teaches kids that they can make demon-like beings (cuddly little monsters1) obey them;

            2) They are taught that these demons can be mastered and controlled;

            3) They are taught that demons are their servants and will help them.

            4) They are encouraged to become “Pokémon masters” by “conquering” more and more demons.” 1

            While warning his readers about Pokémon’s native spiritual dangers, Bill Schnoebelen does not mince any words, “In essence, these games are turning kids into real sorcerer’s apprentices! No wonder children are obsessed with this! Their culture’s greed is coming at them from one front and the games themselves are doorways for demons. Remember, anytime you are dealing with serious addictive behavior (and some of this IS SERIOUS), you can assume a spirit of bondage (Rom. 8:15) is at work. The spirit of bondage is a powerful strongman that needs to be dealt with quickly and preemptively in the authority of Jesus. Its best “antidote” is the “Spirit of Adoption” (same verse) which speaks deep to our hearts and cries out “Abba Father”…

            …Many of these kids (just like their parents) have never known the Love of Abba Father. Because of their thirst for it, they are drinking out of hell’s cisterns with these demonic, addictive games. Remember, just because your kids think they are innocently playing does not prevent the evil spirits from being deadly in earnest in exploiting their neediness and bringing bondage. If the devil (or his minions) can appear as an angel of light (2Cor. 11:14), he can certainly appear as a cute, warm fuzzy little cuddle-toy of a character.” 2

            On a similar note, Christian Apologetics & Research ministry, CARM.org, in an article written in 2007, explains that Pokémon is potentially a dangerous game that could lead people away from God, since the game lures the gamers into accepting the occult and evolutionary principles.3

            How do we resolve the concern that the game Pokémon Go could be Satanic?

            On July 16th 2016, CARM website posted an update apparently deeming Pokémon Go as a game without any occultic overtones. 4 This update comes from a scholar who had earlier argued that Pokémon contained occultic overtones. (There is also an assurance to continue the research into Pokémon Go.)

            Another accusation against Pokémon Go is the reference to the TIME magazine interview with Satoshi Tajiri, one of the founders of Pokémon. Satoshi is reported to have confessed that Pokémon was intentionally developed to contradict the Historic Christian principles.5

            This is a false accusation.6 In his interview with the TIME magazine, Satoshi did not confess to Pokémon being Satanic.7

            So on one hand is the fear that Pokémon Go is satanic and that Christians should not dabble with it. On the other hand, Christian scholars who have played the game contend that it is not Satanic. What do we do?

            One could err on the side of caution and not play Pokémon Go if there is much fear about playing Pokémon Go and being sucked into the occult. Conversely, if there is no fear and if the gamer is a strong believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, then my personal opinion is that the game could be played.

            Consider this perspective. The fundamental premise that creates controversy among Christians is Pokémon’s insinuation to the term “monsters.” Instead of naming Pokémon as Pokémon, if Satoshi Tajiri had named Pokémon as Pokéman, would Pokéman have created much controversy among the Christian community? I do not think so.

            In the year 2000 the Vatican had seemingly endorsed Pokémon, “The Vatican-based satellite TV station declared that Pokemon trading cards and the computer game is “full of inventive imagination,” has no “harmful moral side effects” and is based on the notion of “intense friendship.””8

            The commonsense reality is this; if Pokémon Go is eating up your time and money, then it should not be played. We have specific mission(s) for our life. We are to devote adequate time to God, study / work, care for the family and society. If Pokémon Go prevents an efficient discharge of any of these responsibilities, then Pokémon Go ought to be deleted from the phone.

            Having said this, how could the Christian churches respond to Pokémon Go?

            While on one hand there is intense opposition to Pokémon Go, there is also a spirit of embracing Pokémon Go within Christianity. Churches are urged to utilize this opportunity of Pokémon Go to evangelize.

            Although Pokémon Go is not released in India, which is where I live, the internet offers much needed knowledge to learn about the game and to prepare for its onslaught in India. In the article, “8 Ways Churches Can Capitalize On Pokemon Go” there are suggestions a church could employ to engage the Pokémon Go gamers.9 These are practical suggestions that any church can use.

            For instance, a church may be a “PokeStop” or a “gym” in Pokémon Go. If a church is a gym, then more foot traffic could be expected during the week. If evangelism is of a high priority to that church, then the leadership of the church could make use of the unique opportunity of an increased footfall to evangelize the gamers.

            The church should be innovative enough to grab every opportunity that comes her way so to glorify God, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31, NIV).

            The words of the writer in the website of “The Gospel Coalition” constitute a pertinent conclusion, “Pokémon Go taps into our longing for unity in a fractured world. For a moment, we are together, sharing the same physical space and playing the same game.

            Pokémon Go also taps into our longing for something beyond the flattened, rationalist society of our age. For a moment, we feel the magic of the old mythologies and long for something beyond this present world.

            Of course, this is all just a game, and like all fads, its appeal will soon wear off. These myths do not reflect the biblical worldview. They give us a few moments of fun, but no promise for the future. No game can provide lasting community or eternal significance; only the gospel can do that.

            But as missionaries in this time and place, we should have eyes wide open to the pressures people feel in this fractured and flattened world, so that we can better tell the better Story, which, in the words of C. S. Lewis, is “the myth that became fact.””10

Endnotes:

Websites cited were last accessed on 28th July, 2016.

1 http://www.withoneaccord.org/assets/images/freedownloads/StraightTalkonPokemon.pdf

2 Ibid.



5 http://www.p4rgaming.com/pokemon-creator-admits-games-aimed-towards-satanists/

6 http://www.snopes.com/pokemon-satanist-anti-christian-inverview/

7 http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2040095,00.html

8 http://enquirer.com/editions/2000/05/02/loc_vatican_broadcasters.html

9 http://thewardrobedoor.com/2016/07/churches-pokemon-go.html


10 https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/trevinwax/2016/07/13/pokemon-go-in-a-fractured-and-flattened-world/

2 comments:

Denny Benjamin said...

I think we have an issue with entertainment addiction. We have to repent of this - http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/you-cant-serve-god-and-entertainment

We might say that we can't always be praying, reading the bible, singing praise songs and going to church and we need a break sometimes.

Maybe we need to go deeper with God. Another question would be if we would be bored in heaven as we do not have these entertainment outlets there?

We do have a world to reach out to, people to counsel and pray for, bible studies to be taken and more importantly a family that needs us.

Raj Richard said...

Denny, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Addiction is always possible with anything...food, laziness, alcohol, tobacco etc. Entertainment is one among them. My position is this, if what we are doing is not a sin against God, then we practice moderation, else we reject that deed from our life.

Heaven is a place of perfection, so there is no question of being bored. Boredom is an attribute of imperfection.

Thanks again for your thoughts, brother. Keep them coming. God bless.