Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Pokemon Go: Distraction or Harmless?

A phenomenon has taken the world by storm and just in time to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of one of Nintendo's most profitable franchises, namely the Pokemon series.

Ever since the video games and anime series launched 20 years ago, Pokemon has gained a worldwide audience and is still very popular to this day.

Nintendo's Pokemon Go is a game which essentially allows you to capture Pokemon on your own smartphone in various locations including next to restaurants, leisure centres and even places of worship. It's not only these places but we can gather from the game that it is able to show Pokemon in a variety of locations.

Now I personally don't have Pokemon Go myself, but I since so much buzz as occurred, it's something that the Lord wants me to address and Pokemon Go is not something that can be ignored.

Can Christians play it? Well that depends.

Let us step back for a bit, Like movies, video games, sports and other neutral things, whether a Christian can engage in them is entirely debatable and like the neutral things, we need to consider our options. (See Romans 14 on disputable matters)

Let's talk first about the negative points. This game has consumed many people, it comes across as addictive to some. There are people who have been run over, gotten lost underground thus needing to be rescued, taken away from friends and family and of course there was one report I came across that said one man gave up his full time job to become a full time Pokemon Go player (What a stupid thing to do).

For some, the game is a terrible distraction taking away valuable time doing other things, like working in a job, providing for family, gospel preaching, other good values and ultimately living for and loving YHWH God, the blessed Trinity as Deuteronomy 6:4 states.

It is not a question of should we play it, it's more of what is there to gain from it? While a video game is fine to play, it should not consume us entirely or to the point we neglect our duties, in which case we either give them up or in the very least, monitor our time, as well as stepping away for a time to do other things.

On the hand.... There are cases where Pokemon Go has had positive results, like finding a dead body to be recovered, finding lost animals etc.

I am not saying that Pokemon Go is wrong and should be shunned, I am saying it is a question of getting our priorities right, but also, what can you take away from it theologically.

I have used Final Fantasy XIII-3: Lightning Returns and Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask as illustrations of urgency in one of my own articles on universalism and in the case of movies have used Back to the Future part 1 and part 2 as an example of contrasting two marriages, an abusive one and a good one and despite liking the Dark Knight Trilogy, have pointed out that Christians should not be vigilantes based on Romans 13.

However you do need to be careful that any fictional franchise may contain lies, in other world's there are things in it that do not hold a biblical world view.

The Kingdom Hearts franchise is one example. I like this franchise a lot, although while the story is intriguing in the direction it's going, it would take another essay to even unpack what the main villain's goal is and how he went about it, but I digress.

There is something in Kingdom Hearts which is positive, namely loyalty to friends and of course there is no love without loyalty (Proverbs 17:17, 18:24). There is a contrast between those who care for others with a willingness to lay down their lives, helping even those they barely know and those who only care about their goals and aspirations at the expense of others. Certainly a good contrast in how we should treat people and how we shouldn't.

But on the other hand, the characters have the tendency to trust in their own hearts, especially if it leads them into an impetuous decision that would land them in trouble or have world destroying consequences. Trusting in ones own heart is something that Jeremiah himself would discourage if not condemn (Jeremiah 17:9)

Basically when it comes to your thinking, hold fast to good and avoid evil when a franchise presents a particular way of thinking to you. However this would only be applicable in cases where story is part and parcel of the game and Pokemon Go doesn't have that. So that value not even there.

We also need to bear in mind that we are to make the most of every opportunity we have to live out the message of the Bible and carry out Jesus teachings, which includes a holy life:

"Ephesians 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not bepartakers with them; 8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light 9 (forthe fruit of the Light consists in allgoodness and righteousness and truth),10 [f]trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do not participate in the unfruitfuldeeds of darkness, but instead even[g]expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are [h]exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14 For this reason [i]it says,

“Awake, sleeper,
And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”

15 Therefore [j]be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,16 [k]making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, [l]for that is dissipation, but befilled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to [m]one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to[n]God, even the Father; 21 [o]and be subject to one another in the [p]fear of Christ."

Ask God for wisdom, whether or not he wants you to play it.
"James 1:2 Count it all joy, my brothers,[b] when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

9 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass[c] he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits."

Pokemon Go isn't evil in and of itself, it's just a neutral thing that's there. If you can play it with a clear conscience, that's fine, but remember to fix your eyes on Jesus and keep in mind he will hold you to account for you live. If you can't play it with a clear conscience, then don't. For as Romans 14 states at the end, What does not proceed from faith is sin.

Answering Judaism

Friday, 8 July 2016

Ghostbusters 2016: A familiar mindset

A week ago, I released a video commenting on why I will not see the Ghostbusters reboot and it surprised me how many people seemed to agree with me.

You can see the original video "Perspective 577: Why I won't see Ghostbusters 2016" for the context: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUZzII_Tjzo

I'd also recommend taking a look at the video which compelled me to make it, namely a video done by a YouTube movie coverage group named Midnight's Edge. The video is called "Ghostbusters Reboot: Sony Hits Back at Fan Backlash": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aQTJw1wlQ8

I will not say too much here but, there is one consistent comment that is repeated by the cast, director and Sony as well as others who seek to defend the Ghostbusters 2016 movie, that you must ALL see the movie and if you don't, you are misogynists.

Attacks have been leveled against the Cinemassacre YouTube reviewer James Rolfe, who gave his reasons for not seeing the movie (which were not sexist at all) but was still attacked by the media and accused of misogyny and Sony are guilty of comment censoring.

I could go on but the videos speak for themselves. I would also recommend one particular comment by fifthrider on my video and see what he said about political correctness, it's very enlightening.

I have realized recently that the backlash against those who refused to see the movie is very similar to the gay activists mantra of "You accept our lifestyle or you are a bigot who deserves to rot in prison". It is the same rhetoric that is being espoused, Either accept this or be ostracized, your choice.

I am not saying that everyone who wants to see the Ghostbusters reboot is like this, but it is very telling of how similiar the two groups are.

I have seen James White in videos he did last year examine the Dr Drew Show, including the after comments, where they lied about the interaction with White and White appropriately exposing them. It is amazing how emotional people can get when they are challenged or charged up about a certain issue.

Both in the case of the Ghostbusters reboot and gay activism, we see political correctness, irrationality, accusations of bigotry, accusations of anti-progression and accusations of hate speech.

The mindset has a fascinating pattern here.

I will not deny that there are hateful bigots who hate gay people or who are misogynistic, but those are the exception, not the rule.

No one with sound calm logic hated the Ghostbuster reboot because of women, but because it contain what most people deem to be lacklustre comedy, likewise, No true Christian is to be bigoted towards homosexuals, but as followers of Jesus, we must do what he says and if Jesus condemned something as evil, we ought not to do it.

The Bible is against sin and we would be wise to heed it's warnings. That's why biblically homosexuality cannot be accepted as a viable alternative marriage template, because it violates what God had established from the beginning.

Observe the videos I posted above and come to your own conclusions and see if what I have said makes sense.

Answering Judaism.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Who needs prayer?

That is the question, Who should Christians pray for and why?

Our enemies
Jesus says this in the Sermon on the Mount:
"5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers,[i] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Our enemies are in need for salvation, repentance and need Jesus to in order to be saved and covered by his blood. They are not enemies for the sake of being such, they are enemies because of the fact that they are under Satan's heel and need to be set free.

Our brothers and sisters in Christ
As Christians, we will face many adversities and adversaries that will get us to compromise our beliefs and get us to fall or in some instances, have caused us to fall and need to recover again.
Christians who are truly in Christ will suffer in one way or another, be it large or small and even hated by people for Jesus' name's sake (Mark 13:13, Matthew 10:22, Luke 21:17). This would include the following:
  1. Christians in other countries: What I mean are Christians who are abroad and in zones where the fight against Christianity is thickest, especially impoverished areas where there is a totalitarian government that is pulling the strings. Christians may end up being attacked and killed so they will need protection. This includes Christians who are attacked indiscriminately even when they have done nothing wrong.
  2. Christians at work: In the workplace, Christians will be under pressure to do things that may be detestable in God's sight, thus Christians need prayer that they have the grace to refuse to do evil, even if it cost's them their job. Hopefully the best case scenario is that you'll be respected for holding to good moral principles.
  3. Christians in our own nations: This is especially so considering countries that have hatred towards the Gospel, including America and Britain, both of which spew venom at God every single day. 
Our apologists, ministers and elders
They definitely require our pray and attention if they are biblical Christians in the faith, namely to never give in and that they may continue helping and and strengthening Christians in the biblical faith, especially when those who are not in Christ seek to undermine the faith. They are there to strengthen us so that we may be able to give a reason for the hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15). Elders are there to hold us accountable and encourage us to live holy lives, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2), exegeting the scriptures to their audience.

It is NOT just the apologists, ministers and elders who need to defend the faith, WE ALL have to defend the faith, the three groups of men are needed to strengthen us.

Our friends and family
Same as above if they are not in Christ. If they are in Christ and brothers in the faith, they will need protection so that they will not fall.

Our leaders and governors
"2 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man[a] Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth."

One of the many things we could pray for with respect to our leaders would be protection from those who desire their lives. It is also worth praying for them to make the right and good decisions for our country, albeit godly ones for our countries. If there are Christian politicians, then they could be the Christian equivalent of Daniel that they would influence the decisions of the nations without falling into the idolatry and immorality of a pagan and secular nation. So we also need to pray for them to be a great light for the glory of Christ in the political world.

The poor, sick and afflicted
I should think this is obvious. We are to be hearers and doers of the world, thus it logically entails that we do good to them AND pray for them to be saved or if the Lord Wills, be free from the ailment that they have.

The heretics
This would also count as praying for our enemies and witnessing to a heretic is very important, as long as fellowship with them is not exercised lest we be guilty of supporting their wicked works (2 John 11). 

Ignatius of Antioch demonstrated a perfect attitude to how we should see the false teachers as well in his letter to the Smyrnaeans:
"Chapter IV.-Beware of These Heretics.

I give you these instructions, beloved, assured that ye also hold the same opinions [as I do]. But I guard you beforehand from those beasts in the shape of men, whom you must not only not receive, but, if it be possible, not even meet with; only you must pray to God for them, if by any means they may be brought to repentance, which, however, will be very difficult. Yet Jesus Christ, who is our true life, has the power of [effecting] this. But if these things were done by our Lord only in appearance, then am I also only in appearance bound. And why have I also surrendered myself to death, to fire, to the sword, to the wild beasts? But, [in fact, ] he who is near to the sword is near to God; he that is among the wild beasts is in company with God; provided only he be so m the name of Jesus Christ. I undergo all these things that I may suffer together with Him, He who became a perfect man inwardly strengthening me.

I give you these instructions, beloved, assured that ye also hold the same opinions [as I do]. But I guard you beforehand from these beasts in the shape of men, from whom you must not only turn away, but even flee from them. Only you must pray for them, if by any means they may be brought to repentance. For if the Lord were in the body in appearance only, and were crucified in appearance only, then am I also bound in appearance only. And why have I also surrendered myself to death, to fire, to the sword, to the wild beasts? But, [in fact, ] I endure all things for Christ, not in appearance only, but in reality, that I may suffer together with Him, while He Himself inwardly strengthens me; for of myself I have no such ability."

Some may perceive it unkind or hurtful to refer to people as "wild beasts" or "vile" or such a similar set of terminology, there is a biblical allowance for such language. See my previous article on this issue: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/harsh-words-and-differences-among-them.html

To further expand on that issue, Ignatius encourages the congregation to pray for the salvation of the heretics, so that they maybe saved.

Let us pray for all.

Answering Judaism.