Monday, 5 September 2016

What Christians can gain from movies and video games

Both movies and video games are controversial among Christians. Some condemn them as worldly or childish and some see them as harmless but exercise caution in what they see. Me, I myself am a movie fan and fit in the latter category.

People who know me know I am a video game and movie fan, but putting that aside, is there anything to gain from movies and video games, yes and no, this comes down to an issue of what franchise is pressing a particular worldview.

Let us not kid ourselves, Hollywood as with any company is run by fallen men and as such would be tainted. There are franchises out there that put forward views that a Christian would find repugnant. But can there are cases where a noble message that conforms to a biblical world view can indeed be found.

Ultimately as Christians, we need to hold every philosophy or teaching under the scrutiny of scripture. The Bible is to be the lense through which we see the truth and should not be viewed from a worldly perspective. Any perspective needs to be tested, holding fast to the good and discarding the evil.

There are many examples I could give highlighting this issue and I'll list them.

Terminator 2 has in recent years become one of my personal favorite movies, It's a movie that explores the human condition, namely what it means to be human and the value of human life, is it possible to change. Granted however only Christ can change the hearts of men and bring about change, but nevertheless Terminator 2 has a positive message that there is some good in the world.

On the other hand, I would never encourage Sarah Connor or an other woman in her position to consider going into the military. She could send John Connor into the military for training against Skynet but biblically speaking if she were a real person, Sarah joining the army would be out of the question. See my article on Deuteronomy 22:5:

I have also commented on a contrast between a good and a bad marriage using Back to the Future Part II, see that for an example of how marriage should be treated:

Another example I could point to is the Dark Knight Trilogy, a film series that explores thought provoking themes and ideas such as what true justice is and that everyone has something to say.

However, I have pointed out in the past that vigilantism is something that a Christian should not even consider engaging in. See my article on vigilantism:

The Amazing Spiderman 2, as disliked as that movie is by comic book fans, has many interesting ideas to tackle, namely the subject of abandonment, hope, time etc. One example of a story found is breaking a promise that one should have fulfilled.

Peter Parker at the end of the first Amazing Spiderman made a promise Captain George Stacy, a police officer to stay away from his daughter Gwen Stacy. Peter struggles in The Amazing Spiderman 2 to stay close to Gwen while at the same time keeping away from her so that his promise to her father may be honored, something that tears him apart, especially at the beginning of the film and pays the price for it when he violates his promise in the third act of the film. There is a failure from Peter to keep his word to Captain Stacy and the sting is even worse at the end of the film

If one makes a promise, he should keep it even though it hurts:

"15 O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
    Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
    and speaks truth in his heart;
3 who does not slander with his tongue
    and does no evil to his neighbor,
    nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
    but who honors those who fear the Lord;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
5 who does not put out his money at interest
    and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved."

This is an instance of why one should not make a rash promise that you can't keep. Jesus teaches us to let our yes be yes and our no be no. See the following article on vows for more information:

Star Trek is also known among fans, specifically Star Trek Prime (The Non Reboot Series) for exploring interesting ideas and questions which are two numerous to list, some of which are biblically sound and some are not. If you have time to watch an episode of Star Trek, judge a moral on a biblical basis and see if it is a moral that should be taken on board.

Finally, 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.

As said before with any franchise, you do need to be careful that any fictional franchise may contain lies, in other words 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.

I could list numerous examples but I think I have given enough to illustrate a point.

If there is a theological point that is biblical you have found in the game in question, that can be accepted, but anything that contradicts the Bible you can safely chuck out and not absorb into your thinking.

Some Christians will dismiss television as a brainwashing device, however, I believe YOU are responsible for the information you take in. You need to go to God and ask him to conform you more to his liking and image and think the way he does. Get into the scriptures lest you be tossed around by every wind and wave of doctrine, otherwise you may find yourself embracing views that a Christian should not.

Can a message creep into your mind, yes, which is why we should pray to God to expunge the point.

I'll leave you to be the judge, If you are not interested in movies and video games, that's fine, if you are, that's fine but remember to be discerning and judge scriptually with righteous judgement.

Answering Judaism.

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