Saturday 24 September 2016

1 Corinthians 14: Organised worship

I had said the following in the previous article:
"Lord Willing I may comment how tongues should function in the worship of God and in the context of the church. We'll have to see."

In this article I shall be commenting on 1 Corinthians 14. To get the background of what I believe tongues, read the previous paper:

With that out the way, let us get started.

"14:1 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. 5 Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up."

Putting aside the charismatic/cessationist debate, Paul is exhorting the church to have spiritual gifts that edify and raise the church up in godliness. It is important to note that anyone who speaks or prays in tongues must have an interpreter so that individuals will know what is being said, thus the church will be built up. There is no casual usage of tongues here nor the Benny Hinn absurdity and other events like it where it's fake tongues and no interpretation is even given. Prophecy is also to be examined.

"6 Now, brothers,[a] if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? 7 If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? 8 And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? 9 So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, 11 but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. 12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church."

If no one is understanding what is being said, it is of no value to the person in question is it? It's like watching a foreign film and not having a clue what the characters are saying. You either need someone to dub over in your language or the film in question have subtitles to translate what is said. How could a person who is not familiar with the language take from the film the subtext and themes that it is trying to convey to the audience? It's as Paul said, "if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air."

"13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. 16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider[b] say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue."

Exactly what Paul was saying, it would be more beneficial to the individual to have few words they can understand as opposed to having many words that they cannot understand, as well as praying in mind and in spirit together.

We come also to an interesting section on prophecy in this very chapter:

"26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 27 If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. 33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace."

This ties in with interpretation of the tongues again, either have someone to interpret or they do not speak and there is also a judgement on what the one prophesying is saying, judging them to be right in what they say rather than let them off the hook and shout "Touch not God's anointed", Read the following article on what that phrase actually means:

I'll quote from 33 again and elaborate on that verse again:

"33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

36 Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. 39 So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But all things should be done decently and in order."

Verse 33 is to be read in light of what has been said previously as the verse is often abused by the unbelieving world to discredit Christianity. However the verse in question refers to the orderly worship and function of the church that God does not have disorderly, confused worship but worship that is organized and disciplined. It is also interesting what Paul says about women (And no to all the naysaying feminists, no this is not misogyny) that any queries they have about the word of God, they can ask their husbands after the worship service and it also puts a nail in the idea that women should be leading mixed congregations.

As for the phrase do not forbid speaking in tongues, it is not saying "Everything goes", it is referring to the biblical tongues, not the unbiblical tongues.

Putting aside the debate as to whether or not prophecy is applicable today, If it is, it is do be done in an orderly manner, the same goes for the tongues, both must be done respectfully. There is nothing similiar the spiritual orgies we have in churches today, such as laughing in hysteria, or these false prophecies and crazy contrived or demonically induced version of tongues.

Anything else to add may be given in an addendum Lord Willing.

Answering Judaism.

Monday 19 September 2016

Speaking and Praying in Tongues: What is it?

Tongues is one issue that is quite controversial among Christians, as well as prophecy and whether or not other gifts of the spirit including miracles still occur to this day. Specifically I want to take a look at what passes for biblical tongues. Let us first go back to Pentacost.

Tongues at Pentacost
"Acts 1:1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”"

The context explains above what tongues are. The tongues that the New Testament speaks about are other human languages. This is why some were astonished at what happened, because the apostles were speaking in their respective native tongues. If the apostles lived in the modern era, you would have countless Americans and Europeans amazed at the fact that their languages are being spoken by them despite not knowing the language.

Of course, some of the people in verse 12 mocked and said the apostles were drunk, to which Peter responds:
"14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.[b] 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
    before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’"

Peter points out that he and the apostles are completely sober and quote from Joel 2:28-32.

Pentacost fulfills this prophecy present in the book of Joel. So what are tongues according to the context? Human languages, that is all they are. The same can be said also of Acts 10:
"Acts 10:44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days."

Once again we have the praises of YHWH conducted in foreign languages as opposed to another type of tongues which people proclaim.

Varying gifts in the church
Let us look now in 1 Corinthians 12:
"4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills."

There really isn't a need to say to much about this part of the chapter, Paul is explaining what various gifts that Christians possess in God, that not all Christians will perform the same feats as one another. Some will be able to speak other languages i.e. tongues and the same applies to other gifts of the Spirit that may be granted.

Read also in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31:

Paul explains using the analogy of the human body that every believer in Jesus is indispensable. No Christian who biblically believes in Jesus is useless or has no function within the body, he or she has gifts to utilize to build the body of Christ up and edify.

A tongue of angels?
Let us turn our attention to 1 Corinthians 13:
"13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[r] but have not love, I gain nothing."

Paul is not saying that there is a tongue of angels that humans can pray in, What he is presenting is a hypothetical scenario, that if he were to speak in a tongue of angels without love, it doesn't mean anything. I have already written an article on 1 Corinthians 13 so I will just link to an article dealing with the chapter in question:

Spirit filled or something else?
While I have explained what tongues entails, there are individuals who point to other so called tongues to prove them to be manifestations of the Spirit.

Other tongues may be contrived, someone may just make it up on the spot uttering nonsense as opposed to uttering a language that exists. There is also demonically induced tongues, commonly found in cults,be they "Christian" or among shamans and witch doctors. They are not the tongues that Paul is addressing within the passages in the Bible nor are they the tongues that are present in the New Testament among the apostles.

One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is self control as found in the book of Galatians in chapter 5:
"22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."

If there is no self control, How can the fruit of the Spirit be there?

Lord Willing I may comment how tongues should function in the worship of God and in the context of the church. We'll have to see.

Answering Judaism.

Saturday 17 September 2016

1 Corinthians 13: Love

"13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

What we have here in 1 Corinthians is love being one of the core apsects of Christianity that while in some circles actually ends up leading to an unbalance on the love of God and while the world has a perverted view on what love is, it is one of the vital things for Christians to maintain. It also speaks to the motivation behind doing good things.

Doing evil in the sight of God is obvious, that is something Christians can agree on (assuming he or she is biblically sound), Doing what is evil in the sight of God is reprehensible, but how many of us even think about our motives for doing what is right? In other words, if you are doing good for the wrong reason, you might as well be evil.

It is a hard endeavor for us to do good for the right reason, sometimes ulterior motives can destroy our good works and render them tainted.

Love is one of the things that endures, but Paul is not talking about some fairy/fantasy feeling nor is he talking about the world's love which claims to be progressive but is in actuality an excuse to say "Oh look, two men and two women are together, is that wonderful" and ignore the fact that it is sinful to even suggest that sexual sin is a viable way to live. If anything it is regression not progression.

What Paul talks about regarding love is namely caring for someone, i e agape.

Apage is a love that causes you to care for someone, not in the sense that an attractive quality causes you to talk to someone, but you are compelled to speak to them regardless. You care for someone despite what they look like. This doesn't mean you overlook and accept them in their sin, but it does mean you care for them enough to demonstrate the love of Christ to said individual. You want them to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus.

In the church, agape allows Christians to care for each other regardless of their backgrounds and compel them to seek Christ together (Not in ecumenism but unity of the Holy Spirit).

Love is also something that endures, unlike prophecy and tongues which are a things of this era and won't be present in heaven.

This is why Paul uses the illustration of growing up. Once we are adults, we no longer have an interest in the things of childhood. We no longer act immature or throw when we don't get our way, we focus less time on play and more on important things namely our work (Though there isn't anything inherently wrong with a hobby but that's another story.)

We also no longer perceive the world through the perspective of a child.

When we get older and you play a video game or watch a movie or animated series that you saw or played as a child and you remove nostalgia, you can see flaws present that you didn't see before as a child in said media or you can appreciate the artistry, creativity and the writing of a piece of work.

When it comes to films, animated series and video games, Adults generally tend to have more of an analytical view of a film. They can enjoy something for what it is but that doesn't mean they are willing to overlook everything that occurs on screen. A child (Though in some cases a child can have the same view as an adult somewhat) doesn't look at a video game or a movie in the same way and enjoys it for what it is without any objective bias for or against it.

A example of children's programming that can be appreciated for strong writing by adults and handling of mature themes is the Nicktoon Hey Arnold and that is attributed to the fact (and I am going by second hand information) that the creator of Hey Arnold, Craig Bartlett does not talk down to children and believes that children can handle more than we adults think they can. Keep in mind I am not saying every adult or child operates this way, I am just making a general statement.

Basically when we become adults, our thinking, behavior and practice change but nevertheless our capacity to love is still present.

Love is something that will not vanish, as God has given that ability to us. It's the fall of man that has destroyed or in the very least warped our perception of what love is, hence why as said before you have people proclaiming a tolerance of sin as somehow being progressive as human beings, even though it makes us no different from the people of ancient times, the very people that modern people seem ridicule as backwards or unenlightened.

Biblically understood agape encompasses all the things found in verses 4-7, especially the point that agape does NOT seek it's own. There is no self satisfaction or gratification, but only the assistance of others.

Any good work done for the sake of Jesus is meaningless if there is no love of Jesus in your hearts. Jesus had love and compassion in his heart for those who were lost and sought to bring people to the Father, for that was the Father's will, thus, Christians should emulate that example and follow Jesus.

The same thing applies with any spiritual gift or any talent that we have that God uses for his purpose and glory. If there is no love for the lost in your heart, then what are you doing work for Jesus for?

"Philippians 2:1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,[b] 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Jesus, the second person of the Trinity laid aside his divine prerogatives and humbled himself and laid down his life. If Jesus himself was able to do this, what excuse do we have to not lay aside our rights in service of others? Any good thing we do for others should never be out of selfish reasons, but a selfless concern for their well being as well as bringing them to salvation and assisting them in daily life.

There shouldn't be any complaining either:
"Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me."

As adults, there are things we may not like doing, but they need doing, but we must have a right attitude to them and not grumble or whine or complain about doing the task in question. People in the Old Testament DIED as a result of their grumbling:

"1 Corinthians 10:1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers,[a] that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown[b] in the wilderness.

6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ[c] to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."

Grumbling and complaining is offensive to God and yet every human is prone to doing these things, including children. Even if we do not express complaints outwardly, it's just as bad to express complaints inwardly. The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 brings the point out that it isn't just what you do, it's also what you think (see Matthew 5:21-30).

Let us love biblically.

Answering Judaism.

Did Jesus label all the Pharisees and Jews as evil?

I had written a response 2 years ago to an article that Yisroel Blumenthal had written. You can find my response here:

The article Yisroel wrote can be found:

Did Jesus himself dismiss the Pharisees as evil overall? No he didn't.

The Pharisees that were condemned were only the ones who actually were hypocritical. Jesus doesn't present his charges in Matthew 23 and elsewhere against all the Pharisees, there are exceptions.that exist, possibly including Joseph of Arimathea.

Any charge that Jesus and others in the New Testament made against the Jews or the Pharisees was only directed at the unbelieving Jews.

An example of believers from the Pharisees can be found in the book of Acts in chapter 15:
"15 But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. 3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers.[a] 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. 5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.”"

The Acts 15 council housed those who had Pharisaic believers in Jesus who did contend that Gentiles were to keep the Mosaic law but eventually the council came to a decision that the Gentiles were not under the Mosaic Law. I have no time to talk about that at this juncture but you nevertheless get what I am saying.

Nicodemus, who visited Jesus earlier in John 3 speaks with his fellow Pharisees in John 7:
"45 The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” 46 The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” 47 The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? 48 Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? 49 But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, 51 “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” 52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”"

While it is not explicitly stated he repented and believed, it is quite possible that Nicodemus was in a worse case scenario, at least open to the prospect of Jesus being who he said he was. Whether he believed or not it isn't stated, but it's interesting to see his reaction, that Jesus should be given a chance to speak and explain himself.

Many Jews also came to follow Jesus and were the first believers to make up the church itself, The Gentiles themselves were brought in later. Paul even mentions fellow Jews as well as Gentiles who helped him in his ministry:

"3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. 5 Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert[b] to Christ in Asia. 6 Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junia,[c] my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles,[d] and they were in Christ before me. 8 Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. 11 Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. 12 Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers[e] who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you."

Some translations say Jews but the meaning is the same, his fellow race of people, his kinsmen:

The New Testament NEVER approves of anti-semiticism of any kind and the condemnation of unbelieving Jews (and Gentiles) for refusing to bow the feet of Jesus is not to be seen or taken as hate speech of any kind. Nor should the New Testament be seen as a polemic against all the Pharisees or the Jewish people they ruled over.

Read also my articles responding to Uri Yosef on his claims of Anti Semitism in the New Testament if you want more information on whether the New Testament is Anti-Semitic:

Answering Judaism. (Lord Willing this article may be subject to updates).

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.