Friday, January 25, 2019

Is a Christian Card Game a Good Idea?


Someone out there has an idea for a Christian card game, but he is worried. Many games in this style have occult influences. Will people who find his game eventually be drawn to those? If so, should he give up on the project? I would say no. There is a risk that people will pervert the truth, but even so, we have a responsibility to share it. A new way to do so for an underserved community is a valuable thing. 

We recently looked at a question regarding the appearance of Jesus in a video game, and I have found another one in a similar vein. Someone asks,

I am currently working on a battle trading card game that is going to be Christian based and loaded with bible references. HOWEVER, I am still conflicted on whether to go through with it, because I know that because of the fact it is a card game it might still influence some to explore other games, such as Magic: The Gathering, which I feel like have occult influences. What should I do to stop that from happening?

This is a great idea, in my opinion. We need to seek out ways to present the gospel that will be attractive and recognizable to the world, so long as we do not compromise the truth. Trading card games have a strong market of young people looking to feel powerful and secure. I do not know if they would express it that way, but it is an underlying element of the fantasies they enjoy. The Christian message can give them that in reality, and it could reach them more effectively if presented in the form they understand so well.

The question is, though, is this environment too saturated with the occult for a Christian game to do any good? How could you keep it separate? As I sit here thinking about it, I am not sure you can. But that is not necessarily a reason to stop. If you want the light to shine, you have to carry it into the darkness.

Some people are going to confuse it with things like Magic: The Gathering. But if we are worried about people getting confused, we may as well never speak. What matters more is constantly offering clarity.

First Century Comparison

Think of it in terms of the experience of Paul and Barnabas recorded in Acts 14:8–18. While visiting the Galatian city of Lystra (in modern-day Turkey), they performed the miracle of healing a lame man. After doing so, the people of the town mistook them for the gods Zeus and Hermes and prepared to make offerings to them. The apostles had to work desperately to prevent this, and the passage suggests they were not totally successful in making it clear that this miracle was done through Jesus Christ rather than through their own power.

Now, was that their fault? I don’t see how anyone could say that. They did the best they could to spread the gospel of Christ. They did not want the worship, and they did not want anyone to miss the point. But the way people responded to them was not in their control. They corrected the error as much as they could and just moved on. People have to be responsible for their own choices.

And on a related note, should the possibility of such misunderstandings have stopped them from doing their evangelistic work? Should they have said, “The people might mistake us for gods, leading them to greater devotion to the Olympic religion, so we better not say anything about Jesus”? The answer is an emphatic “NO.” They could not stop spreading the good news just because people might miss the point.

The earliest believers were not doing these things in a context where the occult was a form of ironic rebellion. They did it in the midst of a culture that had wholehearted devotion to the power of magic. It was far more serious than games. It was life and death. But Christians took that culture head-on and showed the superiority of the alternative they offered. Not everyone understood. The message got twisted by Gnostics and other syncretistic movements. But the truth carried on, and carries on still.

I sincerely hope this game creator will be encouraged to keep going with his project. The need is there. There is a risk that some people might end up latching onto something else because his game “introduces” them to it. But that would be their fault, not his. And conversely, what he is doing could change some hearts for the better. So long as he does not compromise the message, it is a worthwhile way to send it. The church needs this type of outside-the-box thinking. May no fear stop it.

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