The Redemption Of The Pagan

Should we be concerned if something has a pagan origin? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s that time of year again. Halloween is going to be here in a few weeks and what’s being said about that? Pagan. Just yesterday a friend shared with me that a well-known Christian apologist is sharing a bogus meme from Anton Lavey that I wrote about last year. Unfortunately, there’s no evidence we’ve seen that the quote comes from LaVey, but oh well.

Before too long, it will be Christmas. What will people be saying about that in Christian circles? That’s right. Pagan.

You know, for people who seem to want to be wary of anything that has to do with magic, pagan is thrown around like it’s a magic word to get people to have nothing to do with whatever is in question.

A lot of people do this with the devil as well. Feeling tempted? There’s one reason. Satan! The devil is going after you! The problem with this is that it assumes unknowingly that if the devil was removed from the picture, that you would not have a sinful human nature that would be tempted. You would live your life sin-free if only the devil wasn’t constantly on your shoulder. It’s also interesting that it’s always the devil. It’s never a low-ranking demon or something like that. We practically treat the devil as omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent when we do this.

Many of us know enough of our own nature. If we were absolutely convinced the devil or demons were not tempting us, we would still be tempted. If we want to know why we’re tempted to sin, the devil isn’t the problem. We are the problem. We have a sinful nature.

Let’s start talking though about this problem with paganism. One aspect of Christianity is that God did not come into this world to save sinners, although He certainly did that. He came into this world to save the world. He wanted to redeem everything. The world is His creation. He wants to save it and rule it all.

That includes every day of the calendar. That includes every culture. There is nothing in this world that God does not intend to rule. When we go into a pagan culture, we seek to redeem everything then. As the hymn says, this is our Father’s world.

In fact, if you think that you should avoid anything that has the taint of evil on it supposedly, then look in the mirror. Your origins Biblically aren’t the best. We were once slaves to sin and death reigned over us. Think you can get much better than that? We are now a new creation in Christ.

Redeeming a culture is child’s play to what it took to redeem us. It took the death of the Son of God. When we act like something is irredeemable because of its origins, then we have a hard time with ourselves. Ultimately, I don’t care what a pagan intended to do with XYZ. I care about why I do it.

Christians. Please stop living in fear. Just stop it. Christ came so that you could be victorious. There’s no need to be cowering. Don’t give the devil more power than he has. Christ defeated Him 2,000 years ago. Start living in victory today.

And once again, if you must share something, please check up on it. In fact, just now, my friend Jeff Harshbarger commented on this story. What he did was something odd. He actually sought out the source material himself. (Yeah. Bizarre thought. Who knew?) Here’s the result.

Re: Contact Form Submission from the Church of Satan Website

Administration <administration@churchofsatan.com>
To
far468@bellsouth.net
Today at 1:43 PM
No. Since Satanism is not devil worship, LaVey would not say such a thing.

On 10/8/17, 12:21 PM, “Church of Satan” <administration@churchofsatan.com> wrote:

Name: Jeff Harshbarger

Email: far468@bellsouth.net

Comments: Did Dr. LaVey actually make this statement? I’m glad that
Christian parents let their children worship the devil at least one
night out of the year.

Please be living in truth people. Do that, and you have no need to fear. Yes. It’s something we all still have to work on. Check your history when making a historical claim and remember, if God can redeem you, who knows what else He can redeem.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

And Then They Came For My Fun

Do we have our priorities out of whack? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Over the weekend there was a church shooting in Tennessee. You might not have heard about this. The media gave it some lip service and then it went to the big story. What’s the big story? Football players kneeling during the National Anthem.

It’s not to say that this isn’t worthy of discussion. For what it’s worth, I find it deplorable that so many players are doing this, but at the same time, I don’t really care. My attitude towards most sports has always been that I don’t care. When the Super Bowl comes on here, Allie watches the game. I put down my book and watch during the commercials. If the NFL dies over this, it won’t affect me one bit.

Yet I do notice something. Americans don’t tend to get excited about a topic unless it affects their entertainment. You might say that Christians are not like that. Oh no. Sadly, Christians in America are just like that. Go after everything else in the world and that’s fine, but focus in on their fun and it’s time for war.

A few years ago, there was a major controversy when Duck Dynasty was pulled from the air. Why? Because one of the main characters had said something against homosexual practice. A&E pulled the show and before too long, there was a Facebook page set up with a million members and protests as people had their cable disconnected. Cracker Barrel in an amazing suicide stunt decided to join in and received the same attention. Eventually, A&E and Cracker Barrel relented.

So there you have it. Christians across this nation won a great victory because they stood up and spoke. They got their TV show back and after this great victory, they did what is the next obvious step.

That’s right. Absolutely nothing.

What about Chick-Fil-A? Now this is something that I can have some interest in as I do like their waffle fries, but other than that, I’m not a chicken fan. So then we have the media go after Chick-Fil-A and then we go after that by having Chick-Fil-A Day. It’s a rousing success. Chick-Fil-A shatters business records that day. People waited in long lines just to have something at Chick-Fil-A. After this great success, Christians again who saw what a difference their voice can make when they speak did the obvious thing with a great victory.

That’s right. Absolutely nothing.

So what do I gather from this?

We in America, and Christians are not an exception, care about an issue when it interferes with our fun. Other than that, it doesn’t affect us supposedly so leave it alone. Sure, the homosexual left has been going after marriage for awhile, but who cares about defending that? Just don’t let them go after Chick-Fil-A! That’s when we stand up and say we will not accept this!

There are many issues we can talk about in our country, but obviously what needs to be fixed first is the NFL issue. Again, it’s not saying we absolutely avoid talking about it, but we ask based on how much time we spend discussing things what our priorities are. If we are willing to stand up for Chick-Fil-A, and not saying we shouldn’t, but we aren’t standing up for marriage, then what are we to say? Do Christians value Chick-Fil-A more than marriage? Sadly, I think we do.

The solution to this I think is to raise greater awareness. Why should we defend marriage? Should we care about things greater than our entertainment? This won’t be an easy task because too many of us think “Unless it affects my life, I just don’t care.” If you don’t care enough about a problem to do something about it though, you have to ask if you really care about it at all.

So what do we care about?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

I Survived The End Of The World….Again

What are we to say about end of the world predictions? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many of you know about predictions being made about Rosh Hashanah this year. September 23, 2017 was supposed to be a date of huge prophetic significance. Well, that is if you listened to the “prophecy experts.” For the rest of us, we preferred to call it “Saturday.” Okay. Some of us called it Batman Day and went to our local comic book store to get a free Batman comic.

As for me, I decided this time I’d be an exception and make some predictions as well. I made these three. The amazing thing is as far as I have seen, they have held out.

Prediction #1: Nothing of eschatological significance will happen.

Prediction #2. People making these predictions will not repent when shown they were wrong but will simply recalculate.

Prediction #3. At the next event that they deem to be unusual, these people will start the whole cycle all over again.

The sad thing is this is an easy set of predictions to make because it happens so often. Has John Hagee repented for the Blood Moons hysteria that led to absolutely nothing? Nope. How many people have repented after a book that claimed XYZ was the antichrist was written and now that person is long dead and gone? Sorry. Not happening.

As I have said, being a prophecy expert would be a great job to have. You can say whatever you want and claim it’s from the Bible, be a best seller, have a great following with people hanging on your every word, be entirely wrong and demonstrably so, and yet still be regarded as an expert. All that’s left is for these people to go into politics.

If there was anything else I was noticing regularly, it was people on YouTube making videos and what would they point to? Experiences and dreams over and over. Scripture could be turned to, but only as an afterthought to confirm what was in the dream. To those who are saying that there are no coincidences with Christ, sure, but sometimes things happen that aren’t all about you. That dream you had last night? Maybe it was from God. Maybe also it was your brain sorting things out because you had too much pizza the night before.

You see, you don’t know that everything in a dream or your experience is a direct message from God. You don’t. This is what is said about Scripture. Try interpreting Scripture. (You know, that book that says about what you say is the return that no one knows the day or the hour.)

Why is it that I get on this so much? It’s not just because I’m an orthodox Preterist in my eschatology. My wife sure isn’t and she has a huge problem with these people as well. It’s because these people and this mindset give people excuses to not believe the Gospel. If they can’t trust you on what the Bible says in this case, why should they trust you on the resurrection?

Keep in mind, the Bible nowhere tells us to be predicting when Jesus will return. It doesn’t. If you are doing the Great Commission, it won’t matter anyway. If He returns tomorrow and you’ve been doing it, great! You’re ready! If He returns 1,000 years from now and you were doing it in your lifetime, great! You’re ready!

There are too many Christians out there that are so obsessed with the future return of Christ that they’re not doing anything with Him in the present. Instead, it’s becoming an embarrassment as this is the picture the world gets. Fox News even had a story about “Biblical Numerologists” saying the end of the world was coming. How much egg does the church have on its face because of these kinds of actions?

That’s one reason I want to take a hard stand against this from now on. Please Christians. Do not buy books that are claiming to be expert guides to prophecy. Do not go to ministries that claim to have the inside scoop on what’s going to happen in the future through prophecy. Do not support and encourage Christians that are trying to date the time that Jesus will return.

If God says something will happen in prophecy, it will happen. He doesn’t need your help. You have your marching orders already. That’s the Great Commission. Too many people try to find out who the antichrist is and spend less time thinking about who Jesus is. Too many out there can “prove” in minute detail every single point about what’s going to happen in the Great Tribulation, but they can’t give you a case for why you should think Jesus rose from the dead. That’s a problem.

As long as the Christian community supports such people, it will be encouraging them and helping to further embarrass. It is understandable some people have a hard time believing in Christianity for reasons like miracles and the like. We don’t need to give them another reason or have them think the Bible can’t be trusted because we are saying it is clearly teaching X when it is not and that can be too easily demonstrated.

I get that some of this crowd are waiting for Yom Kippur which is at the end of the month, but if nothing happens, then what? Will there be any repentance? If not, then you have to ask who these people are doing what they’re doing for the most? Is it really the honor of Jesus they think most of or their own?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Secret Battle of Ideas About God

What do I think of Jeff Myers’s book published by David C. Cook? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Jeff Myers’s latest book certainly starts off getting your attention. How can it not with talking about people who were directly tied in to 9/11? This then gets directly linked to virus outbreaks that have taken place which is finally compared with the idea of mind viruses. Myers doesn’t mean some disease you need to go see your doctor about, but rather ideas that spread and people don’t have much defense for, including and especially, younger Christians.

Myers work is to deal with a problem which is that many of our younger Christians believe things that are entirely at odds with orthodox Christianity and they don’t even realize it. They’ve been made victims in a war that they don’t even realize that they’re fighting in, something immediately reminiscent of The Green Book is Lewis’s The Abolition of Man. These people have not been given a Christian worldview. As I’ve said many times before, it might be shocking to realize that to develop a good Christian lifestyle, you might need to have more than concerts and pizza parties at church.

Myers says that there are essentially five other kinds of worldviews, though no doubt there is some overlapping. These are secularism, Marxism, postmodernism, New Spirituality, and Islam. As I write this, I know Christian friends who have fallen especially for New Spirituality and Islam. Myers contrasts these worldviews with Christianity in the book.

One good aspect about the book is Myers is very open about himself and his own struggles and mistakes. When he writes about a failed marriage, he doesn’t hide it. When he talks about anger with God, that’s out there in the open. When he talks about mistakes in the past in the area of sex, that’s right there. When he says that counseling drains him, he means it. That kind of openness I admire.

Those questions are relevant because what Myers is really dealing with in the book is existential questions. Am I loved? Why am I hurting? Does life have any meaning? Can’t we all just get along? Is there hope for the world? Does God matter? Many of us in apologetics would like to leap straight to the questions of if God exists or if Jesus rose from the dead, but many people are not starting with those questions. They’re starting with these. We need to get to those questions, but how does Christianity answer these questions in contrast to other worldviews?

Myers’s book is clear and easy to read. You don’t have to be a professional philosopher to understand his arguments. There’s about 200 pages of content, but it’s still a relatively short read and it’s one that you could present to someone who is exploring Christianity and wondering about these kinds of questions.

If there was something I would like to see more of, it is that while the book is clear that Christianity does answer these questions, that doesn’t show Christianity is true. It’s fine to have a book dedicated to existential questions, but I would have liked to have seen a section at the end that would include apologetics books for further reading on the other questions that can show that Christianity is true. Perhaps it could point to other authors like J. Warner Wallace and Lee Strobel.

Still, this is a good book to read to help with the questions. It’s easy to read that when I finished, I put it in a stack of books for my wife so that she could go through it as she’s been learning a lot about these questions as well. If she does go through it, I am sure she will be blessed by it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 9/23/2017: Kevin Schut

What’s coming up Saturday? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

People who know me know that while I am certainly big into apologetics, I’ve also had a love of video games all my life. A few months ago, someone gifted me Console WarsThis is a book about the war between Sega and Nintendo, which was a major war in my generation growing up. As I was reading it, I read about Emil Heidkamp who was a devout Christian in the field and helping to produce video games, including such classics as Castlevania. I wondered why it was with my love of games that I had never had someone come on my show to talk about that.

I took to Amazon then to see what I could find. Perhaps you could find some people writing on this, but are there really any professionals in the field? Is there any really scholarly work? Fortunately, I found what I was looking for. I found someone with a Ph.D. in a related field who had written a book on video games and Christianity. He took a very positive approach as he is still a gamer himself and still a devout Christian. I got in touch with him and he was very interested in coming on and now the date has come. The book is Of Games and God and the author is Kevin Schut. So who is he?

According to his bio:

Kevin Schut is the Associate Dean of the School of the Arts, Media, and Culture and Professor of Media and Communication at Trinity Western University in Langley, BC, Canada.  He’s the author of the book Of Games and God: A Christian Exploration of Video Games, and he spends his spare time playing Mario Kart, King’s Quest, and Overcooked with his 3 daughters.

We’ll be talking about various connections between Christianity and video games. How can Christians partake in a field where there is violence as there is in many video games? Does this go against the teachings of Christ? Schut has three daughters, and yet we know that there are many games out there that do in fact highly sexualize women. What are we to say about that?

What about video game addictions? Don’t people spend way too much time playing video games? Some people have even suffered health problems and death due to video game addiction. Are we enabling people to get addicted? Why should we even be playing video games when we have to spread the message of the Gospel?

Also, what about Christians who want to go into the gaming industry and produce games? What do they need to be doing? Are we just going to wind up like we have in other media fields where we will produce media that will be great at reaching other Christians, but not so great at reaching everyone else? Haven’t Christian video games, like Christian movies for the most part, been just awful?

I hope you’ll be listening next time as I combine two great interests of mine for an interview and we talk with someone who has looked in-depth at these kinds of issues. Please be looking for the next episode of the show. If you haven’t yet, also go on ITunes and leave a positive review for the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Jesus In America

What happens to Jesus in America? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I love America. I live here and I think it’s the greatest nation on Earth. Unfortunately, we do have many flaws here. One of the big ones is how individualized everything has become. While I am a capitalist, I do think greed is often a problem and we have Christianized everything and not in the Biblical way. Jesus has been used to turn slogans around to different Jesus messages and you can go and buy Testamints at your Christian bookstore. (Because, you know, giving someone a mint like that is a great way to witness.) This has happened so often that we have what has been called Jesus Junk.

Our sermons aren’t much better. We go to a church service and it’s not about serving. It’s all about getting ahead. What can we do to be more moral people? How can we better handle the problems in our lives? Nothing against being moral people and handling the problems in our lives, but there’s more to Christianity than that. My favorite part is at the end hearing an altar call where you can hear absolutely nothing about the Kingdom of God and the resurrection of Jesus, but you sure hear how you can go to Heaven when you die.

In this kind of culture, Jesus becomes a sort of glorified Dr. Phil. Jesus is there to be a self-help guru for you and to help you feel better about yourself. Is it any wonder that the prosperity gospel does so well here? Again, there’s nothing wrong with advancing ahead and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having wealth, but what did Jesus really come for?

Go to most churches today in America and the idea that you get is that Jesus died for me. Well, yes. That’s true. He did die for you, but He died for a lot more than just you. He died for God. He died to bring about God’s Kingdom. He died to bring about God’s will on Earth. He died in service to the Father to reconcile God and man together. It’s not that God needs us, but that God wants to share His blessings on us. Thinking God needs us is just more of our self-centeredness.

This is why we don’t think much about service like we should in the churches. Most pastors would be thrilled if people would be able to give even just the 10%. There are many Christians who indeed are in need in our churches, and the churches are often the last place that they will go to to meet those needs. The churches don’t just give and support. Again, most of us are looking out for ourselves and Jesus is a convenient help to that.

We have lost sight of the idea that Jesus is the king. It could be because we have grown up in a country where our leaders are elected and we have a president and the idea of a monarchy seems like a quaint thing from olden times that we no longer need any more. Perhaps in a merely human sense, it is, but we are talking about the divine king. This is not an ordinary king who will make mistakes and raise our taxes and such, but make no mistake, this is a king who will call us to come and die.

Perhaps that’s the part we don’t want to hear. We want Jesus to give us more of what we want. Money, power, fame, sex, whatever it is. Jesus is a means to an end rather than the end in Himself. Most of us don’t really think about Jesus, unless we think about the things that He gives for us even if it’s just the feelings that we get with Him.

Today in America, for many of us, if we want food, we can go to a restaurant and get served quickly. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. If you want to, you can even get fast food. Today, we treat Jesus like that. If we’re hungry, we go to the restaurant. If we need to fill better about ourselves, we go to Jesus.

Of course, if this is all Jesus does, then there’s no need for unbelievers to really come to Jesus. If you need to feel good about yourself, there are several self-help books that can do that or you can go get Xanax or something like that. You sure don’t need Jesus for that. Now if you want something else, like divine forgiveness, or the Kingdom of God on Earth, you will need Jesus.

Jesus is not just a commodity on the market. He’s not just another self-help guru. He isn’t just giving us a message of peace and love, because messages like that don’t get people crucified. He is a real historical figure who walked and died among us and rose again. This isn’t a fairy tale or a story that takes place a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. This is real history. This has serious ramifications for us and things much more important than feeling good about ourselves.

It is my sincere hope that the American church will realize that while Jesus can make us good people and that can lead to good feelings, there is so much more. There is a real historical reality here. There are real ramifications for all of us. I’ve had enough of Jesus Junk. Let’s see how much better the real deal can do influencing our culture.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Of Games and God

What do I think of Kevin Schut’s book published by Brazos Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Dr. Schut’s book is an excellent one that I can easily say that when I got to the end, I was rather surprised. I hadn’t been keeping that much track. This is the kind of book I wish I had had when I was in high school and dealing with issues of doubt and such. I have seen enough damage done by people who are critical of the medium of video games but have not engaged with it.

For my part, I am going to turn 37 later this year and yet I still consider myself a gamer. My favorite kinds of games are RPGs. I am still bothered that I have not got to play Breath of the WildFinal Fantasy is another favorite series of mine and it’s my wife’s hope that somehow we can save up enough money or find someone generous so that we can get a Nintendo Switch so she can play the new Pokemon games.

Like me, Schut is also a gamer. He has seriously wrestled with the arguments on both sides. His favorite games seem to be ones like Red Dead Redemption and Civilization. He also does not deny at all that he is thoroughly committed to Jesus. So what does he say about the games?

Schut does say we need to listen to criticisms. Take time to pay attention to what is being said. At the same time, we should be hoping for critical evaluation and not self-righteous evaluation.

Also, we are living in an age where games are more and more common, including games on our IPhones and Kindles and such. Many people who would likely never play a video game have no problem playing something like Words With Friends for instance. There’s also games that are popular such as Candy Crush which has now become a gameshow, and Angry Birds, which has had its own movie.

He also speaks out against our attempts to Christianize everything. Something is not automatically Christian because it mentions Jesus. Many of us would say the Chronicles of Narnia are Christian, which indeed they are, but you will not find Jesus explicitly mentioned anywhere in them. Our Christian material is usually preachy and we’re very good at reaching ourselves, but not everyone else.

We also have to pay attention to what kind of medium a video game is. One noted difference is that it is interactive. No matter how many times you read The Lord of the Rings nothing new will happen. The story will be the same. No matter how many times you watch the movie, nothing new will happen. Every time you play the game, something different will happen. Of course, there can often be some overriding parameters set for you by the designers of the game, but you have great freedom and influence on the story. No two playings will be the same.

He also does get into the topic of a demonic scare. I was pleased to hear like me, he had a great interest in Dungeons and Dragons as well as Magic: The Gathering. For me, in high school, my friends and I didn’t care for the school lunch at all, so rather than have lunch, we’d go to the library and play Magic all afternoon together.

Unfortunately, too many people have brought into scare stories about such things. Consider the Pulling Report for instance. People who latch onto this do a disservice to those who play the games. Most people who are playing these games are for the most part the same as any other interest. It’s sadly the few that no doubt have other issues going on beforehand that are emphasized.

This naturally gets us into the question of violence in video games. Schut doesn’t shy away from this one, though he does say each person needs to evaluate this for themselves as well. It could be that part of our world is we live in a fallen world and sometimes violence could be what needs to be done. One aspect of this I was considering is that if I’m playing a game like Final Fantasy, one could consider reasoning with a human being, but if a hungry carnivorous creature is coming after me, reason will not work.

Another issue is game addiction. Games do have a tendency to draw us in, reward our achievements, and make us want to do more. There will be a little bit more on this later, but let’s discuss how it relates to addiction. Can some people get addicted? Yes. Still, there is no proven condition like this. Many people do learn to manage their time well. The question is not what do you do, but what do you not do? He also says a temporary obsession is okay. When Breath of the Wild came out, many of my friends were indeed engrossed in that for awhile. (And I hate them for it in a loving Christian way.)

What about sexuality in video games? It is only in the world of video games that a woman can go into battle wearing pretty much a bikini and count that as armor. Video games are usually a world dominated by men, but there are plenty of female gamers. (My wife is playing Pokemon as I write.) The representation on the other hand can be quite different. Women are usually eye candy. There are some exceptions, such as Samus Aran, but we only need think of Lara Croft in Tomb Raider and the obsession with some people on finding a nude code for her.

Now to what I said there would be more on later when talking about addiction. What about education? Video games could be a great source of education. For instance, when I studied Greek in Bible College, we used a program called Parson’s Greek Tutor. I would like very much to get my hands on this again as the interactive format made it much easier for me to learn the material and at the time, I was moving ahead of the class even. Every round was a game and I wanted to get perfect and would settle for nothing less which made sure I learned the material very well. As one working on learning the language now, I look back and wish I still had that.

Video games can be used in such a way for us today. There is something real in the concept of edutainment. Ask a gamer about the information they need in a game and many times they will know it because they have to know it to play well. It is practical knowledge for them.

But what about concerns about the digital age killing our minds? To some extent, this is true. To another extent, the digital age is here to stay and we have to do the most with it that we can. Every new medium brings with it changes. The print medium brought changes as does the internet medium and the video game medium. It’s easy to strike at the medium instead of the human sinful tendency.

Schut also has a section on Christians in the video game industry. Many of these are dedicated people and want to do the best they can. They see their work as an act of service to God in trying to make the best game possible. There are few explicitly Christian video games, and this could be a good thing as sadly, many of those are just awful and only reach those of us who are already Christians. Abandoning the industry will only do for that what it does for Hollywood. We need Christians in every field being salt and light.

No discussion would be complete without the social aspects. I remember years ago getting together with my brother-in-law and some of his friends. No doubt, I was the youngest one there, but we spent all of one afternoon playing Goldeneye together. In Charlotte, I would get together with some friends every Sunday night. After some time playing Super Smash Brothers Brawl we would go bowling. When it came time for my bachelor party, all we did was bring the Wii over to a guy’s apartment complex who had a big screen and played Smash Brothers all night long together.

Games have had a way of bringing people together and uniting them. Gaming conventions are places where people can very often be themselves and form friendships easily. It could be that the gamer today is no longer the single guy sitting in his mother’s basement.

If you’re a gamer, you owe it to yourself to read Schut’s book. It is a gripping looking at a neglected medium and one that we need more of. I appreciate that he sent me a copy for review purposes and I look very much forward to interviewing him on my podcast about this.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Console Wars

What do I think of Blake Harris’s book published by Dey Print Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This is not a book about apologetics.

This is not a book about Christianity.

This is a book about video games.

Yep. Video games.

And yet I think it’s a book helpful for apologetics and Christianity.

A friend gave me this book as a Kindle gift and I always like to try to read books that are gifted to me. It’s about the battle that took place in the late 80’s and early 90’s between Nintendo and Sega. How is it that Sega wanted to take on the giant of Nintendo? What worked? What didn’t? Why is it that Nintendo eventually emerged from that battle and now Sega makes games for Nintendo?

My bias right at the start. I grew up a Nintendo guy. I always favored Nintendo. The time I began bending that was to get a Playstation and that was for only one game. Final Fantasy. The series had moved over to the Playstation and I wanted to be able to play the games.

It was fascinating to read this book and realize about all that was going on behind the scenes when I was growing up that I had no idea about. Why was it that I never saw commercials for Nintendo games when I was growing up? I figured it was because word of mouth and the magazine Nintendo Power were far better ways of advertising. What was going on when Howard Phillips left the company? How did Nintendo and Sega come to be?

There are a number of main characters in here. There was Howard Lincoln, the lawyer who joined up with Nintendo and eventually became their chairman. There’s Peter Main who was vice-president of sales and marketing. Minoru Arakawa was the president of Nintendo of America and the son-in-law of the main company head Hiroshi Yamauchi. Other characters at Nintendo were Bill White, who eventually went to Sega, and Tony Harman.

At Sega, you had Tom Kalinske who was the president of Sega of America. He was hired by Hayao Nakayama who was president of Sega of Japan. Kalinske had several working with him like Ellen Beth Van Buskirk and Al Nilsen and for awhile, Steve Race, before he moved over to work with Playstation.

Other characters show up as well. Emil Heidkamp is one who was a noted Christian presence at Konami and if you ever played Castlevania, you owe it to him. Olaf Olafsson was one of the main people instrumental at Sony in getting them in the video game industry in the mid-90’s. There are more people overall that were involved in everything.

So what kinds of things did I learn? For one thing, I went through this realizing that I had never thought about marketing the Gospel. Now by that, I’m not at all saying we tone it down or change it. Not for a second. I am saying we need to consider how we present it. Someone out on the streets with a bullhorn is giving out the Gospel. Someone making an informed presentation at a church on the resurrection of Jesus is also doing that. Who is likely to have more results? It’s not changing the product. It’s doing what we can to present the product in a way people will like and respond to and catch their attention.

This is especially essential to do today. If you are making a presentation and within the first few moments you do not grab your audience’s attention, you will probably not get it back. They’ll go to their IPhone or anything else at the time. We have to find a way to present the message in a way that reaches them, informs them, and convicts them.

At the same time, we can’t be overly aggressive. One of the big mistakes that Sega made was they tried to overstep and do too much. In the end, that doing too much cost them because they focused so much on the style that substance was lost. Thus, when it came time for a product of substance, it wasn’t ready to go out. I could say more about this, but there would be spoilers for those who haven’t read.

Nintendo, by contrast, had an idea of slow and steady wins the race. Despite the increasing power of Sega, they never really saw them as a threat. Nintendo was focused on substance more than anything else and they believed that time-honored tradition focused on good games was what would win the day.

We must also be working together. When you look at Nintendo of America in their relationship with Nintendo of Japan, there are some disagreements, but overall, everyone is on the same page. Not so when it came to Sega of America and Sega of Japan. These two were often working against one another. Japan always had the final say which often would cripple the American company. We in Christianity must not be so caught up in internal debates that we aren’t working as a unified front. Had Sega of Japan and Sega of America actually been working together, things might have turned out rather different.

Honesty must be a large part of all that we do. When Nintendo released Super Mario Kart, there was talk about it having something called Mode 7. This was a real thing which allowed for some 3-D imagery to take place. Sega had to find something they had that Nintendo didn’t. They found it buried in their games somewhere and it was called Burst Mode. They decided to name it Blast Processing. What did Blast Processing do that was so unique?

Well, nothing.

I mean, it had an effect, but the effect was miniscule. That didn’t stop Sega from making commercials about it acting like it was this great big innovation. The sad thing is that they knew that it wasn’t.

I was very surprised when moral issues came into play. Emil Heidkamp met Tom Kalinske at a show once and talked about how he had become a born-again Christian. Heidkamp worked with Konami and had a standard for the entertainment they would produce and was concerned about where the industry was going. He ultimately left when he saw Mortal Kombat. Kalinske heard his concerns, but when it came time to push the envelope into areas that Heidkamp would not have liked, Kalinske decided to do it. That included finding a way to cheat the system on Mortal Kombat so that Sega could have the blood and violence that Nintendo wanted toned down. Throughout the book, Kalinske will then have issues of conscience, but push them away.

Eventually, some companies started looking into video games and being concerned about the effects on children and such. When Kalinske got a call about this, he seemed to go into a panic mode and tried to explain things the best that he could. When Howard Lincoln of Nintendo got that call he just said “It’s not us.” The difference was remarkable.

By the way, a word about Howard Lincoln. At the end when Kalinske does retire, he gets a very nice letter from Howard Lincoln. This was something that really showed me the character of the Nintendo people. They weren’t saints to be sure, but I think they always tried to play by the rules.

While the lessons I learned were good, ultimately, this was also just a fun read. I could hardly put it down. In many ways, I got to relive my childhood and see so many games mentioned and events that I had forgotten about. I remembered the World of Nintendo centers that I always looked for in the department stores as a kid and I remembered the Play It Loud campaign. It was amazing reading about what was going on that I had no idea about. (Unfortunately, that also included some brief reliving of the travesty that was the Super Mario Brothers movie.)

I understand there’s a documentary being made based on the book. I eagerly look forward to seeing it. Console Wars was a wonderful read and anyone who grew up and saw this battle owes it to themselves to learn what all was going on.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 6/3/2017: Alan Branch

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Our culture is undergoing changes we never would have thought possible growing up and Christians face challenges that would have been unthinkable a couple of decades ago. The homosexual movement especially has risen up and demanded what is called “equality.” Why should this be given? Don’t you know? It’s not a choice. You’re born this way!

Well, are you?

My guest on the show this Saturday says “No. You are not born this way.” He is the author of the book Born This Way? and has looked deeply at the subject of if homosexuality has some sort of genetic origin. We’ll be talking about that this Saturday. His name is J. Alan Branch. So who is he?

Alan Branch got his B.B.A. at Kennesaw State College in 1991. He went on to get a Master of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in December of 1993. He went on to get a Ph.D. from there in 2000 in theology with a focus on ethics. As of now, he is the Professor of Christian ethics at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

What is the origin of homosexual attraction? Is it a choice? Are people born this way? If they are not, does that mean that they chose it? Branch’s book is a look at all the theories raised thus far to explain homosexuality and how it comes about. He looks at psychologists of the past as well as medical research done today to see if there is a genetic link of some kind to homosexual attraction.

So we’ll be having a brief history of this kind of study. We’ll be looking at Freud to see what he thought about homosexuality and then, we’ll move on to talk about Kinsey. Kinsey is a figure that needs to be talked about because he’s still highly influential in our culture today, yet not many people really know about all that was done by Kinsey and the kind of person he was.

What about objections raised today? Don’t we see this in the animal kingdom? Isn’t it thought that homosexuality is thus natural in so many animals? If it’s something natural, shouldn’t we have no problems with it today? What are we to say to this?

And of course, there’s the question about reparative therapy. If this is not something that is genetic, does that mean that it can be changed? If it can be changed, it is something that will even work? Many of us have heard the horror stories about what has gone wrong with this therapy and about people who claimed to be cured and yet fell back into the homosexual lifestyle. What are we to do then?

I hope you’ll be listening to the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. We’ll be working on getting it up for you as soon as we can. Please also consider going to ITunes and leaving a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. It’s always good to hear what you like about the show so I can know what you want to hear.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Who’s To Blame?

When someone does evil, who is responsible? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’m in a Christian group on Facebook where anime is discussed. That’s just one interest of the group, but my wife has a great interest in the genre, so it’s something for us to do. Anime for those who don’t know is more and less a Japanese cartoon. Today, someone shared a story about an 18-year-old boy dressing as an anime character and chasing a 9-year-old girl.

All of us commenting thus far agree this kid has a problem. You don’t go around chasing a girl that you don’t know. I emphasize that last part because an older brother could obviously chase around his younger sister in play for instance, provided they both know it’s play. Go to the article and what do you see in comments? Before too long someone is blaming it all on the anime instead.

Now let’s go with the claim that a lot of animes out there contain things that are wicked and evil. Yes. So do a lot of your shows on Netflix. To be fair, so does the Bible. Of course, the Bible condemns it, but it’s still in there because the Bible shows the real nature of humanity. Not everyone is pretty and nice. Even in many Christian films you have some sort of villain or evil that has to be overcome.

The early Christians lived in a world surrounded by far greater evil than we can imagine. The wonder of Corinth was that there was even a church there. The city was rampant with prostitution. Gods and goddesses would be depicted in extremely sexual terminology. What does this tell us?

Culture does no doubt affect us to some extent, but we have to decide what is going to be the greater force in our lives. Those of us who are Christians have decided that Christ is greater than the culture around us. We also know that we can’t insulate ourselves around us entirely from the world around us.

Of course, I’m not suggesting throw caution to the wind entirely. I will not watch anything with pornography. I have a woman who I love and whose body I treasure and I don’t want to risk putting before my eyes and other image that would be a temptation to me like that.

On the other hand, many people would advise some Christians against reading atheistic literature. For a young Christian starting, that could be right, but for me, I regularly read material that argues against Christianity. It’s what I have to do and many times, I enjoy it. It keeps me making sure I’m still on the right path and it can be amusing to see the bad arguments and to argue against atheists and know their literature better than they do. Sometimes if I buy the book, someone might say I’m giving money to the authors, but I figure the little they get from me is nothing compared to what I’m able to do with the information.

The big problem with all of this is that we look at someone doing something sinful and we’re able to blame what influenced them. There’s no doubt, something can influence someone anytime, but that is not the main culprit. The greater problem is the individual himself. Some individuals have limitations that others don’t have to be sure, but ultimately, the choice comes down to the person.

Whenever you commit a sin, there is only one true cause. That is yourself. You are responsible. You have to own it. Other people could have done things that got you further in that direction. Others items in culture could have influenced your thinking, but the responsibility comes to you. When you stand before God, you will not be able to blame culture or other people for what you did wrong. You will only have yourself to give an answer for.

So what’s the key to living in this culture then? Wisdom. Learn to discern. Understand what you put in your mind. Learn what is real and what isn’t. Of course, it doesn’t mean only watch what is real. Christians have long been people of the imagination. It means to know that just because it happens in a book or on the screen doesn’t mean it will happen in reality. Fantasy should cause you to look at reality in new eyes.

By the way, I say this as an avid fan of fantasy, namely through TV shows, movies, and video games. Fantasy can inspire us to be better people and look at the world with wonder, but we must remember that that is not the real world. Again, learn to discern.

And could this be the real problem here? We don’t spend enough time teaching our kids about how they should behave and then when they want to misbehave, we blame it on everything else instead of realizing we didn’t bring them up right. Even in the story, the parents are sadly thinking that it’s no big deal. Perhaps the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

From there, we follow a Romans 14 kind of attitude. Something may be wrong for one other person, but not for another. An alcoholic should not try to go and witness in a bar most likely due to the temptation. I could walk in and find zero temptation by the alcohol due to my lifelong vow to not drink alcoholic beverages.

Hopefully we will learn to take more responsibility for oursleves instead of blaming everything and everyone else around us. Our culture is part of a blame game and this has been going on since the Garden of Eden. (This WOMAN that YOU gave me.) We as Christians need to learn to submit our wills to God. God will not force us to not sin, but He will give us the strength to avoid any temptation if we will learn to rely on Him.

In Christ,
Nick Peters