Healthy Christian Criticism

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Have you ever wondered what healthy Christian criticism looks like in regards to video games? I know that often I have been guilty of intentionally writing a negative review from the outset. I am guilty of making blanket statements just because I have been offended by a gameplay mechanic or content found in a game. Just because I am/was offended, I have illogically reasoned, all Christians must flock to my side and be offended as well. As I have grown and matured in my walk with Christ, I have found that criticism is a much more nuanced creature.

Of Games & God

Kevin Schut, in his Of Games & God: A Christian Exploration of Video Games, talks about what healthy Christian criticism looks like:

To start with, good criticism is not automatically positive or negative. If we want to judge something fairly, we can’t prejudge it (although it’s impossible to completely avoid this). We also can’t judge something without examining it. p.175

Schut continues by saying that context is the key in:

…understanding where a game fits in gaming culture, in the gaming industry, and in relation to other games. p.175

Just as when we study the Bible, we must also examine the cultural and historical context of what we are reading. Asking questions such as:

  1. What is the developer/author/writer trying to communicate?
  2. What does this mean in light of the overall video game industry and it’s history?

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The book continues:

…good criticism draws on or at least considers as many different critical perspectives as possible, even if we ultimately reject some of those ideologies.

Carefully considering non-Christian perspectives is, in my opinion, a healthy thing to do. Healthy Christian criticism is not defensive or prickly. p.175

In dealing with non-Christians online, I often find myself getting defensive (even with fellow Christians). This is not how Jesus would have responded. I have found that when I start growling that this is a signal to take a breather and step away from the situation. We don’t always have to have the answer or the last word, right? Right?

Fourth, my faith, the teachings of Christian tradition, and the words of Scripture are by far the greatest motivator in my criticism.

My worldview is based on my belief in Jesus… p.176

And finally:

…good criticism leaves the door open to the possibility of a change in perspective. p.176

Again, how often do we come to the virtual table with prejudged notions. I have noticed a disturbing trend in some online Christian communities where anyone that thinks differently than the group norm is quickly shutout and shutdown. Open communication and a lack of fear of where a conversation might head are needed with good criticism, period.

Healthy Christian criticism comes from a non-reactionary place filled with grace. In light of Scripture, we are able to take that which we consume and weigh it accordingly.

Passion

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I am passionate about:

  • Solid Bible teaching. I want to see fellow Christians challenged in their faith straight from the Bible. 
  • Keeping the focus solely on the Gospel and not on personal preferences.
  • The videogames industry being influenced with the love of Christ. I’m still not sure what this looks like, whether it includes handing out beer and Bibles, but I’m always processing this one. Currently I am exploring starting a GameCell at my church.
  • Helping others avoid the same mistakes that the Internet helped me make. I want parents to be aware of the parental controls on their children’s devices; I want individuals to take preventative steps to protect themselves from the wild west of the Internet.
  • Blogging. Yeah, you wouldn’t know it from my posting frequency, but I have always enjoyed sharing my life and what I’m learning with you. I love writing and it is not something I allow myself the time to do enough.

Working the 8-5 grind, I often get lulled into patterns that prevent me from focusing on my passions. This walking dead-like slumber causes me to forget how much I love my wife and son and how blessed I am to have them in my life. I am noticing that it is only through being intentional with what I consume media-wise/what I do daily that I am able to overcome this personal apathy.

So what about you? What are you passionate about?