Thursday, July 28, 2016

Oh no, Pokémon Go? (A Christian's Response To Pokémon Go)

            Why is this topic “Could Christians play Pokémon Go?” even relevant?

            Expert in the occult, William J. Schnoebelen of “With One Accord Ministries” explains the innate spiritual dangers of Pokémon (pocket monster):

            “1) Pokémon teaches kids that they can make demon-like beings (cuddly little monsters1) obey them;

            2) They are taught that these demons can be mastered and controlled;

            3) They are taught that demons are their servants and will help them.

            4) They are encouraged to become “Pokémon masters” by “conquering” more and more demons.” 1

            While warning his readers about Pokémon’s native spiritual dangers, Bill Schnoebelen does not mince any words, “In essence, these games are turning kids into real sorcerer’s apprentices! No wonder children are obsessed with this! Their culture’s greed is coming at them from one front and the games themselves are doorways for demons. Remember, anytime you are dealing with serious addictive behavior (and some of this IS SERIOUS), you can assume a spirit of bondage (Rom. 8:15) is at work. The spirit of bondage is a powerful strongman that needs to be dealt with quickly and preemptively in the authority of Jesus. Its best “antidote” is the “Spirit of Adoption” (same verse) which speaks deep to our hearts and cries out “Abba Father”…

            …Many of these kids (just like their parents) have never known the Love of Abba Father. Because of their thirst for it, they are drinking out of hell’s cisterns with these demonic, addictive games. Remember, just because your kids think they are innocently playing does not prevent the evil spirits from being deadly in earnest in exploiting their neediness and bringing bondage. If the devil (or his minions) can appear as an angel of light (2Cor. 11:14), he can certainly appear as a cute, warm fuzzy little cuddle-toy of a character.” 2

            On a similar note, Christian Apologetics & Research ministry,, in an article written in 2007, explains that Pokémon is potentially a dangerous game that could lead people away from God, since the game lures the gamers into accepting the occult and evolutionary principles.3

            How do we resolve the concern that the game Pokémon Go could be Satanic?

            On July 16th 2016, CARM website posted an update apparently deeming Pokémon Go as a game without any occultic overtones. 4 This update comes from a scholar who had earlier argued that Pokémon contained occultic overtones. (There is also an assurance to continue the research into Pokémon Go.)

            Another accusation against Pokémon Go is the reference to the TIME magazine interview with Satoshi Tajiri, one of the founders of Pokémon. Satoshi is reported to have confessed that Pokémon was intentionally developed to contradict the Historic Christian principles.5

            This is a false accusation.6 In his interview with the TIME magazine, Satoshi did not confess to Pokémon being Satanic.7

            So on one hand is the fear that Pokémon Go is satanic and that Christians should not dabble with it. On the other hand, Christian scholars who have played the game contend that it is not Satanic. What do we do?

            One could err on the side of caution and not play Pokémon Go if there is much fear about playing Pokémon Go and being sucked into the occult. Conversely, if there is no fear and if the gamer is a strong believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, then my personal opinion is that the game could be played.

            Consider this perspective. The fundamental premise that creates controversy among Christians is Pokémon’s insinuation to the term “monsters.” Instead of naming Pokémon as Pokémon, if Satoshi Tajiri had named Pokémon as Pokéman, would Pokéman have created much controversy among the Christian community? I do not think so.

            In the year 2000 the Vatican had seemingly endorsed Pokémon, “The Vatican-based satellite TV station declared that Pokemon trading cards and the computer game is “full of inventive imagination,” has no “harmful moral side effects” and is based on the notion of “intense friendship.””8

            The commonsense reality is this; if Pokémon Go is eating up your time and money, then it should not be played. We have specific mission(s) for our life. We are to devote adequate time to God, study / work, care for the family and society. If Pokémon Go prevents an efficient discharge of any of these responsibilities, then Pokémon Go ought to be deleted from the phone.

            Having said this, how could the Christian churches respond to Pokémon Go?

            While on one hand there is intense opposition to Pokémon Go, there is also a spirit of embracing Pokémon Go within Christianity. Churches are urged to utilize this opportunity of Pokémon Go to evangelize.

            Although Pokémon Go is not released in India, which is where I live, the internet offers much needed knowledge to learn about the game and to prepare for its onslaught in India. In the article, “8 Ways Churches Can Capitalize On Pokemon Go” there are suggestions a church could employ to engage the Pokémon Go gamers.9 These are practical suggestions that any church can use.

            For instance, a church may be a “PokeStop” or a “gym” in Pokémon Go. If a church is a gym, then more foot traffic could be expected during the week. If evangelism is of a high priority to that church, then the leadership of the church could make use of the unique opportunity of an increased footfall to evangelize the gamers.

            The church should be innovative enough to grab every opportunity that comes her way so to glorify God, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31, NIV).

            The words of the writer in the website of “The Gospel Coalition” constitute a pertinent conclusion, “Pokémon Go taps into our longing for unity in a fractured world. For a moment, we are together, sharing the same physical space and playing the same game.

            Pokémon Go also taps into our longing for something beyond the flattened, rationalist society of our age. For a moment, we feel the magic of the old mythologies and long for something beyond this present world.

            Of course, this is all just a game, and like all fads, its appeal will soon wear off. These myths do not reflect the biblical worldview. They give us a few moments of fun, but no promise for the future. No game can provide lasting community or eternal significance; only the gospel can do that.

            But as missionaries in this time and place, we should have eyes wide open to the pressures people feel in this fractured and flattened world, so that we can better tell the better Story, which, in the words of C. S. Lewis, is “the myth that became fact.””10


Websites cited were last accessed on 28th July, 2016.


2 Ibid.







Thursday, July 21, 2016

Blessed Are The Pentecostals (An Evangelical Christian’s Thoughts About The Pentecostal Movement)

            Protestant reformation occurred in the 16th century. In other words, Protestantism was born in the 16th century.

            We live in the 21st century. Sadly, within a span of 500 years, the spiritual decline of the mainline Protestants (Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Anglican etc.) gained momentum.1

            It may be quite reasonable to date the birth of Pentecostalism to the 20th century, although The United Holy Church and the Pentecostal Holiness Church would date the birth of Pentecostalism to the 19th century, 1886 and 1879, respectively.2 The birth of Pentecostalism is so precious to Christendom that Life magazine declared it as among the top 100 events of the second millennium – ranked 68th to be precise.

            Pentecostalism is growing at the rate of 35,000 believers a day or 13 million a year. It is the second largest denomination in Christianity, second only to the Roman Catholics.4

            God did not sit tight watching the decline of Protestant denominations. God birthed the Pentecostal movement.

            The decline of mainline denominations need not be construed as a decline of Christianity. The decline merely reveals the decline of nominal Christianity, argues Ed Stetzer, President of Lifeway Research, an evangelical research company. He said, “A better reading of the stats is found when you move beyond the headlines and see a long, slow (but accelerating) decline of (mostly) nominal Christianity. However, the percentage of convictional Christians has remained relatively steady, with some decline.”5  

            Ed Stetzer is indeed right. There are greater possibilities for the nominal Christian to reject the Lord than the spiritually mature Christians. This compels us to consider the aspect of nominal Christianity.

            The Lausanne Movement, founded by the much acclaimed Christian evangelist Dr. Billy Graham, characterized a nominal Christian as, “…a person who has not responded in repentance and faith to Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour and Lord. He is a Christian in name only. He may be very religious. He may be a practising or non-practising church member. He may give intellectual assent to basic Christian doctrines and claim to be a Christian. He may be faithful in attending liturgical rites and worship services, and be an active member involved in church affairs. But in spite of all this, he is still destined for eternal judgment (cf. Matt. 7:21-23, Jas. 2:19) because he has not committed his life to Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9-10)” (Emphasis Mine).6

            The nominal Christian bears personal responsibility for his spiritual malady. However, the church is also equally responsible for the sustenance of nominal Christianity.

            In our context, since it is the nominal Christian who is more likely to reject Christ, the church responsible for the sustenance of nominal Christianity were the mainline Protestant churches. Therefore, the birth of Pentecostalism, which emphasizes much on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, was much needed and extremely justified.

            Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

            Being the second largest tradition after the Roman Catholic Church, it would be worthwhile to consider the spiritual contributions of the Pentecostal tradition to Historic Christianity.

            First, Pentecostals believe in the inspiration, inerrancy and the infallibility of the Bible. They also believe that salvation is through Christ alone. These beliefs are vital to control and oppose the development of the liberal and postmodern Christianity that desacralizes the Bible to be a mere historical document and feigns salvation upon all and sundry.  

            Second, nominal Christians tend to be much lesser within the Pentecostal tradition. Pentecostals by virtue of their theology – emphasis upon the baptism of the Holy Spirit – tend to rather instinctively restrict the presence of nominal Christians in their fold. A Pentecostal yearns and prays for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This vital desire of the Pentecostal to be the channel of the Holy Spirit’s gifts sustains him in the Lord’s presence, thus preventing him to be a nominal Christian.

            Third, Pentecostals are stern fundamentalists about social behavior. Many Pentecostal denominations ban traditional vices such as alcohol, tobacco, movies, and short-sleeved dresses. In today’s context, this much needed attribute of the local Pentecostal church would vigorously oppose homosexuality, abortion and the other sinful practices that many mainline churches endorse.

            Last but not the least, one of the local church’s main emphases is upon the spiritual development of our youth. Youth are more attracted to a Pentecostal church than a mainline church. When the mainline churches struggle to attract the youth to attend their worship services, the natural presence of youth in their worship services offers the Pentecostal church a tremendous advantage to nurture them and develop their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

            Are there challenges to the Pentecostal movement? Yes of course!

            Divisions are always a challenge to the unity of any movement. There are almost 11,000 denominations in the Pentecostal movement. This could pose a serious challenge to the Pentecostal movement.

            However, history has taught us a valuable lesson that there could be unity in diversity. So by the grace of God, the various denominations of the Pentecostal movement could thrive even amidst their differences and be united in serving God and HIS people.

            I am a Christian. I do not consider myself a Pentecostal, for I do not believe that all Christians ought to speak in tongues. Since speaking in tongues is one of the prime tenets of the Pentecostal faith statement, I disqualify myself from being a Pentecostal (although I could speak in tongues in my private prayer time). I am more an Evangelical Christian than a Pentecostal. 

            There exists a definite theological tension between the Pentecostals and the mainline churches where each one claims spiritual superiority over the other. However, the theological differences are not severe enough to disrupt the peace between the concerned entities.  Hence we could agree to disagree on the theological differences and live in harmony with each other.

            The need of the hour is unity and not division. When Historic Christianity is constantly under fire from the secular and postmodern world, I believe with all my heart that it is the Pentecostals, Evangelicals and the faithful Christians from the other denominations that will uphold and sustain Historic Christianity.

            Blessed indeed are the Pentecostals for they have blessed Historic Christianity immensely. Let us pray for the continued growth and sustenance of Pentecostals and may their service to the Lord and HIS people be much fruitful.


Websites cited were last accessed on 21st July 2016.



3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.



Glossary of Terms: offers definition of the following terms:

Members of denominations that emphasize the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including the belief that speaking in tongues is necessary evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Pentecostals belong either to one of the historical denominations, such as the Assemblies of God and the Church of God in Christ, that originated in the religious revivals of the early 20th century, or to newer, largely independent churches, sometimes labeled as neo-pentecostal churches.

Members of Protestant denominations who hold traditional religious beliefs but are neither pentecostal nor fundamentalist. Evangelicals do not stress the gifts of the Holy Spirit (as pentecostals do), but they are not hostile to them (as fundamentalists are). All three groups share certain basic religious doctrines, such as the need for believers to have a conversion experience (i.e., be “born again”) and to convert non-believers. As a consequence, they all can be thought of as belonging to a broader evangelical Protestant tradition.

Mainline Protestants
Members of the once-dominant Protestant denominations. Although affirming many traditional beliefs, these churches are known for their generally progressive theology and openness to new ideas and societal changes. These denominations do not stress the gifts of the Holy Spirit but are often tolerant of such practices, and thus include charismatics in their ranks.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

What’s Wrong With The Churches Today?

            Heard about the Stayaway Saint Syndrome? 1

            Research company, Barna Group, estimates that 156 million Americans are churchless - those who have never attended a worship service barring a wedding or a funeral.2 These numbers need not be considered as unique or native to the USA, but representative of all the countries.

            Why are there stayaway saints or churchless Christians? The condition of today’s churches does not appeal to the stayaway Christians.

            If you think that everything is well with our churches today, then you may be partially correct. Not everything is right in the churches today, much is wrong.

            Christian apologist, Frank Turek, thus highlighted the church’s failure by examining the aspects of the timing of church services, Scripture reading, message, and worship (singing). He then concluded that if the church fails to disciple its flock, then its members would have a very poor commitment to Christ and their lives would hardly show any change. Here is an excerpt from his article, “The Seeker Church: Is Anyone Making Disciples?”

            “Time:  This won’t take long– 45 minutes to an hour, max.  You can set your watch by these services.  And if the pastor or priest goes just a wee bit longer, the congregation gets restless.

            The Bible:  Leave your Bible home– the folks on the stage or altar handle the Bible reading which is normally a mere sprinkling of verses yanked from their context.  Moreover, there is no attempt to teach you how to study the scriptures yourself.

            Worship:  Just watch– there is a performance up front.  You’re more of an observer than an active participant in worship.

            Message:  It’s groundhog day– you hear the same, short message repackaged every Sunday.  The sermon (or Homily) is to preaching what cotton candy is to nutrition.  Sweet but of little value.

            Outcome:  Low commitment and little life change. 

            …We’ve got to stop defending our church practices if they are not doing what Jesus told us to do.  If you’re not making disciples, you’re not doing church the way Jesus commanded it.  As Jesus warned, we can’t let our traditions nullify the Word of God.

            …We’re loosing 75% of our young people because– instead of making disciples who are in awe of God and devoted to His purposes– a majority of churches from most  denominations are producing shallow narcisists obsessed with themselves and their own happiness.” 3 (Emphasis Mine).

            “Satan is not fighting churches, he is joining them. He does more harm by sowing tares than by pulling up wheat,” these were the very words of the renowned evangelist, Vance Havner, who added another dimension – the satanic – to emphasize the spiritual poverty of our churches.

            Satan is hyperactive in our churches. An article in the “Charisma News” reveals the sorry state of our churches that preaches the gospel of Satan in lieu of the gospel of Christ.4 This article highlights the false teachings a.k.a satanic doctrines that many churches preach today. A church that preaches one or more of these concepts is yielding to the control of Satan and not the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is an excerpt from that article:

            “Overemphasis of Prosperity: Carnal prosperity preachers encourage God’s people to seek after riches—or to seek after God for the purpose of riches—often even judging your spirituality by the kind of car you drive. What does that have to do with the gospel of Jesus?

            Hyper-Grace Teachings: They rightly teach that Jesus died for all our sins—past, present and future—but wrongly conclude that as believers we no longer have to deal with sin (meaning we never have to confess sin or repent of sin, and the Holy Spirit no longer convicts us of sin).

            Antinomianism: In practice, it means that “anything goes,” since Jesus has set us free. The problem is, Jesus didn’t set us free to sin; He set us free from sin.

            Deification of Man: Many false teachings today start with man rather than with God. In contrast, when Paul laid out the gospel message in Romans, he started with God and then went to man: God is holy and we are not; He is righteous and we are not; we are under His judgment and in need of mercy, and that mercy comes through the cross.

            Challenging the Authority of the Word: Best-selling authors tell us the biblical text isn’t reliable, that the biblical manuscripts we have in our possession are hopelessly contradictory, and that we can know little or nothing about the real, historical Jesus. Other authors tell us that the Bible is no more than a collection of religious traditions and that God Himself is nothing more than a religious myth.

            Rejecting Hell: Nowhere is this questioning of God’s Word seen any more clearly than when it comes to the subject of hell and future punishment. And because we preach an imbalanced gospel—emphasizing God’s love and ignoring His wrath, emphasizing His mercy and ignoring His justice—we no longer have room for hell and future punishment in our theology.

            Universal Reconciliation: Universal reconciliation promotes a get-out-of-jail-free mentality—that in the end, everyone will make it into heaven because of Jesus’ death on the cross. (In contrast, universalism teaches that all paths lead to God.) There may be future suffering, but it will be purging rather than punishment, and ultimately everyone will be saved.”5

            We could go on and on about how pastors deem their ministry as a money-making occupation than as a service rendered to the Lord and HIS people. We could also speak much about the lay leaders of the church who merely use their leadership position as an opportunistic projection of their personal glory in the mould of the Pharisees during Christ’s time, instead of glorifying God.

            Let us also not think that the larger (mega) churches where hundreds and thousands of people congregate to worship are godlier than the smaller congregations. In fact, there are more chances for the mega churches (with its greater access to the seductive material resources) to yield to the Satan than the smaller churches.

            So what do we do?

            We need to be the agents of change in the local church says theologian R.C Sproul, “…We’re the church that God ordained from the foundation of the world. We’re His people; we’re His household, so let the church be the church.

            We’re living in a time of crisis…but if we want to be concerned for our nation and culture, our priority must be the renewal of the church. We are the light of the world.

            …Change in culture doesn’t always come from the top down. It often comes from the bottom up. The change we need to work for, chiefly, is renewal within the church…We must remember who we are, who the foundation is, who the cornerstone is, who the head of our building is, who the Lord of the church is.

            Do we love the church? I doubt if there have been many times in our history when there has been as much anger, hostility, disappointment, and disillusionment with the institutional church as there is today. It’s hard not to be critical of the church because in many ways the church has failed us. But if the church has failed, that means we have failed. We are called to serve the church in the power of God the Holy Spirit.

            We, the church, have been made for this task by the indwelling presence and power of God’s Spirit. Yet, we are called not so much to rise up but to bow down. And if we bow down to our Lord, as Paul says in Ephesians 3:14, the church will be the church, and our light will pierce the darkness.”6

            How do we make this change in our churches?

            First, it is impossible to know the error if we do not know the truth. In other words, we ought to read and study the Bible. This is our personal responsibility.

            Second, change is a slow process. Change should be effected by God and not us. God is the source of all blessings. We are mere channels. Hence, we need to prayerfully align ourselves with God in order to know what to do and when to do. Since change is always slow, patience ought to be our key attribute and prayer is a means to that attribute.

            Third, change would only be effective if administered with humility, love and grace. Therefore, we ought to be humble, loving and gracious with everyone in this process.

            Finally, administering love and grace in a spirit of humility does not imply a condition of being politically correct. Truth needs to be spoken out loud and clear. Those who stand for truth cannot be politically correct. Feathers would be ruffled, tough stance ought to be taken, but more importantly, every aspect of change ought to be guided by the Spirit of God, who is the wisdom of God.

            Staying away from church is not an option. Let us by the power of the Holy Spirit make a positive change in our church. Amen.


Websites referenced here were last accessed on 14/July/2016






Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Would Religions Disappear? Christianity Extinct by 2067?

            Researchers predict that religion will soon be extinct in nine countries namely, Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland. “A study using census data from nine countries shows that religion there is set for extinction, say researchers.

            The study found a steady rise in those claiming no religious affiliation.

            The team's mathematical model attempts to account for the interplay between the number of religious respondents and the social motives behind being one.

            The result, reported at the American Physical Society meeting in Dallas, US, indicates that religion will all but die out altogether in those countries.

            The team took census data stretching back as far as a century from countries in which the census queried religious affiliation: Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland.

            Their means of analysing the data invokes what is known as nonlinear dynamics - a mathematical approach that has been used to explain a wide range of physical phenomena in which a number of factors play a part,” claimed BBC in March 2011.1

            Another report from the British Census Study states that Christianity would be extinct by 2067 [in England], “A new governmental report on Christianity is making some waves, though, according to the report, not as many waves as one might think. The core of the report is that Christianity, once the religion that wasn’t to be trifled with, is quickly on the decline, and at a much faster rate than anyone really thought. Christianity is declining so quickly that experts believe the religion will be “statistically nonexistent” by 2067 — or, in other words, extinct.

            The report that leads to a prediction of Christianity’s demise stems from the British Census Study, the British Social Attitudes survey, and the British Election Study. Though the report on Christianity centers on Great Britain, experts say that Christians would be naive to think that the United States isn’t far behind, and offers evidence and statistics to back up their predictions.

            According to the statistics, between 2001 and 2011, the number of people who followed Christianity fell by over 5.3 million people. To put that on a timescale, that’s about 10,000 individuals per week forsaking Christianity. Following up on those stats, Christianity will fall to nonexistence in England in the year 2067.

            The Social Attitude survey concurs with this data on Christianity. Believers in Christianity fell from 40 percent of the British population in 1983, to 29 percent in 2004, to 17 percent in 2014.”2

            Scary? Are you worried?

            Would religions be extinct in the future?

            That religions would decline in the future is a statement worthy of consideration and belief, but religions cannot possibly be extinct in the future. Why?

            God exists, and there are reasonable evidences positing the existence of God. Because God exists, people would continue to believe in God. When people believe in God, religion will exist and not be extinct. Applying this to Christianity, we could quite easily postulate that Christianity could never be extinct.

            Why could religions possibly decline in the future?

            Needless to say, people ignore or reject God when all is well in their lives. Another article on BBC quotes Phil Zuckerman, a professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, who posits decline of religion in countries that offer greater security to their citizens, “So not surprisingly, nations that report the highest rates of atheism tend to be those that provide their citizens with relatively high economic, political and existential stability. “Security in society seems to diminish religious belief,” Zuckerman says. Capitalism, access to technology and education also seems to correlate with a corrosion of religiosity in some populations, he adds.”3 (Emphasis Mine).

            Having said that, decline of religion occurs in religious countries as well. If we were to apply the aspect of “security” into this predicament, we have the answer as to why religion could be on the decline in religious countries.

            People reject God in instances of both security and insecurity. When people live a very comfortable and secure life, they tend to ignore or reject God. Similarly, when people are in pain and suffering – when they live an insecure life amidst pain and suffering – they could lose hope and hence reject God. The aspect of security or the lack thereof, motivates people to reject God. Religion declines when people reject God.  

            Could Christianity decline in the future?

            Christ the Lord predicted that Christianity would decline in the future, “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24: 10-13, NIV, Emphasis Mine).

            True to what the Lord foretold, Pew Research Center announced in 2015 that the Christian share of the US population is on the decline.4 So let us not be surprised about the decline, for if the Lord foretold the decline, then the decline is bound to occur.

            Matthew 24: 13 states that some will stand firm unto the end. So definitely there will be a remnant that will stand firm in the Lord Jesus Christ.

            How do we develop this remnant?

            It is the responsibility of the local church to develop and disciple this remnant into a position of strength. Young people are abandoning religion, even Christianity, in droves. The local church should develop their young people into growing stronger in Christ.

            Unfortunately that task seems easier said than done. Instead of discipling and developing young people in Christianity, the local church, according to Christian apologist Frank Turek, is producing shallow narcissists.5 These shallow narcissists would then abandon Christianity when all is not well in their lives.

            Most of the local churches are more engrossed in entertaining their customers (read Christians) than developing them into stronger disciples in Christ. If such is the case, the consequence is rather inevitable; Christianity would indeed decline.

            It is then our bounden duty to pray for the local church and also become active in the local church so that we could be instrumental in raising stronger disciples of the Lord. This then is the need of the hour. Frank Turek communicates this truth wonderfully, “We fail to realize that what we win them with we win them to.  If we win them with entertainment and low commitment, we win them to entertainment and low commitment.  Charles Spurgeon was way ahead of his time when he implored the church to start “feeding the sheep rather than amusing the goats.””6

            May the local church raise faithful Christians who would live and die for the Lord Jesus Christ.







6 Ibid.