Finding Jesus Through Board Games

Finding Jesus Through Board Games September 14, 2012

The Atheist Experience podcast discussed an interesting apologetic several years ago. Here is my version.

Imagine a board game called “Monopoly Plus,” an updated version of the popular board game. There’s a track around the outside of the board that’s divided into cells. Each player is represented by a token on the board—a dog, a car, a top hat, and so on—and each player in turn rolls dice to see how many cells to advance. You start with a certain amount of money, and you can buy the properties that you land on as you move around the board. Players who then land on one of the owned properties must pay the owner rent, and the owner can pay to improve properties so that the rent is higher.

Here’s the object of the game: you must accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior.

Yep, that’s a pretty bad game. The motivations within the game have absolutely nothing to do with how you win.

Now take that idea about a million times larger, and we have the game of Christianity®—ordinary reality filtered through a Christian worldview. It’s far more complicated than any board game. In Christianity, there are good things (love, friendships, possessions, accomplishments, experiences, personal victories) and bad things (illness, death, sorrow, financial difficulties, disappointment, personal defeats), and players try to maximize the good things and minimize the bad.

Immersed in this huge mass of complexity, we’re told that, in the big picture, all that doesn’t matter. To win the game you must accept Jesus as your lord and savior.

Wow—who invented the rules of that game? And why is the game of Christianity any less out of touch with reality than the game of Monopoly Plus?

God does not play dice with the universe:
He plays an ineffable game of His own devising,
which might be compared,

from the perspective of any of the other players,*
 to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker
 in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes,
with a Dealer who won’t tell you the rules,
and who smiles all the time.
— Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
* i.e., everybody

(This is a modified version of a post originally published 11/26/11.)

Photo credit: Wikimedia

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