Lutheran Pastor on “World of Warcraft”

The WoW Insider has an interesting interview with Lutheran pastor Jonathan Fisk, pastor of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Springfield, Pennsylvania regarding the popular online video game World of Warcraft.  Pastor Fisk also has an interesting program on YouTube called Worldview Everlasting where he teaches Lutheran doctrine in a new style using some of the internet’s new emerging media.  Pastor Fisk’s vocation in the video game, World of Warcraft, is not to teach Lutheran doctrine; but in commenting on religious discussions that do take place within the game Rev. Fisk said:

You know the old saying about “religion and politics.”  That’s sort of been the … unspoken rule.  We don’t talk about Obama and we don’t talk about God.  But sometimes it happens.

There was this amazing conversation we had one night on Vent when someone made an offhand remark about “zombie Jesus” …  And I laughed and said something like, “No, Jesus isn’t undead.  Jesus is risen.”  It was fun.  Everyone was honest, asking questions and not getting all quiet and offended like happens so often.

But it’s kind of sad, really.  Our age of tolerance is a two-edged sword.  Everyone is so afraid of offending everyone else (because everyone is always so offended) that it’s almost like there’s this giant lid on meaningful conversations.  We can talk about the weather or loot, but we keep a tight seal on the deeper things of life.

But knowing that that’s our culture, and really caring about my guildies , I try to respect that.  I know the image of Christianity is that of a bunch of hypocritical, self-righteous jerks.  So I try not to be that.  But I don’t think commandeering Vent conversations will get me very far.  The Bible teaches that life is full of vocations, places you stand in order to do the right thing.  When I play WoW, my vocation is friend and WoW player, not preacher.  Christianity teaches me to do what’s before me to the best of my abilities, to honestly care about my guildmates, respect them and hold them up.  If and when those relationships grow, and if and when they find themselves needing to reckon with the implications of their lives, their wrongdoings and death, they’ll know where to find me.  I’ll be more than happy to “preach.”  :)

In this interview, Pastor Fisk also addressed some of the differences between “radical Christianity” and genuine Lutheranism.  This “radicalism” or “enthusiasm” is currently predominant in American Christianity.

The media only tends to show that edge of conservative Christianity that is very legalistic.  There’s a vast number of Protestant traditions that we Lutherans used to call “radicals.”  Their theology is very about about “yourself” and how good or holy you are.  They say they believe the Bible, but they think it’s a rulebook for life rather than the Revelation of who God is in Jesus.

It’s funny, because for all their talk about not sinning, it’s what the Bible says about sin that they don’t really believe.  Sin is not firstly something you do.  It’s a corruption of our hearts, our nature.  It’s that corruption that is the reason we die, the reason there is war and hate and disease and suffering.  But that “radical” edge of Christianity that gets all the press thinks it can overcome this sin just by following the right rules and trying really hard.  But that kind of spirituality is always falling short of itself.  It tries to get you to be good for inherently selfish reasons, and then you end up just looking like a hypocrite.  That’s the “fundamentalism” that makes the news as “Christianity,” so that’s what most people think Christianity is.

This radicalism has made serious inroads into many Lutheran congregations.  The next time we are in church, we should listen carefully to the “Words of Sin & Grace” (which often takes the place of the “Confession & Absolution”).  Do we still confess that “we are by nature sinful and unclean”?  (Emphasis added).  Or do we confess only specific misdeeds of the past week such as a failure to help the Church grow because we did not tell more people about Jesus?  Does the pastor then sermonize that the solution to these sins is something we accomplish by our own doing, for example, by being “loud” and “intentional” in our witness?  Or is the solution the cross of Christ?  (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).  Carefully observing these practices can be one way to help see how far this “radical” & false theology has infiltrated into once Lutheran congregations.

Total depravity is a fundamental Christian doctrine.  (Genesis 6:5, 8:21, & Psalm 51:5).  A failure to confess and deal with original sin is a simultaneous failure to confess this important truth.

The WoW Insider interview with Pastor Fisk is long & interesting, and one can read the entire article by clicking here.  I especially appreciated the fact that the Holy Spirit gave Pastor Fisk a large and diverse audience to hear this:

Many people think Lutherans just follow Martin Luther.  Luther was a brilliant and helpful man, and he was a catalyst for the conservative Reformation of the medieval catholic Church, but if Lutheranism is about a man, it’s about Jesus of Nazareth.  The Reformation succeeded because by Scripture alone we can know that salvation is by grace alone received through faith alone because of the work of Jesus Christ alone.  There’s a lot to unpack there, but that’s a good summary.