The new Pokémon app- Pokémon Go has truly captured the hearts and minds of millions across the globe. Launched in the US on July 6, 2016, the Pokémon Go app has quickly become a full-fledged phenomenon. In case you’re not familiar with Pokémon Go, you can click “HERE” to read Wikipedia’s explanation. Some news websites claim it is currently the most repeatedly frequented app throughout the day, more so than Facebook or Instagram. According to at least one site, Nintendo’s stock went up 30% upon its release. Many are already speculating as to its wild and rapid popularity. Some suggest nostalgia along with the general escapist mentality flooding today’s society have combined to make an almost perfect breeding ground for Nintendo’s first augmented reality game.
Although augmented reality is not a new concept for today’s culture, Pokémon Go has definitely captivated the imagination of the masses and undoubtedly opened the flood gates for many more games to come. Clearly, there’s a place for careful and biblical examination and discussion of the challenges of embracing technology which allows people to mentally and emotionally escape while still feeling somewhat physically connected to the real world. This article, however, will not be that platform. This post will mainly address a third area of escape; one I believe is even deeper than anything emotional or mental. This area is the spiritual component and it is this author’s conclusion that the spiritual component is truly the heart of the matter.
There are plenty of physical concerns already being reported as well. For example, two men died in Southern California Thursday by falling off a bluff while trying to capture digital Pokémon creatures. Two men were rescued the day before after falling 50-100 feet off a crumbling sandstone bluff. One of the men was found unconscious by the fire fighters who saved them. Other people have been robbed, found wandering into traffic and straying into dangerous locations, at least one person was stabbed, and the stories continue to roll in.
Most articles I found claim Pokémon Go is a good thing because it gets people outside and exercising (mostly walking). It also helps players explore some of their local and historic landmarks. There’s even been one recent report of someone playing the game who witnessed a child pass out from heat exhaustion after being bullied by two boys. The article concludes if it weren’t for playing the game, that child may have never been rescued. Understandably, there have been some practical benefits, but those of us who have been born again by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ are no longer pragmatic in our beliefs and practices. Pragmatism says if it works, then do it. But born again believers should not hold to this philosophy. We should exclusively cling to God’s Word and often God’s Word does not “work” in this dark and dying world. Even though we still fall to the flesh, we don’t run to the world and its vain ideas for the answers. Born again believers are being sanctified and growing day by day by the power and Word of God. No, we are not practically perfect or completely mature yet, but our desire should be nothing less. Our heart should always recognize that Jesus plus nothing equals everything. And when it comes to things like games, video games, movies, and entertainment, it should be no different.
Arguably, our world has undeniably and unashamedly become completely infatuated with pleasure and amusement, ever increasingly blurring the lines between what’s real and make believe. And arguably this same desire has infected much of today’s church. We all desperately need a strong, daily dose of God’s Word and self-denial, no matter how long we’ve been Christians. The lusts and pride of this world will always pull on the old man, causing us to lose sight of eternity. Sadly, many do not seem to notice how many are being caught up in the wake of this world’s folly.
Yes, Pokémon is just one of many of today’s entertainments vying for our attention and adoration, but hopefully by briefly examining its methods and message, readers might grow in their understanding and discernment, helping them correctly weigh out other avenues of today’s amusement as well.
The Heart of the Matter is Spiritual
Spiritually speaking, there are three dangerous deceptions specific to Pokémon and its underlying message briefly examined below. (Note: There are several other issues worth investigating, but for the sake of brevity, this article includes only a few of the main concerns.)
First, consider the pattern of Pokémon. The pattern is essentially for each trainer to catch as many Pokémon (which incidentally comes from two words: “Pocket” and “Monster”) as possible. “Gotta Catch Em All” is the slogan oft repeated in Pokémon. To catch the creatures which live in an alternate Pokémon universe/reality, the owner must have one of his monsters battle the monster he seeks to capture. If the monster he possesses defeats the “wild” one, the trainer gets to keep it. This makes the winning monster and trainer more powerful and eventually the trainer can become a master. This pattern is the same basic one practiced within much of the occult throughout time. In the occult, much time is devoted to capturing both spirits and knowledge to help one ascend to higher levels. Here some might argue that none of this was the intent of Pokémon’s inventor, Satoshi Tajiri. Frankly, it’s irrelevant what the inventor of Pokémon says was his inspiration. The spirit world has its own doctrines and is happy to disseminate its false teachings and practices through any and all means available, regardless of the spiritually-blinded human host’s intended inspiration.
Secondly, consider its message of evolution. Evolution was taught and embraced way before Charles Darwin or Charles Lyell attempted to sanitize and popularize it by falsely calling it science. Evolution has been the foundation for ALL spiritual mysticism and occultism since Satan introduced his lie to Adam and Eve in the Garden. After all, how can a human become a god without evolution? Pokémon undeniably depends on evolution. Each creature can evolve, making it more powerful than before. This, of course, is essential if the owner/trainer is to win more battles and collect more and more monsters. At one point, Wizards.com explained it this way, “But what is a Pokémon, you ask. ‘Pokémon are incredible creatures that share the world with humans,’ says Professor Oak, the leading authority on these monster. ‘There are currently 150 documented species of Pokémon. . . . Each Pokémon has its own special fighting abilities. . . . Some grow, or evolve, into even more powerful creatures.. . . Carry your Pokémon with you, and you’re ready for anything! You’ve got the power in your hands, so use it!’”
On Wikipedia’s Pokémon site, it says, “If a Pokémon fully defeats an opponent in battle so that the opponent is knocked out (i.e., “faints”), the winning Pokémon gains experience points and may level up. When leveling up, the Pokémon’s statistics (“stats”) of battling aptitude increase, such as Attack and Speed. From time to time the Pokémon may also learn new moves, which are techniques used in battle. In addition, many species of Pokémon can undergo a form of metamorphosis and transform into a similar but stronger species of Pokémon, a process called evolution.” [Emphasis added.]
Lastly, consider its message of witchcraft. Most of the monsters in Pokémon are essentially categorized into the same four basic elements embraced in witchcraft and the occult: Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire. Also consider this basic explanation from Wikipedia’s Pokémon site, “In most incarnations of the fictional Pokémon universe, a Trainer that encounters a wild Pokémon is able to capture that Pokémon by throwing a specially designed, mass-producible spherical tool called a Poké Ball at it. If the Pokémon is unable to escape the confines of the Poké Ball, it is officially considered to be under the ownership of that Trainer. Afterwards, it will obey whatever its new master commands, unless the Trainer demonstrates such a lack of experience that the Pokémon would rather act on its own accord.” [Emphasis added.] The same is readily understood in shamanism and new age/occult practices. In occultism, those seeking to tap into the “spirit world” are repeatedly warned not to take it lightly because spirits can recognize one’s power or lack thereof and choose whether or not they will be subject to that practitioner (at least for a time).
The ultimate focus is not merely on training and collecting pocket monsters with the intent of making them become more powerful. The major goal is to skillfully use your evolving monsters to assist in making you the most powerful person in the entire world/universe. Attaining power through subjected, spiritual monsters for the goal of ultimate ascension is the actual message of Pokémon. The intro song to the Pokémon show starts out with, “I will travel across the land, searching far and wide, Each Pokémon to understand the power that’s inside. Gotta catch them all!” Witchcraft/ occultism is essentially focused on using the physical world to assist in attaining spiritual power and so it is with Pokémon.
What does God’s Word say about witchcraft and practicing magic? “There shall not be found among you any one that makes his son or daughter to pass through the fire, or that uses divination, or observer of times, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all these things are an abomination unto the Lord…” Deuteronomy 18:10-14
“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft…” 1 Samuel 15:23a
This article is not meant to be extensive or exhaustive, but hopefully encourages the saints to keep from getting caught up in escapism, nostalgia, or blindly following steps that might lead to spiritual deception. I completely understand that most kids and adults, regardless of whether or not they’re Christian, are not playing Pokémon to intentionally practice sorcery or get in touch with demons. (Although some do.) But we must understand that our intentions do not negate the dangerous and deceptive inventions devised by the enemy of our souls. Even thistle seeds appear small and quite harmless until they take root and begin to grow. Satan knows this. His goal is to keep us shortsighted and completely fixated on our feelings and flesh.
***For more details on specific Pokémon creatures and some of their deceptive and dangerous Shintoist/Buddhist and mystical characteristics, go to this very well researched article:
Remember, to play Pokémon correctly, children need to not only know, but understand the “power” inside each Pocket Monster. (Note: After 20 years, there are now over 750 of these creatures!) What are some of the powers involved? How about the power of hypnosis, the power of catching and destroying dreams (eating dreams), casting evil spells (hexes), levitation, and incantations. Some of the other practices well recognized and understood in Pokémon culture – The power of the aura, spiritual evolution, eastern meditation, and even the practice of yoga. These are just a few of the spiritual philosophies and practices taught in this “game”.
Where will you “GO”?
Games like Pokémon are designed to take their followers somewhere. They have seeds, seeds which once allowed to take root in our hearts and minds, can potentially have long-lasting and very ill effects. If fed and watered, they will grow into weeds that can consistently rob us of the true Light and Food necessary for our spirit to grow closer to our precious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. There is a very real danger of being led away from the Lord.
Perhaps you disagree. Or perhaps you believe this to be such a minor concern that it’s not worth examining any further. But before you simply dismiss this as unimportant or foolishness, please prayerfully go the Lord and search His Word to see if these things be so. I would also recommend the articles below. This world is only temporal, but while we’re here, we must recognize there are many things beyond this physical universe that seek to draw us away from our marvelous Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ!
May we sincerely seek the only One who bought us with His blood, loving and serving Jesus with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength each and every day! That’s where the Lord wants to take us! May we be willing to go His way, not our own!
“Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” John 1:1-3, 5
“Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” 2 Corinthians 2:11
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 1 John 2:16-17
Jesus said, “Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in Me.” John 15:3-4
A Few Other Helpful Links: