B.I.B.L.E.: or the Games Christians Play1

Armand Kruger, MA


Games are serious, response-able, created and they describe the ways Christians live in their worlds. Mastering Christian Games. Beatitudes: describing the Games Christians should be playing?

A Story:2

A father was approached by his small son, who told him proudly, "I know what the Bible means!"

His father smiled and replied, "What do you mean, you "know" what the Bible means?"

The son replied, "I do know!"

"Okay," said his father, "So, Son, what does the Bible mean?"

"That's easy, Daddy......., it stands for "Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth."

And I am tempted to say "read Games for Mastering Fear, and this story, and I then rest my case. But, introducing the concept of "Games" into the vocabulary when discussing Christianity is where the sticky piece lie. "Games" conjure up a complex equivalence that might not fit the issues of being Christian, since games are things you do for leisure, or the "fun" you're having when you don't do serious things, or when you enjoy something. But, consider this very novel way of thinking about Christianity if you add to your existing vocabulary about states, and frames, and the role of languiging your operational realities, the thinking that goes with Games?3

What are Christian Games?

Think of Games as the way we are interfacing with the world. Hall and Bodenhamer qualifies the use of the term "games" as "describing the actions and transactions that we engage in with ourselves and others as 'Games,'" I am speaking metaphorically. If we viewed our everyday actions in the world and our transactions (interactions) with others as a "Game," as sets of moves and plays, what Games do we play, for what payoff, how do we score, who are we playing against?"4 "A Game simply refers to a set of actions and interactions that allow you to structure your energies so that you can achieve some desired objective. That's why we play Games. We want to accomplish something; we want to "win" at something, express our skills, show off or discover our knowledge and abilities, relate to someone in a certain way, and/or simply enjoy the process of living and expending our energies."

Christian Games are the Games we Christians play when we obey and execute the two commandments of glorifying God and loving our neighbor as ourselves. "Games" therefore expands our thinking about Christianity into the realm of seriously considering how we are "response-able".

In teaching the NS-technique called "the Power Zone" the method is to assist the person in becoming aware how we think and change our thinking about some content of experience. The outcome of the exercise is to create an awareness and deliberate competence in "managing our thinking". The ownership lies in the ability to think, as well as the ability to question/judge (against a set of internal standards) our thinking, and the ability to redefine our thinking and therefore the very fabric of the reality we co-create and live in. Our power zone describes the ownership of our response-ability to, and in, the world. The aspect of this response in the world can be usefully described by the "Games"-- terminology reintroduced by Hall and Bodenhamer.

Christian Frames of Reference:

"Life itself is a matter of Games - the Games we play with people, situations, and ideas. All of our Games are driven by Frames".5 For the Christian our ultimate frames are the Biblical Frames.6 The Games we play, or don't play enough of, or shouldn't play are described for us in the B.I.B.L.E.! If we do not have God as our frame, and loving our neighbor as the foreground in the frame when we are angry with somebody, we will play the next best Game we are capable of. When we allow ourselves the fear of timidity, and play the Game of "Excuse me for being alive" we are playing a Game that is definitely not endorsed by our manual of Frames called the Bible! When we play "poor me, the victim" we are likewise missing the mark of the instructions and the promises of playing of playing the Games described by God for His children. All the "not's" above imply that as Christians we can, and have a reference for, continually running quality checks7 on the frames and Games we do. The risk is that we get so involved with how the Games are being played and it's rules for doing it perfectly, that the rules and structures of the Game becomes more important than the actual playing of the Game.

One very special feature of the Games Christian people play is the perpetual background to the game: as human beings we are fallible, but the "winning" of the Game is a foregone conclusion if we play it to the rules of the B.I.B.L.E. This puts a particular slant to the way Christians can play our Games: there is promise and power in the Word about our Games, which, "if we leave home without it" brings to bear all kinds of not-good states and frames into our Games. Then we become like everybody else with all their fear Games, and failure Games, and idol-for-real Games. We are still accountable for the Games we play, since we are accountable for the Frames we create and endorse.8 Our response-ability starts with us and flows from our thoughts and emotions, the fabric of our maps with which we encounter (experience, act on and interact with) the realities outside of our skins. "A Game is only the Game that it is because of some Frame....This means that there is rhyme and reason to the Games we play. They do not occur as accidents or as mere happen-stance events. Unique and personal understandings govern our Games."9

Mastering Christian Games

Games have a structure and a set of rules, like the sports games we play, which gives the Games their predictable content and pre-dispositional behaviors. Because the Frames contain the thoughts and emotions they do, people play the Games which reflects the content of that reality which they have entered. Because the event is "like that" they permit themselves "that" experience, and "that" range of behaviors and "that" language. Mastering the Games one play and the Games played on one, starts with asking some very basic questions.10 These questions helps one to become aware of the structure and process of the Game being played (and don't be surprised if the rules for the "good" Games and "not-good Games are the same, it is the content that differs).

  1. If you had to give the Game a name, what would you call it? To the extend that the name represents the Game, what is the name implying about the game in general; a birds-eye view of the Game?
  2. What is the governing idea of the Game? What is the outcome/intention/function/payoff/etc. (which is essentially what the Game is about)? Why play the Game in the first place?
  3. What are the rules of the Game? What are the do's and don't's of the Game?
  4. What gets you into the Game? What are the triggers and cues to which you (and others) respond and then just slide into the Game? Like Yogi Bear in the movie Jungle Book, when he gets into the rhythm of music and sighs "I am gone, totally gone!", what gets you into the rhythm of the Game?
  5. As the Game runs, how do you contribute to the Game? What thoughts and emotions do you privately entertain, and what behaviors and language "in the world" intensifies or sustains the Game?
  6. If you wanted to change the Game, what would be your preferred Game? What qualities and Biblical standards would this Game have to involve for it to be "better" than the previous Game? What would the governing idea be in this Game?
  7. How would you contribute to it's realization, both for yourself and the participants which will play with you? What thoughts, emotions, language and behaviors would be the preferred Game, as far as it is dependent on you?

The Beatitudes

Briefly, it appears to me that we have a epistemological chain of thoughts which might have implications not only for our thinking as to what it means to be Christian, but also implications for counseling.

As our thoughts and emotions are the royal roads to our states, our Games (actions and interactions) are the realization of our states in the world. The B.I.B.L.E., and specifically the beatitudes, are our maps for how to be in the world, against the highest frame of loving God and our neighbor as ourselves. Our walk with our eyes on the Trinity, and decidedly our interfacing with the Holy Spirit, creates in us the states described as the "fruit of the Spirit". In the passive verb of "having" we are on the merciful receiving end of getting from the Holy Spirit.

For the active verb (do; put on, put off) there is the power zone, the source of our thoughts and emotions determined by our frames-of-reference, and specifically our highest frames.11 It is the domain of Game mastery, the kind of Games which truly reflect the in-working of the Saving Work of our belief in Jesus Christ, the arena of our perseverance and running of the race with the forward sight of our hope. It is the place in my life where I am constantly confronted with the answer to the question, "What is so amazing about Grace?"12 and the absurd accounting of this grace in my life. It is here where I meet the "invisible God."13 It is here that I meet people who hurt or who struggle with their idols which again has disappointed them, and when people are crying out against a "silent God" when one needs "fixing" after a dream has shattered.14

1. To Michael and Bobby: you are the "cause" for this article, and thank you for being it.

2. Author unknown to me, got it through one of the sends on the internet.

3. Hall, L Michael and Bodenhamer, Bobby G(2001): Games for Mastering Fear. Meta-Publications, Grand Junction, Colorado. For a more technical introduction, their "Frame Games" (2000) is highly recommended.

4. Hall and Bodenhamer (2001) p. 75, 105.

5. Hall and Bodenhamer (2001), p.113.

6. See Kruger and Bodenhamer's article at "Biblical Frames: The Key to Spirituality"

7. Hall and Bodenhamer (2001), p. 102.

8. See Kruger's "Languiging Sin

9. Hall and Bodenhamer (2001), p. 90, 109.

10. For a more thorough Games analysis, see "Frame Games" or "Games for Mastering Fear".

11. See Kruger and Bodenhamer's "Biblical Frames

12. Book of the same title by Philip Yancey.

13. Book of same title by Philip Yancey

14. See Larry Crabb (2001): Shattered Dreams. Waterbrook Press.

Contact information for Armand Kruger:

South Africa's Institute of Neuro - Semantics
Armand Kruger
PO Box 494
South Africa, 1960
Fax: 2716-362-1559



2001 Armand Kruger All rights reserved.