Today in the Los Angeles Times, there is an article about a new Christian” video game: Left Behind: Eternal Forces. The game aims to make a broadly appealing video game, similar to Grand Theft Auto; it is a real-time” strategy game that features plenty of biblical smiting, albeit with high-tech weaponry as players battle the forces of the Anti-Christ in a smoldering world approaching Armageddon.” The creators, including Troy Lyndon who used to work for Electronic Arts, say of their new game, Left Behind has the anti-christ, the end of the world, the apocalypse…It’s got all the Christian stuff, and it’s still got all the cool stuff (emphasis mine).”
The mission was to create a game that appealed to more people, in hopes of evangelizing people for the Christian faith; something similar to Christian houses of worship like Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback church…have attracted followers – in part by not being overly doctrinaire.”
Will this game really do anything good for the church? It stands to make more money than earlier Bible-based video games, but at what cost? What kinds of Christians could games like this cultivate? Other than having the characters in the game say things like Praise the Lord” after killing people, and referring to the UN as a tool of Satan, the game battles against the Antichrist’s Global Community Peacemakers,” a very interesting title to unpack. The army of Christ is violently plotting to kill the peacemakers” of the Antichrist, hmmm….I wonder what these guys think of the Christian Peace traditions…?
The Times writes, In the game, Tribulation squads unleash the usual arsenal against the Antichrist: guns, tanks, helicopters. But soldiers lose some of their spirituality every time they kill an opponent and must be bolstered through prayer. The failure to nurture good guys causes their Spirit-points to drop, leaving them vulnerable to recruitment by the other side.”
The Left Behind series has done a disservice to the church in that it propagates a teaching that is both unbiblical and based in violence. The doctrine of the Rapture is a fairly new invention created by John Darby in the 19th century, and is not the historic position of the church or of the majority of churches outside the suburbs of America.
Really this video game, and these Christian-pop movements to strip the Gospel of anything that might challenge our American ideals of violence, power and money leave me flustered. Not only is the game trying to make money on the cool stuff, i.e. violence, but it makes light of the apocalypse – something so terrible that it can only be described as being the end of the world as we know it.”
Not only should the church not support this video game, but it should send a message that we are not going to take violence, Christian practices and the end of the world (however you think it will happen) lightly and we are certainly not going to make a game of it (I’d rather you play non-christian games that do this then Christian games that blur the lines between these things, though I am not advocating this way either).
For the record not all Christians think or support the things built-into this game, in fact many of us right-out reject them. And following Jesus’ way of peace is not being overly doctrinaire.