Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.

12/14/2006

A game that does violence to the Gospel

But I say to you who hear, love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
—Jesus (Luke 6:27-28,36)

screen shot from the Left Behind game

Perhaps wanting to leave no cash behind, perhaps wanting to spread the fear of God through another outlet, the creators of the mega-popular Left Behind series of books, etc. have lent their names and storylines to a new video game—Left Behind: Eternal Forces. The makers say,
Parents need a substitute for the degrading moral values of games like ’Grand Theft Auto.’ We’re giving the industry an RTS [real time strategy] game that is fun to play as well incorporating inspirational content.
So they made prayer an essential way to keep up your points, and they avoided sexual content. The game makers also have Christians shooting up non-believers by the truckload with a few demons thrown in for sport in a battle royale of apocolyptic proportions on the streets of New York City. So what gives with the Gospel of the Machine Gun with its message of convert or die? At their FAQ page is the following Q&A:
Does the violence depicted in the game run contrary to Jesus’ message on “love your enemy”?

screen shot from the Left Behind gameAbsolutely not. Christians are quite clearly taught to turn the other cheek and to love their enemies. It is equally true that no one should forfeit their lives to an aggressor who is bent on inflicting death. Forgiveness does not require absolute defenselessness. Apparent contradictions on behalf of Christians are often the result of them placing greater importance on the message, than in caring for others. LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces is a game which provides great entertainment while encouraging fascinating discussions about matters of eternal importance.
This could not be further from the heart of the Christian faith which is found in the cross of Christ. Jesus willingly died on a Roman cross and the first Christians were also faithful unto death as they too were persecuted for their faith. This witness of the martyrs helped spread the faith as non-believers saw the amazingly strong belief that allowed a believer to sing a song of praise as he or she was led to their death. Those earliest Christians showed real power through powerlessness, not superior firepower.

screen shot from the Left Behind gameThe game makers have created not just poor theology, but have drained Christianity of the power of the cross and belief in the reality of the resurrection. I could quote a stream of scripture from Jesus warning that those who follow him would face persecution to the myriad martyrs robed in white in Revelation. But this game is so far from the Truth that it doesn't deserve a lengthy justification for steering clear of it.

Rather than providing a better option than the much bloodier Grand Theft Auto, or other games, Left Behind is worse from a Christian perspective as it seeks to sanctify wholesale slaughter of those who disagree with us. The concept of holier than thou homicide is deeply frightening. This is not harmless fun. This is not a Christian alternative to anything. The Left Behid video game is dangerous stuff that does violence to the teachings of the Rabbi Jesus who not only said to love your enemies, he showed love for those who would be his enemy in calling for their forgiveness even as they tortured him.

Love is central to our faith. Agape love which is more concern about the other person than yourself and the screen shots and game description provided by the manufacturer are as diametrically opposed to that love as a game can be no matter how they try to mask the killing in a shroud of holiness.

Two sermons more theologically grounded than this rant are:
The Problem with the Rapture
and
Peace, Peace

End of rant. What do y'all think? One word of warning: if you do not agree with me, I will shoot you.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

Jesus said, "Don't let anyone mislead you,
because many will come in my name, claiming to be the Messiah.
They will lead many astray.
And wars will break out near and far,
but don't panic.
Yes, these things must come, but the end won't follow immediately.
—Jesus (Matthew 13:5-7)

screen shot from the game

8 Comments:

  • At 12/14/2006 6:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I AGREE! Don't shoot!!!!!

    I started to read the first book out of pure curiosity of the popularity of the series. It was the first book that I did not finish. The writing was juvenile and dull. The story line was ridiculous, just as this video game!

     
  • At 12/14/2006 7:27 AM, Anonymous Linda McCloud+ said…

    This is really scary! A lot of people who buy into this line of thinking have not read their Bibles and therefore have no point of comparison in their heads as to "What would Jesus do?" The exponential possibility of this mindset is another Crusade.

     
  • At 12/14/2006 11:39 AM, Anonymous Debbie said…

    EEWWW!

    It's one thing to speculate how the end of the age will transpire.

    It's another thing entirely to make a game of it and turn the apocolypse into fun.

     
  • At 12/14/2006 3:06 PM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    This is as bad a perversion of the truth of the Gospel as the church that protests at the funerals of slain soldiers and has a website called www.godhatesfags.com.

     
  • At 12/14/2006 5:35 PM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    When you read the Bible from the back to front, you can become very paranoid. The "End-Times" believers have spawned most of the christian-like cults over the years.

    Just like a train-wreck attracts gawkers so does The Apocalypse. This morbid fascination with death and destruction has been a very popular theme for years.

    The disturbing thing about this is that we are proving the point of the apologists that argue that Christianity is false because it preaches peace but foments violence (e.g. The Crusades, The Inquisition, The Salem Witch Trials).

    Jesus did not condemn the non-Jew or non-religious. Au Contraire, he criticized the religious and the pious.

     
  • At 12/14/2006 6:03 PM, Blogger CSL said…

    Bad theology! Bad! We are in complete alignment in our posts on this one.

     
  • At 12/14/2006 10:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Apart from the improper and irreverent use of the Rapture in this game, what would be the ethics of cheat codes?

     
  • At 12/16/2006 4:37 PM, Anonymous bobinwashpa said…

    How the Gospel has been mangled. Will we ever get back to the true message?

    As for shooting those with whom we don't agree with, is there any help to deal with the polarization of society and esp. Christianity?
    People don't listen.

    At times it looks a bit bleak, but I'm hopeful.

    As for the game, I'll by my kids a new book.
    Bob

     

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