A game that does violence to the Gospel
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)
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”?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.
Absolutely 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.
The 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
End of rant. What do y'all think? One word of warning: if you do not agree with me, I will shoot you.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church
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)