Friday, December 15, 2006
Controversy Over a New 'Christian' Video Game
I suppose it was the next logical step after a best-selling series of novels. And perhaps its indicative of the Evangelical need for continual relevance. So one should not be too surprised by the introduction of the latest real-time military strategy video game to hit the market: Left Behind: Eternal Forces (which retails, I read, for a cool $39.99!) The USA Today (12-14) featured an article about the cotroversy surrounding the game's introduction. ""It's faith-based killing that teaches God wants people dead if they don't see Chist as you do.' says the Rev. Tim Simpson, head of Christian Alliance for Progress, who played the game. 'Jesus would have turned the other cheek.'" (7A)
Tim LaHaye, author of the series upon which this game is based, endorsed the game. His response to the opposition was: 'These groups don't attack other violent video games. Their real attack is on our theology." Well, I'm not sure what the Rev. Simpson would say, but for myself, I'd say "Spot on!" Yes, it's the theology. Forget the violence for a moment. The whole Left Behind series is based on a very wrong-headed eschatology and soteriology, not to mention a confusion of kingdoms. I was almost embarased to read of the working of the game and how poor the theology was that supports it.
Jeffry Frichner, president and co-founder of the game says, "Players can engage in battle, fire guns, even kill innocents in the game, but there will be severe consequences. In fact, you can win this game without ever firing a shot, using weapons of spiritual means, such as prayer and worship." Simpson further observes that "once you do a kill, it causes your 'spiritual points' in the game to go down, but all you need to do is pray and you're good to go again, as if nothing else happened." Where does one begin in analyzing this? First of all, where is Christ? (Not that he belongs in a game, mind you.) Is He not the victor in this war against evil? Secondly, where are the means of grace, such as Word and Sacrament? Prayer and Worship are the weapons? In what sense? What does he mean by 'worship'? And using prayer as a "weapon" misunderstands what prayer is for. And we haven't even gotten to the issues of the End Times and what Christ intended to do. The Kingdom of the Left (government) daily battles the forces of evil on our behalf with the weapons of this world. There will be no earthly kingdom for us to fight for, contrary to the millenialists who think otherwise. "My kingdom is not of this world." Oh my, so many things to sort out here....
Well, I'm neither going to buy the game nor play it. If I need to escape I'll join my son on his Game Cube racing cars down dark city streets. Anyway, what would the Left Behind game teach me or my son? Aside from the violence issue, the worse corruption would be of our view of the Kingdom of Christ and His promises. No, I think crashing cars on the screen is enough for me.