Praise the Lord, Pass the Ammo: A new video game uses violence and murder to spread the love of Christ

One of the reoccurring debates on this blog has been whether cultural forms used in ministry are neutral, or do forms possess inherent value that may or may not be compatible with God's kingdom. For example, Andy Stanley shared his conviction that all leadership principles are created by God, and are therefore available for use in the church. I disagreed, arguing that some popular leadership models contradict biblical values. And Shane Hipps has written about the way technology and video preaching impacts the message we are seeking to convey.

Invariably, when the debate over the neutrality of cultural forms arises many people quote 1 Corinthians 9:22 ("I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some"). Well, a video game producer is poised to test your utilitarian philosophy of ministry.

The game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces, is set for release in October, and its already coming under fire from both conservative and liberal Christians. Set in present-day New York City, the game pits the army of the Antichrist against born again Christians. Players are rewarded for winning converts or killing those who ally with the Antichrist.

Players may also switch sides and fight for the Antichrist with an army of cloven-hoofed demons that feast on the faithful. One of the game's creators finds the "prayer button" particularly nifty. Before going into holy war, a Christian may pray to boost their "Spirit Points." Honestly, I'm not making this up - I wish I was.

Tim LaHaye, author of the Left Behind books, says the video game was created to reach a new population with the gospel. "We hope teenagers like the game," he said. "Our real goal is to have no one left behind." So far Christian video games have been unsuccessful at breaking into the very lucrative youth gaming market, but Eternal Forces' co-creator Jeffery S. Frichner is hopeful. "It's got all the Christian stuff, and it's still got all the cool stuff."

Troy Lyndon, the CEO of Left Behind Games, who licensed the trademark from Tyndale House Publishers, says the game will probably appeal to the same audience that was undisturbed by the violence and gore in "The Passion of the Christ." Lyndon says he anticipates those on the liberal left will criticize Left Behind: Eternal Forces, "but megachurches are very likely to embrace this game." And they will be the main marketing outlets for the product.

Another spokesperson from Left Behind Games, Greg Bauman, says the company's goal is to "become the world's leading independent developer and publisher of quality interactive entertainment products that appeal to mainstream gamers and perpetuate Christian values" [empasis added].

August 30, 2006

Displaying 1–5 of 5 comments

Troy

December 30, 2006  12:03pm

This post is provided by Troy Lyndon, the CEO of Left Behind Games. FOCUS ON THE FAMILY endorses our game. Read below to find out why! Our game DOES NOT encourage killing. Our game is NOT anti-semitic. Our game is NOT anti-muslim or anti-islamic. It is anti-EVIL! The ultimate bad-guy is the Antichrist who wants to eliminate all faiths and all religions, except his and he is deceiving the entire world. Our game does NOT teach the pre-tribulation theology of the book series, except that this worldview is utilized as a FICTIONAL backdrop of the game. In the past several days, numerous people have been and continue to spread misinformation about the game. Our game is the first game ever to encourage the use of PRAYER and WORSHIP as the most effective means to resolve conflict. Physical warfare is discouraged as the LEAST EFFECTIVE means for resolving conflict…and a gamer loses points for using a gun. This is the world's first high-quality inspirational game which intends to model positive behavior by discouraging physical warfare. Please play the game for yourself and help us to get out the TRUTH. In an industry which creates so much gratuitous violence and gore, LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces presents a healthy alternative. We need your help to get the word out! PLAY THE GAME and find out for yourself that this game is about the battle of good versus evil. Here are a few things said by others: - The Anti-Defamation League, although they speak out against the book theology, says "Conversion to Christianity in the game is not depicted as forcible in nature, and violence is not rewarded in the game." - AOL says it is a "Positive Moral Message" - Focus on the Family says "Finally! A game Mom and Dad can play with Junior" - Concerned Women for America says "A game we can wholeheartedly recommend!" - Wired Magazine "Few are as ambitious and polished as this PC title." - ArsTechnica.com "This is a game that Christian parents can buy their kids, and one that Christian kids can play themselves without any guilt about "questionable content."" - Women of Faith says "In an industry that is full of destruction with no hope, the LEFT BEHIND game - Clint Thomas from Chaos Theory says "For years we've been telling kids what to run from and not what to run to, until now!" Should you have any concerns about this game, please go to the contact us page on our website at www.leftbehindgames.com and we'll do our best to connect with you. Sincerely, - Troy

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nate

September 03, 2006  10:36am

my worry is that there are some out there that can see this (as with any violent video game) as "training". And love 'em or hate 'em, LaHaye and Jenkins have created... dare we call it a 'mania' about the end times. Yes, we should be ever watchful and hopeful for the coming of the Lord, but is the warfare part really the part we should be focused on?

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ian

September 01, 2006  7:55pm

Mike, John 3:16 and I John 3:15-17 are looking at the world in different ways. Both are powerful teachings. Perhaps the reason we are so messed up is because we so often confuse God's love for humanity (and the command to love our neighbour as ourself)with our adulterous love affair with the things (material, lusts and philosophies)inherent to this world.

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ian

September 01, 2006  1:12pm

To tell you the truth all of this is a natural evolution in the faith and values of the western church. We have for so long left God out of the picture in all of our endeavours. We plan, we strategize, we market, we sell, all in the effort to entice others to 'be like us'. All the while God is 'left behind'. We prefer him as an idea rather than a reality. The problem is that we love the world too much. We want Church to be more a reflection of our desires. We have always wanted entertainment that pacifies our christian sensibilities. And now the thin edge of the wedge has paid off. Who cares now? We now have a taste for blood. We may sit before our computer terminal and pontficate in a heated righteous anger over this latest bit of spiritual insanity, but the fact of the matter is if we would only seriously and humbly look within we would find that we are equally to blame. Forget all the intellectual gynmastics used to justify our 'witness' to the world: we love the world! And the disquieting truth of the matter is that those who love the world and the things of the world; the love of the Father is not found in him / her. God, and God alone, help us!

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Mike Reynolds

August 31, 2006  12:33pm

I love how the defenders of this game call the opposition "liberal" and "left wingers." Any good conservative republican will love the violence and the turn or die message of it, right? Maybe that's why we haven't heard any comments from Pat Robertson for the past few weeks, he must be busy playing his "preview copy." Anyway, if this game is comparatively as poor quality as the movies were, nobody is really going to buy it. However, I'm sure that we'll hear plenty about it in the media.

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