Thursday, June 15, 2006

WorldNetDaily: Video game battles Satan

Finally we have WorldNetDaily's take on the game titled Left Behind: Eternal Forces, due out this fall. Their description of the game is nothing like that which I have had sent to me from SF Gate, or read on AlterNet. To reply to one persistent canard: in this game, the Tribulation Force does not have an imperative to kill people quite like that in the Koran. Indeed, a TribFor player who kills without good reason, loses points. "Good reason," I assume, means self-defense or the defense of fellow believers.

Nevertheless, this game has sparked a heated debate among Christians. Says one:

This is the worst example I have ever seen of how pop culture has conformed the Church to its image, rather than the Body of Christ serving as light and salt in the world.
So says attorney Jack Thompson--but that quote comes from the same man who, on AlterNet, described the game as a Christian supremacist game. So take that with several milligrams of sodium chloride.

That said--the sentiment is a valid consideration. The violence in this game fosters the notion that, during the Tribulation, anyone who takes the mark of the Beast (charagma tou theriou, literally "the cattle-brand of the monster") is fair military game. That's too close to the Koranic imperative to "fight and slay the infidels wheresoever ye find them" [Surah 9:5] for my taste.

In his defense, the head of Left Behind Games says:

Jesus did not say you have to let yourself be a punching bag or murder victim.
That is one of the hottest debates among Christian eschatologists (students of the Last Things to happen in history). I'd like to see a game that offered a big spiritual bonus to one who let himself get captured, thus throwing him into the Beast's prison system where he can evangelize his fellow inmates.

The trouble with this game is that, to win, you must survive physically. As any serious student of the Bible (and for that matter, any reader of the Left Behind series) knows, those who gave their lives in the War of the Tribulation were not "losers." Revelation 20:4-6 clearly states that those who so lose their lives will live again and even have a hand in helping Christ run the Millennial Kingdom. So any realistic game would have to have two classes of winners: Tribulation martyrs (literally, witnesses) and Tribulation survivors. Players who wind up in either category would then be eligible for a variety of decorations, as they appear before Christ's Reviewing Stand (Greek bema, rendered "judgment seat"). The idea is that once you're physically dead, your next scene will be your report to Christ, Who will decorate you to the measure of the number of converts you won, assisted at, or otherwise made possible through the quality of your testimony, both direct (one-on-one) and indirect (the example you set). And if you survive, Christ will judge you by the same standard. (Add to it that Tribulation martyrs will likely return to earth as marshals, with Rapture participants acting as judges--and survivors will continue as the subject population, not eligible for either of those jobs.)

The more I think about it, the less realistic I think this game is. It probably doesn't deserve half the criticism it is now receiving from secular sources--but it does not look like the best Bible study aid in the world, either.

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