Religion

Left Behind Games – Bible Publisher Promotes Civil War and Murder In The Name of Christ

There is a lot of fuss this week about a blood-thirsty (i.e. killing-oriented) video game based on the “Left Behind” series. Tyndale publishers SHOULD be fussed at about this. I’m not sure gutsy old Bible-translator Tyndale would be delighted at what they are doing in his name.

But hey, at least they say it “does not gratuitously depict violence or death.” “Gratuitously” in this context presumably means that in a “game” about violence and death they did not put more violence and death in than would be necessary to make you feel that you are actually involved in dealing out violence and death. It probably also means that it’s just the IDEA of killing people for Jesus that they are promoting, not the actual blood and guts. They have to be gentle and moral here, and keep their “family values” focus.

And some argue that it doesn’t matter much what it depicts. After all, there will be fewer than 100,000 sold, far, far lower than the sales of the books themselves.

Well, we don’t approve of the books with their unBiblical theology and even lower moral level – why would we approve of making it visual and interactive and marketing it primarily to young people? Christian families shopping for “Christian” entertainment for their kids can now buy training in how it feels to kill unbelievers for Jesus. Ah the wonders of our advanced civilization. Ah the wonders of our corrupted Christian morality.

Here are three things about the whole idea of this game that really bother me. (Actually, four things. The fourth would be that it does not show the bloodshed. It’s apparently in the genre of those utterly dishonest unbloody promotions of self-righteous hate, persecution, and murder.)

I. Anything for a buck – how utterly unChristian.

It’s being sold for profit by a Bible publisher on a site produced by another major Christian publisher. Anything for a buck, right? How Christian is that?

II. Dominionist hate-talk, and self-righteous belligerence

It supports the hate talk and violence-orientation of the radical right of our day and gives venue to the hatred and brutality they encourage in the name of Christ. This is ultimate blasphemy.

III. When you train people, especially young people, in hate-filled self-righteousness, you get murder sooner rather than later

“Evil Communications Corrupt Good Behavior” (as the King James Bible said, more or less)

Hate-talk and violence-talk targeted at specific groups in society DO have a history of leading to at least bloodshed, and often to great sustained massacres. It’s not “just a game.” It’s incitement to religiously motivated murder. I thought that’s what we were fighting AGAINST!

I’ve written about that elsewhere. You CAN train a culture to hate and murder on flimsly ethnic or religious grounds even if it has not been a part of that culture’s recent history.

Am I promoting censorship by the government or by powerful religious entities? Well, self-censorship is a sign of maturity and moral health. I’m asking that those who claim to represent or promote the agenda of Jesus of Nazareth bring their activities under some rigorous self-criticism and self-control. Otherwise “they have their reward” – a few extra bucks and slightly increased positions of secular and temporary power. Some of us were under the impression that Jesus and his message were about much bigger and better things.


Here are some other sites with info:

A critical perspective: “Purpose-Driven Life Takers”, Jonathan Hutson’s commentary at Talk2Action

The publishers defend themselves: LeftBehind.com says this: “The game is designed to be a classic battle between good and evil, but does not gratuitously depict violence or death.” The bottom of the site says: “Site Design and Management: ChristianityToday.com Copyright © 2001-2006 Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Left Behind is a registered trademark of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.”

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  • This statement is posted from an employee of Left Behind Games on behalf of Troy Lyndon, our Chief Executive Officer.

    There has been in incredible amount of MISINFORMATION published in the media and in online blogs here and elsewhere.

    Pacifist Christians and other groups are taking the game material out of context to support their own causes. There is NO “killing in the name of God� and NO “convert or die�. There are NO “negative portrayals of Muslims� and there are NO “points for killing�.

    Please play the game demo for yourself (to at least level 5 of 40) to get an accurate perspective, or listen to what CREDIBLE unbiased experts are saying after reviewing the game at http://www.leftbehindgames.com/pages/controversy.com

    Then, we’d love to hear your feedback as an informed player.

    The reality is that we’re receiving reports everyday of how this game is positively affecting lives by all who play it.

    Thank you for taking the time to be a responsible blogger.

  • i ought to clarify.

    i like violent games. i like fictional war.

    i can’t remember playing a Christianity-focused game and liking it. They’re invariably cheesy. Maybe that’s just the spirit of the age talking, since i know that the fellow gamers are going to think the same way and thus we all influence each other.

    i like fantasy fiction. i like alternate universes where the rules are different.

    i wanted to create one myself, and write some violence into it. No, make that lots of violence. Some of it would be on the enemy’s side, you know– the usual bombing refugee camps of exiled Christians trapped in a dying universe controlled by Satan. And some of it on the other side… God-sponsored, fool-proof, justified death. But not for everyone, no… just for the Elijah character(s). This is what i mean when i thought about delivering the wrath of God.

    And even though i like fiction, and i like to speculate about the way it all comes down, and i am still a Christian…

    i never read anything of Left Behind.

    i also like comic books and such. X-Men was a great Saturday morning cartoon long before it was a decent movie.

    But through various reviews and brief mention over the last few years, i gathered that Left Behind turns itself into a war story. The first time i heard the words “Tribulation Force” i felt like someone was ruining something i take seriously and burying it in cheese. i felt bad, and again the first time ever i heard of BibleMan. That kind of thing makes me crazy. And someone, some poor Ned Flanders’ son, totally loves it. And that ties it back to the spirit of the age… i know it’s cheesy from society’s point of view because The Simpsons has been mocking it for well over half my life. And i absorbed that. But does realizing that “set me free” from the feeling of being identified with the corniest example of cheesiness?

    i love to make fun of *some of* this crap because it’s crap. But for the rest, i don’t fall down before it just because it tried to connect to me through my beliefs, and i don’t appreciate the way it tries to connect those beliefs to others through entertainment.

    There’s the whole problem. i like entertainment, and i learned to like it where? In the world. It’s always a movie, a game, a book. Fullmetal Alchemist is just some Japanese cartoon, and in the first of 51 episodes the main character states that he doesn’t care about religion, that he’s a scientist. And i LOVE it. Because there’s a lot more about life and death and fairness and learning and growing, than about anyone’s religion. It makes me think yet again about how we’ve discarded reason in favor of something we call faith, and when the world walks by and picks it up, dusts it off– we hate them for it. Of course they’re using it the wrong way– against us, but i’m mad for the other reason– because we’re making it easier for them now, and motivating them.

    i don’t like Left Behind. A few reviews indicated to me that it was, like many others, “someone else’s thing.” Long ago, i erased my pre-trib notions and wrote in “?”. Then after i *thought about it while reading the Word*, i made my own case for a post-trib ending. To me, it’s far more self-connected and less fear-mongering than so many post-trib teachers’ overbearing anti-pre-trib attitude. i only suggested to myself that the basic premise was right, while reading, and nothing immediately conflicted. But the “?” is still there, next to a bunch of mental notes.

    So that’s me. i just want to stop entertaining my SELF altogether. Living sacrifices, right? And i don’t want to try to reach others through entertainment unless perhaps music, but i can’t even truly enjoy most Christian music… i’d rather listen to music in a language i don’t understand so it can’t be good or evil to anyone. Or instrumental music. Christian movies, Christian music, Christian books, cheese, cheese, cheese. i like cheese but only in the mouth.

    And how can i produce anything and call it Christianity-oriented, knowing that i’ll just be identified with the other willing targets of emotional persecution? i want to be taken seriously. People can’t see my god, only me, so it’s the only way for me to hope they take HIM seriously, which is the goal. So i just walk away from the whole thing and say that i can’t judge them, stop them, or join them. If it works for them and God’s kingdom increases, then i’m glad i didn’t try to ruin it. i’m not going to stand here and look down my nose at their work… i’m going to be long gone, finding a better way *for me* to get their attention.

    And since Jonathan Huston makes a lot of statements he can’t prove, which the publisher tries to refute, i suspect that he’s just baiting us all. i’m sorry to say that we’re overreacting to the violence element. But even though i like violence in my entertainment until i erase it (the rest of the way) from my life, i have a message for the Left Behind creators:

    The tools of the world are not necessarily effective when turned against it. You may not be helping more than hurting.

  • Thanks for posting this at Street Prophets. I hope you’ll cross-post more from this blog. That you immediately irritated the resident “conservative” Christian, & got Frederick Clarkson’s attention are good endorsements.

  • There’s a line in Revelation that seemed a bit cryptic, maybe even out of place– but not since the ‘advent’ of the Bush doctrine:

    “He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.”

    Hmmm. Even if they weren’t selling something i’d be against the entire attitude. Yea, i’ve been there. And i thought long and hard about what it meant to deliver the wrath of God, and here’s what the Word says to me about it:

    Luke 9:53-56:
    But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?� But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.�

    Rev 13:13,14a:
    He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do…

    Anyone else see a pattern here? Or is my pattern recognizer just betraying me *again*?

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