Merriam-Webster provides the following two definitions for “evangelism”:
1. The winning or revival of personal commitments to Christ
2. Militant or crusading zeal
While I’ve got my nose in the dictionary, “zeal” is defined as “eagerness and ardent interest in pursuit of something.”
Keep those definitions in mind as you ponder the following nugget. Left Behind Games, yes, brought to you by the same folks responsible for the Left Behind book series, created a game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces, in which characters battle infidels in their pursuit of the Antichrist.
George Carlin once commented on the sixth commandment stating that Christians have never really had a problem killing. It just depends on who’s doing the killing and who’s getting killed. This game proves that point irrevocably.
Eternal Forces sets evangelical warriors against the forces of the Antichrist. Think of it as Gideon Theft Auto. As a member of the Tribulation Force Jesus faction, you patrol the streets and kill baddies. Here’s what baked my ziti: if you “excessively kill”, you can redeem yourself through prayer. Ain’t that nifty?
I’m no censor. I love the Grand Theft Auto series, and I believe the key to enjoying these video games is to have a firm grip on what is real and what is fiction. For younger gamers, I believe it is the job of a good parent to instill within their children the differences between the two. I personally don’t see that to be a monumental task. “Junior, the things this video game shows are just for play. Don’t do them at the Y or baseball practice.”
The danger with this game, is that it takes an already hostile view of non-Christians that exists in many Christian households and amplifies non-religious sympathies through the righteous killing of those that stand in the way of God’s message of love.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City: You are a mafia go-to boy that seeks to protect himself after a botched drug deal. Daily activities include coercing jury members, selling drugs, eliminating adversaries, and visiting the occasional prostitute. I like the game because of the non-linear gameplay, exciting missions, and catchy 80’s music. For me, all genius aside, it is easy to differentiate this game from my daily goings-on because it is completely unlike my life. I don’t deal drugs, I don’t kill mob bosses, and I don’t utilize prostitutes.
Left Behind: Eternal Forces: You are a modern day crusader who was not raptured. You rally with fellow Christians to battle the evil followers of the Antichrist. Kill too much? Drop a prayer and all is forgiven. Though this game presents its own unrealistic setting, it embodies an ideal that many around the globe hold very dear: Jesus is my homeboy and if you’re not with him, you’re against him. Still a video game, but could you see how the scenarios in this game might be a little more easily internalized?
Edit: Thanks to @RevJayDub for the corrected video link!