Okay, so it’s the end times and it’s up to you save the world. How do you do it? Well, you pray, worship, and fight the forces of the Anti-Christ. The game is Left Behind: Eternal Forces, based on the best-selling Left Behind Series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.
There is a lot of controversy about the game (see links below) and it is difficult to get to the truth. Critics say the game glorifies violence by Christians, especially against people of other faiths. Defenders say you are penalized for perpetrating violence and killing innocents. Critics reply that once your spiritual points go down, all you have to do is pray to get them back up again.
Regardless where you come out, the game is questionable for several reasons:
- It is based on bad theology in several ways. It combines a literal reading of Revelation with the idea that Christians can save the world by themselves, with violence as an option for doing so.
- It allows violence to be a part of the game (the game is rated T), whether players are penalized or not.
- It definitely does not portray Jesus as the Prince of Peace. (Just a note: In Revelation Jesus is portrayed as the Lion who is the slaughtered Lamb, one who took violence rather than perpetrated it in order to save the world (see Revelation 5).
- It pushes a particular theological and political agenda without providing for the sophistication necessary for players to dialogue or raise questions about issues of faith. It paints a simplistic picture of good and evil in the world and the authors of course know which is which.
- In the multi-player version of the game, you can play either as part of the Tribulation Forces or the Anti-Christ’s Global Community Peacekeepers. However, putting Anti-Christ next to terms such as “global,” “community,” and “peacekeepers” is problematic at best for those of us who don’t see those terms as necessarily anti-Jesus.
The game is well-done, is getting great reviews, and will probably sell like crazy (just like the books did). We Christians like everyone else vote with our money. The choice is whether to support questionable media or help create alternatives.
In my opinion, the game leaves Jesus and lots of good theology behind. For those reasons it too should be Left Behind.
News links for more info on the Left Behind game controversy:
Anabaptist perspective on Revelation, World Events, and the Left Behind series by Loren L. Johns, Academic Dean, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary
Originally posted February 2007
Reposted in light of the passing of Dr. LaHaye.