'Left Behind' video game causes stir

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It has been endorsed by Focus on the Family and other conservative groups, but liberal Christian organizations are calling "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" a video game that is too violent, intolerant and divisive to be called Christian, the Los Angeles Times reported Dec. 17.

"It's essentially a training video for faith-based killing, marketed to children," Tim Simpson, a Presbyterian pastor in Florida and interim president of Christian Alliance for Progress, told the Times.

An offshoot of the popular novel series dealing with the end times, the video game released in November challenges players to evangelize and care for the people of New York City while the enemy attempts to gain control.

"You start out with a few people (units) in your control, send them out to gather resources (money and real estate) and train them up to become musicians, builders, nurses, pastors, disciples and soldiers, each with his or her own function for the community and impact on the world," Bob Hoose explains in a review for Focus on the Family's Plugged In Online.

"I can't think of anything more antithetical to the Gospel of Christ," Simpson said. "The message is that God intends for everyone who doesn't share your faith to be whacked."

Hoose, though, said players are offered sniper rifles, gun turrets, tanks and helicopters to destroy the enemy, but there is no gore because people who are killed simply fade away. The player soon learns violence isn't the way to win.

"It quickly becomes clear that the strongest weapons in your arsenal are your top-level missionaries and worship leaders," Hoose wrote. "It's easier to convert a group of enemies than it is to shoot them."

Eternal Forces is a game parents can play with their kids, Hoose said, and the production company behind it is pushing it as an evangelism tool for teens. The game raises questions about the end of the world that can lead to theological discussions, but its approach doesn't require a seminary education, he added.

"I want to show that thinking about what may happen when you die can be as fun as being in an Indiana Jones film," Troy Lyndon, the game's creator, told the Times. "It's an adventure."


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