The video game taking Christian America by storm, aptly titled ‘Left Behind: Eternal Forces’, encourages its players to kill anyone who resists conversion to Christianity. As Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft battle it out for domination of the electronic game world, its creator anticipates a ready market among those who have already bought 63 million copies of the ‘Left Behind’ novels. The game is set in New York City, a rather unusual venue for Armageddon: New York doesn’t get a mention in the Bible. It is, however, the location of the United Nations headquarters and that is the clue. Never popular among conservative evangelicals, in Left Behind: Eternal Forces, the Global Community Peacekeepers, cast as the enemy, are on a search and destroy mission in Manhattan. Their target is the remnant of recently converted Bible-believers left behind when Christians were secretly raptured to heaven. These new believers now form an army called the Tribulation Force.
Focus on the Family suggests the game is an evangelistic tool for teenagers –
the kind of game that Mom and Dad can actually play with Junior—and use to raise some interesting questions along the way. Production company Left Behind Games is pushing it as an evangelism tool for teens, and I can see that, too.
Under the heading ‘Turn or Burn?’ their review asks,
How do peace and prayer go hand in hand with tanks, attack choppers and street battles? … Yes, you're offered sniper rifles, gun turrets, even tanks and helicopters. And there are points at which a gun battle is necessary to avoid a massacre. (When this happens, there's no gore. Units fall to the ground and fade away.) But if you go in guns blazing, nine times out of 10 you fail. It quickly becomes clear that the strongest weapons in your arsenal are your top-level missionaries and worship leaders. It's easier to convert a group of enemies than it is to shoot them. Still, post-Rapture warfare is integral to the game, as it is in the Left Behind books and movies.
Focus on the Family concede that ‘fighting back’ is nowhere mentioned in the Scriptures. This is something of an understatement. Jesus demanded his followers do just the opposite and not resist an evil person but turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:38-39). In an interview with Tim LaHaye, the author of the Left Behind books on which the video game is based, Focus on the Family asked whether Christians will really be called to militarize?
He told Plugged In Online that this fictionalized depiction in the books, movies and now video games is a representation "of the self preservation instinct of the much-persecuted saints during the Tribulation." He believes, "When they are converted they will have their humanitarian instinct inspired by the Holy Spirit to be a restraining influence on the Antichrist's minions much as believers are today. We assume Christians will oppose the Antichrist and his forces to convey the gospel when astronomical numbers of souls will come to faith during that chaotic period.” He proffered
What a relief. It’s all right then, because, according to Timothy Simpson, president of the Christian Alliance for Progress, “It's 'faith-based killing." Apparently, players pray for their adversaries "and try to do good spiritual things for them" But at a certain point, it becomes acceptable to kill them. So killing in the name of Jesus is OK because players are only acting out "of the self preservation instinct of the much-persecuted saints during the Tribulation." The biblical basis for LaHaye’s justification of violence is rather tenuous. “For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.” (2 Thessalonians 2:7)
The following verse, however, tells us that it is Jesus who will do the ‘destroying’ not his followers. “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.” (2 Thessalonians 2:8). Jesus will himself overthrow Satan with two weapons - the power of his words and his glory. What of
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands… And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:9, 14)
The verses portray the saints in heaven wearing white robes and carrying palm branches. These are symbols of purity and victory, but there is no mention of weapons, conflict or warfare. They are described as the ones “who have come out of the great tribulation”. They have washed their robes in the blood of Jesus, not their enemies on earth. Their victory was not achieved through armed conflict as the Tribulation Force implies, but through martyrdom and faithful witness to the Lord Jesus Christ.
A rather more sceptical if perceptive review by Jews on First observes that,
The goals of the game are simple: Spread the gospel, and stay alive. But staying alive may sometimes lead to the taking of life -- "fighting hellfire with hellfire”. And that raises a knotty moral conundrum for any game designer who worships Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
 Left Behind now an ‘End Times’ game http://www.pluggedinonline.com/thisweekonly/a0002989.cfm (Accessed January 2007)
 Jews on First ‘Christians seek recall of Left Behind video game’ http://www.jewsonfirst.org/06d/left_behind_video.html