CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

It is amazing sometimes to witness how fast and uncritical e-hysteria can spread bad information. In this instance, an anti-Christian right website claimed that the new video game based on the popular Left Behind books has players trying to impose a Christian theocracy in New York by armed force. Also, the leftist site claims that "You are on a mission - both a religious mission and a military mission -- to convert or kill Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, gays, and anyone who advocates the separation of church and state - especially moderate, mainstream Christians."

Pretty frightening stuff, if true. The CADRE, disclaimer not withstanding, would harshly condemn any such video game or endorsement of a "convert or kill" mentality. Fortunately, the story is not true. In fact, it is a lie. Here is the truth.

Left Behind is a popular Christian novel series about the end times. Under the author's theology, Christians and babies/children are raptured into heaven, leaving behind a world in chaos. Most turn to the anti-Christ for comfort and security as he becomes a powerful political-religious figure. Some turn to Christianity and become a persecuted minority. The anti-Christ establishes a global government that outlaws Christianity and beings hunting them down and killing them.

There have also been a few movies made, starring Kirk Cameron. I have seen a couple of the movies but not read the books. I actually do not ascribe to their particular theology of the end times.

A video game based on these stories is forthcoming. Contrary to the rather hysterical claims, it does not include scoring points for killing unbelievers. In fact, the player loses points even when killing in self-defense. And that is what is going on, as the "Tribulation Force" (post-Rapture Christian converts) are defending themselves against the anti-Christ's "Global Community Forces." (The "Global Community" having replaced the United Nations).

It is true that the player scores points by converting non-Christians, but that is hardly surprising since the game comes from evangelicals. No one kills people for not converting, although Christians are depicted as fighting anti-Christ security forces who are trying to kill them. Even when killing in self-defense, the Christian loses points.

One of the commentors on the anti-Christian right hit piece actually posted some of the facts about the game, but has largely been ignored during all the hysteria. He directed readers to a gaming site that has several reviews from people who have actually played the game. The reviews make it clear that the leftist-article referred to above is a paranoid fantasy.

Here are excerpts from different reviews:

Players aren't competing to kill the enemy army -- rather, they're trying to save them, and each person killed represents a failure rather than a success. "We found that adhering closely to Biblical philosophies made the game more interesting rather than less," Lyndon said. "One of the key elements of that is to make sure that the player sees that every life is important and precious."

As you'd expect, you'll be encouraged to do good while playing the game, but you may also do evil, as well. Like many real-time strategy games, Eternal Forces features a variety of resources that you need to accumulate to build units. One of these resources is your spiritual rating, which measures how good or evil you are. If your troops kill civilians and innocents, your spiritual rating drops, and if it drops too much, you may see your units defect (each unit has his or her own spiritual rating), and if drops too far, demons will show up.

Killing civilians will definitely make you a friend of the devil.

The forces of evil mirror the forces of good, with the notable difference that the abilities of evil will decrease spirit, while those of good raise spirit (except for killing, which lowers spirit, no matter what).

No flags were raised about Christian murderers in the six or so secular reviews I read. Interestingly, some of the reviews thought the game was pretty good, though these are preliminary reviews of an unfinished product.

So, the hysteria is misplaced. The game does not advocate killing people who do not convert and even portrays killing in self-defense and war as costing you a portion of your soul.

What is more interesting is how quickly this hysteria has been uncritically accepted by other bloggers and commentators on discussion boards. I did a Technorati search and found more than a dozen credulous bloggers accepting the story hook, line, and sinker. How they must despise Christians, especially conservative ones, to believe that some well-known Christian leaders would actually endorse the massacring of non-Christians because they did not convert.

Provided below are some additional resources about the game:

Here is a statement from the author of the books.

Here is the website for the game itself, with preview clips.

Here is a report by ABC News on the game.

Edited to clarify the nature of the reviews as to quality.

Update: Rather than issue a retraction or correction, Talk2Action has defended all of its statements and attacked my response to them. I address their defense/attack here.

86 comments:

Thanks for the info, Layman. I only heard about this game yesterday. While it still sounds frightfully silly to me, I'm relieved that it isn't the despicably evil exercise it has been portrayed to be.

I agree that the game sounds silly and I also don't subscribe to the theology behind it. But I am surprised how quickly people are believing the worst rumors about this game. I think it may have something to do with the fact that some people are looking for reasons to hate the Christian right and everything associated with them.

It's when we live in an environment where "christians" say things like this:

"Cos as you all very well know marriage is under vicious attack, now I think from the forces of hell itself. Now it’s either going to continue to decline, and as I told you in my office a few minutes ago, I believe with that destruction of marriage will come the decline of western civilization itself."
- James Dobson


Then forgive us if marketing a game that supports a violent theology towards people immersed in this sort of rhetoric sets off alarm bells.

I think it may have something to do with the fact that some people are looking for reasons to hate the Christian right and everything associated with them.

Non-christians like myself don't actually have to go looking, BK. The Christian Right has made it's hatred for us quite clear (see: Constitution Party, constant equivalence of non-christians and gays to pedophiles, thieves, murderers, etc.). The reason those false reports were believed is because they're believable, moreso than most of the things that actually come out of Pat Robertson's mouth.

Left Wing Fox,

So Dobson thinks that the decline of marriage marks the decline of western civilization so you are justified in believing that Christians want to annihilate everyone who does not agree with them?

This is a good example of leftist paranoia. They have demonized Christians so much that they will believe anything said about them.

Chadwick,

And since leftists and secularists are lying about us Christians now, I suppose we have the right to believe the worst about every leftist or secularist out there?

I think you are best served by just admitting you fell for a hoax and being a little less credulous next time.

"The reviews make it clear that the leftist-article referred to above is a paranoid fantasy."

I don't think I read anything "leftist" in the article at Talk To Action. Secular, to be sure... and of course it does point out some of the underlying hypocrisy of a Christian video game that incorporates violent activities in its game play -- even if the player is punished for killing, killing does occur... and the bodies actually pile up on the playing field instead of fading away like in most games I'm aware of.

Note that Tyndale, the publisher that licensed the "Left Behind" rights to the game developer, lost one of its authors, Jack Thompson, over the violence in the game.

As far a "paranoid fantasy," it is true that a member of the game's advisory board is the director of the Purpose Driven organization's international operations. Purpose Driven is committed to converting entire countries -- beginning, perhaps, with Rwanda -- to Christianity. They seem to be committed to the creation of theocratic governments. The tacit approval of this video game should raise some eyebrows, at the very least.

Personally, I have no problem with an individual's faith, and support their right to possess it. But we're talking about a game, and an organization, that promotes and encourages conversion of an entire city (New York, in the game) and entire countries (with a goal of a billion people, in the case of Purpose Driven.) Like the attempts to force theology-based Creationism on public schools, I cannot support it, and feel compelled to speak against it.

Thanks for opening the debate, and taking my comment.

This unpleasantness is a reminder for us all to keep an eye out for "the big lie", that tasty news story that is so crazy it MUST be true. Stories like that practically never are. Take everything you hear with a grain of salt and apply common sense, and remember that people you disagree with are no more stupid and evil than you are.

MWS,

Thank you for the comment.

I said "leftist" because the fear espoused at Talk2Action seems targeted uniquely at the Christian right rather than at all Christians.

Most Christians are not pacifists, for better or worse. Yes, there is killing and bodies. But killing is portrayed negatively and as having negative consequences, even if justified in self defense. Moreover, there is a tremendous difference between killing in self defense and killing to convert. And that misrepresentation has been running rampant around the internet. It was by and large that misrepresentation that caused me to write this post.

Nothing I have seen about the videogame supporst the creation of a theocracy. Additionally, trying to persuade people that your point of view -- about religion, politics, morality -- simply cannot be equated with murdering people with whom you disagree. Presumably you posted here to influence opinion and to try and suade people to your point of view.

No one asked you to support the game. Heck, I don't support it. But when you speak out against it at least speak truthfully.

Danielk,

The sad truth is that people on the left and right, secular and religious, can fall for the "big lie" that fits into their own insecurities and suspicions about the other side.

This time it was the left and securlarists. On previous times it has been the right and religious.

I do think that this time the left and secularists accepted a whopper that they should have known was too outrageous to be true. But that's just my opinion.

Layman, thank you for your input,

Is the article very one sided? Yes. Is it very inaccurate? I don't think so.

I grant that it is not apart of the intention of the video game to kill people who don't convert. However, it is a possibility within the game to kill innocents, be docked and pray to revive your spirit points. So, if you want, you can manifest that system within the confines of the game.

Regardless of the turn or die possibilities, I find it frightening that anyone can read the teachings of Jesus and see the life he lead and his earliest followers, all of whom chose death over self defense, and think that any form of killing in the name of God is even remotely acceptable. Many of the gamer reviews that I have read, mentioned the "Praise the Lord" line when killing UN Troops. If this is true, I hope this is removed from the game when it hits production.

To me, it is apalling that anything like this can be marketed as "Christian." Christ certainly taught that to turn the other cheek means that sometimes you could die for your belief, not kill for it.

Ben,

Perhaps it would help for you to put yourself in a Christian's shoes. Would you think it was not "very inaccurate" to say that you wanted to kill people who disagreed with you when in fact all you want to do is persuade people who disagree with you? The difference is night and day.

Which reviews have anyone saying "praise the Lord" when they kill? I did not see that in the review of people who had actually played the early version of the game. So, what is your source for that? And the game seems clear that the UN was dissolved an a new global government was established. So they are not UN troops.

If you objection is only that Christins should be pacifists and allow the forces of the anti-Christ to murder and kill, then that is your opinion and shout it from the rooftops. But you don't have to lie to do that. You can be candied about the fact that the game discourages killing of any sort as bad spiritually, and that the reports that it advocates killing all nonbelievers who do not convert are erroneous.

I think you would best be served by just admitting lots of people got taken in by a whopper, that the game does not advocate murder, and then explain your objections to it. Pretending that its not a big deal that accusations of murderous intent are untrue becaue there is the intent to persuade comes off as very disingenous.

I was one of the rumor mongers, spreading false information about the game on my blog. Thanks to Layman, I've set the record straight, at least in Burtonia.

Thanks Jeff,

I had to think about whether to tackle this on my blog because I do not ascribe to Left Behind's eschatology and I also understand the concern about mixing a Christian game with violence on this kind of scale, but the attacks went way overboard and were being spread everywhere.

Layman,

I had a feeling that this very outrageous story had to have some fabrication to it. However, in the past few days that I have spent following its trail on the internet, not once had I seen anything refuting the claims until now. I'm glad you have set the record straight.

I am a Christian who does not prescribe to the dominionist view of the Left Behind writers' take on Revelations. I think one of the biggest questions by people critical of a game they have not played, is that given the fictional situations presented in the series of books that the game is supposedly based on, one can assume that certain things are implied.

Hot button issues such as homosexuality and religion all play a part in the Left Behind books and have a definite slant to them consistent with the writers' views. So one can only assume that the pretense of the game is the same, which is to say that the "Bad Guys" in need of conversion, are indeed those who do not prescribe to the writers' own stance on Christianity and its priniciples - which would be homosexuals and those of other faiths (or even those of the same faith who hold different views).

These are just my thoughts as to where such a ludicrous story could have gotten its origins. Someone familiar with the books may have assumed that a video game based upon those books would feature a similar frame of mind.

That's not to say that spreading disinformation is correct. In fact, it's downright dispicable.

I received an email from someone who asked that I post his comment. I had left a comment on his site regarding his post on Left Behind (http://dimvision.livejournal.com/37949.html):

"The problem I have with this game is the reason behind its creation.
Evangelical Christianity is all about getting converts. But instead
of letting people find Christianity on their own (using that thing
called "free will"), they use what people enjoy to trick them into
becoming believers in Christ. An example. Say ten year old,
non-Christian Billy plays this game. He's mesmerized by the exciting
action, pretty graphics, and the sense of accomplishment he gets when
he beats a level. This being a Christian video game, Billy will
remember these good feelings and associate them in some way with
Christianity (hopefully with Mr. Warren's flavor) making him more
likely to become a bona fide believer in Christ. It doesn't matter
why he believes what he believes. All that matters is the bottom
line: getting converts.

It's this undertone of trickery that I don't like. This "the ends
justify the means" deal. Leave people be. Christians are supposed to
lead happy lives right? Let that be the motivation behind getting
people to believe. Not some video game. Let them discover faith on
their own. It's the only way one can become a true believer of any
religion."

Here was my response:

"I understand some people's concerns about the game. I respect the fact that some people object to evangalisim, though I disagree with them. The purpose of my comment and blogpost was to place the debate on the footing of fact. It's hard to discuss the merits of active evangelism if people are convinced you want to kill them. Many of the reports about the game have been very inaccurate. I was trying to balance it.

Thanks for responding"

layman,

i didn't want to continue our discussion on greg's blog, so I moved over here.

Regardless of some distortions, after reading the website for the game, I'm still not convinced that this is a terrible game.

First off, why the option of playing on Nicolae Carpathia's side? That seems pretty weird to me.

Second, have you found anything refuting that they say "praise the lord" after killing anti christ warriors?

The thing is that none of this stuff is suprising to me at all. Its outrageous, but not suprising. Its been coming for years. Many premilenialists believe in some way that Jesus won't return until we set up some sort of Republichristian theocracy, hence the strong allegiance of the premillenialists to the Bush administration. When you hear Jerry Falwell say "we need ot kill the terrorists in the name of the lord" why does any of this seem far fetched.

Maybe instead of spending your time quelching exaggerations about this book, you should spend time combating this hijacking of the Christian faith with insane people that say and do things that make it seems as though they've never read the gospels?

Justin,

I do not consider it merely an "exaggeration" to claim that the game has Christian teenagers gunning down "gays, Jews, buddhists, hindues, Catholics, and moderate Christians." That is not an exaggeration, sir, ,that is a slur. One that securalists and leftist Christains seem all to willing to accept, excuse, or minimize. Perhaps your time would be better spent reflecting on how you would like to be accused of being a savage murderer of anyone who disagrees with your religious or areligious beliefs.

On other issues:

Playing the side of the anti-Christ seems wierd for me to. They say they want to expose people to the consequences of evil. Or maybe they know it will sell better if you can play both sides. I didn't defend that.

I think we simply don't know how the "Praise the Lord" comment fits into the game. If it is something said after killing anti-Christ soldiers, I find that distasteful. If it is something said after completing a mission, then much less so.

As for prellims, I don't savage them because though I suspect they are wrong I don't know they are wrong. Interpreting Revelation is notoriously difficult and frankly I haven't expended the time or money to engage the book as seriously as I would need to in order to have a confidant eschatology. But the notion that prellims support Bush because of some end times scenario strikes me as far fetched. I also support Bush and I do not share their eschatology. I tend to support Bush for the reason most of my nonprellim Christian friends support Bush, he's pro-life, pro-family, pro-strong national defense. No secret there.

I don't know that its such a stretch for them to say that's who's being killed in the game. If the conservative evangelicals have been raptured, the christians who were on the fence are now fighting, who is left for them to fight... gays, athiests, jews, muslims, etc. I would say its an exaggeration that the point of the game is to kill those people, but you can't disagree with the point that the creators of the game believe that those fighting in satans army will be those who aren't conservative evanglicals.

I don't know that we are supposed to interpret revelation, in the traditional sense of interpreting. The literary genre is one where, in that time period, people wrote elaborate stories disguising political figures of the day in code. I, and many other scholars who heed the bible and don't try to predict the end of the world, view revelation as talking about christian persecution by rome and the destruction of jerusalem.

I voted for Bush in the last election as well, though sometimes he frustrates me on several issues, but I just don't think that some of these things are so far off the mark, and some of the rhetoric of what has now been called the "religious right" AKA fundamentalists and premils, is frightening.

Justin,

I find it hard to take you seriously if you cannot see how insulting and outrageous it is to describe the came as Talk2Action described it.

The game is clear that there are anti-Christ soldiers and there are non-combatants, which both sides are trying to convert. So no, not all non-Christians are the enemy. Not by any means.

Furthermore, I have seen nothing to suggest that anyone's sexuality is described. I have seen nothing which suggests that the anti-Christ army is described as being full of gays or Catholics or Jews. Much less Hindues or Buddhists.

And no, I don't know that the game considers Catholics to be members of the anti-Christ's armys. I know many premillems who believe that many Catholics are true Christians, though they are not fans of Catholic theology in general.

As for how to interpret Revelation, I am familiar with the Preterist view and consider it a valid, respectable position. But I don't know that it's true. You seem to want to turn a theological disagreement into a license to slander those with whom you disagree about a particular interpretation.

Fundamentalist premils don't scare me. Perhaps I've known more of them than you have. I've read their books, been to their churches, prayed with them. I have had my encounters, but I see nothing to justify fearing they are going to go rambo against all nonfundamentalist Christians.

my point is not necessarily that talk2action is correct in what it says, but you have to realize the context in which they are viewing it. Many of them, not being raised in a conservative evangelical background, hear the pat robertsons and televangelists and come to their conclusions. When so much rhetoric is anti gay, anti jew, et cetera, this is the conclusion they draw. My point is that people in the anti christs army, according to these people, are those that refuse to convert to christianity, which would have to be jews, muslims, buddists, atheists, homosexuals (even homosexual christians that just don't believe a monogamous gay relationship is wrong). Are you insinuating that the anti christs army in this game will be made up of non humans, because people not in the evangelical christian's definition of christian must fall into one of those categories or be devil worshippers.

I think the bad theology of the books is what causes this game to be terrible. I will say the same thing about the books, but the game has just made it worse. Regardless of talk2action distortions, this is a game where "christians" are represented as warriors fighting a war against the anti christ. I just don't see that mentality coming from Jesus and it sickens me that this is what is defining evangelical christiantiy these days.

"How they must despise Christians, especially conservative ones, to believe that some well-known Christian leaders would actually endorse the massacring of non-Christians because they did not convert."

Despise? no... Fear, yes...

It's been done in the past... It's been said in the present... the fear is that history will repeat itself...

-Emily

Talk2Action claimed that the game had players kill anyone who refused to convert. That is not just not accurate, it is a slur. Talk2Action focused on the why of the killing, not the who. Yes, those who are being killed are non-Christains. But that's kind of a by-product of being servants of the anti-Christ, don't you think? No one is killed because they are a Jew, because they are a Catholic, because they are a Buddhist. You are only "fair game" if you are membver of the anti-Christ's army and are trying to murder Christians and unleash demons on earth.

That is the core difference and it is more than an exaggeration, it is flat out wrong. Way wrong. A whopper of being wrong. And wrong in such a way that it conveniently reinforces the hatred so many people apparently have towards Christians.

As I have said, there are plenty of nonChristians in the game. Probably the majority are not. And you do not kill them. You try and convert them. You lose if you kill them. You are penalized if you kill them. The game reinforces the evil of killing, whether of Christians or nonChristians.

To take that emphasis of the game, and to say that Christians are killing people because they do not believe is more than exaggeration and you are looking quite ridiculous by claiming that's all it was. It was and is a slur. And it does you a disservice to mitigate it.

Whatever Revelation means, I don't read it as giving much sympathy to the anti-Christ or his armies. So I'm not as sickened at the thought of resisting them as you are apparently. But do I think this is the way things will play out? No, I do not.

Emily,

With people those at Talk2Action spreading lies like this about what Christians are doing, I can better understand some of the fear.

You sound an awful lot like a bigot.

Emily,

I will add to what Layman said in this way: It certainly is true that some bad things have been done in the name of Christianity. But there have been bad things done in the names of every religion and in the name of atheism (see, communist Russia and China).

I think that given the environment and culture in which we live in which we can see examples of excessive violence in the name of religion in Islamo-terrorism, Christians are acutely aware that such tactics are not acceptable Biblically. Thus, I don't think that it is reasonable to expect that there will be another inquisition or crusade at any time in the near future.

It seems to me that your fears, while remotely, remotely possible, are not particularly realistic. But it is the fear of another inquisition that has been engendered by people who hate Christianity which leads you to believe that this fear is real, and is what leads people to unthinkingly believe this story as being even remotely possible.

Personally, I find the entire Left Behind theology vacuous, and I find the idea of a video game where the hero "converts" people distateful. But the fact that I don't like the theology or the game does not mean that I should sit back, as a Christian, and allow people to lie about it in order to paint Christian as people who want to kill Jews, gays, Buddhists, etc. etc. That is simply a fraud, and needs to be exposed as such.

If it's a Christian game wanting to promote good Christian values and such, why is there any killing in it at all?
You can dress it any way you like it... self defense, mercy killings, have it say it's a bad thing while you do it, whatever... but why make a game like that?
Is it simply because a Christian game about converting and the return of Christ cannot be popular & good without it? Or it wouldn't get any press or make any waves? Sounds like a cop out to me and all about the $$$.
If it was a different religion but same game plot... would you be so quick to defend it or to trash it?
I honestly doubt it.
I would, but then I hold peaceful values and human life in high reguard no matter what the religion is. But then, I don't like killing people video games... doing it in a religious setting is twice as bad.

Avo,

I am not "defending" the game. I am correcting the lies that are being spread about it, and indirectly about evangelicals, by leftist and secularist websites.

I can understand those who don't like mixing Christianity and warfare in a videogame, but that does not excuse the clear lies that people have been telling about the game. There are no "mercy killings" and I wonder why you would bring it up. There is killing in self-defense against the armies of the anti-Christ. Now, I frankly don't find such killing per se immoral, though like you I'm not sure about making a videogame out of it.

Calling out the lies being told about the game and some evangelical leaders is not "dressing" the game any particular way. It is actually an attempt to clear the ground so a real debate on the merits of the game -- rather than some paranoid delusions -- can take place.

A violent video game linked to a church and a particular Christian theology should embarrass any thinking Christian. Is that what we need, more violent video games? Is that what any Christian supposes Jesus would approve of?

My gosh.

I've often gotten a chuckle out of talking with people who are afraid of demonic possession through objects like Magic Cards or the 50's favorite, The Magic Eight Ball. I just put it down to credulity, or a kind of extremely simple-minded worldview, basically Manichaeanism without the philosophical underpinnings. But dualism definitely lives on, and exerts tremendous appeal.

There is a long and sad history in the West of religiously-inspired persecutions: the Inquisitions, the wars of religions, the witch craze of the 16th and 17th centuries, the forced conversions followed by the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, and more recently the genocides of the past century.

Whatever the justification, whatever the supposed 'noble purpose', it should be more than obvious that violence and religion are a toxic mixture.

No good can come from this game. The question is, do the mega-church patrons or customers or clients or whatever they should be called, care?

SC,

What we need is to have such debates honestly, instead of using lies and misrepresentations as many lefists and secularists have done about this game. If its so bad, why do you have to lie so badly about it in order to condemn it?

But would Jesus be shocked by Christians defending themselves against the army of the anti-Christ? I don't think its as clear cut as you try and make it out to be.

Christianity is not, or at least should not be, dualistic.

There is a shorter history of atheists massacaring more people in one people in one century than Christianity or any other religion had done in a thousand years (Stalin, Mao, various other communist dictators killed tens of millions in just 50 years). So I'd be careful throwing around group guilt like that.

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

It's real simple, Layman.

"Ye are called to Peace...therefore, follow it."

If you think a violent video game tricked out in fake "Christian" theology is the way to go, by all means buy it and plop your kids down in front of it. Lots will, no doubt.

You can buy it just to show your staunch opposition to the secularists and leftists that so concern you. That'll show 'em.

If you think that's responsible parenting, what can I say.

I don't think Jesus would want us taking up arms against the anti christ. Seeing as many scholars believe that Nero was the anti christ and Revelation was talking about the persecution of Christians, I'd say the example of the early christians shows that that is exactly what God doesn't want. Those people were directly linked to apostles... the guys who knew just what Jesus wanted, but they didn't take up arms. They turned the other cheeck.

Left Behind theology is dangerous and a slander of the Christian faith.

SC,

When did I ever say that I thought this game was "the way to go"? I did not. I am merely exposing the lies people are spreading about it in an obvious bit of anti-Christian hysteria.

And it is telling that you have to lie about my stance on the game to somehow justify your reaction.

My kids are too young for RTS and in any event we don't let them play any video games yet. Nor is this one I would have bought for them.

Justin,

I don't agree with the level of threat you place on LB theology. I do think it has negative effects, but probably not in the way you do. I think that those who hold it need to balance their belief in a soon-end times with concern for improving their present world and long-term goals for spreading the gospel.

There is no rational fear that they will become murderers or try and impose a theocracy. There actually is inherent tension between what some leftists and secularists are calling "dominionism" and premillenialism.

The only slander here is the one initiated by Talk2Action and its willing lap dogs. Though should be some level of shame for others who try and excuse or mitigate what T2A did, such as you have been doing.

Layman,
I didn't "lie" about your views on the game. It was an if-then statement. If you think it's the way to go THEN by all means buy it....

You're really big on exposing lies, aren't you? Well that's very important. You just keep getting the truth out. No matter how bad this product may turn out to be, how inappropriate for children, if people you distrust like "secularists" and "leftists" exaggerate it's faults, you can get out there to set the record straight.

Since neither of us have much use for video games-- we don't have a TV for example, so I'll have no opportunity to ever check this one out-- on a practical level it's a nonissue.

I will say that when you decide to go crusading for the truth, and the thing you're defending looks pretty dubious, it does get pretty close to defending the dubious thing.

You're more caught up in the "lies" of the secularists and leftists than with the actual appropriateness of the game. You keep wanting to clear the air for some sort of honest debate on the games's merits, but that never actually comes. Battling the wicked secularists and leftists seems to be more important.

Strap on the full armor of God and get out there and defeat those evil forces of unbelief!

Anyway, it seems to me to be the wrong focus.

If you can't see it that way, or don't care, well that's just a difference between us.

SkipChurch,

I have been reading your exchanges with Layman, and I think that you are the one who is missing the point here. Layman has never defended the game in and of itself. He has said right from the outset that he is not a fan of the Left Behind series and would not be a person interested in this game. Since I am in the same position, I understand that exactly.

What he is objecting to, and what you seem to be missing, is that the stories being published about this game are maliciously lying about it. They are trying to make it significantly worse than it is as a way to smear a certain segment of the Christian community.

Now, you may ask: if we aren't part of that segment, why do we care? Answer: we care because if that segment gets smeared, all of Christianity gets smeared. Don't believe me? Look at what you wrote above:

"There is a long and sad history in the West of religiously-inspired persecutions: the Inquisitions, the wars of religions, the witch craze of the 16th and 17th centuries, the forced conversions followed by the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, and more recently the genocides of the past century."

Are you aware that those "religiously-inspired persecutions" were carried out by only portions of the Christian communities -- sometimes quite minor portions? Yet, here we are today 400 years later having to defend all of Christianity because of them.

If you think that game is a bad idea, fine. I do too. I think the entire idea of a video game where the hero is supposed to "convert" people to the faith is a bad idea -- mainly because it gives the wrong impression that people can convert others to the faith whereas it is only God who converts others to Christianity. I think the entire concept is stupid, and I won't buy it nor will I encourage anyone I know to buy it.

But let's keep the conversation on the level. Let's not lie about what it is or try to change the viewpoint to make it something it isn't. That's Layman's point, and I wholeheartedly agree with it.

SC,

Since I have repeatedly said I understand concerns about the game, acting as if I am endorsing the game is a misrepresentation.

As I have told Justin many times, accusing people of endorsing a "convert or kill" approach to Christianity is much more than an "exaggeration," it is a lie. A nefarious lie that you continue to downplay, to your discredit.

And again you say I am "defending" something. I have done nothing of the sort. I have exposed lies and if you don't want to be accused of yet another one, then drop the false statements about me being for this game.

Yes, my focus has been on defending Christians from charges of endorsing genocide. It is hard to discuss the appropriateness of the game -- though I have voiced some of my own questions about it -- when the other side of the discussion is convinced you want to kill them.

Until we can clear that up, how is a discussion even possible? It is not. If you want a discussion about the appropriateness of the game, I suggest you help clean up the mess of lies being spread by Talk2Action and other sites.

We're on such completely different wavelengths here.

You don't have to "defend" Christianity. Why do you think you do? Don't you think that the record of history, and the scriptures,are sufficiently eloquent to allow any interested person to form his own opinion?

You don't have to set the record straight or counter the lies about this game, and I can't see why you would bother since nobody seems to think the game is a very good idea, and in any event, when and if the game comes out everyone will have a chance to form his own opinion.

My view is that violent video games (and violence generally) is bad,especially for children. A violent video game that is, or appears to be, created with the cooperation of a church (or mosque or synagogue or temple), is especially deplorable. End of thought.

I got linked to your interesting blog by a friend who emailed me the link to that talk2action story which he (correctly) thought I'd find amusing. And talk2action linked to you. But the whole discussion, from both talk2action's and CADRE's side, seems to me to have elements that are paranoid, at cross purposes, and frankly a huge waste of time.

So the amusement factor has dissipated.

I suppose the mission of your blog is to counter secular culture's mischaracterizations of Christianity. Something like that.

If engaging in this sort of contention is a positive thing in your life, by all means follow the path you are on.

"Keep up your heads above the waters and the sea, in which there is a tempest."

~Have a nice weekend.~

"We're on such completely different wavelengths here."

Very true.

"You don't have to "defend" Christianity. Why do you think you do? Don't you think that the record of history, and the scriptures,are sufficiently eloquent to allow any interested person to form his own opinion?"

This is all very silly. The record of history is disputed and people disparage the scriptures all the time. I like how secularists like to claim they want everyone to "come to their own" decision about things but spend most of their times trying to tell people what opinions they should come to. Quite hypocritical.

"You don't have to set the record straight or counter the lies about this game, and I can't see why you would bother since nobody seems to think the game is a very good idea, and in any event, when and if the game comes out everyone will have a chance to form his own opinion."

I do have to set the record straight because so many people are gullibly accepting the lies about it. Or, they are excusing the lies about it like you are.

Given that the game does not come out until October, that's plenty of time for the lies to set in for thousands of people who will never play the game. Yet they will let themselves form their opinion about Christians generally, or at least conservative Christians.

"My view is that violent video games (and violence generally) is bad,especially for children. A violent video game that is, or appears to be, created with the cooperation of a church (or mosque or synagogue or temple), is especially deplorable. End of thought."

I thought people were going to be able to make up their minds about the game when it came out?

"But the whole discussion, from both talk2action's and CADRE's side, seems to me to have elements that are paranoid, at cross purposes, and frankly a huge waste of time."

Exposing lies is rarely a waste of time.

"I suppose the mission of your blog is to counter secular culture's mischaracterizations of Christianity. Something like that."

Sometimes. I usually spend my time on historical subjects, but this caught my fancy.

SkipChurch,

You've said that violence is bad for children, which is absolutely true, but I wonder why you also think it's not particularly necessary to correct lies. Surely lies don't fit into your worldview, yet you asked why is there a need to combat lies, and why not just let people decide for themselves?

Well how do you think those conversations will look, when people decide? Some will be saying, "These things are innaccurate, these others are distasteful, some others are lies." And other people in the conversation will be saying different things. All will be receiving information, and some will be providing it. In short, those conversations will look a lot like this one. What is wrong with having an early conversation on something based on informed fact, and putting the facts out there for people to discuss, before the game comes out?

You said that defending truth looks bad if the thing you're defending is dubious. I don't agree with that statement, since any higher or sophisticated morality has to be able to discriminate between what is good and what and what is not. A criminal performs a bad act, but that doesn't mean I think the police should beat him up. A video game is bad, but that doesn't mean I think that lies should be told against it. Violence and lies are both moral wrongs and are always damaging, aren't they? according to your worldview?

As I said, I don't agree with your statement; but if you're going to go with it, you leave yourself looking as if your defending the smear campaign itself rather than merely sympathizing with larger concerns about the game and about fundamentalist Christianity. By your own standard (not mine), it looks like the real problem you had is that the lies were confronted. Your larger message got completely lost.

Kevin

For Emily Wynn Strauss,

You talk about the fear of history repeating itself. I second what was said in response, that fear can be whipped up.

The not-so-subtle reference of the charge that "history is repeating itself" is often to Hitler, and sometimes general things like the history of religious violence.

Well, if you whipped up fear with lies, as was done in smearing the video game, that is what demagogues do.

So if you whip up fear through lies, then history is repeating itself. And the lies will have some damage; but I cannot presume to predict that I know what will happen. All I know is that such lies are the very thing that the left rejects, so it's paramount not to engage in them.

Kevin

Hmm, that's a very difficult web of ideas and comments to follow. Logically, even if the above is inflammatory or innacurate, it contains in it a kernel of truth if the premises of the Left Behind books are at all manifested in the game. The notion of the rapture exculding those mentioned (apart from the Catholics who are patently Christian...) is not at all problematic, as those groups would indeed be left over since they are not Christians. This is not armchair speculation -- it is working outward from the premise that all non-christians are left behind.

While the original response here at christiancadre mentions conversion in passing, the focus of all this nonsene seems to have fallen on the killing aspect of the game. Far more sensational and controversial, wrong, or uninformed as that debate may be. But what about the actual premise of the game? What about the fact that you as a player are rewarded for converting people, for convincing people to believe in something totally irrational and without any reasonable or verifiable foundation in reality? Reality. What about the obvious theme of the Christian persecution complex? What about the insidiousness of believing that one faith is superior to others, that there is only one right way to live one's life, that others must be persuaded of that fact or must be condemned forever? That you are a player who is rewarded for actively converting or saving people is a premise that borders on the xenophobic.

The reality of this whole debate is that if the original quote/article is even remotely true, that is, that the premise of converting people in a post-rapture New York is verifiable, which apparently it is (since there isn't much debate on that point) and that the pro-game post have mentioned it as the focus of the game even, the entire point has been missed. Granted the original article could have been less sensationalistic and could have excluded the killing bits, I've no argument there. My argument is that the entire killing debate has overshadowed the much more important debate that should be taking place: is it appropriate to spread Christian propaganda through a video game that is predicated on the exclusion of a religious or racial group or groups? Of course exclusing non-Christians is such a broad category that n oone can truly claim that they're the targets of discrimination. But the fact remains: a game like this, killing or not, is rooted in a patriarchal religion that has constantly prooved itself to be xenophobic, homophobic, imperialistic, and generally intollerant of difference and diversity.

So I too am on the side that the original article, if it is wrong, has done harm--it has harmed the legitimacy needed to foster the much more important debate that must take place, the debate about the legitimacy of a game that engages in religious discrimination in a society where none is supposed to be permitted.

...I am correcting the lies that are being spread about it, and indirectly about evangelicals, by leftist and secularist websites...

Then the biggest lie you should be fighting is that this is a 'Christian' game!! That is the biggest slander against evangelicals and Christ it does.

..There are no "mercy killings" and I wonder why you would bring it up....

As an example of how killings get excused - weither or not in this game, sorry if that was so confusing for you. I'll gladly throw that part out and stick with the rest of my statement.

...There is killing in self-defense against the armies of the anti-Christ. Now, I frankly don't find such killing per se immoral...

You may not call it 'dressing' the volience of the game by using Christain mythology and Christian labels on it, I do.

...It is actually an attempt to clear the ground so a real debate on the merits of the game -- rather than some paranoid delusions -- can take place...

Yeah, when does that 'real' debate begin? I still say it's biggest lie is that it's a Christian game, so how about adding that lie to your list to explose and clear up?

"Logically, even if the above is inflammatory or innacurate, it contains in it a kernel of truth if the premises of the Left Behind books are at all manifested in the game."

I must admit that your wishy-washy approach to what is true mitigates against having a worthwhile discussion about the game. "Even if"? There is no "Even if." The Talk2Action post was full of outright lies about the nature of the game. Can you not bring yourself to admit that?

"The notion of the rapture exculding those mentioned (apart from the Catholics who are patently Christian...) is not at all problematic, as those groups would indeed be left over since they are not Christians. This is not armchair speculation -- it is working outward from the premise that all non-christians are left behind."

This is standard premill fare. Not that it is unique to premills. Exclusivity is the nature of many religions and goes beyond the Left Behind theology.

"What about the fact that you as a player are rewarded for converting people, for convincing people to believe in something totally irrational and without any reasonable or verifiable foundation in reality?"

Like I said, it sounds like your beef is with Christianity and religion in general. The makers of the game do not think their faith is irrational. Nor do the contributors to this blog. We are constantly engaged in a debate on just that subject, so you are not likely to find any capitulators here.

"What about the obvious theme of the Christian persecution complex? "

It certainly is reinforced when people spread hysterical lies like the one fostered by Talk2Action and explained away by you.

"What about the insidiousness of believing that one faith is superior to others, that there is only one right way to live one's life, that others must be persuaded of that fact or must be condemned forever? That you are a player who is rewarded for actively converting or saving people is a premise that borders on the xenophobic."

This is quite hypocritical since you believe your faith position -- or lack of one -- is superior to that of the Christians. The belief in the superiority of one idea over another is obviously not insidious. Your beef, once again, is with Christianity in general and many other religions for that matter.

So. You don't like Christians even when they aren't trying to kill you. We got it. :)

"Then the biggest lie you should be fighting is that this is a 'Christian' game!! That is the biggest slander against evangelicals and Christ it does."

I disagree. For better or worse, probably a majority of evangelicals are premills. Most are wonderful people.

"You may not call it 'dressing' the volience of the game by using Christain mythology and Christian labels on it, I do."

Well, you have to take the universe created by the game as it comes to judge its morality. I played a game where I landed on another nation's island with overwhelming firepower and it was my mission to kill an ethnic minority and sieze control of their land. Of course, I was playing a Marine in WWII in the Pacific, so I was not bothered by the morality of it. In the game, the anti-Christ is an oppressive, murderous dictator trying to run the whole world and exterminate all the Christians. Given that premise, fighting the soldiers of the anti-Christ who are bent on murdering innocent people is not all that sensational.

"Yeah, when does that 'real' debate begin? I still say it's biggest lie is that it's a Christian game, so how about adding that lie to your list to explose and clear up?"

See above.

The best way to have a real debate about something is not to start it off by lying about the other side. Such has been done and such you seem to excuse.

Avoo? You disagree that this game and it's association with Christ is a big lie (or even a little one) and that lie reflects badly on Christians? The lie that it's good or acceptable Christian material simply because it was labeled religious and that makes all the volience ok?
Ah, I see.

...Well, you have to take the universe created by the game as it comes to judge its morality...

No I don't. As I've stated before I dislike killing games (Just because they are GAMES - made up reason to kill... and when top off with religious tones I really dislike them)

...it was my mission to kill an ethnic minority and sieze control of their land. Of course, I was playing a Marine in WWII in the Pacific, so I was not bothered by the morality of it...

Bully for you. I would be and am.

...In the game, the anti-Christ is an oppressive, murderous dictator trying to run the whole world and exterminate all the Christians. Given that premise, fighting the soldiers of the anti-Christ who are bent on murdering innocent people is not all that sensational...

It isn't? I'm at a total 180... I find it extremely sensational. I would think the game makers do too, isn't that what's going to make them all their $$$?

...The best way to have a real debate about something is not to start it off by lying about the other side...

There never was a 'best way' to talk about this topic with you, you've already decided that the game is alright. (Gathered by your statement - "Given that premise, fighting the soldiers of the anti-Christ who are bent on murdering innocent people is not all that sensational") It just took me awhile to figure out what you cared about, all you care about, was the dis-information/lies (see I said it, lies, lies, lies, I heard that part) about the game on other sites/news and not anything about the game itself. (Yes - I was dense, sorry)

"Avoo? You disagree that this game and it's association with Christ is a big lie (or even a little one) and that lie reflects badly on Christians? The lie that it's good or acceptable Christian material simply because it was labeled religious and that makes all the volience ok?
Ah, I see."

The game, for better or worse, reflects the theology of a large segment of the evangelical community. And no, I'm not prepared to excommunicate them for their eschatological beliefs.

And you have a problem accepting the truth of matters. You continually ignore what I say and attribute positions to me that I have never taken. I do not think that calling something religious makes violence okay. In fact, I quoted a secular example of a WWII game that I have played in which the context made the violence unobjectionable. The game is entirely secular.

"No I don't. As I've stated before I dislike killing games (Just because they are GAMES - made up reason to kill... and when top off with religious tones I really dislike them)"

Okay, but I don't agree with you.

"Bully for you. I would be and am."

All right, then you have a much bigger problem than this game. This game appears (no one has played the final version) to recognize that sometimes killing is necessary in self-defense or war, but that killing noncombatants is not justified and even killing in self-defense takes its toll on one's soul. I'd think you'd appreciate that message.

"It isn't? I'm at a total 180... I find it extremely sensational. I would think the game makers do too, isn't that what's going to make them all their $$$?"

I was speaking to the moral aspects of the killing within the narrative of the game.

"There never was a 'best way' to talk about this topic with you, you've already decided that the game is alright. (Gathered by your statement - "Given that premise, fighting the soldiers of the anti-Christ who are bent on murdering innocent people is not all that sensational") It just took me awhile to figure out what you cared about, all you care about, was the dis-information/lies (see I said it, lies, lies, lies, I heard that part) about the game on other sites/news and not anything about the game itself. (Yes - I was dense, sorry)"

If you had read my comments, I have not said that I think the game is 'alright." I have actually expressed my reservations about the game many times. You have chosen to ignore those statements and again attribute to me that which I have expressly denied.

And it is hardly a mystery that I am focused on the lies being told about the game, given that my post is focused entirely on debunking those lies.

"I must admit that your wishy-washy approach to what is true mitigates against having a worthwhile discussion about the game. "Even if"? There is no "Even if." The Talk2Action post was full of outright lies about the nature of the game. Can you not bring yourself to admit that?"

Absolutely. Lies. Fine. Done. I don't think I ever said that the entirety of the Talk2Action post was true. In fact if you read the last paragraph of my comment, I explicitly say that the original post was "wrong" and that it "has done harm". I'm not at all on the side of the Talk2Action post, I'm only arguing that approaching what was said logically and reducing claims made to their essential points (that is minus the killing and sensationalist bent), there are certain apparent facts that have been totally overlooked. So wishy-washy I am not. Wishy-washy is hedging and I am doing nothing of the sort. Your approach has allowed you to completely sidestep my issue. Well done.

"This is standard premill fare. Not that it is unique to premills. Exclusivity is the nature of many religions and goes beyond the Left Behind theology."

No problem with that then. Whatever this premill thing is that you've slotted me into, fine. I couldn't care less.

"Like I said, it sounds like your beef is with Christianity and religion in general. The makers of the game do not think their faith is irrational. Nor do the contributors to this blog. We are constantly engaged in a debate on just that subject, so you are not likely to find any capitulators here."

Not looking for any nor am I trying to convert any. My point is simply that a game will soon be released wherein people are rewarded for converting others to their faith. Faith. They very definition of the word faith excludes rationality. Faith surely can be arrived at rationally, but in the end a rational enquiry ends with having to choose one way or another in terms of faith. Capitulators? Of course not, I'm not out to convert anyone :) To combine the words think and faith in the same sentence pretty much guarantees that I'd never succeed, nor would it be morally good or excusable for me to impose my much more limited set of beliefs on anyone else.

"It certainly is reinforced when people spread hysterical lies like the one fostered by Talk2Action and explained away by you."

Talk2Action, wrong wrong wrong. I agree... Explained away however, not at all. Reexamine and don't dismiss it out of hand. You're doing an exemplary job of explaining away, of (intentionally or not) sidestepping the potentially much more interesting and important issue of the conversion theme.

"This is quite hypocritical since you believe your faith position -- or lack of one -- is superior to that of the Christians. The belief in the superiority of one idea over another is obviously not insidious. Your beef, once again, is with Christianity in general and many other religions for that matter."

I do indeed, and I am quite confident in the fact that with my much more limited set of beliefs I can still function and enjoy my life, exist and find joy in the world. My faith position is one of much less "faith" per se, one wherein all unnecessary beliefs are taken as false or as detrimental to living a good life. I have 5 beliefs seen here: http://www.jamonation.com/refacing/index.php/The_Leap_of_Faith

So hypocritical or not, my faith requires much less extra "stuff", much less rationalizing, is based in a conception of morality that is not imposed upon me but that I've arrived at myself. Hypocritical as that may sound, it is not. And indeed, if a set of beliefs came around about the world that was any simpler or required less belief I'd at least be open to hearing about it. In a public forum such as this however, solipsism seems to be the flavour of the year.

I do thank you for engaging with me however, since I apparently don't like Christians or anyone else for that matter. In fact, I think it is safe to say that I don't much like anyone who doesn't stop and think for at least a few moments about rather important aspects of their lives like faith. As an apologetic I accept that you have in your own way derived or come to a much more reasoned position before choosing to believe what it is you do (if I understand Christian apologetics in general that is). I cannot fault you for that, nor would it be correct of me to do so. Call me a hypocrite for believing what I do, fine, I'm a hypocrite. But respect that my sense of morality and set of core beliefs accomplish the same as yours and that I don't have to impose mine on anyone to feel more comfortable with them.

I simply take issue with the fact that the conversion theme of the game has been overlooked, since it is a theme of much importance and relevance. That theme should have been the focus of the Talk2Action article. Because it was not, the issue will likely be totally overlooked amidst the furor. As an apologetic, surely you can admit that dialogue about converting the unbelieving would be a much more useful thing, since there would be much less bickering and much more intelligent debate involved.

I think I am done with this however, as there seems to be no place for a middle ground, notwithstanding the incorrectness of the Talk2Action article. Satisfied?

"I'm only arguing that approaching what was said logically and reducing claims made to their essential points (that is minus the killing and sensationalist bent), there are certain apparent facts that have been totally overlooked. So wishy-washy I am not. Wishy-washy is hedging and I am doing nothing of the sort. Your approach has allowed you to completely sidestep my issue. Well done."

I am glad you have changed your position. But the fact is you were being wishy-washy. What else does "even if" imply when addressing the charge that the game is one of mass murder and genocide?

"No problem with that then. Whatever this premill thing is that you've slotted me into, fine. I couldn't care less."

Premill is a description of the theology held by the authors of the book. TO be more precise, I'd say they were pre-trib pre-mil, which means they think that Christians (and innocents like babies and children) will be taken from the earth during an even called the rapture. Then there is a 7 year period of tribulation when the earth suffers various calamaties and eventually the anti-Christ gains control. Christians who converted after the rapture are persecuted by the anti-Christ. Israel is threatened. Then at the end when everything seems bleak Jesus returns.

"Not looking for any nor am I trying to convert any. "

You sure are writing a lot for someone who isn't trying to convince people that your opinion is true.

"They very definition of the word faith excludes rationality. Faith surely can be arrived at rationally, but in the end a rational enquiry ends with having to choose one way or another in terms of faith."

I don't think these two statements are reconcilable.

"Talk2Action, wrong wrong wrong. I agree... Explained away however, not at all. Reexamine and don't dismiss it out of hand. You're doing an exemplary job of explaining away, of (intentionally or not) sidestepping the potentially much more interesting and important issue of the conversion theme."

Since I am a Christian I do not share your concern over trying to persuade others. So I am not "sidestepping it," I don't agree its a problem.

And again, you are spending an awful lot of time explaining yourself for someone who does not want to convince others you are right.

"y faith position is one of much less "faith" per se, one wherein all unnecessary beliefs are taken as false or as detrimental to living a good life. I have 5 beliefs seen here: http://www.jamonation.com/refacing/index.php/The_Leap_of_Faith"

Ah, a blog describing your faith beliefs to all who are interested. And you link to it from here. My my, are you trying to persuade anyone to your viewpoint?

"I simply take issue with the fact that the conversion theme of the game has been overlooked, since it is a theme of much importance and relevance."

Like I said, if you object to the idea of evangalism then you object to a core tenant of Christianity in general. To try and focus such a discussion on a videogame seems oddly misfocused.

"As an apologetic, surely you can admit that dialogue about converting the unbelieving would be a much more useful thing, since there would be much less bickering and much more intelligent debate involved."

Like I said, it is difficult to have a debate on these issues when the other side thinks you want to kill them.

Layman,

It seems that in your mind being a bigot means that someone is concerned that everyone is treated equally in the world, and that hate in all forms is abolished...

I was simply expressing that the game makes people nervous... Whether or not all of the criticism thrown at it is true or not (since folks are bringing up conflicting reports of what is in the game - I'll reserve judgement until I see a copy), people are concerned that this could be hate speech couched in the form of an electronic shoot-em-up game...

It is the hate that people fear...

-Emily

BK,

I do think my fear of a modern-day inquisition is reasonable...

Look at the Holocaust, Rwanda, Darfur...

Fundamentalism in any form (and yes - you are correct that all the world's cultures have violence and hate in their past) whether Christian, or otherwise - is worth opposing... because it leads to hate...

Whether or not this game is hate speech is an academic argument - and I'm willing to give it a chance to prove what it's true nature is...

But - I would not deny anyone their concern and fear...

-Emily

Emily,

No, I think someone sounds like a bigot if they promote discrimination and fear of another group based on unfounded stereotypes.

There is no legitimate disagreement about whether the game condones murdering all those who do not agree. It clearly does not. And using fear-rousing based on unfounded lies is the mark of a bigot.

So welcome to the club I guess.

Oh, and simply redefining every bad movement as "fundamentalism" and pinning that label on those with whom you disagree is not a very compelling argument.

Emily,

I certainly acknowledge that horrible acts are possible in any religious system, but it is also possible outside of religious systems (as I understand is the case with the Holocaust, Rwanda and Darfur). But Christianity teaches that such slaughter is wrong in the eyes of God, and so it takes a twisting of the faith to support such ideas.

Thus, I think it's clear that there is no reason to fear violence from people who do support the Bible. If you think so, then IMHO you are not being very discerning in your view of the world.

BK,

You are exactly right - I would never fear violence from people who support the bible - it's the people who _don't_ - but advertise that they really do - that are the problem!

Christianity - and most world religions - are based in peace and love... but, there are those people who warp these principles so that it seems the opposite is true...

This is what is fundamentalism... This is what builds hate - and fear...

-Emily

p.s. - check out http://www.talk2action.org/story/2006/6/4/145852/2596
I think you'll get a better idea of why people are concerned...

Emily,

Considering how outrageously inaccurate Talk2Action has proven itself to be in reporting on the "threat of the religious right," why do you give them any credence in their additional attempts to rouse up fear?

Your are propogating that which you claim to fear.

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

I suppose we will have to agree to disagree here, as I believe that much of what is posted at Talk2Action is accurate.

-Emily

The only problem that I have with agreeing to disagree is that I think that the talk2action piece is so wrong as to be ridiculous. You can believe what you want (I certainly can't make you think otherwise), but if you are believing the nonsense in the comments of the talk2action piece, then we don't have a mere disagreement -- we have are living in different universes!

They accused the Left Behind people of encouraging genocide. That was a lie. No room for honest disagreement there. Now you want me to believe another article from the same lying source to support your paranoia about the supposed genocidal tendancies of Christians.

And why does Talk2Action ban anyone from commenting on their blog who does not agree that the religious right is a threat to the nation? You and many other anti-Christianites have had your say here without censor. What is Talk2Action afraid of?

Thanks for stopping by:^) Question.

"Left Behind Games executives Troy A. Lindon and Jeffrey S. Frichner told the Los Angeles Times of their plans to build buzz for Left Behind: Eternal Forces by distributing 1 million sample discs directly through churches nationwide." - LA Times

Is this statement true?

Bene,

I have no reason to doubt the LA Times on that. But because I have no affiliation or contact with those behind the game, I can't confirm it.

All the best,

Chris

First, I did not say that I thought the particular article about the video game at Talk2Action was what I believed was accurate (I am willing to reserve judgement since there are arguments about the factuality of what is contained in the game) - but that I believe that the majority of the discussions that are posted on the site are accurate.

As to your question about why T2A does not allow "disagreement" on the site...

T2A is a site that is dedicated to discussion about the religious right and what to do about it... we do not want to get bogged down with constantly having to justify, and rejustify our position every time we want to discuss some aspect or new development in the field of knowledge... therefore the site is meant only for people who agree with the principles of the site... that way we can have our discussions move on to higher levels of discourse rather than dealing with basic issues...

There are plenty of websites that deal with debate on this basic level of "who's right" - that is not the point of T2A...

-Emily

Emily,

"Higher levels of discourse"? Not from what I have seen. Fear mongering and outright lying seems to be the order of the day.

But I understand that it would be harder for Talk2Action to demonize those with whom they disagree if it allowed people to correct their factual misstatements.

If you look below, you'll see a dozen websites that have recognized the false propoganda being spread by your hate-speech site.

"T2A is a site that is dedicated to discussion about the religious right and what to do about it... we do not want to get bogged down with constantly having to justify, and rejustify our position every time we want to discuss some aspect or new development in the field of knowledge... "

Sounds an awful lot like "don't confuse us with the facts."

BK,

This sounds familiar: "dedicated to discussion about the religious right and what to do about it."

Maybe they will come up with a final solution to deal with the religious right problem.

Layman,

Well, they're already not allowing contrary ideas onto their site under the assumption that they already have all of the answers. Funny how open-minded some of these "free-thinkers" can be, isn't it?

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Emily,

Concerning what you wrote,

"T2A is a site that is dedicated to discussion about the religious right and what to do about it... we do not want to get bogged down with constantly having to justify, and rejustify our position every time we want to discuss some aspect or new development in the field of knowledge... therefore the site is meant only for people who agree with the principles of the site... that way we can have our discussions move on to higher levels of discourse rather than dealing with basic issues..."

In my opinion there is nothing wrong with the idea of such a group, per se. But a group has to self-correcting and accurate, esp. if it's not just a club to spend free time but a place where public courses of action are being planned. The T2A blog is a public blog, is it not? And if it were self-correcting and accurate, there would be little, or less, complaint about its censorship of membership/comments.

One certainty is that if the membership at Talk2Action were politically diverse, the basic mistakes about the game would not have been made. There would have a been a self-correcting discourse, just from having people who disagreed with each other.

If the group is not successfully self-correcting with its current diversity, it should think about opening up that diversity.

Since I'm a latecomer to this discussion, permit me to put forth a bit of context for my comments.

#1 I am a card-carrying, left-leaning, free-thinking secularist in the original sense of the word (i.e. that the Freedom of Religion guaranteed in the Bill of Rights means that religious doctrines and traditions have no place in public policy decisions at a governmental level).

#2 I was raised in a loving, tolerant and supportive family that also happens to be staunchly evangelical. I am still very close to my family, and as such, I have a long experience with the beliefs of dominionist, evangelical Christianity (as tolerant as my family is, they still believe that everyone who isn't a spirit-filled born again will suffer eternal torment in the Lake of Fire(tm). By tolerant, I simply mean that they don't make a habit of ramming their beliefs down other people's throats).

#3 I've read all of the Left Behind novels, including the prequels. Although I despise their theology, it's familiar to me and so it has a weird draw for me, as abhorrent as I find much of the message.

I was directed to this conversation by following up on the Talk2Action site by checking the game's entry out both on its official website and on Wikipedia. Having not played the game, I cannot comment on the truth of the allegations contained within Talk2Actions series of essays. However, from both my reading of the official site and my reading of the books, I do not get the impression that anything in the Talk2Action article is a deliberate lie. A gross simplification brought on by an overwrought emotional reaction to the premise of the game, perhaps, but I don't think anyone's purposefully spreading falsehoods or slanders here.

Let's take a moment here and re-examine the premise of the novels, and by extension, the game. All the True Christians in the world are spirited away to Heaven by Almighty Triune G-d in Act One. The remainder of humanity is now made up of atheists, agnostics, all the practitioners of every other religion in the world, and those Christians who were not sufficiently pious to make the cut. In the aftermath of the Vanishing, many of those Left Behind (especially those pesky backslidden Christians) recognize the disappearing act as the Rapture and get their act right with Almighty Triune G-d. Of course, by this point it's too late and they, just like everyone else, are in for seven years of outright hell-on-earth. Around this same time, the Antichrist shows up and takes over the UN, and begins gathering the whole world to himself, first as a political figure and ultimately as a religious one.

Before long, you've got the whole world divided into three camps: The Saints of Almighty Triune G-d, the Army of Antichrist, and the Undecided.

Now, playing as a Saint, your job is to convert as many of the Undecided as possible before the Glorious Appearing (slated for roughly seven years hence). Now, it should be noted that Undecided actually means Atheist, Agnostic, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Fag, excessively liberal Christian, or anyone else who is neither an evangelical Christian nor yet a mark-bearing member of the Beast's evil army.

Please note the yet, for herein lies the true difficulty that those pesky secularists have with this game. As time goes on, the ranks of the Undecided dwindle, as they begin to align themselves with the forces of either God or the Antichrist. So every Atheist, Agnostic, Jew, etc. is presented as nothing more than a servant of the Beast in waiting, unless you and your Tribulation Force of Saints can turn them to the Way, the Truth, and the Light. Oh, and by the way, once one of those Undecided accepts the Mark of the Beast, they are instantly and forever Lost (excepting those that cut off either the right hand or head that bears the Mark, in a dramatic statement of conversion to Saint-hood). So really, convert them or kill them isn't really that far off the mark (pardon the pun). Now, since it doesn't seem that the writer of the articles in Talk2Action has actually played the game, so the nuances of the game system that you cite in your refutation of his slanders were likely unknown to him at the time of writing.

To preempt a possible counter-argument that he should have researched further before making such inaccurate and sensationalist statements, allow me to submit that his statements are not really that inaccurate when you step far enough back. Every religion or worldview other than evangelical conservative Christianity is presented as a holding ground for those who will eventually turn to the Antichrist and become irredeemably evil. And in this game, the Soldiers of the Antichrist need to be killed or otherwise defeated in order to complete the missions of the game. Even though killing (even the uber-evil Antichristians) apparently reduces your character's Spirit score, it is a necessary part of the game, and anyone you can't convert is eventually going to become the enemy, if they aren't already. Additionally, as I've noted briefly above, the entire world of the game divides humanity into only three categories: The Good Guys (Christians), the Bad Guys (Antichristians), and the Undecided masses (the Agnostics, Liberals, and followers of "False" religions, who must either come to Christ or eventually shed the veneer of their former beliefs and accept that they've been following Satan all along).

Oh and by the way, once Jesus shows up, he's going to open his mouth and his words will liquefy the insides of all the Bad Guys and Undecided alike. So, really, what the guy at Talk2Action should have said is "convert them or kill them; failing either of those, just hold out and wait for Jesus to kill them for you".

Now then, why on Earth would us secularists be up in arms and scared and pissed about a video game like this?

I haven't a clue.

"A gross simplification brought on by an overwrought emotional reaction to the premise of the game...."

Okay.

"Now, since it doesn't seem that the writer of the articles in Talk2Action has actually played the game, so the nuances of the game system that you cite in your refutation of his slanders were likely unknown to him at the time of writing."

Well, he has now but still defends all of his characterizations.

"Every religion or worldview other than evangelical conservative Christianity is presented as a holding ground for those who will eventually turn to the Antichrist and become irredeemably evil."

Actually, all the other religions and worldviews are "holding grounds" for both Christianity and anti-Christism. Most pre-trib pre-mils I have known believe there will be a great harvest of revival and converseion to Christianity during the Tribulation.

And yes, Jesus does come back and judges all-nonbelievers according to the Left Behind narrative. I have not read anywhere that you get to play Judgment Jesus in the game.

And I addressed the accuracy of the tortured route you take to justify the claim that the game puts you on a "mission to convert or kill Jews, Catholics, moderate Christains, etcl." in my most recent post above.

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Jam,

Old news and not hardly. I responded in detail here:

http://christiancadre.blogspot.com/2006/06/talk2action-tries-to-defend-itself.html

Part 2 will be forthcoming.

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While it is true that killing lowers your spirituality rating (or whatever they call it), its also true you can raise it again by simply praying. In other words it teaches kids its ok to kill so long as you pray after each killing. Ok maybe its not THAT extreme of a message, but it does lean that way don't you think?

Being only somewhat familiar with the book series, I'm curious about who exactly is saved as well. You mention Christians and babies/children. Well who do they define as Christian? Is it just Evangelicals? What about Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Episcopalian, Lutheran, and the like? What about Muslims and Jews? Basically wherever it draws the line, its drawing a line and saying, if you don't believe this, this and this, you are wrong and we are going to convert you or kill you. Because thats what the game offers according to the reviews of it (from game magazines) and their own website. Civillians spirit ratings go in one direction or another and if they get below a certain level they join the enemy team and become canon fodder. So you either save them by making them good evangelicals or they become followers of Satan. That sounds to me a little too much like the kind of talk we here coming from Islamo-Fascists these days for my comfort.

>>>>>>>>While it is true that killing lowers your spirituality rating (or whatever they call it), its also true you can raise it again by simply praying. In other words it teaches kids its ok to kill so long as you pray after each killing. Ok maybe its not THAT extreme of a message, but it does lean that way don't you think?>>>>>

Well, frankly I think it is okay to kill in self-defense or pursuant to the rules of war. Eternal Forces goes a lot farther than any other game in showing the spiritual consequences of killing even in justified circumstances. And frankly, I don't think video games do much "teaching" of anything. But apparently the game makers want the game to "teach" kids that even killing in circumstances deemed acceptable by most in society will take its toll on your soul.

And have you ever played a "real time strategy game"? If so, then you know that having to stop and do nothing because you are "simply praying" will be a huge barrier to victory. Not only do you lose potential recruits and drop your "spirit points," you are basically immobolized and useless for an extended period of time. The first RTSG I played was Age of Empires and the real time aspect of the game drove me nuts at first. I hated it and prefered the old turn based games (like The People's General). I got used to it and really like Age of Empires now but it is a beast to manage your time. Having players sitting around doing nothing for extended periods of time is actually a big dissincentive in such a game.

>>>>>Being only somewhat familiar with the book series, I'm curious about who exactly is saved as well. You mention Christians and babies/children. Well who do they define as Christian? Is it just Evangelicals? What about Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Episcopalian, Lutheran, and the like? What about Muslims and Jews?<<<<<<<<<

They will have to speak for themselves. The CADRE accepts any Christian who ascribes to the Nicene Creed and have Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Evangelical and Charismatic members.

>>>>>>>Because thats what the game offers according to the reviews of it (from game magazines) and their own website. Civillians spirit ratings go in one direction or another and if they get below a certain level they join the enemy team and become canon fodder. So you either save them by making them good evangelicals or they become followers of Satan.<<<<<

I strongly reject that oversimplified description.

First, I do not know if all of the "Undecideds" pick a side by the end of the game. I would suspect that there are different modes of play, including ending the game by achieving certain missions or objections or within a certain time frame. I doubt -- and have seen no evidence saying -- that the game runs until all "Undecideds" pick a side.

Second, the original attack on the game mentioned "gays," which of course could mean gay Christians or gay Jews or gay Catholics, etc. I have seen nothing that indicates that "gays" are an identifiable group in the game, much less that they are hunted down and killed.

Third, I do not know whether and to what extent the "Undecideds" are identified as Jews, Catholics, "moderate Christians," etc. The game's site says that a person's spiritual history is mentioned, but what that means is unknown.

Fourth, once a Jew or a Catholic or a Muslim beings worshipping the anti-Christ then they are no longer a Jew, a Catholic, or a Muslims. They are something else. Basically the game sees some or most of the "Undecideds" eventually picking a side. Once they do then they will no longer be what they were, but what they have chosen. So it is incorrect to say you are going to "convert or kill" Jews or Catholics, etc.

>>>>>That sounds to me a little too much like the kind of talk we here coming from Islamo-Fascists these days for my comfort.<<<<<<

Not in the least. The game is set in a very specific scenario. There is a rapture in which hundreds of millions of people are taken up into heaven. The anti-Christ comes to power and founds a one-world government based on the worship of himself. He seeks to consolidate his power through military force and the eradication of Christians. Only then is there a clash between the forces of the anti-Christ and the Tribulation Force.

So, I'd say that you have nothing to worry about unless 1) you suddenly learn that hundreds of millions of people (who all happen to be Christians, babies, or young children) suddenly vanish from the earth without explanation, 2) a very charismatic guy becomes so powerful that he runs the planet, 3) said charismatic guy demands that you worship him, 4) Christians (those who converted after the rapture) are being hunted down and imprisoned or killed, and 5) you decide to join the army of the charismatic despot who is attempting to commit genocide.

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A statement from Left Behind Games CEO Troy Lyndon:

Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, Women of Faith, Outreach Magazine, National Network of Youth Ministers and Promise Keepers are just some of the organizations that support LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces, a PC game. Read below to find out why…

This is the world’s first high-quality inspirational game which intends to model positive behavior by discouraging physical warfare. Our game is the first game ever to encourage the use of prayer and worship as the most effective means to resolve conflict. Physical warfare is discouraged as the least effective means for resolving conflict…and a gamer loses points for using a gun.

In the past several days, numerous people have been and continue to spread misinformation about the game.

Our game does not encourage killing. Our game is not anti anything … it’s simply pro-Christian. The ultimate bad guy is the antichrist who wants to eliminate all faiths and all religions, except his. He is deceiving the entire world.

Our game does not teach the pre-tribulation theology of the book series, except that this worldview is utilized as a fictional backdrop of the game.

In an industry which creates so much gratuitous violence and gore, LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces presents a healthy alternative. We need your help to get the word out!

PLAY THE GAME and find out for yourself that this game is about the battle of good versus evil.

Here is what some are saying about the game:

The Anti-Defamation League, although they speak out against the book theology, says “Conversion to Christianity in the game is not depicted as forcible in nature, and violence is not rewarded in the game.”

AOL says it is a “Positive Moral Message.”

Focus on the Family says “The kind of game Mom and Dad can play with Junior.”

Concerned Women for America says “A game we can wholeheartedly recommend!”

Wired Magazine, “Few are as ambitious and polished as this PC title.”

ArsTechnica.com, “This is a game that Christian parents can buy their kids, and one that Christian kids can play themselves without any guilt about "questionable content."

Women of Faith says that in an industry that is full of destruction with no hope, the LEFT BEHIND game provides a healthy alternative.

Clint Thomas from Chaos Theory says, “For years we’ve been telling kids what to run from and not what to run to, until now!”

Should you have any concerns about this game, please go to the contact us page on our website at www.leftbehindgames.com and we’ll do our best to connect with you.

Sincerely,
Troy Lyndon
Co-founder, CEO
Left Behind Games Inc.

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 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.

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