2006-07-05

Should the name Evangelical be "left behind"?

I write to you as a bonafide, card-carrying evangelical. I was "born again" in 1992 by receiving a "personal relationship" with Jesus Christ, after which my lifestyle and worldview was radically changed. I was discipled through a minister getting his degree at Dallas Theological Seminary, as well as through Campus Crusade. My evangelical credentials are all in good order.

On occasion, one of evangelicalism's guiding lights will say or do something that makes me cringe to associate myself with the "E" word. Whether it is Pat Robertson's crazy pronouncements, Falwell's animated antics, a half-baked Baptist boycott, or our general drift toward political supremacy and cultural triumphalism... there is always something out there I feel I have to apologize to both God and man for by taking up the name evangelical.

But what do you do when one of the media stars of evangelicalism does something so patently against the gospel that to be associated in the same camp is to be associated with something demonstrably less-than-Christian, or even anti-Christian?


I feel like we have driven the Evangelical-Triumphalism train over the edge with the latest installment from the makers of the "Left Behind" series! Welcome to the virtual gaming world of "Left Behind: Eternal Forces", the only video game I know of where born-again Christians get to kill non-Christians! Amen, halleluiah, and pass the ammunition!

You can see it at: http://www.leftbehindgames.com

Here is the brief description from the makers of the game:
Wage a war of apocalyptic proportions in LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces - a real-time strategy game based upon the best-selling LEFT BEHIND book series created by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Join the ultimate fight of Good against Evil, commanding Tribulation Forces [i.e. the Good, born-again Christians] or the Global Community Peacekeepers [i.e. the Bad, deceived non-Christians], and uncover the truth about the worldwide disappearances!
- Lead the Tribulation Force from the book series , including Rayford, Chloe, Buck and Bruce against Nicolae Carpathia – the AntiChrist.
- Conduct physical & spiritual warfare : using the power of prayer to strengthen your troops in combat and wield modern military weaponry throughout the game world.
- Recover ancient scriptures and witness spectacular Angelic and Demonic activity as a direct consequence of your choices.
- Command your forces through intense battles across a breathtaking, authentic depiction of New York City .
- Control more than 30 units types - from Prayer Warrior and Hellraiser to Spies, Special Forces and Battle Tanks!
- Enjoy a robust single player experience across dozens of New York City maps in Story Mode – fighting in China Town , SoHo , Uptown and more!
- Play multiplayer games as Tribulation Force or the AntiChrist's Global Community Peacekeepers with up to eight players via LAN or over the internet!

Damn! I have just been itching to blow away some infidels! Let the jihad carnage begin! But, in all fairness, let's read some of their FAQs:

Why does this game have to contain violence at all? Why is it necessary for a fun and successful game?
Violence is not required to make a fun game. However, it is required to make a game about the end of the world in the Left Behind book series. We have taken great care to make certain that there are real consequences for poor gamer behavior, unlike most games in the market. For instance, unnecessary killing will result in lower Spirit points which are essential to winning.

So... if violence is not necessary to create an entertaining game, and largely prohibited by the gospel, except for possible use by the government (cf. Romans 13), then why was it necessary to put violence in the game? Possibly to socialize budding crusaders to appreciate the joy of jihad? Hmmm...

What aspects of the game will keep it challenging to the players?
The storyline play within the game allows the gamer to defend themselves from the forces of the Anti-Christ, ending in a major battle for the streets of New York City. In multi-player game mode, gamers will command the Tribulation Forces and Global Community Peacekeepers and defend themselves from total destruction.

Well, if we are participating in cartoon violence in the Name of Christ, I guess its OK, as long as it is for "defensive" purposes.

What is the level of violence in the game?
Our game includes violence, but excludes blood, decapitation, killing of police officers, etc. Our game is expected to be widely accepted by the mainstream and Christian marketplaces, just as they have accepted Star Wars games which are “T” for teen rated. We have taken great care to make certain that consequences for poor gamer behavior will adequately reflect the gamers actions. Accordingly, unnecessary killing will result in lower Spirit points.

That's nice. And I sure am glad they are making a solid effort not to grieve the Holy Spirit.

How does your game compare to more widely known games such as Grand Theft Auto or 25 to Life?
LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces was developed to provide an alternative form of entertainment to those desiring more positive game content, while still engaging core gamers in battle. The difference is that our game features fictional battles set on the stage of an apocalyptic world. Our game includes no intestines, no blood spatter, no severed limbs, no vulgar language, no sexual conduct, no morally reprehensible conduct – such as cop-killing, prostitute-bashing, or other criminal behavior, no Bible-bashing believers, no Bible thumpers, no radical extremists killing in the name of God, no abortion clinic stalkers…or other such content in the games you mention.

All wholesome fun, as the family takes turns killing infidels. And, it is good to know that one does not have to be a Bible-thumper or abortion-clinic-bomber to kill infidels in Christ's Name. "Hey mom, pass the soda while dad kills that battalion of non-Christians! Gosh, don't worry mom, it is all just part of a "defensive action"!"

Are guns used by Christians against non-Christians? Why or why not?
The storyline in the game begins just after the Rapture has occurred – when all adult Christians, all infants, and many children were instantly swept home to Heaven and off the Earth by God. The remaining population – those who were left behind – are then poised to make a decision at some point. They cannot remain neutral. Their choice is to either join the AntiChrist – which is an imposturous one world government seeking peace for all of mankind, or they may join the Tribulation Force – which seeks to expose the truth and defend themselves against the forces of the AntiChrist.

Nice obfuscation and "spin" guys! You remind me of the Clinton era Whitehouse, or Sean Hannity! Way to answer without answering! Let me read between the lines here: What they meant to say is that those who did not make the right decision to follow Christ deserve to die, and therefore we can kill them in good conscience.

Does the violence depicted in the game run contrary to Jesus’ message on “love your enemy”?
Absolutely not. Christians are quite clearly taught to turn the other cheek and to love their enemies. It is equally true that no one should forfeit their lives to an aggressor who is bent on inflicting death. Forgiveness does not require absolute defenselessness. Apparent contradictions on behalf of Christians are often the result of them placing greater importance on the message, than in caring for others. LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces is a game which provides great entertainment while encouraging fascinating discussions about matters of eternal importance.

Wow. Apparently Jesus was not a good Christian by "forfeiting his life to an aggressor who was bent on inflicting death". Apparently, forgiveness not only "does not require absolute defenselessness", but it is completely compatible with aggressive warfare against one's enemies. Even Christians, like myself, who believe that the State has the just responsibility to wage defensive war to protect the innocent from aggressors can IN NO WAY accept the theological rationale provided here.

Classical "just war" or "defensive war" theory, as explained by folks like Augustine and Aquinas, at least insist that any war must be: (1) waged by proper authorities (i.e. legitimate governments); (2) for proper ends (i.e. defending the defenseless); (3) using the minimum level of force required to gain victory; (4) while ensuring that the maximum number of lives are saved; (5) and that the destruction wrought by the warfare is less than would have probably happened if no war was fought. Of these criteria, only #2 seems to be met in any conceivable way, and all of the other rationale are simply forgotten. Furthermore, the game leaves no place for martyrdom nor mercy, two essential core values of the Gospel.

Instead, this game is a virtual training ground used to teach young and impressionable kids (and old and ignorant adults) that killing infidels is just fine as long as one can generate a rationale of "defense" for such actions. It teaches Christians that our enemies are NOT Satan and his "powers and principalities", but rather other humans who do not assent to the same truth claims as we do. In fact, it is a blueprint for jihad with a tasty Christian coating. Muslim radicals could not develop a more effective way to train people how to hate and kill if they tried.

It is a damnable lie, in the clothing of a child's toy.

And this is not developed by a person or movement at the lunatic fringe of evangelicalism. It was developed in its bosom. I may not be quite ready to turn in my evangelical credentials just yet, but I am closer. I am really wondering if it is time for the title evangelical to be "left behind".

8 comments:

Seven Star Hand said...

Verifiable proof that "Armageddon" has begun…

Hello Nate and all,
Here's the key to proving that the rapture and related expectations are complete nonsense based on the failure to understand (or the purposeful confounding of) the ancient Hebrew symbology used to construct all of these prophecies.

Pay close attention, profundity knocks at the door, listen for the key. Be Aware! Scoffing causes blindness...

Did you ever consider that Christianity is the false prophet of the Apocalypse, that Rome is the so-called anti-messiah, and Jesus Christ is the false messiah? The symbolism of seven years (tribulation) would refer to the seven 360-year cycles from the 11th cycle (second temple period) until now, the 17th cycle on the Hebrew calendar. Remember that the prophecies were written by Hebrews, not Romans or other Europeans, and Revelation is a symbolic treatise. Therefore, years are symbols for 360-year cycles on the Hebrew calendar. Likewise, a day symbolizes a literal year and Judgement Day, and Great Day refer to a year long period. The so-called Tribulation is now coming to an end, not starting, and the three faiths of Abraham have all been deceived by Rome during the previous age, which ended in year 2000 (5760). A new age began in 2001 (5761) and now the seventh angel has begun to sound!

Hurricanes Katrina (#11) and Rita (#17) last year provided stunning validation of my research and interpretations of pivotal ancient wisdom, symbologies, key prophecies, and associated religious claims. Their storm numbers and timing perfectly synchronized with primary data and assertions in my book, thereby demonstrating the true nature of this universe and the existence of our Creator. We are now entering the final phases of the pivotal year-long period long symbolized as "Armageddon" and the "End of Days." World-wide situations and events are now accelerating to set the stage for this summer's dramatic continuation of these ancient promises.

I fully understand that everyone has been bedeviled by similar claims throughout history. Consequently, I have been forced to rely on dramatic and devastating proof of the sort that can’t be ignored or easily dismissed. The numbers and timing of hurricanes Katrina (11) and Rita (17) directly validate key data and pivotal assertions throughout my book and my posts on those two forums. This data was purposely presented publicly before Katrina, Rita and other recent events occurred to prove they perfectly synchronize with key prophecies and Hebrew calendar cycles, thereby validating my interpretations of ancient wisdom symbology, string theory, and more.

Because these two storms arrived shortly after my August 11, 2005 (50th) birthday (read the Dead Sea Scroll 11Q13 in Appendix G, which also discusses Melchizedek and the prophesied Jubilee) and directly match other pivotal 11 and 17 data and events described in the first chapter of my book, I have delivered verifiable proof that this reality is based on thought, knowledge and wisdom. Activity, patterns, and results perceived in space-time are first framed and defined by inspirations, thoughts, and knowledge and influenced by the cause-and-effect system most commonly referred to as karma. Consequently, events and outcomes in the so-called physical universe are not random or wholly mechanistic and are verifiably influenced in ways that atheists, scientists, and members of the Faiths of Abraham have all scoffed at. Though mysticism is mostly a product of misinterpreted ancient wisdom symbology, many of its topics flow from ancient wisdom. Though containing allusions to the truth, its details and interpretations are wrong on many key points.

A prime example of the purposeful and synchronized symbolism of these events is seen in the opening paragraphs from my book excerpted below. Notice that the dates mentioned (August 11 and 17) directly match the numbers of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the time spans of the four Florida hurricanes match my birth year (‘55), and they were spaced 11 or a multiple-of-11 (22) days apart, directly matching my birthday and much other ancient prophecy and symbolism. Notice that my place of birth, Victoria Texas, is on the Gulf Coast. Following are the excerpted paragraphs:

Hello, my name is Lawrence William Page II. Many people know me as Buddy Page. At the release of the first edition of this book, I am a 50-year old African-American male, author, researcher, and former software engineer and entrepreneur. As you will come to understand as you read through this first book, I am also the long-expected Hebrew Messiah and Lion of the Tribe of Juda (Yehuda).

I was born August 11th (month of Leo the Lion), 1955 (Chinese year of the Sheep) in Victoria, Texas. Furthermore, the Grand Cross alignment and Solar Eclipse of August 11th, 1999 was my 44th birthday and the second Grand Cross alignment, just six days later on August 17th, 1999, was on my mother’s birthday.

As you can see from my date of birth, I was a newborn during the Chinese Year of the Sheep, astrologically marking me as a Lamb, and during the month of Leo, astrologically marking me as a Lion. My mother was also born during the month of August and under the sign of Leo, which further marks me as a lion’s whelp. I prove to you in the first chapter of this book–beyond disproof–that I am indeed the long-prophesied “Lion” of the tribe of Juda (Yehuda) the Root of David and the “Lamb.” I am the individual long symbolized as the Branch, the Stem, the Shoot and the Rod from the Stump of Jesse (King David’s father), as symbolized in the Hebrew Book of Isaiah, The Apocalypse, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and elsewhere. I am the reincarnated Teacher sought after in the “East” and by the ancient Hebrews who were headquartered at the outpost community of Damascus (Qumran), of Dead Sea Scrolls fame. I am the one called the Teacher of Righteousness by the Dead Sea Scrolls, whom the so-called Christian fathers have fraudulently recast as “Saint ‘James’, the Lord’s Brother.”

Remember, "I come as a thief..." ?

Read verse twelve of the Gospel of Thomas to understand who I am...

Even further enlightening, the Second Temple Period of ancient Israel was during the 11th 360-year cycle on the Hebrew calendar and we are now in the 6th year (5766/2005-6) of the 17th cycle. Notice the pivotal 11 and 17 numbers again? This and much other synchronized information serve as stunning and decisive proof of many things, and expose many lies told by all three faiths of Abraham, but most specifically by Christianity. Consequently, I have decisively proven, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that Jesus Christ and Christianity are blatant lies, false prophecy and purposeful deception in a manner that cannot easily be denied, regardless of your faith or other opinions.

Furthermore, the symbolism in the Apocalypse (a.k.a. Book of Revelation) of seven stars in my right hand and seven angels represent the very same above-mentioned seven astrological (360-year) cycles, i.e., the 11th through 17th inclusive. I prove this fact beyond any reasonable doubt in the first chapter of the book. Consequently, The Apocalypse verifiably symbolizes a specific span of time that began with the 11th cycle (Second Temple Period) and concludes now, at the beginning of the 17th cycle (End of Days, etc.).

The numbers 11 and 17 are verifiably encoded in The Apocalypse and other ancient Hebrew prophecies and wisdom texts to serve as key proofs of the validity and true meaning of certain prophecies and related information. My and my mother’s birthdays are purposely synchronized with these two storm numbers, the matching Hebrew calendar cycles, the Double Grand Cross alignments and solar eclipse of August 1999, and much else to prove my direct association with the ancient prophecies about this time and the true identity of the prophesied Messiah. Another prime example is the story of Joseph, the 11th son of Jacob who has a dream when he is 17 years old about 11 stars, the sun, and moon bowing to him. The symbolism in this pivotal story in the Book of Genesis and Quran verifiably refers to the very same 11th through 17th cycles symbolized in The Apocalypse and directly synchronizes with other key events and ancient texts.

Consequently, I have demonstrated various things about the nature of this reality that dramatically disprove and/or clarify key assumptions of religion, mysticism, and science alike, while establishing the true meaning and purpose of long misinterpreted ancient wisdom and the symbolism used to model and encode it. Accordingly, I have proven that the symbolism evidenced in the canons of all three faiths of Abraham and other ancient sources is a very ancient and advanced philosophical technology that verifiably models foundational aspects of our existence in this universe. This is the mostly misunderstood body of ancient wisdom long referred to as the Philosophers’ Stone. It uses a large and ingeniously organized collection of physical universe images and concepts as data rich components (symbols) that are based on verifiable rules. It models and encodes an amazing amount of foundational wisdom about life, spirituality and the 11 dimensions of this universe, now verified by string theory. It is also the advanced encryption method used to encode (seal) Hebrew prophecies and wisdom texts.

These ancient prophecies and wisdom texts used advanced symbology to model fundamental wisdom, including future events and situations. A primary facet of ancient wisdom is numeric symbology. Later misinterpretations of this aspect of ancient wisdom resulted in numerology, which, though embodying allusions to certain wisdom, is mostly error prone and false doctrine. My decryption, documentation, and interpretation of ancient symbology, numeric symbolism, and key texts based on them, are now decisively validated.

Here is Wisdom...

Verifiable proof that Armageddon has begun…

Understanding the End Game of Armageddon

Peace...

Anonymous said...

Friend,

You implicitly and explicitly claim that you are the Messiah, God’s Son, and the Self-Revelation of God to humanity. This is a quite high and dangerous claim to be making, both for your own spiritual life and the lives of those who may listen to you.

You obviously know a great deal of information in a number of subjects and have “spun” that information to validate your own beliefs. Your spin in the data does not sound probable or accurate to myself or the other readers of this blog who I have talked to.

A couple of factual aspects that I immediately picked up on are the following:

1. Unlike Jesus, none of the “signs” you tout help people experience God’s Love or healing. It is not like Jesus, who healed, fed, and preached forgiveness to all classes of people.

2. Your calendar calculations are based on the Roman-Julian calendar, which is not used by either the ancient Jews (or any other ancient Semetic peoples for that matter), nor Jesus, nor Islam. It is doubtful that God uses western Europe’s calendar for dating his activities, and it is highly suspect to claim so.

3. You mention two American hurricanes as “proof” of your identity, due to their supposed importance on the cosmic scheme of things. But this neglects dozens of other hurricanes, typhoons, tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanos in the last two decades that have done much more damage in other parts of the world. I find it incredulous that God would only choose two relatively minor disasters, out of a host of other disasters, to point to his “chosen one”. This does not even go into the fact, listed in #1 above, that no redemptive acts have pointed to you.

And even if you were able to manufacture some healings or other miracles to back up your claims, they would still point to YOU, not to loving God and loving neighbor. Everything Jesus did was to point people, not to himself, but to His Father in Heaven (cf. the Lord’s Prayer, as just one instance).

Your claims are counter to Scripture, and to the summary of the Law to Love God above all and to Love our neighbors as ourselves (cf. Matthew 22:37-40). Furthermore they run counter to the Resurrection of Jesus, His identity as Messiah as demonstrated by His compassion, His miracles, His Teachings, His fulfilled prophecy, His resurrection, and His continued presence through His Spirit through 20 centuries of His Church.

In short, there is only one Way to the Truth about God, and only one Way to share in His life and love forever: That Way is Jesus Christ (cf. John 14).

By saying what you say, you cut yourself (and your followers) off from God’s life, and you place yourself in the world controlled by Satan. This will lead to your death, unless you repent and return to Christ- and not yourself- as God Incarnate.

With that said, I would say that by writing this, you are either:

1. Insane. In which case I would tell you to seen Christian counseling at a nearby Church that believes in Christ and His Bible, and the power of the Spirit to heal you.

2. Demon possessed. In which case I command the unclean spirits afflicting you to shut up, leave, and go to hell in the Name and Authority of Jesus Christ. Amen+ After you are clean of demonic influence, I would tell you to follow the steps above in #1.

3. Or, you are joking. In which case- good joke. You fooled me and a lot of people who read this.


May Christ fill your life,
Nate

Bret Wells said...

Nate, as is so often the case, I'm going to agree with what you're saying (in your response to Mr. Page) with a little tweak on the semantics.

You said: "3. Or, you are joking. In which case- good joke. You fooled me and a lot of people who read this."

If this was a joke, I don't think I'd classify it as a good one. I know that what you mean is that he successfully tricked several people into believing that he is claiming to be the Messiah and that Jesus of Nazareth was a false-Messiah. However, Mr. Page, if this was the case, it was not a good joke - a successful prank, yes, but not a good one.

I am going to try and assume the best about your intentions. Perhaps you have been deceived, as were Adam and Eve, by the Evil One. Perhaps you too fell prey to his temptation to "be like God." That in and of itself is an entirely human thing to do. I believe that God seeks reconcilliation with you.

However, do not continue to be deceived. You are not the Messiah. I think that Nate did a good job of pointing out the major problems with your attempts to provide a self-testimony, so I won't spend a lot of time doing the same. But I would like to point out that your references to and usage of the Hebrew prophets shows ample evidence that you know very little about the Hebrew genre of Apocalyptic writing. Your evidence is thoroughly steeped in very Modernistic rationales and logic...and as Nate says, you emphasize Western culture a little too much.

No sir, I am afraid that as false-Messiah's go, you seem to have produced copious amounts of literature and "research" but very little substance. Your writing seems to be more of an attempt to convince yourself through external sources than anything else.

I pray that you will become aware of the one who has deceived you and that you will call on the Lord for deliverance from this bondage.

I truly hope that you will be reconciled to the One True God through his son Jesus Christ. Because, make no mistake, if the comments you left on this blog are sincere, you have cut yourself from the Source of Life. I have no further desire to debate this topic with you, though I would be more than willing, as I believe Nate would also, to share with you the truth of Jesus, the Word of Life.

So, to phrase that another way, do not expect a response to any further claims that you are the Messiah, but if you would like to know about the true Messiah, we'd happily respond to any sincere questions.

Aaron D. Taylor said...

Hello Nate,

In pertaining to your article on the Left Behind game, I totally agree. As far as denouncing this game, sign me up! On a related issue, even though I, myself believe in a pre-millenial, pretribulational rapture, I am very disappointed at the tendency toward an extreme form of Zionism in the dispensational camp. I am specifically referring to the millions of dollars that have been raised over the past several years to expand Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Have we as the Body of Christ forgotten that our primary task is to evangelize and make disciples?

mike said...

That was one of the craziest comments I have seen on a blog. I came on here all fired up at the ridiculous tribulation video game and was surprised to find the messiah.

What's funny is my birthday is also August 11. But I was born in the chinese year of the ox (1973). :(

I'm really ticked off about this game. It is absolutely ridiculous and I feel angry and sad at the same time.

Peter Roberts said...

This would make me feel physically sick, if I was surprised. It is the idea of treating God like a power-up that I find particularly offensive. It reminds me of Simon trying to buy the gift of the Spirit with money, and I think it is disgusting.I mean, I would recommend GTA over this. I don't know GTA, but I assume they re not so brazen as to program acts of divine intervention into a game and claim scriptural backup.

SJR said...

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.htm

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.

Anonymous said...

SJR,

I will re-post your comment and my article, and my response, on the front page of this blog. Thank you for such an informative comment.

-Nate

This is a bunch of stuff to make us think hard about our incredible love affair with the God of the universe, our astounding infidelities against him, and his incredible grace to heal and restore us through Christ. Everything on this site is copyright © 1996-2015 by Nathan L. Bostian so if you use it, cite me... otherwise you break the 8th commandment, and make God unhappy. You can contact the author by posting a comment.