DCC News

 

Weekly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Dublin Community Church

 

January 4, 2007

                                                           

                                      

……Wears His War-Wound Like a Crown…

One of the more common themes that I am always eager to address is the notion that to be Christian one must be prepared to do battle.

 

Literally, battle.

 

I came across this article in “The Christian Science Monitor” about a new video game titled, “Left Behind: Eternal Forces.” This video game is being marketed to Christians as an alternative to the secular video games that our kids are playing. In this Christian video game, the player’s job is to battle to save the ones left behind on earth after the rapture from the forces of evil, which are controlled by the Antichrist.

 

The article goes on to define who are the “forces of evil”: activists, secularist, non-Christian rock musicians, and other who resist “recruitment” into the “forces of good.” It gives new meaning to “Onward Christian Soldiers.”

 

Nothing conveys the Peace of Christ like a video game that portrays the killing of activists and secularists. Some of my best friends are activists and secularists. Heck, I’m an activist. And as for my favorite rock n roll musicians, the vast majority of them would be targeted for death by the “forces of good.”

 

No more Elton John; probably three, if not all four Beatles are goners. I doubt that Chuck Berry merits a second glance. Elvis may get a partial exemption for all of his gospel albums but his Graceland days may be suspect.

 

In the video game “you are sent on a spiritual and military mission to convert people. You lose points if you kill somebody, but you can hit the prayer button to restore the points.” This is how Eric Elnes, co-president of Crosswalk America , who has explored the game extensively, describes the game. He and his group are petitioning the game’s producers to withdraw it from the market.

 

I rather doubt that will happen. I am not familiar with the run-of-the-mill video games out there, but I do know they are extremely violent. This Christian video game is not exactly exploring new territory when it comes to violence. But for me, the realization continues to grow that many Christians are not only intent upon conversion of others, but in doing so by any means necessary.

 

I am always wary of linking guns and God; forced conversions and Christ. For many Christians there is a lack of respect for other Christians  and especially for other religions. The Bible passage that is always dragged out in cases like that is John 14:6b, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” Yet the alternate can just as easily be seen in Matthew 7:3, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Sort of a “dueling Biblical passages.”)

 

“About 92 percent of kids today are playing games, says Jeffrey Frichner, president of Left Behind Games. “We had a vision to create a game with a positive moral message based on biblical values that parents could embrace and discuss with their kids.” He says the game promotes prayer and worship, and deals with “questions of eternal importance.”

 

The video is being marketed for Christmas giving through churches and retailers and a website of the “Focus on the Family” endorses the game as “the kind of game Mom and Dad can actually lay with Junior.”

 

I searched the Focus on the Family website and could find no mention of this endorsement but I did make a mental note to avoid this family with Mom, Dad and Junior and their notion of “Biblical Values.”

 

“Why bother with this?” You ask me.

I guess because it concerns me greatly that the Prince of Peace is increasingly being portrayed as the Prince of War. There is a large segment of fundamentalist Christianity that is becoming more militant about their faith and about the same Christ that I believe to be a man of understanding and gentleness. Their Christ is not the Christ I understand.

In the same way that fundamentalist Christians argue that secular society with its views of sex and violence are hurting this nation; I believe that the militarization of Christianity is hurting our faith. It’s one thing for Christians to say that other Christians are “wrong” or “godless”; it’s quite another to create scenarios where Christ encourages forced conversions and killing. Haven’t we seen this before in today’s world? Violence is not working so well at winning converts to Islam, Hinduism or Christianity.

As for the theology of the end-time or rapture. The end time that the video addresses is an extension of premilleninial dispensationalism which was first promoted in the 19th Century which interprets portions of the Bible as predicting a two-stage return of Jesus. “It is going to be an unprecedented time of horror of God’s judgment on earth.” Says Terry James, of a popular prophecy website. There will be Armageddon and the Second Coming. So, time is of the essence, conversions must take place now. After momentous battles, Jesus will reign.

I just don’t believe that stuff.

The word, “rapture’ is not in the Bible. The book of Revelation is not about these terrifying events. Yet the notion of the end time with its violent conversions and “us vs. them” mentality is prevalent today.

Christianity or any religion, for that matter, has become a contact sport as of late. Divisions among the religions and divisions within those religions have been around forever. As much as I would rather just chalk it all up to the regular discourse of religious talk I am now inclined to take issue with militant Christianity. (And you can be certain that I will comment on these issues again over time.) A Savior who sanctions violence in the name of spreading religion and conversion is not my understanding of the Christ whom I serve.

I have taken heat for the sorts of people that I would include in the Kingdom and in church. But the difference is that I prefer the method of opening the door wider and welcoming them in rather than physically battling with those who differ.

In the meantime, I am fervently downloading all those non-Christian rock musicians onto my I-pod before the forces of good destroy them. They may be godless, but they still rock.

Peace,                      

Rev. Robert Tussing