A cruel empire has conquered a great land, subjugating an persecuting the inhabitants. A half-Jewish man opposes them, until he is captured and publicly executed. A few days later, he has risen again, and he ignites a powerful movement that will lead to the downfall of the empire.
No, it isn’t the story of Jesus. It is William Blazkowicz, the hero of the first person shooter franchise, Wolfenstein. This franchise kicked off the first person shooter genre of games in the early 90’s, and a rebooted series has been running since 2014. The series usually takes place during World War II, and the player fights Nazis.
Since it is a video game, though, the Nazis always make use of supernatural horrors that must be destroyed. The rebooted series is more science fiction than fantasy, and the Nazis use robots that allowed them to win the war and conquer the world. Wolfenstein II takes place in the conquered United States.
The big twist of the game is when Blazkowicz gets his head chopped off. Fortunately, his friends quickly recover it, and preserve his brain function, attaching him to a super soldier body. Remember, it is a video game.
Wolfenstein embraces hard-core materialism in its most recent iteration. Brains are treated as the only source of consciousness, inserted seamlessly into robots or onto new bodies. Characters talk about death as the absolute end, the “eternal nap.”
Humanism also reigns supreme. The Nazis act like they are building the tower of Babal, colonizing the universe in the name of human achievement. The games feature a moon base, a Venus colony, and massive cities built to inspire awe.
The games do ask questions about God, but they always end the same way. The world is full of suffering, especially the Nazi-ruled world of the game, so God is either cruel or ineffective. The only thing to do is to kill as many bad guys as possible, and break all the robots.
The game would be right if it weren’t for the resurrection. Paul says in 1 Corinthians that if Christ didn’t rise from the dead, guaranteeing the resurrections of our own bodies, then we would have no more hope than the dystonia world of Wolfenstein. Just as Blazkowicz’s only hope is in his bizarre resurrection, our only hope is the resurrection of our bodies in Christ.
They are violent games, and probably not worth playing for that reason. It is helpful to remember, though, if tempted to doubt God’s agency in the world or his goodness, that Christ has trampled on death forever and always.