"I am Jesus Christ" is a new video game where you play as Jesus

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Is “I Am Jesus Christ” heretical? New video game allows you to play as Jesus and perform miracles

April 26, 2023 -

Man indignant and confused, holding a video game controller © By Vinícius Bacarin/stock.adobe.com

Man indignant and confused, holding a video game controller © By Vinícius Bacarin/stock.adobe.com

Man indignant and confused, holding a video game controller © By Vinícius Bacarin/stock.adobe.com

We’ve come a long way from Pong, one of the first video games. The 2D game simulated table tennis with two lines and a blip. Now, we can wander as an outlaw in the thirty square miles of Red Dead Redemption II’s western countryside, which boasts details like your character growing a beard to mud caking his clothes. As another example, I’m playing the notoriously difficult Elden Ring. The massive fantasy world’s striking beauty beguiles, for around every corner, a new, grotesque, fantastical monster readies in ambush.

Given the gaming industry’s advancement, we might wonder about what a Christian video game would look like. Well, one gaming studio plans to release I Am Jesus Christ, where you can play as Jesus. Consequently, the game is dividing the internet, eliciting mockery, interest, excitement, and not a few puns.

What is I Am Jesus Christ?

The developers advertise: “Are you prepared to fight with Satan in the desert, cure the sick and help the needy? Perform over 30 iconic miracles from the feeding of the 5,000 and healing lepers to the calming of the sea and giving sight to the blind.” It’s been in development since 2019 and will release in the fall of this year. (The same publishers are also developing Noah’s Ark and Moses: From Egypt to the Promised Land.)

I Am Jesus Christ is a first-person simulator, which means you play from a first-person perspective as Jesus. You will solve small puzzles to accomplish miracles and go through dialogue with the disciples and other biblical characters. When you complete missions, you unlock a passage of Scripture.

The developers seem serious about the game. Of course, Vice states the obvious: “It also has ridiculously high meme potential” (meme potential referring to how likely it is to be subject to internet humor).

Is I Am Jesus Christ heretical?

For a video game to be a game, it needs to provide challenges or decisions of some kind. So, the skill challenges to complete miracles make sense. That said, it’s hard not to plant tongue in cheek when you run “Out of Holy Spirit” as your energy bar empties. The premise rests on Jesus performing miracles a bit like magic or telekinesis, entirely inaccurately to Christ’s manner of performing miracles.

Portraying Jesus in any way, whether in art, movies, or video games, runs the serious risk of flattening and misrepresenting the real risen Christ. In I Am Jesus Christ, Jesus appears as his stereotype, a Caucasian with long hair, a red sash, and a white robe.

Aside from the historical (but stereotypical) inaccuracies, the developers seem to want to stay faithful to the Bible. They stick to biblical events—with some stretched creative license. For example, angels train you to fight while you fast for forty days in the wilderness. Then, you fight Satan on a volcano by dodging attacks of balls of energy and fire and shooting . . . holy fireballs?

Does this all count as heretical?

As far as I can tell, it doesn’t seem to counter any essential doctrines. Aside, perhaps, from the idea that Jesus needs some kind of Holy Spirit energy to perform miracles, while, in fact, his will and the Father’s are one (John 6:38).

Of course, while non-believers can see I Am Jesus Christ is inaccurate to the Bible in how it shows miracles, I worry the game reinforces the modern idea that miracles are ridiculous. Rather than truly mislead people with poor theology, the whole idea could reinforce the image of Jesus as a ludicrous fantasy.

In other words, to some people’s minds, Jesus might as well have been telekinetically moving boards around while carpentering (something I’m confident he didn’t do).

Is I Am Jesus Christ a good game?

I must admit, in researching, I felt a strong bias against the game due to its lackluster graphics and simplistic mechanics. I couldn’t help chuckling while watching the trailer. I am not a fan of simulator games, which usually replicate the jobs or activities of real life.

That said, farming, car-repair, truck-driving, and even computer-building simulators make up a popular niche. As a simulator game, I apparently wrote off I Am Jesus Christ a bit too early. Some reviewers seem to think it could be fun, and the demo received a 7/10 from player ratings.

I Am Jesus Christ will not be in most people’s taste, but let’s not be too quick to judge. If it constantly references Scripture, we know God’s word “shall not return to [him] empty,” and the Spirit moves like the wind (John 3:8). I Am Jesus Christ might generate interest in what the New Testament really says about Jesus, and the developers want the game to be “educational.”

I think the Jesus life doesn’t make good material for a video game well, especially if it’s flat like this one. The Bible has a rich depth, and any art should represent it with matching depth (something many attempts media have miserably failed to do.) Would I play a biblical game where you play as an angel, fighting the powers of darkness? Absolutely. It’s hard to see the case of making a video game of Jesus’ life.

Of course, if God can use donkeys as his mouthpiece (Numbers 22), he can also use a niche, less-than-stellar video game.

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