Discussing
Norway's 'Christian' terrorist

Tim Challies

Jay
July 26, 2011

When will the Conservative Christian right wake up? Did they not see this coming? How long did you all think that you could support people like Rush Limbaugh,Bill O`Reily and Ann Coulter. These people make a living spreading hate, mainly anything that is connected to something Liberal.It was only a matter of time before some young fanatic would take all this hate and carry out a henous act.<br>This time you cannot use Liberals as your scapegoat!!<br>A young maniac like this sees abortion clincs blown up and doctors assasinated in their homes having dinner. These acts are candy coated as being no big deal and just part of the pro-life movement.And all in the name of the Lord.Somehow I can`t see Jesus planting a bomb to blow something up.<br>Also this crazy guy hates Canada? Why would anyone hate a country with lots of snow and universal health care for all the people?<br>The lesson learned here is to start reading your bible,(stop hating Liberals)then say you are a Christian.

Todd Hertz
July 26, 2011

I think it's important to note that in his manifesto, Breivik stated he was a cultural Christian only, not a "religious Christian with a personal <br>relationship with Jesus Christ." He believed in Christianity as<br> a "cultural social identity."

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
July 26, 2011

It shouldn't take a horrific incident such as the killings in Norway to make us ponder this, but Tim's post - a defensive attempt to distance oneself from an extremist who claims ties to your faith - is exactly the sort of thing moderate Muslims have been repeatedly forced to enact since 9/11 (and well before). In a sense, Christians now have a small idea of what it's like to be "guilty" of terror by association.

Jonathan Chan
July 26, 2011

Agreed with @jlarsen:disqus , with some caveats.  First, there is a large, well-articulated militant sect of Islam that has no exact counterpart in Christianity (though I don't deny that Western policies have fueled the rise of militant Islam).  Second, it's clear that most "Muslim" terrorists think of themselves as much more in line with orthodox Islam than Breivik does.  <br><br>But I think the point remains the same.  We shouldn't be walking away with a fortress mentality.  If anything, we should be humbled and repentant, now that we've experienced a small taste of what we've inflicted on Muslims outside the militant fold.

Adrienne
July 26, 2011

The thinking behind this post really bothers me. Christians are called to be introspective not judgmental, yet Mr. Challies manages in this post only to judge the media as anti-Christian, the validity of others' Christian faith claims, Muslims (albeit indirectly), and New Atheism.<br><br>The foremost object lesson for someone introspective is Matthew 7:1-6 (1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.)Do you feel comfortable with conservative Christianity being labeled a violent faith? Of course not.While we instinctively want to separate ourselves from the Anders Behring Breiviks and abortion clinic bombers, Christ asks us to care for them as well as their many victims. Throwing them under the bus is much easier than trying to love them despite atrocity.If Christians allow the possibility that others in our faith may be or become extremists, our charge is far more difficult than if we draw imaginary lines and begin certifying those who may carry our own labels of Christian and/or Christian conservative.This post represents the easiest and most childish ideological route. It allows people to cling to anti-Muslim biases. It allows us not to ask- how do we prevent this in the future. It is reactive when we should be proactive.One of the challenges is removing the violence, blame, fear, and anger from our own language that might incite others to actions no one can condone.

Paul Wozney
July 26, 2011

As soon as I heard about this story I immediately wondered whether the media would be as quick to associate the actions of a violent and deranged individual with Christianity as they were to tie the sadists that perpetrated 9/11 to Islam.<br><br>I have to take exception to Tim's suggestion that the media has somehow unfairly portrayed Christianity. Christians, particularly North American evangelicals, have bandied broad labels for muslims equating them to terrorists since 9/11 in alarmist and xenophobic anti-immigration preaching and political pressure.<br><br>If we believe that Christians haven't earned some of the same scrutiny through Timothy McVeigh, the Baptist pastor and congregation (and I use the terms loosely) who proclaim judgement on America for gay-friendliness at the funerals of Iraq and Afghan theatre veterans and violent, coercive treatment of abortion practitioners, then we live under a dolefully self-placed rock with "persecuted church' inscribed with crayon.<br><br>Plenty of Christians espouse the type of language and attitudes about immigrants and other issues Behring Brevik spouted in his manifesto- the fact that they didn't act on them in the way he did doesn't make their attitudes any less hateful or complicit in his actions.<br><br>Just as so many are calling for hate-inciting teaching to be banned in mosques in America, I'm wondering whether they're going to turn around and demand the same of Christian churches, who have long hidden behind the "moral majority" label to justify beliefs and attitudes which have no place in the hearts of those that follow Jesus.<br><br>Just like many people wondered whether Muslims would stand up and denounce the actions of the 9/11 murderers, I wonder whether the leaders of the Christian church will come forward to denounce Brevik's and to humbly posture themselves to serve the people of Norway in healing.<br><br>As for the notion that Christianity doesn't have in its history a violent streak centuries wide, Challies is again completely wrong. The church authorized, sanctioned and funded wars and atrocities killing hundreds of thousands for centuries through crusades, etc. Because we now eschew those expressions of faith doesn't mean that we're incapable of a return to them, and I hope that we can all recognize that fact. It can happen wherever we are!

Xioc1138
July 26, 2011

What evidence do you have that these people influenced this man?  After all, even the media is only conjecturing that the guy was a Christian - which in today's world, could still very well mean that he isn't actually a submitted follower of Christ.<br><br>The truth is, your spouting off your own personal agenda of hate by blaming them for his actions.

Mgeertsma
July 26, 2011

Personally, I find that reality more frightening. That Breivik can believe that Christianity is a "cultural social <br>identity" rather than a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ" speaks volumes about what we Christians are allowing ourselves to be perceived as. <br><br>We stand idly by as so-called "culture warriors" like Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter use Christianity as a means to a political end.<br><br>Their dangerous mix of religiosity with fear and misinformation subverts the power of the Gospel and distorts its message. Meanwhile, they subtly encourage a specific breed of insanity.  While I don't believe any of the talking heads themselves condone such heinous, violent reactions to their narrative, they don't work very hard to thwart it, either.

Todd Hertz
July 26, 2011

I am bothered by a line in point three where Tim details how reporters could have been able to discern that Brevik is not a Christian. Is he implying that you can tell by one's choice in television? Brevik cannot be a true believer in Christ because he liked 'True Blood' on Facebook? Or is Tim suggesting only that a fan of True Blood cannot be very conservative?

Jessi Gering
July 26, 2011

It's interesting that some international news sources didn't used the word "Christian" in their reports. the BBC is calling him a Neo-Nazi, and Al Jazeera English used the term Philo-Semitic

Bethanykj
July 26, 2011

Religion Dispatches has a detailed discussion of his beliefs here:<br><br><a href="http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/4910/is_norway%E2%80%99s_suspected_murderer_anders_breivik_a_christian_terrorist/" rel="nofollow">http://www.religiondispatches....</a><br><br>As others have said, it seems Breivik was more concerned with a kind of white supremacist christian culture than theology or religion as we generally consider it here. The author then asserts that this is the same relationship Osama Bin Ladin had to Islam, far more interested in history than theology. <br><br>A troubling ideology, to be sure and nothing to do with the Christianity I believe. This confusion has certainly made me feel more sympathetic toward American Muslims and how they have been often misunderstood in the last 10 years.

Josh
July 27, 2011

My Bible study discussed this issue last night. I honestly haven't followed the story too closely, but I think there's an issue underlying this that needs brought out into the light of day. Primarily, can you judge whether someone is a Christian by the fruit they produce?<br><br>We all make mistakes. You and I might have periods of selfishness, or times when we lie. This man killed a bunch of people. Where do we draw the line between, "This person is a Christian that has messed up," and "This person has produced no good fruit?" We're not to preoccupy ourselves with categorizing people, but Paul, in several of his letters, calls out other people, claiming they're no longer of the church. He also explains how someone in constant sin who continues to go to church should, as a last resort, be put out of the church until that sin is snuffed out.<br><br>So it's not something we should ignore. I think it's dangerous to sit around, twiddle our thumbs, and say about anyone, "We'll never know whether this person was a Christian." Why is it dangerous? Because that means we can never intervene when we see them going astray. I think the grounds for intervention requires a strong relationship with the other person, but nevertheless, I don't think it's raining down the kind of judgment Jesus condemned when I say to someone else, "Brother, I think you've strayed."<br><br>What do you think?

Chris Schumerth
July 27, 2011

Couldn't agree more with @Josh Larsen. As a Christian myself, and one who even agrees with several of the points made in this post, I have to acknowledge that this is probably exactly how many Muslims feel when a suicide bomb goes off in Pakistan or Israel or Iraq.

Serious Man
July 27, 2011

Oh, I'm sure the Templar Knights were not Christian or inspired by the Holy Book. That's why Breivik tried to imitate them. And surely there are no pages  in the Bible where someone could find commandments to do harm, to punish or to kill other people.

Brad Beer
July 27, 2011

You are not only perceived at "culture warriors" (Read as: Religious Fascists to non-Christians), your religion now stands for hate, ignorance, money, and power. <br><br>And the majority who just shrugs and says that's not us is responsible still do not fight for what is right. It's a nice setup: You get the perks of the extreamists pushing your religious agenda without having to admit you allow it to happen. You just just say, "I'm not THAT kind of Christian."

Estevan Carlos Benson
July 27, 2011

There's no gatekeeper to any religion.  That point is moot.

Adrienne
July 27, 2011

I think too many Christians are asking "Is Breivik one of US?" when the only question mandated by our theology is "Is Breivik one of God's?"<br><br>I doubt "Brother, I think you've strayed" has much value with a vicious ideologue after he's already killed. He isn't beyond God, but I don't have any practical suggestions for what Christians can do for him (beyond prayer).<br><br>I do believe that we all have a daily influence on the hate speech and political zealotry that are creeping into North American churches and society. Too many hate groups fall under the classification "Christian Identity" (<a href="http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/ideology/christian-identity/active_hate_groups)" rel="nofollow">http://www.splcenter.org/get-i...</a> for us to be reckless with our words and emotions.<br><br>Violent ideologues tend to develop over time. They first believe that there is an assault upon their culture (which can come from mainstream voices like Beck and Limbaugh), and then they delve into more specialized hate groups that escalate their sense of persecution and provide them with information and/or materials that create public disasters.<br><br>When small biases and fear-mongering grow into full-on paranoia about "loss of culture," extremists try to trigger a "holy war."<br><br>Casual prejudices grow to scapegoating which grows to persecution and even genocide.<br><br>The question of Breivik's inner walk with Christ is already answered for most familiar with Christianity. He hardly bears the fruits of the spirit. It seems ridiculous to belabor the point or waste time pushing the blame toward other groups.<br><br>The man is a killer of vicious and barely imaginable proportions; yet he is one of God's children (some siblings are hard to like). How do we, people of Christian faith, handle manage this horrible crime within our family? The question makes me uncomfortable to type it, and I don't have a ready answer, but this is our charge.<br><br>This is the time to turn the other cheek. And these are the situations where the very simplicity of Christ's teaching seems both mysterious and insurmountable.<br><br>Our God is strong. More than strong enough to withstand the slings and arrows of media misinterpretation and cultural critics, yet we protect the brand of Christianity as if we were caring for a sickly, defenseless child. How much better would our churches be if we instead turned our attentions and ministrations to sick children and people in all forms of need and let the world say what it wants about Christianity. Isn't that what Jesus did?

Pastor S.
July 27, 2011

What you watch has nothing to do with your spirituality / faith. I was hoping maybe you read the 1518 page manifesto, but clearly this is not the case. The man specifically targeted Muslims, yet in his manifesto claimed to not have any hate for Islam or Muslims. What would it matter what type of Christianity he affiliated himself with? Clearly he is deranged, and instead of getting into the ad hoc / true Scotsman fallacy, why not simply denounce him? It's appalling that this article lacked so much genuine research, and bravo for the divisive attack on Atheism. That lacked any notion of Christ's love. As far as your Bible goes, maybe this author should try reading it through. There are plenty of horrific and violent teachings in there. It's sad that this is so common place. The book doesn't change, but the beauty of humanity is it does. Acknowledging what is actually in you religious text is completely different than how you practice. Instead of sweeping that under the rug, as has been done for far too long now, admit how it was written, the time it was written in, and that humanity is now realizes these practices are detrimental to society. That's not only a great argument, but a respectful one; if you do that, no one could claim you're "lying for Jesus". Rather than put so much focus on a minute point (the beliefs of a madman) reach out to Norway. Those children had their lives ripped from them too soon. Mothers and Fathers are having to bury children with torn up hearts. There are people who may be displaced. Focusing on this and making an active reach to help them in a time of need reflects better on all of us than standing around fuming over idiotic semantics. In closing, put the argument away, religious differences aside, and let's help our fellow humans in their time of need.

Soopermexican
July 27, 2011

Norway Terrorist is NOT a Christian, not a conservative teapartier -  evidence from his OWN writing: <a href="http://t.co/vzFvply" rel="nofollow">http://t.co/vzFvply</a> #p2

Jay
July 27, 2011

It is all over the media.The guy was angry at his left-leaning government.I realize this must be very hard for the Christian right to accept,but that is what is being reported.<br>He pulled the trigger.I never did. I  do keep up with the conservative agenda to try and figure out what they really are after.<br>You have to stick up for yourself in the face of a bully.Unfortunatly for those poor campers they had no protection from an assault rifle.<br>But,you can find a picture of Liberal-Left hater Ann Coulter happily posing with long barrelled rifle. Have you ever tried to read one of her books? I got to about page 10.It read like a hate manifesto for every Liberal on earth. Who on earth is reading this "best selling" author.<br>Then you add Glen Beck,Rush Limbaugh,Hannity,Murdock,the Tea Party.........<br>

StrngeFruit
July 27, 2011

YES! thank you! I find it terribly ironic that the same people that claimed 9/11 terrorists represent all of Islam, now say Breivik acts alone and isn't truly Christian ("he's just a crazy radical, see how he misinterprets the scriptures...")<br>

Melayton
July 27, 2011

I think there is a sense in which Mr. Breivik is a Christian. He relies on Crusade mentality and several points, IIRC, and sees Christianity as representing the western culture before it strayed down the secular/revisionist path he so despises. But he is just as Christian as Osama bin Laden is a Muslim. Actually, I see a lot of parallels,<br><br>To my mind, whatever else we can learn from this tragedy, I think we can (and should!) learn that extremists who claim a certain label rarely if ever represent how that group views itself, the ideal that they try to represent and develop. Btw, I think it is important to remember that the way Americans see Christianity is very different from how Europeans see Christianity. His connection to Freemasonry, his preference for Catholicism - that actually is very much in keeping with my own experience with European Christendom, especially the radical right wing of the church. Not that I have a lot of experience, but I do have some, and there are enough connections to warrant the Christian label. It's not a perfect fit but it's better than (say) Jewish or secular.<br>

Strenuous
July 31, 2011

Yeah.  You saw all the Christians dancing in the Peoria streets after they learned of the Norway atrocity.  Get real.

Strenuous
July 31, 2011

Christianity is the greatest source of good in the world.  Perhaps the only reason any semblence of civilization exists at all in this day and age.  The terrorists mentioned here have NOTHING to do with Christ as painful as that may be to the secular hate mongers.

Strenuous
July 31, 2011

Anyone that invites "Atheist Christians" and "Agnostic Christians" to join him in his fascist scheme does not have a clue about Christianity.  This was evident in his manifesto.  The lazy MSM didn't bother to do their homework, either that or they conveniently ignored these facts in order to advance their warped narrative.

TheFacts-TheyBurn
August 11, 2011

Your statement that Christianity is the greatest source of good in the world and the protector of civilization is arrogant and completely unsupported by fact. Civilization existed long before Christianity came along. When Christianity did have a chance to create a civilization to its liking, we had the Dark Ages. During this time, it was Muslims that prevented civilization from being lost. Pick up a history textbook.<br><br>In addition, today you'll find that the most "civilized" countries (i.e., with the longest life spans, highest education index, low crime rates, and highest standard of living) are actually secular countries with high percentages of atheists. This includes Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Source: <a href="http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html" rel="nofollow">http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS...</a>

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