Sunday, July 24, 2011

Is the shooter a Christian?

On July 22nd, a vehicle bomb containing fertilizer similar to that used in Oklahoma City was detonated outside of the prime minister’s office in Oslo, Norway. Earlier in the day, a farm supply store advised police that Anders Behring Breivik had purchased six tons of fertilizer. Shortly after the vehicle explosion, Breivik stepped off a boat onto Utoya Island dressed in a police uniform and began shooting young campers. The death toll has risen to 93 in the two attacks. Breivik left a 1,516 page manifesto and multiple news reports were quick to label him a right-wing fundamentalist Christian. Based on some manifesto excerpts, the shooter’s primary antipathy appeared to be directed toward multi-culturalism, especially the influx of Muslims into Western Europe. So, does this sentiment derive from Christianity and does the Bible encourage the use of violence against non-Christians?

The Bible specifically states Christianity is not based on physical conflict or violence: “we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh” (2 Corinthians 10:4). The primary weapons of a Christian are the truth of God’s word (Ephesians 6:17) and prayer (James 5:16). As Jesus was arrested, Peter cut an ear off one the Roman soldiers. Jesus rebuked him, saying “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52) Jesus then healed the man’s ear. And later before Pilate, Jesus said “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then my servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, my kingdom is not of this realm.” (John 18:36)

None of Jesus’ disciples engaged in physical violence; in fact, exactly the opposite. All except Judas and John were violently murdered for their faith and preaching about Jesus. The Apostle Paul was stoned several times and eventually beheaded. None retaliated, nor did they encourage other believers to do so. Rather than advocating violence, Jesus said “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27) and the Bible advises Christians to “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). If Breivik was a Christian, he was seriously deluded and completely missed the message of Jesus and the New Testament. His actions and beliefs are not representative of Christianity.

[1] Associated Press, “Excerpts from Norway gunman's manifesto”, 24 July 2011.
[2] Pittsburgh Tribune Review newspaper, “Norway gunfire, blast toll reaches 92”, 24 July 2011.
[3] William Boston, Time World, “Killer's Manifesto: The Politics behind the Norway Slaughter”, 24 July 2011.
[4] Marcus Walker and Katarina Gustafsson, “Attacks Cast Light On Far-Right Views”, Wall Street Journal – Europe, 24 July 2011.

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