Since Norway’s tragic terrorist attack last Saturday, I have seen a perpetual back and forth pertaining to the shooter and his religion.Some like to view him as a right wing radical Christian, while Christians are arguing that he couldn’t possibly have had faith in Christ.
So which is the truth?
I think whatever your personal beliefs are, you will tend to believe that Andres Breivik held the opposite worldview. It only makes sense. He is a radical terrorist, and his views are far removed from the average person so we assume he has a vastly different belief system.
If you are a Christian, I don’t think it is appealing to view him as a fellow Christian. If you secular, I think the tendency is to call him Christian.
Compelling arguments could be made that part of his Christianity was tied into his hatred of Islam. Less of an affirmation of Christian doctrines and more of an indictment against Islam. To him, Islam was wicked and opposition to that could be associated as Christianity, however I think that this oversimplifies things.
Much of this touches on a fundamental issue with which I think nonbelievers struggle in terms of understanding Christians: just because someone says he or she is a Christian, does not mean that they actually are.
Some will look at this as another event where evil was committed in the name of religion, as has happened countless other times throughout the history of humanity. Religions are destructive, some could argue. But again, I feel that this misses the point.
Religions do fundamentally teach the value of love. Unfortunately, there are instances where people miss that message. It’s not that religion is itself bad. It’s that people corrupt religion to serve their personal ends (or at times, religion is used as an excuse or a crutch by people who don’t truly have the faith in their hearts).
To blame religion for events such these is taking the easy way out. For billions of people, religion provides a moral compass and strong set of values by which to live. People all over the world have faith and try to live the berst lives they can because of that faith. This is not someting to be discounted.
A man in Oakland, California was shot this week. He and his wife were ministers in the city and were active with an outreach to homeless people. They were distributing hot meals when a van pulled up and senselesly shot the man. He died, serving his fellow man. Most people will never hear his story. The world doesn’t seem to care when people of faith live it out. We only like to blame it for the bad, instead of recognizing its great amount of good.
With the Norway shooter, how sincerely does Breivik believe his Christianity is? I can’t pretend to definitively know the answer to that question.