In the aftermath of the shocking tragedy last week in Norway – serious reflection is called for on many fronts. Not the least of these, must be cast in the light of how many Christians cried out in the aftermath of the 9/11 Twin Towers attacks, and other terrorist assaults linked to Islamic activists. So many of us thought (and some asked) “where are the Islamic spokespeople condemning these actions?” Rightly so.
And now, its our turn.
On July 22, 2011, Anders Behring Breivik engineered and carried both a bombing of government buildings in Oslo Norway – killing 8 people, and then murdered 68 more people (wounding 96) at a youth camp on the island of UtØya.
According to Breivik’s 1500 page (+ or -) manifesto “2083 – A European Declaration of Independence”, his actions were aimed in large part to stem the tide of growing Islamization in Europe.
All this – he claims – flows out of his Christianity.
So let us respond firstly this way: Biblical Christianity in no uncertain terms has absolutely nothing to do with such actions, and as Christians we not only condemn these actions, but stand at the forefront of calling for the highest performance of justice in punishing these wicked and heinous crimes.
To take up arms in this way in the name of Christ and His Church, is to strike at the very core of the Gospel. Both this, and every other such violent action carried out supposedly in the name of Christianity is reprehensible in the highest degree. No spiritual battle can be won by the use of physical weapons. The Kingdom of Christ conquers the hearts and souls of humankind through the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and His substitutionary death on the cross of Calvary to atone for human sin. It is a Gospel of God’s free, unmerited grace – NOT of conversion by the sword, or the gun or the threat of death, ill-treatment or any other such means. Jesus took no man’s life. He gave His own in our place. The Gospel bids us look at His cross, His bearing God’s just wrath on humankind, His death, burial and resurrection. The last “enemy” He will conquer is death itself. Killing others is as antithetical to His kingdom and plan as can possibly be imagined.
Anders Breivik’s actions are not remotely Christianity, even at its worst. It is human sin using religion as a justification for its twisted, un-Biblical ends. We condemn it.
Dare I speak for Christianity so boldly? I do. Because the teaching of the Bible is so absolutely clear as to be unmistakable in this regard. “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 1 Timothy 1:5 (ESV)
Let us speak secondly to the families of these victims. We weep for you. Our hearts agonize for you. We grieve even above the horror and the loss at the way it was done and in the name of the Savior we serve. We are so very sorry for your losses and the pain which will never be gone. For the invasion of your hearts and minds – for the theft of your peace and safety. Our God teaches us that no neighbor of ours should ever fear harm from a Christian. That these events shake that safety is a double tragedy, for it not only robs you of your loved ones, it makes one look at all religion as suspect. It is only logical. And while we can do so little tangibly to soothe your savaged hearts – we will grieve and weep with you. And vow never to forget. We want you to know the Savior who died for sin, so that we might be reconciled to God – and to know the hope of the promise that one day, in His rule and reign, there will never be any such tragedy again. We love you – as best we can from afar. But we cannot love you at all as the Father loves you. He draws near to the brokenhearted. May you find Him near now. May you come to know Him in His love, grace, mercy, forgiveness and comfort. His Son was brutally murdered in Jerusalem 2000 years ago. And the cosmos still vibrates from the travesty. But in His death, for all who believe, there is the promise of the forgiveness of sins, and reconciliation to God the Father, so as to become His own sons and daughters ourselves.
Thirdly – we must address Mr. Breivik. Sir, I do not have the slightest notion how you came to possess such dark, hateful and heinous thoughts as would lead you to carry out this butchery. But you need to know it has nothing to do with Christ, nor the Faith which bears His name. Do not use the cloak of true religion to justify your deeds. The Savior you claim to know, said that “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” Matthew 15:19 (ESV) Your actions came neither from Him, nor His Bible – but out of your own dark, lost, perverse, sin-bound heart. This is your wickedness purely and simply – and not God’s command to you in any way, shape or form. God is a God who forgives. Even the chief of sinners. But such forgiveness belong to none who continue to justify their wickedness under whatever guise. You exemplify the wickedness in all of us. Why it is we need a Savior to begin with. Now is the time to recognize that all you have thought and done has nothing to with serving God, and everything to do with fostering and giving in to the depravity which remains yours and untouched apart from Christ Jesus. We plead with you to repent – to own your evil – and to seek the mercy of God. I pray it is not too late.
Lastly – to us all. Let us be ware, that the seeds of such sin remain in the breast of us all. Let us not point the finger without remembering that apart from sovereign grace, we would be given over to the crimes no less shocking and heinous than these. Breivik’s crimes are but the symptoms of the same disease we all carry.
Let us be quick to condemn such things – loudly and publicly as as adverse and antithetical to all things Christian as they can be. Let us never condone any such wickedness in the name of Christ.
Let us learn to hate our own sin and strive constantly to put the deeds of the flesh to death within us personally.
Let us guard our hearts lest our fears of global movements and changes – like the perceived rise of Islamic influence, lead us to respond in fear rather than faith, and in human hatred rather than in love for our God and our neighbors.
Let us be ever more fervent about the Gospel. Let us be clear that all men are sinners, and there is no hope for any of us apart from Christ. Let us be like the Apostle Paul who reminded the Corinthians that
he “decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2 (ESV) Not Americanization, Western Culture or even American Evangelical culture – but Christ.
Let us hold up the victim’s families in prayer. Let us not be in the least dispassionate toward their suffering, and keenly aware that the name of our Savior was – however egregiously – attached to these events in some way.
Let us learn true spiritual warfare – and bring it back to the place it belongs in our thinking. We cannot change the world through politics, violence, war or force – but through preaching and living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We fight on our knees – pleading for souls. We fight in our praise, making the glories of Christ known. We fight in our walking in righteousness for His name’s sake. We fight by walking in the light of His Word – which leads us ever and always to Christ. We fight by faith – believing and trusting His promises, and refusing to trust in the arm of man. We fight by loving in Christ.