Due to the horrendous murders and destruction recently endured by Norway, “Christian terrorism” now falls from the lips of commentators with a natural ease. For years, leftist extremists have been saying the worst terrorists are Christians, even worse than the overblown efforts of a minority of misguided Islamic loners who don’t really represent the true character of the “religion of peace”. Now Christian terrorism is the evil de jour. Of course, not all Christians are vilified, just the conservative ones. Adherants to Liberation Theology don’t have to worry. It’s only the Christians on the right who are the real evil doers. The new poster boy, Anders Breivik, fleshes out the Left’s idea of who the real enemy is. Conservative Christian terrorism is on the rise.
Really? In the bell-curve of public opinion, you have a few people on the extremes, tapering off from the great heap in the middle, which is most people. Conservative Christians are right there in the middle of the bell curve, while the pushers of politically correct thinking keep insisting we are the extremists. But anyone capable of objective thought knows who’s really “out there”. The danger of extremism is not subjective. It isn’t about one’s values or beliefs being in conflict with popular or majority opinion. But extremism is a quantitative concept, and applies to how far one might go in order to push one’s agenda. Extremism is about control — “my way or the highway”. Extremists don’t mind murdering people to advance their cause.
The evil extremism of Anders Breivik isn’t his political or religious affiliations, but the fact that he is a murderer and a terrorist. The Christian response is to disavow Breivik’s actions in the strongest language possible. I denounce his wanton carnage of innocent life and call upon all Christian leaders to condemn such acts of terrorism in no uncertain terms. If we are to remain civilized, there can be no tolerance of, no excuses for, and no ignoring of these types of terrorist attacks, nor of those responsible for them. Christians, along with most others in the center of the bell-curve, are taught to ask how willing they are to control their actions out of respect for others, by denying their own personal impulses. Being civilized is about exercising self-control, not simply agreeing with everyone.
Christians are not being silent in this matter, the way so many so-called “moderate Muslims” have been silent after terrorist attacks by Islamist extremists. We Christians are saying Anders Breivik does not represent our faith. What he did was grossly wrong and we do not condone his actions. But far too many “good” Muslims (supposedly also in the center of the bell-curve) say nothing. What does their silence mean? Which is better, to speak out against terrorist acts or remain mute? Silence speaks volumes.
Christians believe that when a Christian is guilty of a crime, he must be punished, just as anyone else would be. Receiving forgiveness of sin from Jesus does not mean we are above the law. That’s what Jesus meant when he said, “Render unto Ceasar …”. So, even if a terrorist is a Christian, he must pay his debt to society. A murderer is a murderer is a murderer. There is no justification for sin. A “Christian terrorist” is no hero to Christians. Popular misconceptions do a great disservice to the essential Christian message, and many critics are confused and prejudiced as to what “Christian” means.
What exactly is a Christian? Is a person a Christian because they say they are? Is it the purview of unbelievers to define us, or do we have the right to define ourselves? Despite the fact that Christianity means different things to different people, it does have a standard. A Christian is anyone who has received Christ for the atonement of his sins. The authority for this standard is the Bible.
Nevertheless, rampant confusion abounds. Some so-called Christians reject the Bible as their authority, thereby establishing their own authority and their own standard. While they are free to believe anything they want and call it anything they like, that doesn’t mean it’s true. Changing the standard of faith to suit one’s own taste doesn’t change the reality of what a Christian is. There is no such thing as a Christian atheist or a Christian agnostic. The “monocultural Christian Europe” espoused by Breivik does not mean a society with religious values. It is a secular ideal that is “Christian” in name only — a cultural label left over from history. “Christian” Europe is a myth. Most “native” Europeans aren’t religious at all. But emigration from the Middle East has made Islam the fastest growing religion in Europe. Breivik’s cause isn’t to foster Christianity, but to curb Islam. He is no Christian.
To the Bible believing Christian, the term “Christian terrorist” is an oxymoron. Although we will always have sinners who turn their back on God and fall into the darkness of error, we nevertheless pursue Godliness as our goal, not the destruction of human beings. In matters of faith, actions speak louder than words (“…let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” — 1 John 3:18). And the truth of the Christian message is less our human confession that it is the revelation of God’s Spirit: “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.” (1 Corinthians 2:13). Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:44 and elsewhere, to love our enemies.
The “battle” that Christians are to wage is spiritual in nature. Ephesians 6:12 explains:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Following this, (Ephesians 6:13-18), is a description of our Christian “battle” equipment:
The full armor of God, including
The belt of truth
The breastplate of righteousness
Feet fitted with readiness from the gospel of peace
The shield of faith
The helmet of salvation
The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and
Prayer (“pray in the Spirit”)
These are our weapons. This is how we should fight. When we sing, “Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war …” we celebrate the honest, righteous spreading of the gospel, the sharing of our faith and the blessings of our salvation. To this purpose, we brandish the word of God and pray that this all be done in God’s will and by his Spirit. We don’t blow up buildings or shoot innocents. Those who do should be punished.
Take a deep breath and consider the source.