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Is Norway Terror Suspect a Christian Fundamentalist?

on July 30, 2011
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CNN: “Is ‘Christian fundamentalist’ label correct for Norway terror suspect?” and Religion Dispatches: Is Norway’s Suspected Murderer Anders Breivik a Christian Terrorist? Norwegian terror suspect’s call for an armed crusade by “cultural Christendom” creates confusion in early news reports.

Anders Behring Breivik has been arrested for last week’s terrorist attacks in Norway. A car bombing in Oslo and a shooting spree at a political youth rally have resulted in at least 76 deaths. Initial reports suggested the self-confessed terrorist was a “right-wing Christian fundamentalist.” Closer examination of the suspect’s own words in a video, as well as a 1500-page online manifesto attributed to him, have revealed that Breivik’s beliefs and stated motivations have nothing to do with biblical Christianity or Christian faith and practice.

Breivik began reading from his manifesto, 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, during his court appearance. The lengthy document calls for a crusade by resurgent Knights Templars to rid Europe of Islamic people, “cultural Marxists,” and those who promote multiculturalism. Any member of his crusading group, he says, “must be a Christian, Christian agnostic or a Christian atheist” (page 834).

So how does Breivik define Christianity? We do not have to guess. On pages 1307–1308 of his manifesto, he wrote the following:

3.139 Distinguishing between cultural Christendom and religious Christendom – reforming our suicidal Church

A majority of so called agnostics and atheists in Europe are cultural conservative Christians without even knowing it. So what is the difference between cultural Christians and religious Christians?

If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God then you are a religious Christian. Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God. We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform. This makes us Christian.

Breivik’s manifesto rants on with hundreds of pages of hate-filled language against Islamic people.

Breivik’s manifesto rants on with hundreds of pages of hate-filled language against Islamic people. He declares it the duty of all indigenous Europeans to rise up to defend Christendom against Islamic encroachment and against governments that promote a multicultural society. The “2083” in the title of his manifesto celebrates the 400th anniversary of the Battle of Vienna, which “broke the advance of the [Islamic] Ottoman Empire into Europe” (page 235). By 2083 he expects to overthrow “Western European cultural Marxist/multiculturalist regimes” (page 811) and remove all Islamic people from Europe. Any non-Muslim is invited to join his cause.

Breivik considers non-Muslim agnostics and atheists to be part of the Christian culture of Europe. He only suggests that atheists consider making some sort of peace with God in order to strengthen themselves for the heat of battle. “There are no atheists in foxholes,” (page 1341) he says. Of himself, he says, “I’m not going to pretend I’m a very religious person as that would be a lie. I’ve always been very pragmatic and influenced by my secular surroundings and environment” (page 1344). Yet he plans to call on God when things get scary.

Breivik quotes numerous Bible verses completely out of context in an effort to recruit God for his cause. He likewise quotes liberally from Thomas Jefferson to justify his violent revolution. For instance, “As Thomas Jefferson said ‘The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants’” (page 319) appears in his call to arms more than once. As Craig Parshall of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) points out, Breivik actually refers to Jefferson more often than he refers to Jesus! “Linking Breivik to anything Christian therefore makes as little sense as saying that the mass murderer was motivated by Jeffersonian democracy.” 1

When he refers to the “suicidal church,” Breivik is referring to a church foolishly committed to peace instead of violence. He states that the Protestant church served a temporary purpose but plainly claims that the Catholic church is the only true church. He further considers the church, not the Bible, to be the source of authority. He says, “Scripture was never intended to be the believer’s sole guide for all of faith and practice” (page 1132). Yet he demands that the church be a violent agent in his war on Islam, even calling for a return of indulgences for those who join his crusade.

In addition to grabbing inspiration from the institutional church of the Middle Ages that rejected key doctrines of the Bible and added to Scripture, Breivik declares, “It is essential that science takes an undisputed precedence over biblical teachings” (page 1403). He uses Darwinism to attack “feminism,” saying, “Marriage is not a ‘conspiracy to oppress women’, it’s the reason why we’re here. And it’s not a religious thing, either. According to strict, atheist Darwinism, the purpose of life is to reproduce” (page 350). Breivik envisions a Europe in which “‘Logic’ and rationalist thought (a certain degree of national Darwinism) should be the fundament of our societies” (page 1386). On balance, however, Breivik does not take his inspiration from either evolutionism or true Christianity but rather grabs at any label he can to justify his xenophobic crusade.

He praises oriental cultures for their rejection of the multicultural philosophy. He believes modern Europe should follow their example to save itself from Islamic takeover. He says this:

European Christendom isn’t just about having a personal relationship with Jesus or God. It is so much more. Christendom is identity, moral, laws and codexes which has produced the greatest civilisation the world has ever witnessed. People better than the contemporary atheists have attempted to abolish Christendom and failed. (page 1341)

Then Breivik goes on to attack several famous atheists, including Richard Dawkins, saying, “He seeks to prove that mankind would be so much better off without any moral anchor, and without any moral judge except ourselves.”

Then Breivik goes on to attack several famous atheists, including Richard Dawkins, saying, “He seeks to prove that mankind would be so much better off without any moral anchor, and without any moral judge except ourselves” (page 1341). Yet the violent philosophy Breivik promotes sets himself, not God as revealed in the Bible, as the moral compass for indigenous Europeans.

Many people claim Christianity has caused much hatred, intolerance, and war. They look back to the evils of the Crusades as an indictment of Christ for mass murder. Yet the Breivik case clearly illustrates the absurdity of allowing someone who does not espouse biblical Christianity to redefine Christianity. To the credit of CNN and many political spokespersons who have been interviewed, Breivik’s version of “Christianity” is now being publicly rejected. We hope that the public will be quick to discern the difference. Unfortunately, the “inference of a ‘Christian’ influence behind Breivik’s despicable acts”2 has already been created in the minds of many and the damage done.

Answers in Genesis is sometimes falsely accused of promoting hatred and intolerance. Yet the message we proclaim—that a loving Creator holds out the offer of salvation through Jesus Christ to the world—is not a message of hate but of love and hope. The Bible tells the true history of how God created the first man and woman and of mankind’s fall into rebellion. The horrible consequences of human rebellion against God have wrecked this world and doomed unrepentant ( Romans 6:23) people to eternity in hell. Nevertheless, God loves us (John 3:16) and sent Christ to pay the price for our rebellion. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, proclaimed the importance of God’s Word from the beginning when He declared, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me” (John 5:46).

The ultimate hope for the people of Europe and for the world will never be found in the hate-filled purges called for by Breivik and those like him. But neither will salvation (Acts 4:12) be found in political solutions of any kind—including the multiculturalism Breivik despises.

Because God created all people, His Word does contain the history of what’s wrong with this world and the only true hope for all mankind. The Bible reveals that Christ is the only way (John 14:6) to God, but Christians are never told to hate and kill those who differ in their worldview. Instead, we are commanded to tell (Matthew 28:19-20) the world about God’s truth and God’s love—and that is exactly what Answers in Genesis does by taking a stand on the authority of Scripture from the very first verse.

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Footnotes

  1. Email newsletter from the National Religious Broadcasters, July 27, 2011, “Norway: Why Labels Matter,” Craig L. Parshall
  2. Email newsletter from the National Religious Broadcasters, July 27, 2011, “Norway: Why Labels Matter,” Craig L. Parshall

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