In the wake of his depraved, ruthless murder of at least 76 innocent men, women, and children Anders Breivik has been called a “Christian fundamentalist,” “Christian terrorist,” and “Christian extremist.”
In fact, Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite (a fellow On Faith contributor) actually goes so far as to imply that “right-wing Christianity” as a whole bears some responsibility for this lethal attack. Nothing could be further from the truth.
To label Breivik a “Christian” requires a depraved understand of what it means to be a Christian. At a minimum, a Christian must profess to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior.
Breivik himself defiantly rejected true Christianity, claiming he did “not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God.” Instead, he claimed the “Christian” mantle “as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform.”
Just because he described himself with the term “Christian” (which he then redefined) does not make his ideology comparable to the views of a right-wing Christian in the United States. A right-winger in the United States is basically a fairly mainstream, typically Republican, grassroots activist. In Scripture, Jesus Christ made crystal clear how we can determine if someone is a Christian: “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?” In other words, Christ is saying that a Christian can be judged by his actions.
Regardless of how one wishes to redefine the term “Christian,” there is no question that Christians in America reject the notion that Breivik’s actions are justified by Scripture. The Bible teaches: “love your neighbor;” “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you;” and “Do not murder.”
To actually believe that someone adhering to the tenets of Scripture would commit a vile act like this is ludicrous.
But this is exactly what Thistlethwaite claims. To her, it is the belief in the words of Christ that “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me,” that can make Christianity so “lethal,” arguing that “making supremacist claims that Christianity is the ‘only’ truth,” can lead some people be “tempted” to “justify lethal violence.”
Aside from this incomprehensible jump in logic, Thistlethwaite fails to recognize that Breivik does not claim to adhere to the very principles, stemming from a literal belief in the Bible, that she finds so dangerous. Breivik stated in his manifesto that “it is essential that science takes an undisputed precedence over biblical teachings.” He goes on to say that he places his faith in “logic” which he defines in terms of “Darwinism,” welcoming those he calls “Christian atheists” to join his evil and perverted sense of reality.
Thistlethwaite attempts to extrapolate a connection between the Christian “religion and extreme violence” from the God-less actions of a man who said that he was “not an excessively religious man” and directly rejected the theology of what he called the “religious Christian.”
Say what you will about those of us lumped into the “religious right” or “fundamentalist” category in the United States, but we are all very clear when it comes to theology and what it means to be a Christian. There is no way to be a Christian without faith in Christ.
Next time, I hope folks like Thistlethwaite - especially when the evidence is available - learn about the actual beliefs (or lack thereof) of a person before trying to smear 42 percent of U.S. voters who happen to have political beliefs they disagree with. Thistlethwaite fails to call attention to the fact that Breivik rejected the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This is an inadequate analysis of the facts.
Simply put, Breivik is not a “Christian terrorist” because, according to his own description of what the word ‘Christian’ means to him, and his actions, he is not a Christian.