Sunday, July 24, 2011

Anders Breivik - a wake up call to the church

Tributes to the dead in Oslo.
As I am writing this the BBC News Channel is still showing blanket coverage of yesterday’s bombing and shootings in Norway. I think its come time for me to reflect on this and what we can learn from its religious elements. Anders Behring Breivik self identified as a Christian. It doesn’t mean that he was (just as “muslim” terrorists may not really be Muslims). There is no evidence that he attended a church, but he did frequent online fundamentalist Christian web sites and online communities.

The question we have to ask though is: how can someone with Anders Breivik’s views identify with Christianity?

There are two issues which I believe attract this sort of identification:

  1. There is a close similarity between christian fundamentalism and the libertarian, conspiracy, truth movement. I have written about this previously and you can find this article here: People looking to give credence to these sort of ideas may find this in some types of church or some online communities.
  2. The right wing “tea party” type political agenda is seeping over here from the USA and evangelical Christianity is a handy conduit for it because of the connections so many Christian groups here have with the USA (and the increasing funding they get from over there too). Christian TV channels don't help either as they all promote that kind of agenda. You only have to look at comment threads on some of the British conservative political blogs to see the amount of disenchantment there is with mainstream conservatism and the desire for a move to the right. Most worryingly, during my lifetime being an evangelical Christian has become synonymous with voting Conservative. As a result being even more right wing is no longer anathema in fundamentalist Christian circles. As we saw during the last election, when a Christian TV channel ran a debate between the BNP and the Christian Party, it was hard to tell the parties positions apart on many subjects and support for the BNP was rationalised by Christians on single issues (the BNP is against abortion and against Islam). Its easy for people with those right wing views to be attracted to Christian Fundamentalism which is strong on rhetoric against Islam, immigration and homosexuality.

So who is to blame? I am sorry to say that the blame has to be laid at the door of the mainstream churches and moderate evangelicals. The former have become so tied up in accepting fundamentalism as an alternative “faith expression” that they can’t be openly critical of it, and the latter are so in awe of fundamentalists church growth abilities that they have become untouchable.  Anything is permissable as long as it can be described as "just the lunatic fringe”.

I am not sure what the answer is, but evangelicals and fundamentalists are desperate to be part of something significant. Can the mainstream churches or the moderate evangelical churches (like the Free Kirk or the Baptists) provide a platform for them, or like the grand old duke of York, march them up to the top of the hill and march them down again? I don’t know, but the mainstream churches and evangelical leaders in Britain need to take a long hard look at themselves and ask why they have not been openly critical of fundamentalism.

(Is this not exactly what we say about moderate Muslims and extremism?).


  1. ‎"On ward Christian soldiers" He writes.

    I think this is truly a time to ask ourselves, what a Christian soldier is? Did the church ever realize the wrongness and evilness of its historical crusades?

    Anders Breivik's beliefs brings new life... to an old unanswered question, and I do believe that the church have to relate to what is happening now! I know the church have corrected it self much and is very different today, but look what is happening. The past have not been corrected yet, and there are misguided souls like Anders Breivik out there, who have NOT UNDERSTOOD the message of Christ, and I do think the church has a responsibility here!

    If Christianity is to survive in a modern world, the history has to be confronted AND CORRECTED. Killing and slaughtering spreading fear and hatred has NEVER been Christian. Not then not now. I am sure that today we see it, but back them they was just as blinded ad Anders Breivik.

    Today we need to wake up and see the TRUTH. That LOVE is the only way. This is so wrong. This is so unchristian. But historically he is right. This is not one man's madness. This is the sickness of an old religion coming to light!

    Christianity as represented by the church is sick and needs to be reinvented free from old hatred and fear.

    The church will never be able to do this.

    This is a call for love and compassion in every day people's hearts.

    Anders Breivik may have thought that his actions was justified in the eyes of God. But if anything they only shows us, that true Christianity, true love and compassion, which is the nature of Christ, is not in the Christian church and never was.

    It is in the hearts of all us people, who is hurting with the Norwegians today. All of us who sees and recognizes hatred and lack of love when it is in front of us. Is is in all of us who dares to believe in a world based on love and compassion.

  2. This is a call for all of us to wake up and realize that we are one humanity, and in order to evolve as humans, we must share each others destiny. Building walls is not the way.

    I realize that opening up will bring turbulence. But it is the only way, and we must come through the turbulence of integration to bring forth a peaceful and united world.

    There will still be room for differences and all sort of colors. Believing in one humanity is not communism. Not at all. It is just a realization, that we are all connected and we are one family, and need to learn to live as such.

    I am living this in my own life. I got children with a man, who treated me terribly. I have spent ten years learning to walk the balance between protecting myself and working together with this man around our children.

    We all have to learn a balance. We will have to make sacrifices to unite our waters, but it is the way to peace. Building walls and judging the other is not the answer, because this will only bring more suffering. I realized this for my children. There is no doubt that my own life would have been easier if I had left this man, and taken his children away from him forever. BUT. He loved them as well, and he was and is growing, and learning. So I left him alright, and I am keeping a constant eye at my children's wellbeing. I am still confronted with many difficult things, and it is hard! But I know that if I do not take this on me, and sacrifice "getting it easy" and "protecting" my "country from the challenges", it will be my children who has to pay the price. Because then the conflict will live in them. Meeting the different and learning to work with that which brings turbulence is not easy! But it is the only way to enlightening, and it is what we as world community must take upon us.

    We do not have to judge others to protect our values. We can open up, while still protecting our core values. We can participate in a process of enlightening, where all that is true from either side will merge, and the false will fall away and give way for new common ground. But is requires the courage to look at our selves and let go of what is no longer true. It requires courage to meet with some one who is just as wrong on many points, as we are ourselves, and dare to confront them and challenge them on their weak points, while we allow ourselves to be equally challenged.
    There is no such courage in hatred and building walls, judging others.

    I know that there are many kind, open and compassionate Christian people out there. And it is not these I am addressing today.

    I am addressing you who are afraid and build walls, judge and fight what is different. You who can not look at yourselves and your beliefs and allow yourselves to be challenged and to examine what it really true, and dare to let go of what is not. You and Anders Breivik stands together in the same boat today. And I call upon you to ask yourselves today: Are you on the right path? Is this your faith? Is this your Christ?

    To me the answer is simple. No it is not. This is the illness from the past, still living in conservative Christianity coming to light! This is our wakeup call!

    I challenge You. Look at yourselves today, you will not forsake God by admitting, that not all the church taught you is right. But rather you will honor Christ by following him and meeting him where he truly lives. In side your own heart, being brave enough to make the sacrifices necessary to always follow the truth (found in the heart, not in books or preachings) and merging with others, even when they challenge us and bring us pain,because we are ONE family, we are ONE humanity and we do share a common destiny just as we share this earth we are living on. This is the message to spread in our time. The message of global family. And our task is to be brave and find courage to challenge and be challenged in order to bring to light what is true, real, and from the heart.

  3. I agree with much of what you write Gordon, but I would de-emphasise the role of religion in this case. Mr Breivik appears to have used the Christian tag as part of his way of expressing his conservative (with a small c) views that the Country had lost its way in embracing multiculturalism and tolerance. It seems he wanted to make a stand against this. I suspect that he will be found to be psychiatrically damaged, and that it is this that ultimately is responsible for this deeply deranged actions. (I also posted a comment on eChurch.) Simian

  4. Simian, I don't think he was a Christian, bit I am disturbed that, to him, his beliefs were not obviously incompatible with Christianity. Note that he did not claim to be a Buddhist. There is something about the presentation of certain types of Christianity and Islam which allow this type of self identification. There needs to be more criticism by mainstream churches of churches who are presenting Christianity as western, warlike and supremacist (and I don't mean racially supremacist - dominionist).

  5. Anders Behring Brehevik was certainly NOT a born again Christian:PERIOD.
    This man is a free mason. Freemasonry is incompatible with Christianity. Freemasonry accepts within its ranks atheists,bhuddists,muslims,mormons,Jehovas witnesses and yes counterfeit Christians. A born again Christian by definition COULD NOT be ecumenical,because he believes his LORD when He says 'I am the way,the truth,and the life,no man cometh unto the Father,but by me.' John 14.6. Freemasons believe in a deity (Satan;they know not what they worship) just like all the other spurious religions, truth is singular,lies are plural.Only one faith believes in the Son of Man who purchased His people by His atoning blood which is the ONLY price the Father will accept for payment for our sins. New Testament Christians ARE taught to 'Love your enemies' Matthew 5.44.
    Well Mr Brehevik CERTAINLY failed that test.
    The ramifications that will issue from this vile,heinous and cowardly act will flow in all directions in the coming days,weeks and months ahead.
    The problem that I see in all of this is unabated ignorance. When you read the Old Testament in various places you will discover that God ordered His chosen people (Israel) to commit acts of genocide,ordering them not to spare even women and children. This I admit at first sight seems very cruel.(These ancient people committed the vilest of sinful acts according to God).However the Word reveals to us that these pagan peoples when they were allowed to live caused Israel to sin and become idolatrous,thus walking away from the One true God;this is why the first and second temples were destroyed.(Even Solomon the first temple builder had 700 wives when God told him not to!)
    Because the accredited leaders of Israel did not recognize their Messiah when He came,(He only came to save His people Israel-Matthew 10.6) salvation then went to the gentiles (us)-because of Israels rejection of Him!(Romans 11.11).
    The BNP and other far right organisations are NOT Christian in any shape,form or fashion. Yes they may claim some biblical teachings and will twist them to suit their own ends. Sadly because we are living in an increasingly biblically illiterate world few people will be able to discern the truth.
    I only discovered today that Oslo used to be called Christiania.