In the past week, we have read and heard more and more about Anders Behring Breivik and the terror he wrought in Norway—the bomb in Oslo, the horrific shooting at the youth retreat on the island of Utoya.
Breivik was quickly identified in the press as a Christian fundamentalist terrorist with an extreme anti-Muslim agenda who believed his actions necessary to spread his manifesto—his ideology—his message of fear and hate.
It should come as no surprise that some immediately claimed his “Christianity” is but a mis-identification of the left-wing media, or that others have said, “Christianity” could only inappropriately be applied to someone acting in a manner so utterly and abhorrently antithetical to what Christianity stands for.
I have no idea what Jesus means to Breivik. That’s not the point. If we have not raised similar reservations about the term “Muslim” being misidentified, generically and inappropriately applied to terrorists with an extreme anti-western agenda who believe their actions necessary to spread their manifesto—their ideology—their message of fear and hate, we really have no business taking that route now that it’s our faith associated with terror.
And never mind—just never mind the hypocrisy of those of us willing to identify someone else’s actions as inconsistent with Jesus when so many of our own cannot be held up to the light.
Given all the horror and violence perpetrated throughout the world and throughout history in the name of Christianity, we need less disbelief that atrocity is not just what “they” do—less defensive rejection of indefensible behavior in the name of “our” God—less outrage at who and more at what. We need more people simply and unequivocally naming the obscenity that is choosing violence and killing in the name of God. We need more people of all faiths naming not just that truth, but also passionately and explicitly stating that hijacking God in the service of ideology is always unambiguously idolatry (sin)—affirming that such obscenity is not and never has been limited to the adherents of any one faith, but rather to a self-righteous attitude of absolute certainty and superiority to be absolutely(!) denounced in all faiths.
There is no ideology (social, political, economic, spiritual, or otherwise) that justifies the intentional infliction of violence on others to prove a point.
Breivik considered his actions a wake up call to his society believing the means justified the ends. But means lead to ends. And hell goes nowhere.