As most people know by now, there was a terror attack in Norway recently. A man set off a truck bomb outside of a federal building, and then went on a shooting rampage at a youth camp. All told, over 80 people, mostly children and teens, were killed. It is the worst terror attack in Europe since the Madrid train bombing a few years ago. This is a terribly tragedy and my heart goes out to all the victims. One thing that has been said in regards to this case though, is that the suspect has been described by some in the media as a "right-wing Christian fundamentalist." Could a "Christian fundamentalist" really have done this? What would a Christian fundamentalist be? My thoughts after the jump.
The idea for this perpatrator being a Christian fundamentalist came from a lengthy manifesto he published online shortly before the attacks. In the manifesto, he referred to some Christian ideas and organization, using some Christian language. The main theme of the document though was has anti-Muslim sentiment and his feeling that the government was basically allowing the Muslims to overrun his country. One annalyst stated that the manifesto was more anti-Muslim than it was pro-Christian. But, the label still was attached. The man was called a Christian.
To many this can be a little shocking and confusing because we have grown more accustomed to terrorists being Islamic in origin. This man was certain not Muslim. Unfortunately, many people like to think that if you are religious, but that you aren't Muslim or any of the other big religions, then you are Christian. Likewise, many people still view the United States as a Christian nation, and will lable an American as a Christian (unless they specifically know otherwise). Another item for confusion is that he was called a fundamentalist. I've noticed over the past several years that the term funamentalist has become almost synonomous with radical, fanatic, lunatic, or even terrorist.
So first off, what is a funamentalist? A funamentalist is somebody who sticks to the fundamentals of something, or the basics. They won't go off on tangents, and they don't take something basic and then apply their own ideas to make it something complicated that it is not meant to be. So a real Christian fundamentalist is somebody who sticks to the fundamentals, or basics, of Christianity. What then, are the fundamentals of Christianity? What are the core teachings?
First, to even be truly called a Christian, you must repent, or turn away, from your sins, askings God's forgiveness, and have faith that Jesus died to take the punishment for your sins, and that he then rose from the dead to show that he has power over death. You must also agree to make Him Lord, or ruler over your life. In a nutshell, that is the most basic doctrine of Christianity. Other fundamental teachings include sharing the message of Jesus with others, and to show love toward all others, including enemies. Indeed, the most basic Christian teachings can be summed up in two statements: Love God with all your mind, heart, and soul. Love your neighbor as yourself. To clarify a little, the Bible describes your neighbor as anybody you come into contact with or could come into contact with. If a person is doing those two things, then he is a fundamentalist. I don't really see how that is a bad thing.
So could a true Christian fundamentalist commit such attrocities? If they are truly following the fundamentals of Christianity, I don't see how they could. Some might say, "But he claimed to be acting in the name of God, or in the name of Christianity." That could be a person's claim, but that doesn't mean that they are actually acting with that authority. I could just as easily claim to commit some act, whether good or bad, in the name of President Obama, but that doesn't mean I am acting under his authority. It doesn't mean I have gotten his permission, and it doesn't mean he approves. It is the same way with God. Anybody can say they are acting in the name of Christianity, but that doesn't automatically mean that God approves of it.
Be sure that there are many people who see Christianity as no better that Islam, Hiduism, Buddhism, or many other religions or philosphies. For most of these people, you can't argue them into changing their mind, but you can live your life as an example, which can be more powerful than any verbal argument.