When Cultural Christianity Kills

[Norwegian killer Anders] Breivik calls himself a “cultural Christian.” Religious Christians, he observes, have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, which he himself does not have. For Breivik, “Christendom” is a vehicle for preserving European self-identity and is not necessarily opposed to elements of “paganism” such as Breivik’s own “Odnistic/Norse” heritage, even though the cross, he argues, has a greater symbolic power than Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir. In spite of this, the initiation ceremony Breivik envisages for “Knights Templar” has no cross, only a candle, sword, skull. – Matthew A. Schmalz, Washington Post On Faith blog.

If only Breivik did have a personal relationship with Jesus… I heard a BBC program this weekend where they were talking to a psychoanalyst about whether Breivik had some form of mental illness or something. The sad truth is that his 1,500 page manifesto was coherent and presented a consistent worldview. No, Breivik isn’t mentally ill, he is evil. His political views took him in the direction of violence and he acted on them. The reason is not because there is something wrong with Breivik, but there is something wrong with all of us.

For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” – Romans 3:9-18

Breivik did what he did because mankind is sick. We need a new heart, a heart inclined to good and not evil. Sure, we’re not all Breivik’s who act on our evil plans and desires but we’re all sick with sin. If Breivik was more than a cultural Christian his heart would have been inclined in a different direction. It doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have killed, but it might. A Christian national or cultural identity isn’t enough. We can’t enact enough laws (Breivik broke many) and we can’t keep enough violence off TV to prevent this kind of thing. Also, notice from Paul’s statement in Romans above that this isn’t an ethnic issue either. It isn’t like one nationality is prone to violence more than another.

I have a friend who is Norwegian and she once told me that she was really grateful for Christianity coming to Norway. She said that before Norway was evangelized, the Norwegian people were violent. Violent to outsiders and violent against their own. Over the weekend I’ve heard many people from Norway interviewed and all of them are shocked because Norway is such a peaceful and open society. “How could this happen here?” If it weren’t for the influence of Christianity in Norway, it might well be a much more frequent thing. But once Christianity is stripped of its power and becomes merely cultural, the evil in people’s hearts is made apparent.

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