When I first heard that the attack on Norway earlier this month was done by a Christian I cringed. It just didn’t make any sense. When professional baseball players fly to Florida for spring training they work on the fundamentals – in other words the basics of the game. They practice fielding ground balls, throwing with accuracy, and other techniques. The news labeled the Norway terrorist as a fundamentalist Christian, so if this guy claimed to follow the fundamentals, the basics, of Christianity, then how on earth did that lead him to detonating bombs and gunning down children at point blank range?
Being a peacemaker is a fundamental to my understanding of Christianity. It’s a fundamental that we are to work toward reconciliation, that we are to not inflict pain, and that we be a stark contrast to the rest of the world that uses violence as a means of power and manipulation. Assuming that’s really a fundamental, it seems to me that it is entirely possible to have some other belief or idea and unknowingly infuse it into your understanding of Christianity. This fear of Islam the terrorist held came from somewhere else, maybe the family culture he was raised in, yet he was able to mistake it as a Christian belief. And he was convinced that taking the actions that he did were necessary – so convinced that he’d resigned to spending the rest of his days in incarceration even before he carried out the acts.
So for me what happened is actually a powerful lesson. Many have pointed out that this man was an extremist – he took his beliefs too far, taking them over the line of what is acceptable. They say this so that people don’t get the wrong idea about Christianity. But maybe it is worth looking at how we can add extra ideas mistake them as apart of our Christian faith. I suspect that this phenomenon was not specific to just one guy in Norway – but that it may actually happen to us all.
I am trying to look at my own faith and see what I want to be true – what fundamentals I hold because, well, I put them there.
Have you previously held a fundamental that you mistook as a Christian one? Do you think it’s possible that we all make the mistake the Norway terrorist did?