Driving to Triabunna to preach on today’s Gospel reading on some Parables of the Kingdom in Matthew 13, I heard a radio report on Norwegian killer, Anders Breivik, who described himself as a ‘Christian fundamentalist’. See, SMH report.
I was shocked at this affront to Christ and his teaching. I was distressed that somebody could claim Christ’s name and yet deny Christ’s rule: the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus Christ gave his life for others. Jesus never killed anybody nor did he ask his followers to kill on his behalf.
In fact when one of Jesus’ disciples sought to defend him at his arrest in Gethsemane, Jesus tells Peter to put the sword away.
Jesus Christ teaches us to love our enemies and to turn the other cheek, not to kill our enemies. Even when we are being given a hard time we are to go the extra mile and to give our coat as well. We are to care for all, even our perceived ‘protagonists’, eg, the Parable of the Good Samaritan and Jesus’ own example of drinking water with a Samaritan woman.
Why then would a killer describe himself as a follower of Jesus Christ?
Religion has too often been co-opted by individuals, groups, movements and states to bolster their power over peoples and situations. Too often the institution of the Church has acquiesced to this partnership and its corruption. Consider for example the Crusades, the Inquisition and the Conquistadores in South America. Thankfully, there are those followers of Christ who have stood against this corruption of the Body of Christ.
I find it sobering to bear in mind the One who confronts anyone who claims to be a Christian. Is it not Christ? The One who confronts ‘Christian’ labelling is Christ. Christ is the critic of each and every Christian. Hence the measure of Anders Breivik’s claim to be a ‘Christian fundamentalist’ is Christ. Interestingly, the Norwegian community gathered to grieve at the Cathedral in Oslo: a statement of the wider community on the true the way of Christ.
In like manner, the standard that confronts anyone who claims to be a Muslim is the Qur’an with the Tradition and Sharia Law. A person may claim to be an ‘Islamic fundamentalist’ but how does this measure up against the teachings of these authorities?
(Reader please note that it is the Qur’an with the Tradition and Sharia Law, and not Muhammad, that occupies the authoritative place in Islam that Jesus occupies in Christianity. e.g., Islam is submission; Christianity is Christ-ianity).
If I, as a Christian, ask that people examine carefully the claims of ‘Christian fundamentalists’ by the standards of Christ; I must be prepared to give Muslims the same respect and allow the careful examination of the claims of ‘Islamic fundamentalists’ to be measured by the Quran, Traditions and Sharia Law.
I would prefer Andres Breivik to be called a ‘madman’ rather than a Christian fundamentalist.
Similarly, we may find that Muslims prefer the Taliban to be called madmen rather than Islamic fundamentalists.
Judging a religion by madmen claiming its name is not the way to judge a religion and its adherents.
NOTE RE TODAY’S LECTIONARY READING in the Gospel according to Matthew 13:44-58.:
I commented on the above issue in my sermon as a teacher using something ‘new’ :“Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” Mt 13:52 and referring to Mt 13:44ff, the salutory parable of the net and separation of the fish both ‘good and bad’. The Parable of the Net: 47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”).
Christ is the critic and final judge, therefore follow closely the way of Christ; live as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, today!
1. From Christian Post,
Breivik, although claiming to stand up for Europe’s “Christian culture,” in no way links that ideal to true Christian faith.
He writes on page 1307 of his online manifesto:
“If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God then you are a religious Christian. Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God. We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform. This makes us Christian.”
Many media reports have apparently been following along with Breivik’s self-definition of his so-called faith, branding the alleged shooter as a “Christian terrorist” and describing him as a “Christian fundamentalist” or “Christian extremist.”
Yet the Christian community, which has been quick to condemn the attacks, has been making it known that authentic Christianity does not espouse such heinous and immoral acts.
2. From New York Times,GENEVA (AP) — Religious Leader Calls Norway Rampage ‘Blasphemous’-
The head of the world’s largest ecumenical group the Norwegian murder suspect Anders Behring Breivik of blasphemy Monday for citing Christianity as a justification in a murderous attack on government buildings and a youth camp that left dozens dead.
Excellent article from Peter Corney,
… But in addition … another ancient question raises its head once more. It’s a question we prefer to keep at bay till another atrocity hits our screens. It’s the reptile we keep locked away in the cellar of our minds – the reality of evil.
Our writers have turned to metaphor to name it and the paradox of its presence alongside human goodness and beauty. It’s been called “the worm in the rose” and “the maggot in the breast”. Alexander Solzhenitsyn made the point most elegantly when he wrote that “the line dividing good and evil goes right through the heart of every human being.” In its larger mystical sense St. Paul described it as “the mystery of iniquity” and Conrad as “the heart of darkness.”
So, is the Norwegian bomber a mad man or is he madness in the service of evil? Is he a religious and political fanatic or fanaticism in the service of evil? When and where was the point he stepped beyond reason, morality and his own faith, surrendered to the darkness and was overpowered? …
When we ponder the reality of evil other questions leap forward. Can it ever finally be overcome, not just personally, but universally? Who calls evil to the final accounting? Will there be an ultimate universal Hague, a final court of justice for the unnamed victims of history. Will there be a final judgment for the monsters of ancient as well as modern genocides? Is there another kingdom, a kingdom of light that can and will overcome the kingdom of darkness?
Read more, http://petercorney.com/2011/07/28/norways-tragedy-and-the-problem-of-evil/