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!