July 22, 2011 is a day of infamy for Norwegians. Not since World War II has that small, peace-loving country of five million experienced so much tragedy.
First, there was the bombing of the Oslo offices of their parliament members (with the chief target being ostensibly the prime minister), and then there was the systematic shooting of children in a summer camp on a nearby island. The number of dead was at least 76, with many wounded.
I know Norway well and have been there eight times because my wife is from there, and we were married there.
Initially, the attack had all the earmarks of an Islamic assault. In fact, someone from the global jihadist movement claimed “credit” for the massacre. But now it seems to be the work of a home-grown terrorist—32 year old Anders Behring Breivik.
The mainstream media has called him a “fundamentalist Christian.” But his own 1500-page manifesto doesn’t line up with that (nor do his actions line up with any element of Christian teaching). He’s a Darwinist, not a creationist, perhaps an Odin-worshiper, but not a Christ-worshiper. He claims he opposes the spread of Islam in Europe, and to prove his point he shoots a bunch of European children (future, potential leaders of the Norwegian Labor Party).
Breivik noted, “Regarding my personal relationship with God, I guess I’m not an excessively religious man. I am first and foremost a man of logic. However, I am a supporter of a monocultural Christian Europe.”
If you had to label him, he would probably be best to be called a neo-Darwinian crusader. But a good crusader is a bad Christian (while a good jihadist is a good Muslim).
I heard Michael Savage on the radio say the other day that the shooter was a Christian and had quoted Bible verses. I looked through much of Breivik’s manifesto and didn’t find any Bible verses. Nor do I expect to.
Dr. Arne Fjeldstad, my Norwegian brother-in-law, a former editor with Aftenposten, captured well the essence of Breivik’s document: “The 1500+ page manifesto tells of a young man with fantasies of knights and crusades to defend what he considers the true European culture. Mr. Breivik also belongs to the Free Masons (first grade) and describes himself as a Justiciar Knight in his new movement, which he claims is international – and which borrows from old Norse religion.”
This is a young man whose father abandoned the family when Breivik was very young.
Breivik’s thinking is influenced far more by Friedrich Nietzsche than by any Christian sources. The 19th century atheistic, German philosopher bemoaned the fact that in Europe, because of Judeo-Christian influence, the weak are treated better than they deserve.
Breivik says we should be listening to Nietzsche, when he decries the Christian tradition for this sad state of affairs—whereby (in Breivik’s own words) “the weak, the poor, the meek, the oppressed and the wretched are virtuous and blessed by God whereas the strong, the wealthy, the noble and the powerful are the immoral and damned by the vengeful almighty Yahweh for eternity.” In short, we should favor survival of the fittest, not empathy for the underdog.
In his book, The AntiChrist, Nietzsche (the man who coined the phrase “God is dead”) delivered a blistering attack against Christianity, not for being too cruel, but for being too nice to people who supposedly don’t deserve it. Who does Nietzsche hold up as heroes? A “herd of blond beasts of prey, a race of conquerors and masters.”
Sounds like Breivik—a “blond beast of prey.”
The media totally missed the mark by labeling Breivik as a “Christian.”
He didn’t go to church. He was more of a worshiper of the old Norwegian gods. He said he believed in “Christian culture”—but not in Jesus per se.
He put it this way in his 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 (p. 1307).”
No, it doesn’t. Being a Christian means trusting in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the Cross for the forgiveness of sins. It means repenting from those sins and seeking to please Him by living a life of love. Jesus said we should love our neighbor as ourselves, and He said we should even love our enemies. Not hunt them down like rabbits.
But as my Norwegian wife points out: Don’t look for logic in evil.
In his manifesto, Breivik says crusader-type knights to join his movement “must be a Christian, Christian agnostic or a Christian atheist.” A Christian agnostic? A Christian atheist? These are oxymorons.
Breivik: “I have studied Norse mythology and have a lot of respect for the Odinist traditions…Odinism is still and will always be an important part of my culture and identity.” Odin was one of the main, violent gods worshiped by the Vikings.
One other point: Norway used to send out “blond beasts of prey” in the Vikings who were the scourge of Europe, until Christianity slowly began to change the people there about a thousand years ago. The Vikings would use drugs (from mushrooms) and go on berserk rampages of killing. Breivik’s lawyer said he was drugged up when he carried out his killing spree, as he listened to heart-pumping music from a Lord of the Rings movie soundtrack on his I-pod to numb his seared conscience, while shooting child after child.
In short, while the mainstream media wants to call Anders Behring Breivik a “fundamentalist Christian,” it’s much more accurate to think of him instead as a neo-Darwinist and neo-Viking.
Meanwhile, my wife’s family and friends there say that God has already brought some good out of this tragedy, in the solidarity and Christian love being shown by the Norwegian people to help bind up the wounds and ease the national grief. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.
Jerry Newcombe is the senior producer and host of The Coral Ridge Hour. He has also written or co-written 21 books, including The Book That Made America: How the Bible Formed Our Nation. Jerry co-wrote (with Dr. Peter Lillback) the bestselling, George Washington’s Sacred Fire. He hosts the website www.jerrynewcombe.com.