All right-thinking people were horrified to hear what happened in Norway yesterday. As I read the account today, and learned that the terrorist was supposedly a “Christian”, I was struck by the fact that he was wearing a police uniform. Part of the police statement was as follows (from the 3:36 pm Friday update on this story):
The assailant has NEVER been part of the police force, and has no relation to us.
We’re being told the shooter was a conservative or fundamentalist Christian. He may have tried to put on a “Christian” uniform to try to look like a Christian, just like he put on a police uniform, but his actions have no relation to Christianity.
People like this are rarely part of a church, unless it’s a “church” like the Westboro idiots (Fred Phelps) or cultists like the People’s Temple (Jonestown). Rather than what someone says, I’m much more interested in his actions to assess whether he is a “Christian”.
Is this man a Christian? The Bible is full of warnings about people who will claim to be followers of Christ, but are false. In Matthew 7, Jesus talked about those who would claim to be His followers. In verse 20, He is primarily talking about false teachers, but gives a principle which applies to others as well: “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”
Christians don’t do what this man did. Christians are horrified and grieved at such actions, and pray for the injured and the bereaved. When Christians are able to, we help those in need. We serve the God of all comfort, and we want people to know His comfort.
Jesus goes on in the next three verses to say that there will be many who will have done many religious things, but will face eternal judgment in Hell. I do not know if the suspect in Norway has done any religious things at all, or just put the word “Christian” on a website, but his kind of “Christianity” is not going to help him on the Judgment Day.
The police are undoubtedly angry, and rightly so, that someone who had evil intent masqueraded as a police officer. For the police, that makes the events of yesterday even worse. It means that people will trust them less even when they are doing right.
Christians are angry, too. How dare someone falsely take the name of our Lord on himself as a cloak for his evil? It may mean people trust our message less.
Christian, you may face criticism because of this attack. Don’t be defensive. Just say, along with the police, “The assailant has no relation to us.” It is an opportunity to tell people that not everyone who claims to be a Christian, not everyone who was born in a “Christian” country, is really a Christian. It is an opportunity to talk about real Christianity, not the fake “cultural” kind that has nothing to do with the righteousness and grace of God.
Also, we can take comfort in this thought. No one makes counterfeit pennies. It’s not worth it. Fake versions of faith in God only show that someone thinks true faith is valuable enough to be worth counterfeiting. If being a Christian weren’t valuable, people like this terrorist wouldn’t claim it.
(note: edited at 20:20 BDT).