Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

On the Norway Massacres

Jul 24, 2011

The first and most obvious thing to say about the tragedy which just recently took place in Norway is that it never should have happened, it was horrendous, and we must pray for this nation and all those so heavily and deeply grieving right now.

In one sense that is enough to be said. Indeed, we should perhaps pray more and say less during such situations. But already – even at these early stages – a fair amount is being written about all this, and some people have been asking me for my thoughts on this event.

So let me offer a few preliminary thoughts, bearing in mind that more light and information about this act of evil will be forthcoming in days to come. As far as a general Christian apologetic on all this (why does God allow evil?), I won’t – and can’t – presume to solve that issue here.

Indeed, for at least four thousand years (if we date the events of the Book of Job to around 2000 BC or thereabouts), this issue has been bubbling around. What we can briefly say is one human being, by his own free will, detonated the bombs and pulled the triggers.

So the short answer is this character is responsible. If we want God to step in and intervene every time some act of evil is about to occur, not only would every single one of us be continuously interfered with from above (the very thought of which would be anathema to our atheist buddies), but this would be the end of free will.

‘So what?’ some might ask. Quite simply, if there is no free will, there is no evil, but there is no good either. Love and goodness are nonsensical apart from the notion of free will. So the price we have to pay to live in a pain-free world means we will also have to live in a love-free world.

But that is not a discussion I wish to take further here. The immediate cause of this tragedy is not God, but a crazed loner, Anders Behring Breivik. Why he did it and what led up to it is still being investigated. But as to why evil like this happens, the answer is short but sure: because there are evil people in the world.

Another point worth raising about this is how the MSM is already telling us that he was a right-winger and a Christian fundamentalist. It remains to be seen just who exactly he is and what his specific beliefs are. But a few things can be said about this.

First, if in any way he is claiming to be a Christian, he clearly is nothing of the sort. The entire New Testament makes it clear that the deliberate killing of the innocent is not only morally wrong, but can never be the hallmark of biblical Christianity.

We cannot kill the innocent in the name of Christ. We cannot say that biblical Christianity mandates that we commit murder. So whatever claims this guy may be making about his actions, he has absolutely no justification for them from the New Testament.

But of concern already at this early stage is how the MSM is rubbing in this issue of his supposed conservatism and Christianity. The truth is, when similar massacres take place, say at the hands of someone clearly aligned with Islam, the MSM will often downplay this connection.

Often the media will not even mention the religion of the person doing such atrocities, if it is Islam and the like. But here the religious angle is being trumpeted far and wide, because he is supposedly a Christian. Even a non-Christian like Andrew Bolt can see the glaring hypocrisy here (see link below).

He documents cases of the MSM going quiet on religion when a Muslim massacre takes place. This is just another example of our biased secular left MSM which will use any tragedy to score cheap political points in its war against Christianity and conservatism.

Also worth noting is that apparently the mass killer was heavily into bloody, shoot-em-up video games. According to one report, he spoke of this in his diary: “he used Call of Duty: Modern Warfare as a training simulation. ‘Target practise is likely going to be a problem for many people in certain countries. Consider taking a vacation to a country where you are able to train in marksmanship or join a gun club. Simulation by playing Call of Duty, Modern Warfare is a good alternative as well but you should try to get some practise with a real assault rifle (with red point optic) if possible’.”

A federal government minister has already tried to play down any connections here. Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor said that the government does not need to impose any further restrictions on violent games or films. And the civil libertarians will shout till they are hoarse that there is no connection between the two.

The truth is, while most violent game players will not go on to become mass murderers, there is indeed a connection. Not only have numerous studies made the connection, but common sense tells us that if someone spends countless hours soaking up these bloody, violent games, becoming experts at killing people, in ever more realistic scenarios and settings, some – who may be a bit unbalanced to begin with – will seek to play this out in the real world.

So a case can be made for tightening things up here. But as mentioned, it is still early on in terms of learning about this killer, his background, his motivations, and his worldview. But the various political debates, it appears, have already begun in earnest.

As I said at the beginning, our best course of action at this point is to uphold the Norwegians in prayer, and seek to show them our love and support. As the days proceed, further discussions about religion and violence, and violent computer and video games, will undoubtedly ensue.

For now, we grieve with this nation as it recovers from this horrendous tragedy, and we cover it in our prayers.

[1022 words]

37 Responses to On the Norway Massacres

  • I see that reports are now saying he was also a Freemason, taking him further out of the realm of biblical Christianity.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill, you are such a delightful and wise antidote to the old, left/liberal partisan print media so dominant in the west along with its copycats. Thank YOU!
    Joe Whitchurch, Indiana, USA

  • Many thanks Joe.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I often have cause to cite C.S. Lewis’ words about people “rushing about with fire extinguishers when there is a flood, and crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly gunwale under.” Here, the metaphor translates into the Marxist media inventing Christian boogeymen, while dishonestly ignoring the REAL menace of Islamic fascism. The real reason for this is because the materialistic socialistic movement is confident of being able to overpower ALL religions where physical force is concerned, but it is Christianity and not Islam whose MORAL force they are worried about.
    Joseph Ravitts, US

  • Yes quite right Joseph. And thanks for the great Lewis quote.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • In a way it’s good that his ‘christian fundamentalist’ background is highlighted. This will counter the Islamist accusation that only Muslim terrorists are singled out and highlighted by the media. Regardless of whether the terrorist is a true believer or not, all Christians should expressed immediate and strong condemnation and outrage at this worse than barbaric act. Without any need for being defensive, our strong condemnation will itself explain what Christ stands for.
    Barry Koh

  • Conceivably there was merit in mentioning his religious profession since it is too easy for people to jump to wrong conclusions, ie. that he must be an Islamist.

    Doubtless some will use it against Christians but it won’t wash with 99.9%.

    Rowland Ward

  • I know everyone is going to jump on the video games bandwagon. Personally, I don’t really like those sort of games, but then I don’t mind target shooting in real life. Where I think those games have an impact is that, especially in children, it desensitizes you to what is going on. If you spend lots of time shooting and killing virtual characters, it does not seem ‘real’ to shoot, say, an animal. Whereas someone who is used to target shooting sees an animal being shot, it is quite confronting. I have no doubt this played a role here.
    Christie Ewens

  • I agree, Rowland.
    My wife, a non Christian, said, “This man is not a Christian”. Not everyone is fooled by the MSM.
    God bless,
    Paul de la Garde, Sydney

  • Hi Bill,

    Could you please do a follow up article on some of his claims? I.e. What is a REAL political conservative, what is a Fundamentalist Christian vs a Christian, what does being politically left or right/far right etc mean? Thanks.

    David Roberts

  • Let’s get a little bit of proportion or perspective in all this. Could it be that the real conspiracy comes from the Marxist dominated media?

    David Skinner, UK

  • I have heard 2 reports this morning, one calling him a Nazi and one calling him a fundamentalist Christian.
    I wonder, would these people call Hitler a fundamentalist Christian? I mean, is there anyone left other than Andrew Bolt who can think? Someone commented earlier that it is the moral force of Christianity that they are worried about. I wonder, do we give them enough to worry about? Remembering that Jesus does everything back to front to the way the world does, so when the world takes things into their own hands through violence, through anti-God legislation and propaganda etc, do we counter with praising the Lord Jesus more, praying more, proclaiming His word more, loving each other sacrificially more? It is the only way to hasten the day of His coming. 2 Peter 3. We need to start growing up in the Lord, we know that man’s sin, our sin has put all of creation into subjection to futility. Romans 8. The only eternal “things” in this life are the souls of people and they will not enter eternity except they die. Let us not despair about evil, but determine to overcome it with good, the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and the promise of eternal life because of it. We can only really have 2 responses to evil, either let our love grow cold and Jesus warned us against that or to press into the grace by which we stand, to which we have access to Romans 5 and “having done to stand”. Gal 6. We must do our best to prevent evil, because that is the reflection of the character of our loving heavenly father. But evil is a tool for good in His hand The world out there already does everything they can to preserve physical life for it is all they have. We preserve it in order to present and have people receive the gift of Christ’s forgiveness and there by eternal life with Him. If we don’t start to get an eternal perspective on life, many of us are not going to make it through the hard times ahead.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  • Bill,

    You wrote “Quite simply, if there is no free will, there is no evil, but there is no good either. Love and goodness are nonsensical apart from the notion of free will.”

    Well, I guess you are not a Calvinist. Nor am I. The only thing I disagree with is the lack of “In my opinion” preceding the above words. At one period of my life, I considered Calvinism to be a satanic-infiltration of the Christian Church. Then I met some Calvinists who did not look down their noses at me because I am not a Calvinist. And who love God immensely with a great respect for His Word. Hence, I make sure I especially try to not assume that all Christians think exactly as I do. On moral issues, my Calvinist friends would agree with you on 99% (100%?) of issues. I would be surprised, considering your work, that you have not met many similar Calvinists to my friends, hence my surprise at the above unqualified comments.

    Graeme Cumming

  • I noted that our Australian Prime Minister had “our thoughts” to give to the Norwegian nation at this time. How wonderful that you encourage us to pray, Bill. I believe that our prayers are more effective than “our thoughts”.
    Greg Brien

  • When we heard this distressing news our family all stated…this is not the act of a Christian. But we can see how Satan can lead people to be involved in such deadly acts.

    The rejection of God by so many within society will lead society further down the path of self destruction.

    Let us pray for the Norwegians at this time of tragedy. Prayers are far more powerful than thoughts.

    Madge Fahy

  • This article tells us much more about his confused and unbiblical worldview:

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks guys

    It is now becoming clear that he is at best a “cultural Christian”. That is, he has a liking for a vague, general sense of a Christian culture (as opposed to, say, an Islamic culture), but he is clearly not a born-again Christian nor a biblical Christian.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks for the above link and response Bill. I’ll start reading them. It may also be helpful to discuss the crusaders vs the Knights Templar” order he Anders claims to be part of. Thanks.
    David Roberts

  • Here is an excerpt from his manifesto:

    If Islam is violent, why are so many Muslims peaceful? This question is a bit like asking, “If Christianity teaches humility, tolerance, and forgiveness, why are so many Christians arrogant, intolerant, and vindictive?” The answer in both cases is obvious: in any religion or ideology there will be many who profess, but do not practice, its tenets. Just as it is often easier for a Christian to hit back, play holier-than-thou, or disdain others, so it is often easier for a Muslim to stay at home rather than embark on jihad. Hypocrites are everywhere. Furthermore, there are also people who do not really understand their own faith and so act outside of its prescribed boundaries. In Islam, there are likely many Muslims who do not really understand their religion thanks to the importance of reciting the Quran in Arabic but not having to understand it. (pg 99)

    Does he realise the hypocrisy of his actions?

    Cameron Spink
    Resistance Thinking Co-ordinator

  • Woe unto the people of the earth because the devil has been cast down on us. Sounds a bit religious doesn’t it? But consider.
    Christians were thrown into the arena because they were perceived and stigmatised as the cause of all troubles I.e. We wouldn’t stop telling them what they were doing wrong. Verily a constant thorn in their side and one that needed to be plucked swiftly from the evil societies of the day. However many people were not directly evil but simply hid their light from the world. Many were also content with the government of the day providing they were left alone and many were happy with mans law that contained enough loopholes to allow evil to pervade.
    The simple fact is that you can’t argue with Gods Laws that takes just two words to distinguish mans true path and that’s Right and Wrong in the true moral sense for there is no in between. And so this evil will not go away and those of a Christian Faith will be blamed for every conceivable act that takes a life.
    Why because we will be seen as followers of a God that allows such things as this to happen. Not as fighters against the evil that envelopes us. Yes they want God to stop the violence but they don’t want him telling them how to run their lives. In truth there is very little righteous indignation against all the actual peripheral evil that encourages or ferments such acts, just the blatant more violent and visible acts themselves. And all will be blamed on God for not doing anything and thereby us. And yes it’s going to get worse much worse.
    Why did Jesus say that the Gospel needed to be preached to the people of all nations. Because all have to see the light of the world and to know the The Way.
    If they choose to slink back into dark places to be hidden then evil will run rampant through out this world. Greed is the main culprit. I would have no trouble trusting a benevolent dictator with piles of money if his works were good but greed robs the poor to give to the rich and from this evil must surely follow.
    God doesn’t need money his light and his spoken word will one day provide all our needs but we must be worthy.
    Remember even Michael and his angels will make war with the devil and his angels in the heavens above us. And I think that will be fairly literal because the devil is here and he’s trapped in our world.
    Dennis Newland

  • Yes, we do take notice of death when it is as dramatic and sudden as that associated with the Titanic, The twin Towers, Tsunami or this cold blooded and calculated massacre – hardly a crime of passion or phobic hatred – and yet the death toll from abortion, drink-driving, smoking, sexual sin and starvation in poverty-stricken countries far exceeds that number by millions each and every year – yet pass with hardly a moment‘s notice.
    Even the deaths of those in our neighbourhood are barely acknowledged. It is almost as though we ask people to slip out the back and to close the door quietly without disturbing us. Their passing is signified – if at all – by only a few words in the obituary columns.

    Mark Twain said; “Men are born, they labour and sweat and struggle; they squabble and scold and fight; those they love are taken from them, and the joy of life is turned to aching grief. The release comes at last and they vanish from a world where they were of no consequence …. A world which will lament them a day and forget them forever.” Indeed by next week or the next this disaster will be forgotten, replaced by another distraction. Even if the deceased are mourned, death is made to lose its sting by words of comfort that are confidently pronounced at funerals such as the familiar words:’Do not stand at my grave and weep I am not there, I do not sleep I am a 1,000 winds that blow I am the diamond glints on snow I am the sun on ripened grain I am the gentle autumn rain When you awaken in the morning’s hush I am the swift uplifting rush Of quiet birds in circled light I am the soft star that shines at night Do not stand at my grave and cry I am not there; I did not die’.”

    One wonders how much notice will be given to the solitary saviour, the German tourist, who at great risk to his own life sailed to the island and saved thirty young people from the water?

    Or to the real Saviour us all, including that Anders Behring Breivik who in some respects is little different from Paul before his miraculous meeting with the risen Lord.

    Mario Del Giudice, a contributor to this site, last week gave us this challenge:

    “It just shows that we’re not to simply be sitting around talking to one another as believers about the moral depravity that is going on in society. It is our duty as disciples of Christ to go forth and preach the Gospel as loud and as proud as possible. We are to convince the gainsayers, not look at them with distaste. We are to love the unlovely and those that would make themselves our enemies. Loving them means telling them the truth, whether they want to hear it or not.
    Get out on the streets and preach it. Don’t wait for God’s calling. If you’re a Christian, then you’re called.”

    David Skinner, UK

  • Ronald Siegel’s “Whispers: The Voices of Paranoia” has some interesting cases of unstable, paranoid types who killed. That Norwegian would have had psychiatric problems well before he was watching violent video games. As a matter of interest a British serial killer first got the idea of murdering women while sitting in church. Nothing to do with Christianity of course. He could just as easily have got the idea while on a bus or while watching “Mary Poppins”.
    John Snowden

  • Those of us who openly accuse cultural Marxists and their useful idiot, liberal friends, of treacherously destabilising society and creating just the kind of anarchy and insecurity witnessed in Norway, and thus emboldening the homosexuals and Islamists, will join Melanie Phillips and Gert Wilders in being accused of being dangerous, hate-filled extremists. All this is designed to silence any further dissent.

    These surely are signs of Western society inching towards some kind of civil war and self destruction.

    David Skinner, UK

  • Graeme Cumming – you sound a bit confused on Calvinism.

    Man has free will – God has ordained it. The question is what one means by the term? Calvinists say we act freely, doing what we want to do, but we cannot act contrary to our nature.
    Being spiritually dead we cannot will ourselves to live. This is the work of God in regeneration enabling us to freely choose Christ.
    The Norwegian man made his choices and apparently over many years planned what he did. God is not to blame for what he did even though in the mystery of life God rules over all.

    Rowland Ward

  • Or, David, indeed the 40 000 killed in the drug wars in Mexico in only 5 or 6 short years. These all the dead frogs who didn’t jump out of the slowly boiled water, I guess the analogy is well known to us.
    Mark Twain was maybe close to knowing the gospel, but apparently not close enough if he wrote that. But even many Christians have trouble getting their head around 1 Cor 15 that indeed without the reality of the resurrection, we would be of all people the most to be pitied. I wonder if it is exactly that, our lack of confidence in the promise of eternal life that makes us stay at home and not go out on a limb and risk all. Jim Elliot I believe summed it up well when he said “He is not a fool who gives away that which he can not keep in order to gain that which he can not lose.”
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  • Ursula, Christians in the comfortable West (not in North Korea, of course) – and I include myself here – have lost both the belief in the New Jerusalem and the eternal fire of Revelations. Even John Stott and Jim Packer, I believe, have replaced hell with mere extinction.

    But returning to this tragic occurrence, I would question John Snowden’s assumption that Anders Behring Breivik was insane. Were the thousands of Germans who were directly involved with the slaughter of six million Jews mad? Or for that matter all those who committed the atrocities during the Balkans war? I believe that Ander’s actions were motivated not by phobia but by ideology. My concern is that this will now give an excuse, for which the Marxists have been waiting, to crack down on any one who can be accused of hatred or inciting it, including all of us who contribute to Bill’s site. We will all be seen to be as dangerous extremists. The Muslims must be laughing. But perhaps I am paranoid too?

    David Skinner, UK

  • Thanks David

    Years ago Stott was toying with the idea of annihilationism. But Packer certainly has not done so as far as I am aware. Indeed, he has critiqued both it and Stott in various places, including here:

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Bill, for this clarification. I need to check it out. The complacent certainties, some would say uncritical and sloppy thinking, of a few decades ago, are no longer a luxury we can afford.
    God Bless you.

    David Skinner, UK

  • I am a new Christian. My family and especially my sister is anti-Christian. I notice that she often uses anything she can find such as this case for instance, and use it to ‘attack’ me verbally. I haven’t met up or spoke to her since this tragedy in Norway. I know that she will say that this guy who murdered so many people is a – Christian and then use that to tell me off for being a Christian. I wonder why it is that people who know so little about what Jesus actually stands for are the ones who are first to ‘attack’ the Christian faith.
    Tanya Tan

  • It is sickening to see how the left always jumps at any opportunity to attack Christ and his people. I am reminded of the Virginia Tech massacre when one small sound bite of the perpetrator’s video was played ad nauseum because it mentioned Jesus Christ.

    It’s amazing how thick the devil’s clouds around unbelievers minds can be, but if they prefer deception to truth, what can we expect?

    Mario Del Giudice

  • It seems according to Andrew Bolt today (see “He’s mad of course”) this man was raised by a cultural Marxist and feminist. I notice the man also claims he was a Darwinist. So it might just backfire on the lefties who are jumping on this to claim he was a christian.
    Rob Withall

  • Thanks guys

    Another very helpful piece can be found here:

    “It’s time to put away the ‘incitement to violence’ club so often utilized these days to shut down free speech. Breivik’s evil doesn’t mean that conservatism promoted it or endorsed it. By the same token, not all ideologies are equal — some do promote violence. It is imperative that we apply the ideological violence test before dismissing the effects of ideology. It is also necessary that we apply the ideological violence test before pointing fingers at mainstream political actors for violent monstrosities that have nothing to do with them.”

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Talking of free-will – this article was “pointed out” to me recently -it is in the context of Marriage/Fidelity – I believe it is relevant here because ALL these situations involve us, humans:
    Jyoti Mastapha

  • See also this helpful article by Suzanne Fields:

    “Environmentalists didn’t think it necessary to defend themselves in the wake of the Unabomber, though the Unabomber drew on many of their ideas when he set out to destroy others.”

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Rowland Ward.

    You claim that I am “confused on Calvinism.”

    If you wish to address re: this matter please ask Bill to pass my address onto you.

    Graeme CUmming

Leave a Reply