In recent weeks a man in Norway systematically murdered several dozen people. Some news reports described him as a “Christian terrorist” apparently due to some of his writings that supported historical European cultural heritage. While I have not seen all of this man’s writings nor heard all of his statements, I did view a Youtube video that he allegedly posted, and it said nothing of Christianity. He was apparently attempting to fight against the growing influence of Islam in Europe.
The incident raised the question of how to refer to different people who are murderous. Do we equate one religion with another? Is one religion equally capable of sponsoring terrorists as another? Should we rerfer to terrorists as Islamic extremists, or merely Muslims? The recent incident in Norway raised the issue of whether this one man was truly a Christian and thus inspired by his faith to murder people, and whether peaceful Muslims can claim whether their religion is peaceful, but has been hijacked by a minority of extremists.
I have no evidence of whether this man in Norway was Christian, and some indications that he is not. But let’s say, for arguments sake, that he was. What can we then conclude from this? First, he is not the first nor the last Christian who will do insane acts and kill people. Second, these people are individuals, breaking away from the common thrust of the faith. By contrast, there has always been, and will always be, and element of Islam that is violent and dedicated to world domination. No such thing has existed as a common thread in Christianity. Third, no matter whether you agree with points one and two, the real test of the faith is in the teachings of the sacred writings and the founders of the religion. So here we will compare what the Quran says compared to the Bible.
Concerning murder, the Quran says the following:
“They would have you disbelieve as they themselves have disbelieved, so that you may be all alike. Do not befriend them until they have fled their homes in the cause of Allah. If they desert you, seize them and put them to death wherever you find them.” (Quran, Surah 4:89)
“Allah revealed his will to the angels, saying: ‘I shall be with you. Give courage to the believers. I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, strike off the very tips of their fingers!’” (Quran, Surah 8:12)
“When the sacred months are over slay the idolators [non-muslims] wherever you find them. Arrest them, beseige them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent [turn to Islam] and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way. Allah is forgiving and merciful.” (Quran, Surah 9:5)
“Fight against such of those to whom the Scriptures were given as believe in neither Allah nor the Last Day.”(Quran, Surah 9:28)
Muslim apologists try to make these passages only apply in cases of war when enemies are invading Muslim lands, but the context of the passages do not bear this out, as shown by the many Muslim terrorists who take the Quran quite literal in waging war against non-Muslims. By contrast, the following passages are the Bible’s view of killing and how to treat enemies:
“For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.” (Bible, James 2:11)
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Bible, Matthew 4:44)
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” (Bible, Luke 6:35-36)
“To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Bible, Romans 12:20)
Therefore even if the Muslims attempt to shoehorn the violent verses of the Quran into a ‘this only applies to enemies’ interpretation, the contrast with the Bible is clear. The Bible and the Quran have a very different perspective on the moral actions to take against those who disagree with the religion.
Bottom line: Those who kill in the name of Allah are following the teachings and traditions of Islam, as a vocal portion of Islam has always demonstrated. Those who kill in the name of Christ are going against the teachings of Christianity, as the Bible makes clear.