Explosions devastated Oslo, Norway today when at least one bomb went off in the center of political power. This is an extremely unusual occurrence in the land the Vikings once called home. CNN reports that a shooting also occurred at a youth camp organized and run by the Norwegian Labor Party which is presently the ruling party in the country; reports are that authorities have made an arrest in the shooting. Needless to say, the country is reeling. Such events might be commonplace in Israel or Afghanistan but Scandinavia is not currently known as a hotbed for extremism of any kind. Susie Madrak is writing over at Crooks and Liars that Islamic terrorists might have played a part in the attacks. The New York Times writes that a group calling itself Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami is claiming responsibility.
The last time I can recall anything of this ilk happening within the Norwegian state lines was the rash of church burnings in the early 1990’s. At least some of those arsons were laid at the door of an infamous Black Metal musician, Varg Vikernes, who, at the time, went by the nom de guerre of Count Grishnackh. The state also convicted him of the murder of fellow Black Metallist, Øystein Aarseth, whose recording moniker was Euronyomous, and who was the leader of the seminal extreme band Mayhem.
The church in Norway is known for a strain of theological liberalism that most American evangelicals deem intolerable. Indeed, the young men who created the Scandinavian Black Metal scene, were notorious haters of Christianity and despised the liberal version of the faith prevalent in Norway at the time. One can only imagine what manner of statement the state church will wheel out in response to this act of savagery.
And it is an act of wanton malice. If this is a politically motivated attack then the murder of young campers is especially inexcusable. What political influence do teenagers wield?
How should a Christian respond to such cavalier disregard for human life? Outrage and anger are completely appropriate reactions to this type of incident. Yes, the Messiah commands us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44) but Jesus was discussing personal attacks. Besides it is a false dichotomy to presuppose that outrage/anger and love/forgiveness cannot exist as responses to the same infraction. Indeed, if we are to love our enemies,and if we are to forgive those who mistreat us, then these commands presuppose a previous evil.