Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Blood Of Abel

The bodies have yet to be buried, the families are only beginning the long journey of mourning and grieving, Norway is only beginning to struggle with this eruption of murderous violence, and all anyone seems to be able to do is either make sure that Anders Breivik's Christianity is disallowed or defend his beliefs without defending his actions. Does anyone, anywhere, want to stand with the families of the victims, while admitting culpability with the ideas that spawned one man's murderous rampage? Breivik is just the latest in a line of bloody-handed Christians, going all the way back to Constantine's decision to put crosses on the shields of his warriors to ensure his victory in battle. Jews and Muslims, Christian minority groups labeled "heretical" and women accused of witchcraft, Protestants and Anabaptists, African slaves and indigenous people in the newly-encountered Western Hemisphere have all felt the sting of the spear at the end of the cross Christians carried.

The steps from "They are living in error," to, "They pose a threat to our way of life," to, "Let's kill 'em all and all those traitors in our midst to save ourselves," are so small, it's a wonder it hasn't occurred on this grand a scale elsewhere. Every dehumanizing word uttered against Muslims and gays, against non-believers and those seen as appeasers of enemies of Our Way Of Life is just more ideological ammunition, helping to support those who wish to make the same kind of decision Anders Breivik did.

We Christians of all stripes bear an enormous burden of guilt and shame. History is strewn with the corpses of those who stood in the way of the victorious cross. All of us - I don't care what your denomination is, what your ideological or theological self-identification may be - share a certain amount of responsibility for what happened in Oslo. We just have not done enough - we can never do enough - to atone for the mass graves brought about by those who call themselves Christian. We haven't done enough to make clear that we are servants of all. We haven't made clear that ours is not a claim of certainty, but of faith. We haven't made clear that, rather than tell the world how wrong it is, we are called to live out how much God loves this world.

The blood of Abel cries out, and we do not hear it. Instead, like Cain, we make our excuses. To paraphrase Jefferson, I tremble for myself and my fellow Christians when I remember that God is just.

Virtual Tin Cup

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