From Arne Fjeldstad: Belief? Ideology? Faith?

EDITOR'S NOTE: GetReligion readers may not know the byline of Arne H. Fjeldstad, unless they have clicked through to the Media Project website on our left sidebar. Suffice it to say, the leader of the Media Project is in an interesting position to offer information and commentary on the massacre in Norway.

The main things that you need to know is that Fjeldstad has about 30 years experience in the mainstream Norwegian press -- best known as an editor at the influential Aftenposten -- and he is an ordained Lutheran minister in the mainstream Church of Norway. He wrote in Fuller Theological Seminary doctoral dissertation on Lutheran churches and virtual churches on the Internet. He has also served as a magazine publisher in Egypt and in the Middle East.

Fjeldstad's full essay has now been posted at The Media Project site. Read it all.

Meanwhile, here is a key chunk of the text as a place to start:

By Arne H. Fjeldstad

... The major questions people in Norway and around the globe have been asking is: Why? What has made a young conservative guy become a terrorist? What kind of ideology or belief can justify such atrocities?

Christian and fundamentalist?

The first explanation by Deputy Police Chief Roger Andresen in Oslo has been quoted by many media: "He confirmed that Mr. Breivik belongs to a Christian, fundamentalist, extreme-right environment in Norway." (Source in Norwegian: from the newspaper Aftenposten.)

However, this description may have been largely misunderstood and misinterpreted, if not simply mistaken and false.

Unbelievably enough, the 32-year-old Anders B. Breivik has used several years to prepare for the massacre and bomb explosion on Friday 22 July, according to himself. Just a few minutes before heading downtown Oslo to detonate the bomb he finished a more than 1500+ pages compendium, “2083 -- A European Declaration of Independence.” In the compendium he (and maybe others?) writes in detail about his ideological theories as well as personal values and faith. On page 1309 he says:

“If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God then you are a religious Christian. Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God. We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform. This makes us Christian. ... European Christendom and the cross will be the symbol in which every cultural conservative can unite under in our common defense. It should serve as the uniting symbol for all Europeans whether they are agnostic or atheists.”

National-conservative, not fundamentalist

One person from the radical left who for some time used to debate with Breivik and others with the same conviction online at is post doctor Lars Gule. In an interview with Norway’s largest newspaper Aftenposten he says he does not consider Breivik as a neo-Nazi (my translation:)

“He is national-conservative. One cannot say right wing extremism and the Nazi ideology are the same. He has a conservative, Christian ideology but I do not think it is right to call him a Christian fundamentalist. He has wanted the (Lutheran) Church of Norway to collectively convert to Catholicism and has supported the most conservative (candidates) at church elections. But this Christian conservatism is only one element in his national conservatism”, says Gule.

Breivik also distances himself from the Nazi ideology in his writings online. At he writes he thinks it is very hypocritical to treat Muslims, Nazis and Marxists different. "They are all adherents to hate-ideologies.” Source (in Norwegian). ...

Breivik tells quite a bit in the compendium he assembled or mostly wrote (under psevdonym Andrew Berwick.) On page 1405 he writes: “Regarding my personal relationship with God, I guess I’m not an excessively religious man. I am first and foremost a man of logic. However, I am a supporter of a monocultural Christian Europe.” On page 1562 he reiterates this position: “As a cultural Christian, I believe Christendom is essential for cultural reasons. After all, Christianity is the ONLY cultural platform that can unite all Europeans, which will be needed in the coming period during the third expulsion of the Muslims.”

In other words: a typical nominal Norwegian Christian.

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