“What’s in a name?” asked Juliet. Plenty, if you ask Bill O’Reilly.
O’Reilly objects to members of the media calling Norway’s mass murderer a Christian.
On his TV show O’Reilly said the following*:
Now, on Sunday, the “New York Times” headlined “As Horrors Emerged, Norway Charges Christian extremist”. A number of other news organizations like the “LA Times” and Reuters also played up the Christian angle. But Breivik is not a Christian. That’s impossible. No one believing in Jesus commits mass murder. The man might have called himself a Christian on the net, but he is certainly not of that faith.
O’Reilly is correct to imply that calling one’s self a Christian doesn’t automatically make one a Christian. People can call themselves Christians while having beliefs that completely contradict the Christian religion.
For example, the followers of the late Joseph Smith, Jr. call themselves Christians, but if they believe everything that Smith taught, then it would a mistake to call them Christians. In Volume 6 of Journal of Discourses Smith proclaims the following:
It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ himself did . . .
. . . and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you . . .
. . . In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people it.
In short, Smith’s religion is polytheistic.
Christianity, however, is monotheistic. Christians believe that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the same God in essence, contrary to what Smith’s religion teaches.
It is illogical to claim that members of a polytheistic religion are also members of a monotheistic religion. Likewise, it is illogical to claim that mass murderers are Christians, because mass murder is an action that completely contradicts the teachings of Jesus.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to prevent people from misapplying religious labels.
Thankfully, God is not fooled by them.
[Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are not necessarily shared by this blog’s founder or by this blog’s other writers.]