HOW TO BECOME
A WISE NORWEGIAN
Judging Christianity Fairly
A Norwegian once visited Bulgaria. Whenever he said "yes" he nodded, and whenever he said "no" he shook his head. Most of the Bulgarians thought he was crazy and cracked rude jokes about him.
One of those Bulgarians subsequently visited Norway. Whenever he said "yes" he shook his head, and whenever he said "no" he nodded. Most of the Norwegians thought him very odd and made rude remarks about him.
There are two types of people in this little anecdote: wise Norwegians and Bulgarians, and foolish Norwegians and Bulgarians. The wise Norwegians and Bulgarians were sensible enough to understand that Norwegians and Bulgarians make different head movements when they say "yes" and "no" in their respective countries. The foolish Norwegians and Bulgarians could only see each other through the lenses of their own tradition and experience. They were blind to the reasons for each others differences and couldn't be bothered to find out. A little time and effort would have made them wise.
We here in Norway are taught to think, feel, and act like Norwegians. Bulgarians are taught to think, feel, and act like Bulgarians. Each country has different traditions, different ways of doing things, right or wrong. Normal men don't kiss each other in Norway (except homosexuals), but in Russia they do. We might be a little shocked by their behaviour but in their hearts they are saying the same thing as when we hug or shake hands.
We must therefore be very careful how we judge others. Above all, we must learn to judge people by what is in their hearts and not just by their external behaviour.
I am an Englishman and I have lived in Norway for nine years and Sweden for thirteen. I am very impressed by many Norwegian character traits and mystified by others. The Norwegians feel the same way about us. Before I came to Norway I was taught the stereotype image that Norwegians were all drunken Vikings who pillaged English villages and raped our women.
I discovered that Norwegians are a very civilized people and (at the risk of offending my own countrymen) more civilized than the English in many respects. Indeed, I was once mistaken for a Norwegian when I visited England once. I was so proud that I did not correct my countryman's error!
Many Norwegians I know are surprised that I do not fit the Norwegian stereotype of an Englishman wearing a pinstripe suit, bowler hat, carrying an umbrella, drinking tea and being crazy about cricket or soccer. Actually, I do none of these things and have no interest in cricket or football whatsoever.
I am also a Christian, as many Norwegians are. Those who are not Christians (and that may, perhaps, be you) have one of two attitudes: (1) They either respect us and are polite and courteous, despite our differences; or (2) They poke fun at us, thinking we are either stupid, old-fashioned, or a threat to their well-being.
Well, just as there are wise and foolish Norwegians and Bulgarians, there are also wise and foolish Christians. I would be foolish to judge the whole of Norway as being a "land of drunks" just because I met a bunch a drunken Norwegians abroad, just as you would be foolish to judge the whole of England as a "land of football hooligans" because an element of English football fans are violent, uncivilized drunkards.
Norway likes to project an image of itself to the world -- an ideal, if you like -- of an enlightened people who care for the environment and support the weak and oppressed the world over. It likes people to see it as an advanced modern, technological society able to match the best the Americans, Japanese or Germans can produce. It also likes to be seen as a fit, sporty nation. I am sure most Norwegians would like to be associated with this image.
Similarly, the English like to project an image of decency, fair-play, patience, and historical tradition. They like to show off their monarchy as the ideal family (an image rather badly tarnished now, alas), and many other things. The great majority of Englishmen like to be associated with this image.
So when people think of Norway or England, the Norwegians or English like to be associated with that ideal image. Norwegians think it unfair that they should be judged for their excesses a thousand years ago when they invaded much of Europe (my ancestors actually came from Norway, and invaded England!), or for the occasional drunk; and the English think it unfair that they should be judged as a "colonialist" power when the colonies are no more.
Let us therefore accord Englishmen, Norwegians, Bulgarians, Russians and all the rest the respect they deserve in upholding their national ideals.
Let us similarly judge Christianity not by the mistakes and excesses of misguided Christians throughout the ages but by the ideals laid down by its founder, Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). If you are a non-believer, and perhaps even antagonistic to Christianity, you could cite the excesses of the Inquisition, the monstrosity of the Crusades (Holy Wars), the destruction of indigenous cultures, and so on. I have often talked to radical socialists who have said such things and I have always had to remind them that they would wish to be judged by their ideals of a fairer world and not by the excesses of Stalin, Pol-pot, Mao-tse Tung, Ceaucescu, and all the other tin-pot communist and socialist dictators.
So I ask you in all fairness: please judge us by our ideals and not by the follies of those who have carried the Name of Christ and so terribly abused it. They have blotted the name of Christianity just as foolish Norwegians, Germans, Russians, Englishmen and others have blotted the names of their countries. Today's German youth want to be considered as normal people and not nazis; today's Russian youth want to be considered as normal people and not KGB agents; and so on. Why can't we let them be?
I am a New Covenant Christian. We are a new group who desire to keep the name of Christianity clean and honorable. We are not descended from Catholicism, Protestantism, Mormonism or any other kind of "-ism" because we feel that these groups, though in many cases now decent and honourable (with whom we often work), have brought disrepute to the Name of Christ in the past and failed to admit their errors.
It is, we think, interesting that Germany has been making atonement (to the extent that is possible) for its nazi past by rejecting militarism and paying voluntary indemnities to countries it oppressed (like Poland and Israel), whereas some Churches refuse to admit their error in persecuting scientists like Galileo, burning people at the stake, waging "holy war", and murdering those from other religions and Christian denominations. Galileo has been "re-instated" but the victims of the Inquisition have never been absolved, nor public admission of unchristian behaviour even been admitted.
It is interesting that whereas the Church was seen as the enemy of science in the past, today it is becoming the opposite: it is the atheists who espouse evolution who are becoming the suppressors of scientific truth and the "religious fanatics", for theirs is a religious philosophy without any real scientific foundation. It is only a matter of time before the whole nonsensical theory of evolution is exposed as fantasy just as Marxism was exposed as a failed economic theory. Creation Science is showing itself to be a far more robust scientific theory than evolution, and the evolutionists are dead scared!
There has been little in the way of godly sorrow for the wrongs of the past. The example of Margaret Thatcher should be followed who, following the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, publicly apologized in Prague for her nation of Great Britain literally selling the Czechs and Slovaks to the nazis in 1938 for a peace that never came. The Japanese too have been apologizing to nations they oppressed, in the Second World War, like Korea, Indonesia and the Philippines. This is good and healthy for human relations. It is the essence of the true Christian ethic.
Today I am challenging you -- if you are not an active, Bible-believing Christian -- to honestly re-assess Christianity by letting its founder speak for Himself. I will not hide the fact that if you find His teaching to be true that you will in all likelihood have to dramatically change your way of life. The bottom line is really a question of honesty, and so I ask you this very important question:
IF WHAT YOU BELIEVE IS NOT TRUE,
WOULD YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT?
There is no more important question in life, for if you answer "no" you are actually choosing to be dishonest to yourself and to make your life a lie. To answer "no" is to say that you would rather live in a fantasy than in reality. Are you honest with yourself? Are you willing to risk the possibility that your way of thinking is wrong? You see, if Christianity is true, and you do continue to live after this life, and if this life is the one and only chance you have to "get it right", then you risk not only messing up this life but the whole of eternity too.
I was once an atheist. I was one of those foolish band of people who enjoyed mocking Christians and things Christian. I was a Darwinist too and used the "theory" of evolution to sustain my world view. At university in Oxford I met the living Christ and saw how utterly non-scientific evolution actually is. It is actually no more than a religion, and based on a shaky foundation at that. Christianity, on the hand, is completely scientific; many of the greatest scientists in the world were, and are, Christians.
So I am giving you a challenge today: Are you sure what you believe in is true, or are you just taking the word of others? If what you believe is not true, would you want to know about it?
I can't prove Christianity scientifically to you. I can certainly show you that Creationism is more scientific and reasonable than the unproven dogma of evolution (I am a Biochemist and Systems Analyst by training, incidentally, and a teacher of Information Technology by profession). I, and many other Christians, can show you how you can meet the living Christ, however, and know for yourself that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and not just some religious myth.
This page was created on 28 December 1997
Updated on 23 December 2016
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