Was the Wieambilla Shooting an Act of Christian Terrorism?

Tracy Linford, the Deputy Police Commissioner of Queensland, recently described the fatal shooting of two police officers at a property at Wieambilla as an act of Christian terrorism. Ms. Linford said that the bizarre love-triangle involving three Train family members operated as an “autonomous cell” with their actions labelled as being “religiously motivated”.

Significantly, the Deputy Police Commissioner stated in the press conference:

            “What we’ve been able to glean from that information is that the Train family members   subscribe to what we would call a broad Christian fundamentalist belief system, known as premillennialism.

            Whilst the behaviour was similar in some respect to sovereign citizens, we don’t believe this         was connected to a sovereign citizen ideology, we believe it’s connected to the Christian     extremist ideology.

            There was a belief that Christ will return to the Earth … and provide peace and prosperity.

            But it will be preceded by an era, or a period of time of tribulation, widespread destruction and    suffering.

            They started preparing for the end of days.”

However, believing that Jesus is going to physically return to earth or that we are living in the last days is not “Christian extremist ideology” but traditional, mainstream belief. And what’s more, there is no denomination anywhere which would condone the use of violence. Instead, one of the chief obligations of a follower of Jesus is to submit to governing authorities as we would submit to God Himself (i.e. Rom. 13:1-5; 1 Pet. 2:13-17).

Correlation doesn’t equal Causation

There’s a fundamental principle which should be drilled into all scientific—as well as journalistic—investigation, and that is correlation doesn’t equal causation. Just because someone holds to a certain ideological position in one area doesn’t mean that it directly relates to another area.

To blame the horrific events which occurred in December last year on a certain interpretation of a book in the Bible is just as irresponsible as claiming that the Queensland Department of Education was responsible for Gareth Train’s murderous actions because he was a former public school Principal.

A Christian Leader’s Response

Martyn Iles, the Director of the Australian Christian Lobby has publicly challenged the Queensland Deputy Police Commissioner to substantiate her claims. Iles wrote on social media:

            The most popular eschatology in Evangelical and Pentecostal circles is apparently a          motive for terrorism.

            It is the first time “Christian ideology” (their words) has been linked to a terror attack.

            I call on Deputy Commissioner Linford to point out where in premillennialism there is any             authority given whatsoever for a person to use premeditated violence.

            She can’t, because there isn’t.

            Submission to the state is taught in 3 places in the New Testament letters. Jesus Himself   submitted to Pilate’s judgement, acknowledging the man’s authority. He also said, “My        kingdom is not of this world, or else my servants would fight.”

            Premillennialism affirms the absolute authority of these scriptures.

            We’re living in clown world.

            In Ancient Rome, the authorities blamed Christianity for the evils of their day because they

            either hated it, or were totally ignorant concerning it.

            I guess history can repeat.

And then later, in a follow-up comment, Iles further wrote:

            Premillennialism of the kind described in this instance has been around since 1845 and    globally popular since the 1960s… And yet…Not one single terror event has ever been         perpetuated in the name of this belief…until now? Again, clown world.

The Underlying Problem of Biblical Illiteracy

Politicians, those holding public office, and especially journalists, are generally illiterate when it comes to teaching of the Bible. Mind you, this doesn’t stop them for waxing eloquent as to what they think the Bible says, or at least, what they would like it to mean. But, for the most part, when it comes to religion very few journalistic don’t know what the hell they are talking about, if I may put it that way.

Martyn Iles is right. Not a single terror event has ever been perpetuated in the name of premillennialism. If one were to sit down and read what the book of Revelation actually says, one would quickly find that it condemns all forms of violence (e.g. Rev. 9:21; 21:8). In fact, it says that people will be specifically judged for crimes such as murder. And this remains true no matter what interpretation of the “millennium” one takes.

– Mark Powell