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Gerard de VosCreated by Gerard de Vos
on 06-06-2007
Category: Other
What about the Crusades?

The long war against Christianity has waged for nearly 2000 years. A part of the war is seen in the accusations against the Christian church concerning the horrors of the Crusades. It is related how thousands of innocent people, especially Jews and Muslims, were slaughtered. A film like ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ depicts the Crusades with an Islam - bias. (Attempts to rewrite the hard facts of history is part of the fight for human souls.) Some background information might be helpful here.

The history of the Bible took place in Israel, and the Messiah, Jesus, lived, died and was resurrected there. For Christians through the ages, Israel, the Holy Land, has been special. Many people have been greatly strengthened in their faith to visit historic places proving the truth and significance of the Biblical record.

In the decades following Mohammed’s death in 632 AD, Muslim armies overran Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch and Carthage. They eventually controlled all of North Africa, Syria, Asia Minor, Spain and Portugal. In France, Charles Martell stopped their further advance into Europe at the Battle of Tours in 732. Were these Islamic conquests without bloodshed, pillage, massacres, and slavery? No, the historian Bat Ye’or described the horrors that occurred (Don Richardson, Secrets of the Koran, Regal, 2003, p 151,152). Ibn Warraq related the fate of Jews and Christians when Amr conquered Tripoli in 643: he forced Jews and Christians to hand over their women and children as slaves to the Arab army. At the sack of Thessalonica in 903, 22000 Christians were sold into slavery (Ibid, p 156, 157). Islam left behind them the wreckages of many churches in many lands (B K Kuiper, The Church in History, WM Eerdmans Publ, 1951, p 65).

Under the Seljuk Turks the Christians in the Holy Land were oppressed and harangued (ibid, p118). Pope Urban 2 called upon the Christians to free the Holy Land from the oppressors. One of his reasons was that the Catholic Church was divided into the Western and Eastern church in 1054. The Eastern church promised to restore unity if they were helped to defend themselves against Islamic invasion. The reaction from the West was enthusiastic, though hardly guided by Christ’s example in the New Testament. (Jesus lived under the oppressive Roman rule, but never told His disciples to either murder or harass them. He actually taught His disciples to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them (Matthew 5:44).

The first crusade (1096) was fairly successful, and their reign in Jerusalem lasted until 1187. Later crusades (8 in all, plus a tragic Children’s Crusade with great loss of life), sent to bolster the shaky government of the Kingdom of Israel, were less effective, and eventually the Arabs gained access to Jerusalem in 1187. The Crusades cost a high price in human lives on both sides, and many atrocities were committed. We cannot absolve them from their guilt. Neither can we forget that many excesses have been done by misguided Christians through the ages, in the name of God. Christians also owe a debt to the Jews for unfair persecution. Though Islam in many ways persecuted and enslaved Christians, Jesus told His followers to be humble and ask forgiveness (even if mistakes were made ages ago).

This is a war about truth, about humans, about eternity, and trying to impugn God’s character by impugning the Christians for errors made long ago, is part of it.

"But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” 1 Corinth 1:27