My Christian Answer To The Crusades: Give Me A High Horse.
Jihad vs The Crusades
While speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 5th 2015, President Obama compared the actions of Christian Crusaders 725 years ago to the actions of today’s Islamic terrorist group known as ISIS. This argument gets used to often to call for religious tolerance and to shame Christians.
“Unless we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ,”
Personally I am not offended by his comment; I acknowledge freely the Crusades afforded wicked men the opportunity to commit terrible crimes against Humanity in the name of Christ. Human nature being what it is, I suspect this is true of ISIS as well. I accept the reality that The Crusades and The Inquisition stand out as the most disturbing and destructive events in Christian History, a true attack on God’s reputation.
But less the Muslims get ta feeling like victims, it is important to understand that the Crusades were a defensive reaction to 491 years of Islamic militant expansion. Militarily speaking, the crusades were absolutely necessary. If it hadn’t been for the crusades, it is possible that we would still be stuck in the dark ages controlled by caliphates and saying prayers at noon with Sharia Law nailed to the wall over our head.
The Crusades lasted about 174 yeas from 1096-1270 AD. It was a time when Popes ruled and man's salvation was determined by geographical boundaries, good works, and the will of the Catholic Church. The crimes of the Crusades were not enacted by Christian men who modeled Christ; rather, they were men who were called Christian simply because they came from a country that called itself Christian. In truth, they did not seek to Honor God; they were looking for land and glory.
Having said that, I believe that Christianity is “unique” and may be allowed a “high horse” or two. We did something that Islam hasn’t; we learned from our mistake. In the 500- 700 years that has passed, Christianity has changed quite a bit. The majority of Christendom has rejected Catholic rule and we no longer combine church and state. The reformation brought about a purer, kinder, and personal Christianity. The printing press and the reformation put Scriptures in people’s houses. For the first time, people were discovering the Word of God first hand. It has taken several hundred years to remove the violence but to Christians today, a crusade is nothing more then an opportunity to shower their community with the gospel of Christ, or perhaps a food drive for a needy family. Violence is unacceptable and never tolerated. There isn’t a Christian leader alive today that could muster an army for a Holy War. Islam has nothing to fear from the modern Christian. We follow Christ and we love our enemies.
The next time you hear this comparison, don’t be intimidated. Stand tall and acknowledge the past, but point out that Christianity today recognized it's sin and repented. We learned from our mistake and in so doing, we have made the world a better place.
OK now that I am comfortable on my high horse, let me end by saying this. In truth Islam is just as violent today as it was in times past. History has taught them nothing except how to better kill and manipulate those around them. As far as I can tell, Islam has much to learn from Christianity about peace, politics, and religious freedom.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5:43-45 NKJV
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