Archive for June, 2017

APOLSTUDYBIBLESTUDENTSMy previous post about the Updated CSB Apologetics Study Bible for Students included my article on the problem of evil. The article was published in the study bible which comes out July 1. Today’s post includes my article about the Crusades.  One of my most visited posts on this blog is “What About the Crusades? Myths and Facts” which includes a nice infographic, video, quotes from experts, and resources for further study about the Crusades.

Presidents to pundits have referenced the crusades as comparable to radical Islamic terrorism, that the crusades were unprovoked Christian attacks on Islamic territories for land and loot.  This is an extreme oversimplification at best and at worst gross negligence of the facts.  The Apologetics Study Bible for Students provides an answer to this perplexing question about the Crusades and the truth of Christianity along with many other resources and features helpful for any student or adult.

Here is the article:

“What About the Crusades?”:

“In a speech at Georgetown University, former president Bill Clinton claimed that the current increase of Islamic terrorist activity, such as 9/11, is a consequence of the Christian Crusades which occurred almost a thousand years ago. Ask about the Crusades and you will probably be told something like, ‘They were wars of unprovoked aggression by Christian nations against a peaceful Muslim world. The Christians were interested in gaining riches and land.’ In worst-case scenarios, people reject Christianity because they’ve been told that Christian Crusaders murdered Muslims for profit and gain. They conclude that Christianity is a violent religion.

First, and foremost, it must be remembered that Christianity did not originate in the Crusades; it began on the cross of Jesus Christ. Even if the Crusaders performed horrific acts of violence and murder, these acts do not undercut the truth of Christianity nor change its essence. At most the Crusades illustrate that sinful and fallen people are ca- pable of wrongfully using the name of Christ for personal gain.

But the Crusades were not just about gaining wealth and land. One must consider the historical context to more fully understanding the motivations of the Crusaders. The Crusades were not acts of unprovoked aggression by Christians against the Islamic world, but were a delayed response to centuries of Muslim aggression. From the very beginning of the Islamic religion Muslims sought to conquer the Christian world. In fact, the first three hundred years of Islam can be described as a period of military conquest. Muslim armies conquered all of North Africa, the Middle East, Asia Minor (modern Turkey), and most of Spain. Christian Europe had to defend itself or else be overcome by Islamic invasion. As Muslim forces pressed into Europe, Pope Urban II in AD 1095 called for the First Crusade in response to pleas of help from the Byzantine emperor in Con- stantinople (now called Istanbul).

In other words, the Crusades were a defensive war, not an aggressive grab for land and loot. In fact, crusading was an expensive and costly endeavor. After the success of the First Crusade nearly all the Crusaders went home. Virtually none of them recovered the cost of crusading. If one wanted to get rich, crusading was definitely not the best route to make it happen.

Many atrocities occurred in the Crusades. Understandably, war can bring out the worst in people. Even during World War II some American soldiers committed atrocities, but this does not mean the war was conducted so soldiers could commit crimes. As for the Crusades, Christians have rightly condemned the wrongs that many of the Crusaders committed.

In summary, the Crusades were not about wars of unprovoked Christian aggression against a peaceful Muslim world, neither were they motivated by a quest for riches and land. The Crusades were defensive wars that aimed to stop Muslim military advance- ment. The West today enjoys religious freedom and democracy because the Christian nations prevailed.

God wants his people to care about justice. As the Prophet Micah reminds us, “Man- kind, he has told each of you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Mc 6:8).”

Resources (abbreviated):

Articles on the Crusades:

Books on the Crusades:

 

In 2008 Broadman & Holman first released the Apologetics Study Bible.  Two years later they produced the Apologetics Study Bible for Students selling well over 100,000 copies. Features of this Study Bible included:

APOLSTUDYBIBLESTUDENTS

 “Twisted Scriptures” explanations, “Bones & Dirt” archaeology meets apologetics, “Tactics” against common anti-Christian arguments, and“Personal Stories” of how God has worked in real lives.  It did so well they are releasing a new updated edition.  I had the honor of writing three articles for the first release and they are rolling them over in the new updated edition.  They are:

1. “Why Does God Allow Evil?”

2. What About the Crusades?”

3. “Don’t Religious Beliefs Just Reflect Where One Was Raised?”

I guess you can say I wrote the Bible (just kidding), but I am releasing my articles for the next several weeks for preview.  If you know of any students, this would be an excellent resource for them.  The new edition includes updates such as:

  1. Articles have been updated.
  2. Authors went through each of their articles and improved them substantially.
  3. 12 new articles on “hot” topics like tattoos, euthanasia, transgenderism, Islamic Jihad, religious freedom, singleness, race, and more.
  4. Each of the special features (Bones & Dirt, Tactics, Twisted Scriptures, Stories, and Fast Facts) have been expanded with 5-10 more articles.

Here is the first article I wrote for the Apologetics Study Bible for Students (they apparently gave me the hard questions):

“Why Does God Allow Evil?”

“In December 2, 2015, a mass shooting by two terrorists killed fourteen people in California’s Inland Regional Center. Years earlier, in 2012, a gunman forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut: he shot twenty first graders and six adults.

From shootings like these to natural disasters that level communities, we regularly hear about or even experience the effects of sin and evil in the world. This leads many to ask, “If God can prevent such massacres and destruction, why doesn’t he?” That people routinely ask this question implies the widely held conviction that an all-powerful and all-good God would choose to destroy all evil. How could he possibly allow evil to exist?

Many suppose that the existence of evil disproves God’s existence. But the human ability to recognize evil is actually a good reason to believe in a Creator. If there was no God, there would be no objective, universal standard by which to measure good and evil. Since, however, all humans agree that the two are distinct, there must be an independent, eternal standard by which we ground moral convictions.

Nonetheless, some philosophers claim that the existence of evil is logically incompatible with the existence of the all-good, all-powerful God described in Scripture. If God exists, the theory goes, evil cannot. If evil exists, God cannot. God and evil, like square circles, are logically contradictory and thus cannot coexist. But few philosophers think this argument successful. In fact, even philosophically-informed atheists acknowledge the weakness of this view. After all, it is logically possible that God, though all-powerful and all-knowing, has a good reason for allowing evil to exist. For instance, evil’s presence ensures the preservation of human free will. If we have genuine freedom, then we have the possibility of choosing to do evil rather than good. God is certainly powerful enough to prevent us from doing evil, but he would be taking away our free will by doing so. He cannot force us to always choose the good, because being made to choose the good would mean that we are not free.

There are other reasons God could allow evil to occur. For instance, coping with the effects of evil in the world often contributes to the development of virtues such as empathy, patience, and trust in Jesus as Savior. Without the ability to choose and exercise free will or the opportunity to develop virtue, our lives would be shallow and without love; we could not truly love one another or love God. We would essentially be robots lacking the ability to have a relationship with God, and loving relationship with us is the very thing God desires.

Though it is reasonable for God and evil to coexist, some say the presence of so much evil makes it difficult to believe in God. However, this is a subjective judgment. How much evil is too much? Who but God can say? We are all troubled by evil, but God has dealt evil a fatal blow through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

Ted Wright over at Epic Archaeology posts some thoughts on philosophy and archaeology:

“Summa Archaeology”

http://epicarchaeology.org/archaeology-philosophy/summa-archaeologica/?platform=hootsuite

 

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