Posts Tagged ‘crusades’

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:

 

Advertisements

1crusade-154940_640

Much discussion about the Crusades has floated around the media after Obama’s mentioning of it in a prayer breakfast speech.  This wasn’t the first time a president has mentioned the crusades.  At Georgetown University in 2001, Bill Clinton gave a speech blaming the current increase of Islamic terrorist activity, such as 9/11, as fallout from the Crusades.  I wrote a short article for the Apologetics Study Bible for Students over this topic.  Here is a small snippet from that piece.  Following that is a list of resources that are from historical experts on the Crusades that expose many of the myths surrounding the event.

“Ask any individual about the Crusades and you will probably get an answer like, ‘They were wars of unprovoked aggression by Christians against a peaceful Muslim world which were imperialist conquests interested in gaining riches and land.’ At worst, many object to the truth of Christianity based on the horrid acts of Christian Crusaders who murdered for profit and gain. That Christianity, in essence, is a violent religion.

. . . .

One must consider historical context in understanding the intent and purpose 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 [Islamic] aggression, which grew fiercer than ever in the eleventh century. From Islam’s very beginning Muslims had 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 forcefully conquered all of North Africa, the Middle East, Asia Minor (modern Turkey), and most of Spain. As for unprovoked aggression, it was all on the [Islamic] side. Christian Europe had to defend itself or be overcome by Islamic invasion. As Muslim forces pressed into Europe, Pope Urban II in 1095 called for the First Crusade in response to pleas of help from the Byzantine emperor in Constantinople (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 riches.

. . . .

In summary, the Crusades were not about wars of unprovoked Christian aggression against a peaceful [Islamic] world or imperialist conquests lead by the Church interested in gaining riches and land. The Crusades were defensive wars, to stop [Islamic] military advancement. Christianity was able to survive this invasion and give us the world we have today in the west. A world in which we enjoy democracy and civil rights.”

Resources on the Crusades:

Scholars on the Crusades:

Thomas F. Madden – Thomas F. Madden is associate professor and chair of the Department of History at Saint Louis University. He is the author of numerous works, including The New Concise History of the Crusades, and The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople.

Jonathan Riley-Smith – Riley-Smith is one of the foremost crusading scholars and author of several works on the Crusades, is Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and author of The Crusades: A History.

Rodney Stark – Distinguished professor of the social sciences and co-director Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University.

Paul F. Crawford – Professor of Medieval History at California University of Pennsylvania.

Andrew Holt – Professor of history at Florida State College

Quick Quotes from the Experts:

“The Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression—an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.” – Thomas F. Madden (source)

The Crusades were not unprovoked.  They were not the first round of European colonialism.  They were not conducted for land, loot, or coverts.  The crusaders were not barbarians who victimized the cultivated Muslims.  They sincerely believed that they served in God’s battalions.” – Rodney Stark (source)

“All the Crusades met the criteria of just wars. They came about in reaction attacks against Christians or their Church.  The First Crusade was called in 1095 in response to the recent Turkish conquest of Christian Asia Minor, as well as the much earlier Arab conquest of the Christian-held Holy Land.  The second was called in response to the Muslim conquest of Edessa in 1144. THe third was called in response to the Muslim conquests of Jerusalem and most other Christian lands in the Levant in 1187.” – Thomas F. Madden (source)

Articles on the Crusades:

“The Real History of the Crusades” by Thomas F. Madden, Christianity Today, May 2005

“Four Myths about the Crusades” by Paul F. Crawford, Intercollegiate Review, 2011

“Crusade Myths” by Thomas F. Madden

Books on the Crusades:

The Concise History of the Crusades by Thomas F. Madden

Seven Myths of the Crusades ed. by Alfred J. Andrea and Andrew Holt [NEW BOOK]

The Crusades: A History by John Riley-Smith

God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades by Rodney Stark

The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam by John Riley-Smith

Infographic on the Crusades:

crusades_infographic

(source)

This video by Dr. Bill Warner compares Islamic Jihads vs. Christian Crusades: