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Why I Think the Christian Crusades were Necessary

I remember the first time I heard J. P. Moreland, Christian philosopher and apologist, speak. I was already a J. P. fan after reading his book Love Your God with all Your Mind, but this speaking engagement turned him into a didactic master in my mind. I don’t really recall what he was speaking on—something to do with philosophy and defending the faith—but I do remember an encounter he had with an antagonist to the faith in the crowd. Some guy raised his hand to ask a question. J. P. called on him. But this person was one of those guys who raises his hand not to inquire about something that is confusing him, but to stand up, take the pulpit, and wax eloquent on the subject. This guy’s statement was, for me, very intimidating. Whoever he was, he knew what he was talking about. Whatever he was saying (I could not understand a bit of it) seemed to be beyond what J. P. knew. For a brief moment it looked as if he had single-handedly dismantled over an hour of J. P.’s presentation. I was scared for J. P. However, J. P. handled this guy with finesse and power. J. P. knew that no one understood what this guy had said, and he knew that getting into an extended irenic dialogue with him would leave the rest of the audience out in the cold. So he took him out of the equation as quickly as possible. J. P. showed, in a matter of forty-five seconds, that he understood what the guy was saying, he quickly illegitimized it by referencing the idea’s source (something the guy was not aware of), and he showed why it had been philosophically rejected by virtually all scholars. J. P. flexed his muscles for less than a minute, and then returned to earth with the rest of us. The guy sat down, speechless. I felt sorry for him. I thought someone needed to go give him a hug. J. P. really made this guy look like a fool and I am sure he did not feel great about doing so. But that is what men like J. P. must do when necessary.

Shortly after 9/11, America went to war with Iraq. The reason given to the public for this war was the presence of weapons of mass destruction in this country. This was enough to get the American public on the side of the Bush administration (generally speaking). Shortly after the war began, the weapons did not turn up in Iraq. Because of this, many accused Bush of trumping up the evidence so he could go on his “crusade.” Since then, thousands of people have not been on Bush’s side, claiming that he will go down in history as a terrible president, at least in part because of this. However, I’m not sure if I buy into this. I am open to the idea that the claims about weapons were (at least) somewhat trumped up (although I am no expert at all). But I think Bush’s invasion of Iraq, while a very difficult move to make, may have been a necessary evil for the safety of America. I also think that comparing Bush’s “campaign” to the Christian Crusades, while meant to be derogatory, is a pretty decent description. . . so long as we understand both.

Now, turn with me again to the Crusades . . .

The “Christian Crusades” were a series of battles that took place from 1095 to 1291, in which Christendom waged war against Islamic aggression; their primary purpose was to take back the Holy Land, which had been occupied by Muslims since 638. You see, early in the eleventh century, a deranged Muslim ruler, Abu ‘Ali Mansur, destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Soon all Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land were cut off by Muslims. This guy was a lot like Saddam Hussein. He was crazy and no one really knew where his loyalties stood. He did not attack Christendom directly, but showed contempt for them by this act (along with destroying 30,000 churches in the Middle East). On top of that, the history of Muslim aggression against the West, their disregard for personal property and land, and their hatred of all “infidels” (non-Muslims) had people in the West a bit on edge about what the future held. Even so, it was not until Constantinople, the largest Christian city in the world, was threatened that the West decided something needed to be done. (After all, Constantinople was a buffer between Islam and the West.)

Sure, there had been smaller battles and wars before (Constantinople’s battles in Anatolia, the reconquista in Spain, etc.), but something decisive needed to take place. This something needed to demonstrate the force necessary to leave the enemy speechless (or at least to communicate that the West had the ability to defend itself and was not just waiting around for the next attack). This something was the Crusades. They were “Christian” Crusades because the West was Christianized. If the Hindus were the ones being threatened in such a way, it would have been the “Hindu” Crusades. What I mean by this is that these were not really “Holy” wars the way we often think. Yes, they were motivated by loyalty to Christ and the Church. Yes, they were rewarded with indulgences from the Pope. And yes, some of them were directly led by the church. But that is only because the church was in an unfamiliar (to us) position of having significant political authority and responsibility to protect the West.

By now, it should not surprise any of you that I am beginning to like the Crusades. In fact, I actually agree with them. Given the situation the West was in, the leaders in the West hardly had any other choice. They had to do something and this something needed to be more than simply standing their quickly diminishing ground. And negotiation was not really in question. Evil cannot be negotiated with. They had to flex their muscles, and flex them big.

Now, the main goal of the Crusades was to retake Jerusalem. Whether you believe that Jerusalem was a city that needed to be in the hands of Christians is a theological issue that is moot for what was happening. And whether or not the Pope was telling the truth about the birth place of Christ being destroyed is moot to the history of the western civilization. It is moot because we see the bigger picture. We know that had the Crusades not happened, for better or worse, we (the West) might be Muslim.

In the Crusades, the leaders needed a “poster-boy” threat because people may not have supported something that was more real but harder to explain. They could not have said, “We are going to flex our muscles by invading Jerusalem. This will keep you and your children safe in the long run.” This is really what the Crusaders did. There was a deep need to stop the aggression of Islam and let them know that the West was not going to continue to tolerate their advancements. To do this, the West was going to take the battle to them and actually take back what they had lost years ago. The whole Holy Sepulchre / land of Christ / land of the Apostles thing (all “poster-boys” to gain public support), while motivating, was secondary to the basic instinct to survive. I am not sure if even the Crusaders themselves understood this.

As an aside, I see the movements that America made toward Iraq in a similar light. Islamic aggression was a frightening thing in 1195 and it is today. I am sorry if that offends some of my very peaceful Muslim readers. I know not all of them are radical jihadis. Pre-Saladin Damascus was not jihadist either during the time of the Crusades. Then, generally speaking, the West were the hated infidels; today, generally speaking, Americans are the hated infidels. Vows of aggression are still found on much of the Islamic world’s lips, and these could be found on Hussein’s lips too. Preemptive flexing of muscles is sometimes necessary to make people sit down, otherwise they will steal the pulpit. People will only take as much as you will let them.

(Just as an aside . . . I have a fellow who is threatening my family with serious and descriptive violence. He is crazy, makes sure I know it, and says he is going to come and take my wife. He says he does not care whether he lives or dies.  He has been in prison many times. Police cannot really do anything but agitate him. If he ever did anything, I am sure that all would say that I should have done something beforehand. I don’t know what to do. Killing him is not really an option, but the terror he presents to our family often makes his death attractive. On a national standpoint, is it really so different? Well, it is just multiplied by billions.)

Back to America for a moment . . .

Why Iraq? It was an easy target to accuse of weapons of mass destruction (that is, if the charges were trumped up). It struck at the heart of those who developed, taught, and spread their philosophy of hatred toward the west. It was our “Holy Sepulchre.” It presented the most viable opportunity for us to flex our muscles. Certainly criticism has come and will continue to come. I imagine the people who demonize America for moving on Iraq are the same ones who demonize the Crusades for moving on Jerusalem, Antioch, and/or Egypt. And the one thing I and those who follow my train of thought will never be able to prove is that, even with all the deception and wrong motivations that may have been present, the world is a better place because of these events. But I believe this to be the case. America has taken their share of hits and hatred. But it could very well be that America’s muscle-flexing is the reason we have not had any more attacks on our homeland since 9/11. And if the Iraq was what it took to stop the aggression, even for a time, I am all for it. This is why I support the Crusades and stand by what America did in Iraq.

I am glad that I could write this post so long after the events (both Iraq and the Crusades) so it does not seem so political. I hope it comes in the vein of theological history rather than anything else. I have only begun to be able to articulate this position due to my recent in-depth study of the Crusades and the resulting significant change in my attitude toward them.

33 Responses to “Why I Think the Christian Crusades were Necessary”

  1. Yes, I tweaked this and changed the title. Can you blame me? What was I thinking last night?

  2. But I will still get in trouble! #learningtohavethickskin

  3. I dunno, it’s always tough for me when people say “violence NEEDED to happen.” I just don’t think we can look at history, with all its counter-intuitive twists and turns and say, “if A hadn’t have happened, then surely B would have.”

    That is PURE speculation.

    Fortunately or unfortunately I am not opposed to war, but I am ambivalent about it. And it is very hard for me to imagine Jesus giving blanket approval to ANY battle.

    I think I can sum up my problem with this: You say “you can’t negotiate with evil.” But as the Bible, and specifically Jesus, asserts, we are ALL evil. So aren’t these decisions more more complicated than you seem to state?

  4. Michael,

    While I can agree with you that the Crusades were somewhat, (although not compleetly warranted), since I think in the long run it did set the cause Christianity back over the ages, right or wrong. I also think the comparison with Iraq is not the best one even though I understand what are you saying. Yes, Bush may have been right despite the lack of proof of WMD’s, and I agreed with him at the time. However, I think if that’s all we have to give in defense despite knowing better now, we should probably rethink it, since things were quite different back then because it was more a fight between religious systems themselves, and not just about power between countries.

    Agree or disagree? Your thoughts on that particular aspect?

  5. Mbaker,

    Well, it is not as if I have to inform you of something new, but of course this is not something I am absolutely sure about. The arguments on the other side are not something to ignore as ignorant and without a point. There is some place between extreme pacifism and warmongering. Both sides have their casualties that they have to explain.

    However, I don’t take the “turn the other cheek” as easily applied here. I think that pacifism misunderstands this verse in two ways: 1) It is not speaking of national issues, but personal issues. Otherwise, there would be no place the “the sword” of Romans 14, police, or military. All of these seem to be part of the natural order that God not only allows, but mandates. 2) It is speaking to an insult in turning the other cheek (I think), not personal physical violence (kinda like someone taking their glove off and hitting you with it). Therefore, there is personal protection that is allowed. Again, natural order also teaches this with the very existence of reflexes.

    (and I know you did not bring up that verse)

    The problem comes when we start talking about taking aggression ourselves. When do we cross the line of our neighbors and attack for the sake of our own protection (if ever). Do we live by a “never fire until fired upon” mentality? Can a legitimate threat of violence constitute aggression? IF someone says they are going to come kill you and your family, does a father just wait for this to happen when no other means are availble but personal violence?

    I don’t think so. In fact, I would look at it as a neglect of the responsibility of the government or a father to do so. The battle is always the Lords, but while he may strip down the number of horses and swords to prove a point, the horses and swords are always used nonetheless. Rarely do you see him pulling off blind miracles. He just wants us to be sure that we trust him while swinging the sword.

    Concerning not negotiating with evil: you are right, there is evil in us. But I don’t think we negotiate with it either do we? Christ said if your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. Don’t negotiate with it or allow it to hang around. While I don’t take Christ literally, I do take him seriously. Evil must be eradicated from our lives. If there is a national leader so evil that they are wiping our their own people, I do think it is a just war to do everything possible to stop the hurting of the innocent, even to the point of death.

    In the case of the Crusades, while, as I said, their “poster-boy” justification was odd, they did need to do something like what they did (even though they really lost) to show that they were not going to allow the aggression any more. Again, there is no way to prove that it worked just like there is no way to prove that Charles Mantel’s Battle of Tours prevented the west from being Islamic today (although most all historians are comfortable saying this, liberal and conservative). But just because we don’t know what would have happened say, if we had not gone into Iraq, is no argument against it (and, again, I know you did not really say that either).

    Ramble over.

  6. Michael,

    I can so agree with your thoughts on personal and national defense. I am just wondering if the Crusades didn’t do more harm to Christianity than good when we look at them from a long range perspective. This is something which I believe I have mentioned to you before on the last thread about the Crusades. It seems that many folks think it did do harm to the cause of Christianity, and hold it against us. I hear that all the time from atheists and even from many fellow Christians. it is hard to defend sometimes, and I am definitely not a pacificist, and I know you didn’t say that either.

    I just wonder if the Crusades really proved anything in the long run as far as furthering our cause except that we could and did respond tit for tat. Something I have always wondered about.

    • Well, I can agree so long as you say the loss of art and history that the Crusaders foolishly took. I can also agree that there were foolish decisions made on some of the individual Crusades (Cardinal Pelagius). I can also agree if you are talking about the corruption in the Levant and the Crusader kingdoms post Crusades. I can also agree if you are talking about some of the theology that went into the motivation for the Crusades.

      However, these are all incidental to the issues of Muslim aggression and their advancement. No one knows whether Constantinople fell in 1453 due to the fourth Crusade. After all, it was primed to fall in 1099 when Aleios called on Urban II for a Crusade. And considering how easily the Franks and the Venetians took the city, I don’t suppose they would have lasted much longer anyway. The leadership was terrible, corrupt, and primed for the fall. Of course, the Latin kingdom set up post 1204 was terrible, but so was the Byz kingdom before it. I am surprised it lasted until 1453. My point is, I am not sure in what way you think the Crusades made the situation worse in the long run unless you are talking about these incidentals?

  7. Michael, on the issue of the “never found WMD’s” as the justification for Bush launching an attack into Iraq, something that always seems to get lost is that:

    1. Saddam Hussien used chemical agents, mustard gas and nerve agents, on his own people, the Kurds, in the late 1980’s and used poison gas against Iraniain soldiers during the Iran-Iraq wars.

    2. After Desert Storm ( 1991) which I am a veteran of, UN Weapons Inspectors over the next 5-7 years found and destroyed much of Husseins WMD aresenal.

    3. Hussein clearly was intending to build nuclear weapons, which is why Israel bombed the nuclear reactor at one point. Hussein’s ego was so great he publicly held up a supposed “trigger” device to show the world he could get such things.

    When you combine this two decade history of having and using WMD’s, torture/killing of his people and attack/ invasion of two neighboring countries in the context of 9/11 it only makes sense that Bush did what he did. What other “evil” leader acted this way? North Korea, Syria? No one else we deem as an evil leader of a country used WMD’S, tortured/killed/maimed his people routinely AND attacked/invaded neighboring countries or any country for that matter.

    I know this post is about the Crusades and it has been very helpful. Since it was made in the context of the Iraq war of 2003 and the WMD issue, I felt it necessary to remind all of the history that often times seems to be left out on the issue of WMD justification for the Iraq war of 2003. Hussein DID have and USED WMD’s, no question.

    Vince

  8. Speaking as a British citizen, I cannot agree with you on this. To lead a nation into battle on false pretences is just plain wrong. Especially when people are called to sacrifice.
    I felt Britain was even worse than the US as we had no reason to attack Iraq and just followed along as Bushes lapdog (“Yo-Blair”).
    Anyone with common sense could have concluded Iraq was not a direct threat with WMDs and had no WMD capabilities of any serious threat to the West.
    In addition, Iraq have never been strongly tied to international terrorism (at least not until we poked them in the eye).
    I felt betrayed by the UK government as we discussed this invasion in our church before we invaded and we all had reservations, but came to the conclusion that the government must know more than we do with it’s “sophisticated” intelligence and we must just trust them. That trust is now gone and most British people feel quite let down by the whole affair. It is a dark spot on our recent history.
    I totally agreed with attacking Afghanistan as that was provoked, but Iraq has a very big stink about it that I can’t take. I think your comparison with the Crusades (which I don’t think were as Holy as you are making them out to be) is not a sound one. You seem to be guilty of hyping them and the Iraq war up in contradiction with one your earlier posts about over-hyping events/films etc.
    I love your posts normally, but I can’t agree with this one. I don’t know what this war was about to be honest, maybe we will never find out (until heaven), but it almost seems to be about oil security, arms ?? who knows, whatever it was about it hasn’t worked as politicians and “experts” predicted – big surprise!
    I worry about the expansion of this argument to Syria, North Korea, where next? Let’s hope China stays in line!
    I remain cynical, because I just see politicians, bankers, media, journalists, powerful people really starting to become more transparent in their corruption and agendas and I…

  9. @ Dave Gough

    “Anyone with common sense could have concluded Iraq was not a direct threat with WMDs and had no WMD capabilities of any serious threat to the West.”

    Dave,

    Did you work for MI-6 in which you had access to classified intelligence reports whereby you can draw this conclusion?

    Putting your revisionist history aside, the fact is it was the near unanimous consensus of the intelligence community (even prior to 9/11) among both US and European allies, that Iraq was (prior to the war) again stockpiling WMD’s. They believed this because that was what Saddam wanted his enemies (not necessarily us, think Iran) to believe. Saddam was in essence playing a shell game, essentially giving the appearance of WMD capabilities in order to keep his enemies at bay.

    One can argue whether it was ultimately worth the cost of blood and treasure to go in based on what turned out to be faulty intelligence. But it is grossly misrepresenting the facts to say that the WMD rationale was nothing but a pack of lies to mask the true reason, whatever that may be.

  10. Well, my point is not necessarily the WMDs (although I really appreciate the context the Vince provided). My point is the greater issue of aggression (in this case terrorism). If you have five brothers across the street from you who all have weapons of some sort, are all in league to kill you, pile on the threats for years, run across the street and attack from time to time, then finally break into your house and kill your son, it is time for action. Now you may not know which one did it for sure, but you do know that they all celebrated it with parties. When you finally cross the street to attack, it is hard for criticize the aggressor no matter which one he attacked and no matter the reason.

    After the response, if the brothers quit crossing the street and attacking, then “Mission Accomplished”! (Whether they found the weapons or not). A strong message has been sent. The muscles have been flexed.

    On the other hand, if he never attacked, this would be wrong in my opinion. The government bears the sword for foreign and domestic defense.

  11. Truth Unites... and Divides February 28, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Hi CMP!

    Love your prefatory introduction of JP Moreland and 9/11-Iraq as a lead-in to your argument about the Crusades.

    But I’m very concerned about your parenthetical remarks about a crazy violent man who’s threatening you and your family with violence. If I was a liberal, I’d ask you questions about what you did or what you said that might have offended him to the point of wanting to visit violence upon you. After your answer, then I (as a playbook liberal) would then suggest that you have a significant amount of fault for provoking him to violence. (Recall: Liberals ask, “What did the US/West do to provoke Muslim aggression, violence, and hatred toward us? We must have done something wrong, or else they wouldn’t have attacked us.”)

    So when you or the US/West is attacked, much of it is your fault according to the liberal line of thinking.

  12. Indeed. They were necessary. Otherwise we’d all have our rear ends raised and be pointing to Mecca 4 times a day…or whatever it is.

    WWII was necessary, as well.

  13. The question for the believer is: Did God authorize the crusades?

    I am not of the party that thinks the Pope speaks for God or is even of God. I do not think the Crusades were necessary nor do I think Bush’s Iraq was legitimate or necessary.

    you cannot compare WW2 with the Crusades

  14. Michael,

    I don’t believe it was just about the incidentals although those excesses unfortunately seem to what most people remember.

    i think it was more about the Crusades have become in many people’s minds to denote useless slaughter, based upon religious beliefs. Is this not what the jhaidists do nowadays and we on the other side condemn it?

    Like it not, the Christian Crusades do not have a great reputation, historically speaking, in furthering our cause either.

  15. The Crusades were an answer to the spread of Islam.

    Did the crusaders do some bad things? Of course! It happens in war.

    I thank God for those who fought against the spread of Islam.

    Unless you think that none of this really matters and that Mohammed is just as good as Jesus, you ought be thankful, too.

  16. Well, it obviously didn’t work because Islam is spreading faster than any other religion, and the violence is increasing against innocent people, despite all our wars against it. It is not simply a matter of going to war anymore, because we are already stretched much too thin. If people want to embrace the Muslim faith they are free to do that, and obviously have in great numbers, despite the Crusades and all the Christian missionaries who have ministered to them since that time. However, that doesn’t mean I personally think Mohammed and Jesus are on the same level. That’s a pretty weak argument, IMO.

  17. Dr. David Tee,

    Like Michael., I would certainly be most interested in hearing your take on this. I hope we haven’t already turned you off here. If so my apologies. I would hate that, because it such a fascinating subject on both sides.

    @ Michael,

    Thank you so much for reinstating this editing application. As the world’s worst typist, I can say that with all sincerity that I have really missed it, since my eyesight isn’t so good any more either.

  18. I have to disagree with you on several levels.

    First, I think it’s contentious that the Crusades halted Muslim aggression and expansion. The real halt to that occured several hundred years earlier in the failed attempts to move out of present-day Spain into France. The Eastern Roman Empire, for all its failings, preserved a buffer state for ‘the West’ all the way until its fall, and by that time Arab conquest into Europe was not a viable possibility.

    Secondly, on the Iraq question, you are endorsing a position far beyond mainstream Christianity. In this case, not only did the intelligence that WMDs existed prove incorrect, it appears that it was known from the start that it was specious, possibly untrue. It is almost impossible, I would argue, to uphold the Iraq war under Just War criteria. You haven’t said you’re doing this, which is perhaps worse – your parallel with the crusades and ‘flexing one’s muscles’ analogy seems to suggest that pre-emptive acts of deterrent violence are permissible. I can’t think of any Christian ethical position on war that holds that.

    In any case, it is impossible to prove that the world is ultimately better or worse for these historical events, though we may well have our arguments – but these are arguments about the course of providence, not necessarily the rightness of the actions.

  19. Amen. You’re on target with this.

    After several trips into Saudi Arabia in the early 90s, my wife remembers me telling her that two of the most dangerous countries for the future of America and the West were Saudi Arabia and Pakistan …. the 2 countries where all of the 9/11 hijackers originated.

    Catholic psychologist Dr. William Kilpatrick is warning that Christian Americans are naïve about Islam and working towards their own extinction ….. Obama’s Justice, Defense and Homeland Security Departments refuse to classify religiously motivated attacks by Muslims as terrorism …. after Obama took office in 2009, DHS sent a memo to law enforcement officials in the states labeling outspoken Christians and others “right-wing extremists,” further urging them to monitor such Americans as likely terrorists …..

    “Tolerance needs to be balanced with justice, and justice seems to require that Christians be provided with a fuller account of Islam, because their survival may depend on that knowledge,” said Kilpatrick. Jihad “isn’t an interior spiritual struggle,” he said, “but a serious obligation to subdue non-Muslims.” That means, he said, many Western Christians “are going to be woefully unprepared for the kinds of things that are already happening to Christians in Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nigeria and Sudan.”

    “The Islamic faith is founded on a blunt rejection of basic Christian beliefs, but you would hardly know it from reading official church statements or from listening to prelates,” Kilpatrick stressed. “Instead of informing their flocks that Islam rejects Christ and requires its people to work toward the eventual subjugation of Christians, many Christian leaders have been more intent on emphasizing the common ground that Christians and Muslims share.”

    From the Islamic perspective, the Crusades never ended; they were simply on hiatus.

  20. More of my thoughts on this topic …..

    In my experience, there is significant difference between a secular Christian (one in name only who could care less about most matters of faith and what the church teaches), and a secular Muslim (who despite not living according to his faith [most of the time] has an inherent allegiance to Islam because of a cultural aversion to Israel and the west [especially the U.S.] by extension.) I grew up in the Philippines and was exposed to many Muslims, both fanatical and secular. In the 90’s I had 13 trips into Saudi Arabia, working with both fanatical and (mostly) secular Muslims. (My wife remembers me telling her in 1994 that the 2 most dangerous countries for the future of the west and the U.S. were Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.)

    While secular Muslims will usually live in disobedience when separated from their Islamic culture (i.e., while vacationing in Europe or the U.S), they always abide by Islamic law within the culture (at least, publicly) because they are forced to. You will not see even the most secular Muslim eating during the day during Ramadan within their culture.

    In my experience (and I had many secular Muslim friends in Saudi Arabia), while the vast majority of secular Muslims don’t care about private obedience (although they are forced to do public obedience) – they do have a strong, inherent aversion to Israel and by extension, much of the west. When the tragedy of 9/11 happened, do you remember the spontaneous public celebration by Muslims in the West Bank? (Having been in the West Bank, the vast majority of them are secular Muslims.) ……

  21. Concluding thoughts ….

    While it is the Jihadists who plot and execute terrorist attacks and foment enmity with the west, it is ironically largely the secular Muslims who are carrying our their long-range agenda of Islamization of the west. Look at what is happening with creeping Shariah in Dearborn, MI. The rapidly expanding Muslim population in the U.S. (particularly in the prison system) is a ticking timebomb. The CAIR organization in the U.S. is a good example of “peaceful, secular” Muslims and what’s really happening. (To quote their own propaganda, “CAIR is a natural ally of groups, religious or secular, that advocate justice and human rights in America and around the world.”)

    I believe one must have lived in an Islamic culture to truly understand the Islamic mindset. I believe the Catholic expert I quoted is on target. In the Islamic mindset, the Medieval Crusades never ended … they’ve simply been on hiatus. If the modern church attempted to garner support for a worthy/difficult/dangerous undertaking, virtually all secular Christians would yawn and go about their business. If an Islamic Caliphate called for global jihad on the West, most secular Muslims would be right in there with them – maybe not by blowing up things and mindlessly killing people, but by what they are already doing with the increasingly-not-so-subtle efforts at Islamization..

  22. Regarding the threats to your family, Michael, this country (unlike most) gives you the right to arm yourself (the 2nd Amendment). Oklahoma is a friendly state with respect to concealed carry laws. I would:

    – get a concealed carry permit for both you and the wife
    – get a suitable weapon for concealed carry
    – also consider getting a shotgun to keep at home
    – ensure the weapons are securely locked up when not in use!
    – get firearms training for both you and the Mrs, if needed

    I know Christians may honestly disagree on self-defense. But, I’m talking about your obligation to defend your family if needed. A weapon is like fire insurance. You may never need it, but if you do, you’ll be sorry without it.

    Theologically, I note in the gospels that Jesus commanded his followers in the garden to “put away their swords” – not get rid of them. It’s also interesting that some of his followers were armed and He apparently did not have a problem with it.

    As you said, Michael, sometimes evil has to be met head-on with force (i.e., Nazi Germany in WW2).

    As retired military, I can correspond with you privately in this matter if you wish.

    A perspective on “A Theology of Guns & Self Defense” is here:
    http://thecollegeconservative.com/2013/02/11/a-theology-of-guns-and-self-defense/

    God bless,

  23. Since most of the 9/11 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia, why did we go after Iraq? Saudi Arabia exports much more than oil…yet they are our friends so we went after Iraq. No one claims Saddam Hussein was a good man, but if you want to fight fundamentalist Islam, go after our oil buddies.

    We only made Iraq Shiite which puts it more in alliance with Iran, Hezbollah and the hopefully soon to be dead Assad regime in Syria.

  24. If I am not mistaken Saudi’s leadership is not expressly anti-American. So I think deplomacy was open and, to some degree, seemingly affective. It would have sent too strong a message. Iraq was very strategic.

    And I certainly don’t claim to know exactly what went on, all I know is that as a father who was scared after 9/11, I am no longer scared. Something happened that changed the aggression. The excitement of the Muslims, the celebrations that evil America was hit hard, and the calls for jihad unlike any since the crusades have led to nothing. Someone did something. Someone scared someone else. Someone flexed their muscles and someone backed down. For this I am thankful. Whether our incidental goals of democracy were or will be accomplished, I don’t know. But terrorism in America has not occurred since America flexed. The men who gave their lives in the Middle East did not do so in vain according to this father who sleeps well each night.

  25. And for this same reason, I am thankful that Urban 2 responded to the call of Alexios in 1095. He was not unlike Bush. Criticism for the Crusades came internally. Many thought it was foolish to give so many lives (2 mil est), but we are not Islam because of them.

  26. Very valuable story, in Christianity, God is the eternal being that created and preserves the world. Christians believe God to be both transcendent (i.e., wholly independent of, and removed from, the material universe) and immanent (i.e., involved in the world). However, the Christian teachings of the immanence and involvement of God, and his love for humanity, exclude the belief that God is of the same substance as the created universe.

  27. Great thread and discussion

  28. RE: mbaker (#6) – “I am just wondering if the Crusades didn’t do more harm to Christianity than good when we look at them from a long range perspective… It seems that many folks think it did do harm to the cause of Christianity, and hold it against us. I hear that all the time from atheists and even from many fellow Christians.”

    I don’t know enough about the Crusades to comment either way. But if someone is going to reject Christianity (or, more properly, Christ), it doesn’t matter the excuse, they will reject Him anyway. If it’s not the Crusades, it will be something else. I would just remind these people we must be very careful not to use the sins of the Church as an excuse for our own rebellion against God.

    RE: mbaker (#18) – “Well, it obviously didn’t work because Islam is spreading faster than any other religion.”

    While I don’t know the rate that people convert to Islam (I suspect it’s very low), I do know the main reason for Islam’s growth is the high birth rate. By far more people are born into Islam than convert to it.

  29. Michael,

    I disagree with your position on both the Crusades and the Iraq War, but I’d like to leave that aside for now. Purely for the sake of argument let’s accept the premise that both wars were justified. It still does not follow that the two wars are analogous in any meaningful way, particularly when the primary point of commonality you point to is that both represent an Islamic attack on Christendom.

    Iraq was a secular state, and in fact that was one of the most important reasons the US was allied with it in the 1980s. Saddam was a monster of a dictator to be sure, but he was no Jihadist. One of the most bitter ironies to come out of the Iraq War is that the US took down the last secular state in the Middle East, and replaced with an Islamist state allied with Iran.

    This has resulted in the near-extinction of the ancient Christian community in Iraq, as they have faced violent persecution that had previously been held at bay by Saddam’s government. For all the many evils of his dictatorship, at least Christians were allowed to worship in peace, and did not have to face the very real threat of death every time they went to church.

    So while you may find other justifications for the Iraq War, defending Christendom certainly cannot logically be one of them, nor can it be a common goal shared with the Crusades.

  30. A Christian must not go to war. Non-violence is the Lord’s command.

    http://www.jesusthechristsonofgod.blogspot.com

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