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.) Continue Reading →