We live in a societal environment wherein people suffered from things they did not initiate. This is a sad statement for the facts that how do people suffer from things they do not know about or initiate it? This is what happens regarding the conflict which exists between Christianity and Islam today. There goes a saying that if you see several things happening, the first thing which happens does the most harm. Had not the Muslim Turks occupied the land of the Byzantine Empire and carried out systematic persecution against the Christian community, there would not have been what we call crusades in practicality today. The Catholic Church decided to unshackle the holy land and its inhabitants from this horrendous situation and consequently decided to declare the crusade through its Pope Urban II. Thomas Asbridge states this in his article that is captioned of this re-retelling of the story of the first crusade (also known as three-year’ crusade and the peoples’ crusade) points to the roots of the conflict between Christianity and Islam.
Meanwhile, this document discusses the implication of the crusade primarily talking about the first crusade in 1095 as the result of Pope Urban II’s declaration to free the lands of Jerusalem from the hands of the Muslim Turks. It compares and examines the crusade initiated by Pope Urban II as a just or unwarranted war. Terms such as activism, pacifism, and selectivism are discussed investigative of the war. It introduces Pope Urban II as the man in charge of of the first crusade. Everybody at this time took instruction from him by virtue of his position as Pope. The document tends to resolve and to compare the crusade fought during the Medieval Era to the crusade (souls winning) fought during evangelism in the evangelical contexts.
The word “Crusade” in the time past has been implicit in the African Evangelical context which does not relate or refer to the Medieval Era crusade. The crusade fought in the evangelical context is the act or initiative to win souls for Christ with the purpose to populate the kingdom of God with people from every tongue, race, ethnicity etc.
I have used this word several times when writing ministry’s documents that relate to evangelism. The word that I commonly used some years ago has been “open air crusade” which connotes evangelistic activities in a realistic spiritual approach. My encounter with this word in church history indicative of physical warfare carried out during the Medieval Era which is destructive and damaging to religion especially wherein the name of Christianity was used to bloodbath the Jews community. How will people use religion to damage other people? I don’t think God desires that people be killed to carry out his work on earth. Men’s approach to religion in a diabolical or upheaval manner is the direct result of their depravity before God. Religion is not of God when it is associated with activities that are diabolical.
The question asked in the preceding paragraph is yet to be answered as history continues to unfold itself in that extreme Muslim fundamentalists tend to inflict retaliation on the Christian countries in the west with the act of terrorism. This statement becomes true as we take a retrospect of the recent incidence which occurred on September 11, 2001 relating to the terrorist attack on the American soil. According to President Bill Clinton as quoted by Thomas F. Madden in his article, as stated in the following paragraph.
“Within a month of the attacks of September 11, 2001, former President Bill Clinton gave a speech to the students of George University. As the world tried to make sense of the senseless, Clinton offered his own explanation: Those of us who come from various European lineages are not blameless,” he declared. “Indeed, the first crusade, when the Christian soldiers took Jerusalem; they first burned a synagogue with three hundred Jews in it and proceeded to kill every woman and child who was Muslim on the “Temple Mount.”
As we read church history, it is evident that malevolence or diabolical activities were carried out in the name of God as a reaction to the Muslim conquest of the holy land which belongs to the Jews or Christian heritage according to the Abrahamic covenant.
As we examine the quotation above, Muslim including the Jews was attacked in this maneuver and hundreds were killed including Muslim women and children in Jerusalem. We see the derivation of anti-Semitism from the episode of this religious maneuver against the Muslim Turks.
POPE URBAN II DECLARATION (1095)
It is true that the Muslim Turks did seize the holy land and in retort to the conquest, Pope Urban II, declared war on the Turks asking Christian soldiers to attack the land in order to liberate it from the Muslim Turks. This was the pronouncement of the first crusade unfolded as seem in the following paragraph stated below.
“Pope Urban II proclaimed the first crusade at the council of Clermont in France on November 27, 1095. A holy endeavor to expel a people “enslaved by demons” would serve many purposes: the Selink Turks has successfully occupied the holy lands, once part of the Byzantine Empire. Since the Pontificate of Gregory VII and the fateful battle of Manzikert in which Byzantine forces were defeated, eastern emperors had sent appeals to Rome for help. Now the Pope would act, sensing an opportunity that went far beyond sending a few mounted knights.”
The declaration of the first crusade by Pope Urban II was the direct result of Christian militarism against the Muslim Turks to recapture the holy land of Jerusalem. This historic event which occurred in the Medieval Era caused antagonism between Christianity and the Muslim world today. As people read history, it reminds them of those occurrences which have the predisposition to birth emotional angers causing people to react to the situation that they did neither initiate nor approve or take part in these upheavals during the antiquity of history.
Pope Urban’s promotion of Christian militarism against the occupants of the holy land did draw enormous turn-out for the crusade. The soldiers matched onto the holy land and successfully captured the land from the Muslim Turks killing score of the Jews community and the Muslim women and children in Jerusalem. The Muslims did not only occupy the land, but they also attacked Christians and their places of worship. These wars were executed justly according to the norm of religion and church history. The idea of pacifism was out of context during those days as compared to the Reformation period when Anabaptists decided to remain pacifists thereby allowing themselves to be killed by their opponents. It is completely opposite to activist’s belief system and the subject of the just war is actualized as the Muslim Turks occupied the holy land. The instrument of activism is at work now as Pope Urban II called for Christian militarism.
According to the article “The Crusade, Christianity, and Islam;” written by Jonathan Ricoy-Smith states that 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 much early Arab conquest of the Christian-held holy land.
JUST OR UNJUST WAR
The issue of just war as mentioned in this paragraph calls for discussion of Christians views regarding ethics in warfare. Was it right for Pope Urban II to declare war urging the crusaders to take the holy land from the Muslim Turks who were occupying the Byzantine Empire at the time? According to the information gathered from the crusade, Pope Urban II ordered crusaders to fight because the Muslim Turks had occupied the Christian lands and did carry out systematic persecution of the Christians. In this kind of situation, was Pope Urban II right to send soldiers to fight the Muslim Turks? Were Christian soldiers right to take lives of the innocent during this warfare for the fact that they did not only attack the Muslims, but they also attacked the Jews including Muslim women and children? Is it possible to be selective in killing people who do not know if they are your enemies or not? To answer these questions, let us discuss briefly the three positions Normal L Geisler discussed in his “Christian Ethics: Options and Issues”. These positions include activism, pacifism, and selectivism. Activism is a position which holds that wars are also right because it is God who ordained authority and therefore, Christians should go to war to fight when they have been commanded by their government to do so. This argument is Biblically and philosophically discussed to have some sense of validity, but there is radicalism in their beliefs regarding warfare. Normal L. Geisler states that according to activism, a Christian is duty-bound to obey his government and to participate in every war which that government enlists his support.
It is true that there are Biblically support scriptures from the Bible and also philosophical sides of this argument, but Christians should evaluate what kind of war or command they take from their commander if they were in the military or were asked to fight on behalf of their country as the result of dissidents present to evade such territory.
The second side of the argument states that Christians should not participate in war or resist someone who tries to kill them. This is a pacifist view of the argument regarding physical warfare. There are scriptures that they base their arguments on which are not discussed in this research paper. According to Normal L. Geisler and I quote,
“The Christians pacifists’ argument against all wars contains many points, but there are a few basic premises underlying all of them. One of these premises is found in the biblical injunction, “You shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13), and another in Jesus’ words, “Do not resist one who is evil” (Matt. 5:39).
I do not agree totally with the pacifist point of argument regarding war. I do not believe that if God places me on this earth to impart his kingdom with the Gospel, it will be his desire for me to surrender to an evil individual who takes my life without me resisting or defending myself. Accept wherein he preplanned it before time began as it was in the case of Jesus Christ to die for the sin of the entire world; in this case, Jesus could not resist his captor. He was here at that time and season to fulfill the redemption plane for mankind. When he is coming back, he can not be regarded as pacifist because he is coming back to fight and to judge Satan and his cohorts. Christian pacifists believe that because Jesus did not resist his subjugator when he was here; therefore, Christian should do likewise as Jesus did. One of the things that pacifists do hermeneutically misleading is that they take scriptures out of context regarding war in the Old Testament. They say that some wars in the Old Testament were not engineered by God, but God allowed human aspiration to be carried out. Wars which God allowed men to fight which pertain to David, Abraham etc were not sanctioned by God, but due men’s aspirations, God permitted them to be carried out, but it was not his instigation at all. Let us look at the argument here which I think it is not valid or considerable regarding this matter.
“Other pacifists argue that the wars of the Old Testament were not God’s perfect will but only his permissive will. That is, God is represented as commanding war in the same secondary and concessive sense that he is said to have commanded Samuel to anoint Saul the king even though God had not chosen Saul but David to be king (I Sam. 10:1). Wars are commanded by God in the same sense in which Moses commanded divorce – because of the hardness of men’s heart (Matt. 19:8). It is not that God really desires and commands war any more that he likes disobedience or divorce. God has a better way than that and it is disobedience and love.”
The ideas of the pacifists regarding these scriptural verses are out of context regarding war. I do not think if someone is walking to you to have you killed, you should stand and do nothing about it. This is not a war that God should allow you to die without putting yourself in self-defense. The call for Pope Urban II to ask Christian soldiers to take the land of Jerusalem and to free Christians who were being oppressed, was not wrong because it was a just war to free Christian heritage from the hands of the Muslim Turks; however, there is a just war, but there is not always a just command given during a just war and I do not think soldiers should be obliged to obey such commands from the commanding officers; unfortunately, in a war situation, it is very hard to reject the command of the commanding officer because the soldiers too are afraid that they might be killed as being accused of not taking instruction from the commander. This usually happens in the African setting especially where rebel incursion is taking place at the time. The areas of fighting war selectively when it comes to taking direction regarding command or what kind of war to fight as our government commands is the third argument known as selectivism. This position holds that not all wars are just war as opposed to activism. There is a just war and unjust war. God commands Christians not to take part in an unjust war or unjust command given to Christians by government even though government is ordained of God. The boundary between activism and pacifism is selectivism which is the view I support hundred percent. Let examine the following statement on selectivism as mentioned in scripture.
“The rejection of total activism is supported by scripture. The Bible teaches that is it not always right to obey one’s government in everything it commands, particularly when its commands contradict the higher moral laws of God. There are clear instances of this in the Bible. The three Hebrew youths disobeyed the king’s command to worship an idol (Dan. 3). Daniel broke a law commanding him not to pray to God (Dan. 6). The early apostles disobeyed orders not to preach the gospel of Christ (Acts4-5).
Selectivism is the argument which balances activism and pacifism. There are scriptures which support both activism and pacifism; however, it is scripture which interprets scriptures. Being a pacifist and an activist without taking into account the boundary between these arguments (pacifist and activist) runs an individual into errors to apply scriptures wrongly. The interpretation of scriptures plays a significant role in the application of scriptures in the lives of the applicators. The crusaders who matched onto Jerusalem to retake the land from the Muslim Turks, were they selectivists or activists? I think these crusaders were activists. They matched onto Jerusalem and killed not only Muslims, but they also killed Jews as well.
A PHYSICAL OR SPIRITTAL WAR
In the genesis, the word “Crusade” indicates warfare initiated to free the lands from the hand of the Muslim Turks who originally occupied it during the Byzantine Empire in the Medieval Era. It definitively means going to the cross in the French language. It is the invisible which gives birth to the visible; consequently, everything which happens physically is the result of the spiritual imparting it had originally before a manifestation is seem in a realistic confrontational environment. The initiative taken by Pope Urban II to declare the crusade to liberate the land was the results of the spiritual impart it had before the war was declared. Christians are totally engrossed into a war camouflage with spiritual weapons that they do not know about. We see this in Ephesians 6:10-12 and I Cor. 10:3-5 wherein Paul categorically divides the satanic kingdom into four and clearly delineates the nature of the Christian weapons. As we Christians obey the Great Commission mentioned in Matthews 28:19-20, we are involved in spiritual war to win souls for Christ. We must pray for the lost and consequently preach the Gospel to them so that they can know Jesus as Lord and Savior. This move to evangelize the world for Christ in the evangelical circle is a crusade which is spiritual in nature. The Holy Spirit is the commander in this warfare. When the Gospel is preached, people go to the saving knowledge of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. According to the article entitled, “Transnational Construction and Local Imagination of “Crusade Christianity” write,
“One of the most striking phenomena in the public imagination about Christianity in Africa relates to the transnational crusades have become an integral part of contemporary Christianity in Africa, accompanying the overall expansion of Pentecostal-type Christianity. Defined here by the way of hypothesis, Pentecostal-type Christianity across the globe represents an amalgam of “Pentecostalism and its vast Charismatic Penumbra”. The term doe not seek to harmonize diverse manifestations of Pentecostal-type Christianity nor classify them into category. Applying a more theological definition, the term emphasizes the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in diverse religious and cultural contexts.”
In the transnational endeavor to win souls for Christ in the African setting, churches organize themselves mutually to reach the lost souls. It is a consented and collaborative effort wherein an evangelist or a preacher is hosted for a particular program. Pastors or responsible individuals meet to discuss the prospect of the evangelistic crusade. During this meeting, a mission or purpose of the program is discussed and objectives are developed unanimously and collaboratively by the participating churches. Teams are set up which include prayer warriors, counselors, ushers, crusade director, worship leader etc during the convening of the meeting. Everybody gets prepared to see the event comes to reality.
The crusade fought in the Medieval Era was a physical war; however, the one fought today in the evangelical circle to win souls for Christ is a spiritual war perpetrated against the kingdom of darkness by the Kingdom of God. This spiritual war continues today between the kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of God. The act of terrorism today in the world is engineered by the devil and carried out by the physical agents of human kind. The act of suicidal bomber is the result of the spiritual which gives birth to the physical reality in which people are killed or wounded in these episodes today. The shooting of the girl in Pakistan who advocated for feminine education is the result of terrorism. It is the devil who is behind these activities today in the world. To suppress the activities of Satan over the church and humanity at large, we must declare a crusade through prayer and the preaching of the Gospel.
The impart of the first crusades during the Medieval period had had great negative influence on religious conflicts that exist between Christianity and Islam today. The execution of pastors or Christians in country like Iran can be traced back to the history that unfolded in time past and continues to negatively influence relationship between Christians and Muslims today. The crusades carried out to retake Jerusalem from the Muslim dominations did spawned hostility in our time leading extremists Muslim to carry out terrorism against West countries like the United States of America. In 1984, I read a magazine entitled “America is the Satan of the World.” This magazine expresses the hatred the Middle East countries had for America. The journalist who wrote this magazine is an American journalist who lived in Iran for the past twenty years and he disguised himself as a Muslim during those years, but he was actually a spy.
The crusade fought in the Medieval period continues today in the form of terrorism and it has different meaning in the spiritual religious context in the
Evangelical circle for souls winning. The move of the Holy Spirit during soul winning connotes what we call crusade. It is a war against the kingdom of darkness with the goal to deliver lost souls from the hand of Satan and to bring into the church of our Lord and Jesus Christ.
Asbridge, Thomas. The First Crusade: A New History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004)
Geisler, Normal L. Christian Ethics: Options and Issues (United States of America: Grand Rapids, 2008)
Madden, Thomas F. Inventing the Crusade (Columbia: Columbia University Press, 2009)
Mossa, Matti. The Crusade: An Eastern Perspective with Emphasis on Syriac Sources (Pennsylvia: Grand Rapids, 2003)
Ricoy-Smith, Jonathan .The crusade, Christianity, and Islam (Columbia: Columbia University Press, 2009)
Thomas Asbridge, the First Crusade: A New History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 408.
Thomas F. Madden, Inventing the Crusade (Columbia: Columbia University Press, 2009) 136.
Jonathan Ricoy-Smith, The crusade, Christianity, and Islam (Columbia: Columbia University Press, 2009), 2.
Normal l. Geisler, Christian Ethics: Options and Issues (United States of America: Grand Rapis, 2008), 215.
Normal l. Geilser, Christian Ethics: Options and Issues (United States of America: Grand Rapis, 2008), 222.
Matti Moosa, The Crusade: An Eastern Perspective with Emphasis on Syriac Sources (Pennsylvia: Grand Rapids, 2003), 45.