The Crusades started in the 11th century and lasted until the 14th century. The goals of the wars were to take the Holy Land from Muslim control and preserve it from Muslim incursions. Seljuk Turks had taken control of Jerusalem in the 11th century and were threatening to overthrow the Byzantine empire. Also, these Islamic Turks were harassing and persecuting Roman Catholics in their pilgrimage to visit the Holy Sepulcher where Christ had been buried. So because of the complaints of the pilgrims and the Byzantine emperor asking for help, Pope Urban II amassed his army. Let’s examine the facts to see if the wars were truly Christian.
- The Vatican wanted to preserve the pilgrims’ journey to the Holy Sepulcher (tomb), which was part of their penance (a work done to absolve an individual of sin). Those who took up arms to protect the sepulcher were promised full penance for their deeds.
- The only payment for sin, according to the holy scriptures, is Christ’s sacrificial death (1 Corinthians 15:3) not our works. Only Jesus Christ can forgive our sins (Ephesians 1:7), not a sinful man with a lofty title.
- The papacy during this period had been weakened and the Pope saw this as an opportunity to strengthen his office. He was puffed up in his pride.
- According to the scriptures, God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). Jesus said whoever exalts themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted (Luke 14:11).
- The Vatican wanted control of Jerusalem because of its religious importance in history as a place of worship and because the apostle Peter is buried there.
- Jesus said the hour has come when worshipping the Father is not about whether one worships in Jerusalem or on Mt. Zion, but that we worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:21-24).
- The kingdoms from which the crusaders came wanted to expand their territories to increase their wealth and influence, claiming they were doing it for the glory of God. They were covetous.
- Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” (John 18:36). Colossians 3:5 tells us that covetousness is idolatry.
- During these campaigns genuine Christians, Jews, and Muslims were all massacred by the crusaders and their women were raped. The children who were born from the rapes were sold into slavery to Muslims. They also killed fellow Roman Catholics who did not agree with their bloodshed.
- Jesus commanded us to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us or despise us (Luke 6:27-28). The word of God tells us that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him (1 John 3:15).
I believe the record shows us clearly that the crusaders were not really Christian. They claimed to know God but by their very abominable, disobedient, and reprobate actions they denied him (Titus 1:16). It is because of their evil doings that the way of truth has been evil spoken of (2 Peter 2:1-2). I am sorry that those who suffered at their murderous hands thought these men represented Christianity. I am also sorry that their modern day descendants think the same. True Christians love and do not jump at the opportunity to physically hurt people. We share the true gospel through preaching and by our lifestyles, not by brute force.
–posted by Harry A. Gaylord–