How should we deal with the topic of the Crusades, both in our own thinking and in engagement with Muslims? - Pathfinder

How should we deal with the topic of the Crusades, both in our own thinking and in engagement with Muslims?

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    • #1439
      pathfinderlms
      Keymaster
    • #2759
      Janae Robinson
      Participant

      Overall, Christians and Muslims need to give each other grace about our past, work toward a future where both groups respect, and advocate for religious freedom for all. Personally, I need to become more educated on the Crusades. I have been raised in non-denominational churches and went to public schools. Throughout my time in Israel, I was made aware how little I know of Christian history. Most of that, I admit, was because I don’t or didn’t, (not sure where I land on this topic,) see the history of the Orthodox and Catholic churches as my own. The church I work at and am a member of is 70 years old and that is the Christian history I have grown up claiming. To go back to the question, education and the willingness to call out the wrong doing of both sides while acknowledging the reasoning of both sides is important. Realizing that both sides thought they were in the right is important in how we engage with Muslims. If we can agree that both sides did bad things and thought they were right, we lay the groundwork to have real conversations about our differences that start from a place of respect, not playing a circular blame game that does nothing to forward positive engagement. However, we cannot just call out where Christians were wrong in the Crusades, but where Muslims were wrong too. Giving Muslims a pass for bad Christian actors during the Crusades does not excuse their bad actions either.

      • #3024
        Cara Brown
        Participant

        Janae,
        Two main points stuck out to me in your response for where we can begin with the Crusades that I found to be true and helpful: 1.) Education 2.) Grace and Respect
        The Crusades are often looked over in Western education, at least in my experience. They were hardly mentioned or only given a cursory review. As Christians, we should encourage discussion and education, especially about grievous errors and sins that the Church committed in the past, so we can be better prepared to discuss with Muslims and do better as the Church. While we need to remember the past, none of us should be condemned for it. We need grace so we can forgive and seek out mutual respect. We need to acknowledge the past, but do so in a spirit of love and understanding so we can move forward.

    • #2902
      Hannah Longo
      Participant

      In high school, I read a book called The Thousand Year War in the Mideast by Richard Mayberry. The author explains that the mindset of the people in the Arab world is different from that of those in the West–they have a much greater focus on and remembrance for the past. Something like the Crusades, which to us is past history, is a current event to them. I think understanding this is crucial in our engagement of the Muslim world.
      Also, Westerners often see historical events, particularly negative ones, as something they are not responsible for. In some ways they are right; no one alive today took part in the Crusades. But it was Westerners (and so-called Christians) who committed all the heinous atrocities that Muslims still remember today. It is not until we as a collective group acknowledge what our civilization and religion did in the past that we will be able to have meaningful engagement with the Muslim world.

    • #2916
      Jamila White
      Participant

      This question is all too familiar. I worked in the ER as a medical scribe for 3.5 years. During this time, I worked with an ER physician that was a Pakistani Muslim, devout Muslim he might add. One night after a long shift, he inquired about my Christian apologetics book. This then turned into an unforeseen opportunity to witness to him. He began by stating that no Christian has ever been able to answer his questions or inquiries about issues, such as the Crusades. I felt intimidated initially, but the Holy Spirit stepped right in. When the topic of the Crusades came up, I brought up that anyone can profess with their lips that they are a Christian. I made mention of the early followers of Christ were known as a Jewish sect that were often referred to as followers of “the Way” or disciples of Christ. It was not until the Acts when the disciples of Christ were called “Christians.” This simply meant to be Christ-like. I also added that there have been many professed “Christians” that have cherry picked scriptures to justify their selfish and oftentimes, demonic interests. I brought up the example of slave masters in America and the Islands using certain scriptures to justify the slavery of a certain tribe from West Africa. The Bible in its entirety was often kept from slaves and slaves would be beat or killed if they were found to try to get a hold of a Bible to read for themselves or have someone read it to them. In sum, the physician began to understand that someone who is truly born again would not commit these acts of violence. I ended that part of the conversation with making note that the Crusades are a reflection of the sinful nature of human kind and the need for a Lord and Savior, but not reflect Jesus Christ himself.

      The basic principle that ought to be applied when dealing with this topic in relation to engagement with Muslims, is to encourage them not to judge the tenets of the Christian faith on the basis of acts in history committed by people who hid under the guise of Christianity. One must then explain what it truly means to be born again. Oftentimes, Muslims I have encountered stated they had more of a problem with the followers of Christ than Christ himself. In this case, we are to always approach Muslims with the same love that we demonstrate or should demonstrate toward other believers. Hear their perspective and offer the true history with scriptures to support. Above all, this is to be done in love for the soul of the person and not to simply win an argument over the Crusades. There is underlying curiosity many Muslims have about the Christian faith. Do not allow the enemy to use topics such as this to cause division and hinder you from showing the love of Christ.

      Jamila

    • #2707
      Evan Crain
      Participant

      I think there should be considerable caution in personally “owning” the actions of a different people in a different time who were unjustified in their actions based on true Christianity. There were many reasons for the Crusades, such as religious manipulations, politics, and national security, right and wrong – I think it better to understand the bigger picture and emphatically say “regardless of the reasons, never would the Jesus of Nazareth mandated violence in building His Kingdom!”

    • #2760
      Janae Robinson
      Participant

      Hans, you make great points about the positive and negatives of the Crusades. Generally, the standard line of thinking regarding the Crusades is Christians doing terrible things. From my preliminary research, Europe lacked a lot of understanding about the Near East and this allowed for some poor decision making that did result in things like regaining custody of Holy Places that are still held today. Additionally, it seems to me that those doing the actual fighting on behalf of the religious rulers seemed to have been fed the lie that this “holy war” would punch their ticket to heaven.

    • #3155
      Loncey Elie
      Participant

      Hey Hans,
      I admired your response in answering this question because the topic of the Crusades has an important historical value. From your summary, the first word that came to mind was to be tolerant in dealing with the issue of the Crusades in the thinking and engagement with Muslims. I believe this is a crucial value to have because it demonstrates that there are events in our life that is uncontrollable, but how we react to them is different. We should react to this with a sense of calmness realizing that there is so much we can control and the best way to combat these problems is to react to what we can control with a tolerant attitude.

    • #2917
      Jamila White
      Participant

      Katelyn,

      My personal take is that I will maintain that Christians are imperfect, however, we are commanded and ought to strive to be perfect. Progressive sanctification is crucial in the Christian life. I am careful to take responsibility for certain parts of history that have hidden agendas and people hiding under the guise of Christianity. This has been done in ancient times, in slavery of America and the Islands, and even till this day. What I remind people of other faiths who may not know is that anyone can profess to be Christian, but that does not mean that they truly are born again. Above all, these acts do not represent Christ and the Gospel. It is human nature to take the sinful nature of people and projects that unto Christ, however, Christ perfect in every communicable and non-communicable attribute. Have Christians been imperfect, certainly. However, I do not support the Crusades being true disciples of Christ for the evidence of the fruit of the Spirit is not there. The real enemy is actually not people, but the adversary, the one who presents himself as an angel of light. He is the real deceiver and father of lies that has influenced people to commit atrocious acts under the guise of Christianity. This then attacks the faith of believers and unbelievers who observe such contradictions.

      Jamila

    • #2918
      Jamila White
      Participant

      Mary,

      The response I would provide is in my post so I can refer you to my post listed in this discussion. In any case, I have been observing a misunderstanding of true born again disciples of Christ and those that were never with Christ in their heart, which Scripture speaks of in Isaiah 29:13 and Matthew 15:8. I had an amazing dialogue with a Muslim physician who had a better understanding of the Crusades and other acts in history, such as the slave masters using the Bible to justify slavery. Should every American Christian take responsibility and hold on to this? As a descendant of the tribe of West Africans that was taken to this country for enslavement, I know that these slave masters were either deceived or never were with Christ and served as agents of the adversary. Since giving my life to Christ in college, I have learned to revisit history. I learned that what I often taught was not necessarily the entire story or truth. I learned how to research the research presented to me. Above all, I learned how to use the Holy Spirit for discernment in topics such as this. After many conversations with Muslims, many of them I met, have expressed seeking true hope, peace, and rest for their souls. The Crusades is often brought up as a blocker of the Gospel. Once I got past this after respectful but truthful dialogue, I was able to share my faith with them and they in return, looked differently (in a good way) at Christ and the Gospel.

      Jamila

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