God’s Battalion: The Case for the Crusades
Author: Rodney Stark, Co-Director of the Institute for Studies of Religion and Professor of Social Sciences at Baylor University
“It always seems counterintuitive to moderns that warfare and religion can be consistent. Ideally, followers of the prince of peace are to avoid the sword and shield. Clearly, this has not always been the case. Frequently in the crosshairs of critics are the Christian wars against Muslims known as the Crusades, commonly viewed as the birth of European imperialism and the forced spread of Christianity. But what if we’ve had it all wrong? What if the Crusades were a justifiable response to a strong and determined foe? Stark, a prominent sociologist and author of 27 books on history and religion, has penned a compelling argument that these bloody encounters had less to do with spreading Christianity than with responding to an ever more dangerous enemy—the emerging Islamic empire. There is much to be learned here. Filled with fascinating historical glimpses of monks and Templars, priests and pilgrims, kings and contemplatives, Stark pulls it all together and challenges us to reconsider our view of the Crusades.”
– Source: Reed Business Information
It was Oliver Cromwell who said “Everyone says God’s on their side. I wonder who’s on God’s side.”
When it comes to the relationship between man and God, no truer words were ever said. And with that, a red flag should immediately go up whenever man decides to invoke the name of God as an authority for his actions.
The first crusades started nearly a millennia ago, and despite our advancements in nearly every sector, we’re still considerably shallow-minded when it comes to God.
Here we have a highly credentialed, well-educated author and professor, justifying the crusades. Militarily, on the authority of man, a war of any nature is easily justified. However, the crusades were not just any war. They were the wars between the followers of the crescent and the cross, both of which invoke not just holy figures but God himself.
Christians had a special role here. Believing that Jesus is not just another prophet, but the son of God himself, one would think a heavy consideration would be placed before chanting his name and raising the sword of symbols of the cross. Here is where not only did the men of a millennia fail, but where Stark and all others who justify the crusades fail.
Jesus, a divine man who did not even protect himself or save his own life, but turned the other cheek, maintained humility in the most desperate of times, under torture and imminent death, did not raise a sword, nor hand, nor cite God as retribution.
And yet his followers did, and do – with many others, displaced from battles, writing nonsense glorifying an act that had nothing to do with neither God nor Christ.
However, I will agree with Stark in that neither should Christians apologize for what their forefathers before them did, an act as ridiculous as anyone alive today apologizing for actions that occurred before their time here and their ability to act on them.