Q: #130. What were the Crusades?
A: The Crusades were a series of “holy wars” from approximately 1095-1291. They were originally commissioned by the Roman Catholic Church, and Pope Urban II. The main goal of these campaigns was to RECLAIM the holy land that had been taken from them by the Muslims. In calling for this war, Pope Urban II said it was God’s will, and that penance would be granted to all who died in the battle.
A number of horrific atrocities occurred during these wars. Large numbers of people were tortured and killed, including not only Muslims, but also Jews, pagans, and other non-Catholics. Those conquered were often given a choice of forced conversion to “Christianity,” or death.
The Crusaders were successful in regaining some of the holy land back, including Jerusalem, however, in 1187 they lost Jerusalem again when Saladin recaptured it.
These Crusades were done in the name of Christ, but they most certainly were NOT Christian. One should realize that just because someone claims to be a Christian, it does not make them one. A Christian will follow the example of Christ, and the teachings of the Bible, and clearly those involved in the Crusades violated these things. In fact, by declaring “holy war,” “killing the infidels,” and attempting to make forced converts, they were following in the footsteps of what the Muslims did, and often still do today. God is not behind these “holy wars,” and attempts at forced conversion ALWAYS fail. As Christians, we win people to Christ by love, and sharing the truth of His Word, not hate.