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Was the bible a reason or a just an excuse for crusades?

Postby I'm Not Evil » Sun Nov 25, 2018 1:30 pm

Was the bible a reason or a just an excuse for crusades?

I know this question might sound a little like an attack, but it's not my intent. I might not have the words to perfectly describe this problem in english as it's not my primary language, but I'll try my best. So i was wondering for quite a while about how christians nowadays see the history of crusades and other acts that currently seem kind of like hate crimes. I believe that crusades were political and had little to do with actual religion (much as I believe what ISIS has done recently is a matter of politics more than following the Koran), but at the time of them happening the ones who were popularizing them used the Bible to justify their actions and beliefs. I know that nowadays a vast, vast majority of christians think crusades were wrong. And I know crusades weren't the idea that came straight from the Bible but more a matter of an interpretation that is now considered wrong, which is understandable as heads of the church were only humans, they could've made a mistake. But what matters to me is whether, as I asked in the tile, christianity nowadays sees the Bible as a reason or as an excuse for crusades, inquisition, witch hunting etc. My idea (that might generally be wrong, I've read the bible, but that doesen't make me a theologian) is that the Bible might be interpreted in so many ways and there were so many translations that you could justify any action like the crusades or prove that they were wrong using practically the same verses.

And it's important to me, because if you consider the Bible to be the reason for crusades it means that the Bible, which is the very basis of christianity is encouraging hate crime. While if you assume it was just an excuse, it means the Bible isn't a perfect determinant of moral standards as it can be interpreted in many, often opposing ways.

I asked this question to many christians i know irl, but i guess it's either wrongly formed or simply hard to answer as no one ever gave me any answer. As I mentioned I've read the bible and I actually became an atheist after reading into the Old Testament, I used to be catholic. I don't want to be an antitheist and try to prove christians to be wrong, after all neither can i prove the bible is wrong nor that it is right as faith is a matter of, well... faith, it doesen't require proof. If there was solid proof it would be knowledge, not faith. I hope my question makes sense at least a little and thank you to whoever took their time to go through this semi incoherent babbling and respond to it.
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Re: Was the bible a reason or a just an excuse for crusades?

Postby jimwalton » Sun Nov 25, 2018 1:49 pm

We have to be careful of historic revisionism, which seems to be rampant in our era right now. "History" is always selective, and motivated by an agenda. Historians select data because of their relevancy to the particular historians, and these become evidence for building the historian’s case for a particular hypothesis. In any historical reconstruction, some ability to use one’s imagination is always necessary.

> So i was wondering for quite a while about how christians nowadays see the history of crusades and other acts that currently seem kind of like hate crimes. I believe that crusades were political and had little to do with actual religion (much as I believe what ISIS has done recently is a matter of politics more than following the Koran), but at the time of them happening the ones who were popularizing them used the Bible to justify their actions and beliefs. I know that nowadays a vast, vast majority of christians think crusades were wrong.

I believe this perspective has some merit. The Muslim armies overran Europe starting in 711 and continuing for several centuries. The Crusades could easily be perceived as a military effort to take their lands and governments back, and to make military incursions into other regions where Islam's governmental and military strength lay. The First Crusade was from 1095-1099, and it was a military effort to retake Europe, reconquer Turkey (as a buffer), and to retake the Holy Lands as a spiritual goal. Satisfied with the results, the European armies returned home, only to leave those regions undefended, and they were taken back by Islamic armies shortly thereafter.

> But what matters to me is whether, as I asked in the tile, christianity nowadays sees the Bible as a reason or as an excuse for crusades, inquisition, witch hunting etc. My idea (that might generally be wrong, I've read the bible, but that doesen't make me a theologian) is that the Bible might be interpreted in so many ways and there were so many translations that you could justify any action like the crusades or prove that they were wrong using practically the same verses.

I think that Christianity was one of the primary reasons for the Crusades. The Islamification of Europe (from 711-1000) was perceived negatively by the population (which was generally Christian), the governments (which didn't want to live by Sharia law and the principles of Islam), and the Church, which regarded Muslims as infidels. Europe is considered to have been in the "Dark Ages" during the era of Islamic occupation, and they emerged from it (into the Renaissance) only through the efforts of three Crusades that shook off Islamic occupation and oppression.

As far as the Inquisition, though, that's a different story. I believe the Inquisition was a horribly misguided effort by the Church to stay pure, and it was more based in clerical pride, the desire for power, and wrong-headed ideas about the kingdom of God.

The witch hunts in America, of which Salem is the poster boy, fall into the same camp as the Inquisition, in my opinion: horribly misguided efforts of mistaken zeal as to how to help a community find God.

> because if you consider the Bible to be the reason for crusades it means that the Bible, which is the very basis of christianity is encouraging hate crime. While if you assume it was just an excuse, it means the Bible isn't a perfect determinant of moral standards as it can be interpreted in many, often opposing ways.

So you can tell I think this is a mistake. Christianity doesn't encourage hate crimes. It repeated says "love your enemy," "do good to those who persecute you," "turn the other cheek," and "love one another."
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Re: Was the bible a reason or a just an excuse for crusades?

Postby I'm Not Evil » Sat Dec 08, 2018 3:15 am

I must admit that despite being christian in the past i've only ever heard the politically correct version of the history of crusades, which put all the blame on christianity, even though that's not entirely true (when it comes to military conflicts blame, more often than not, lays on both sides). And i'm really glad there are places like this forum where people can learn about different versions of a story and make their own mind instead of blindly following what they were told in the past


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