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February 07, 2015


From Dr. Stephen Sizer: The attempt to liberate the Holy Land from Moslem control was seen by many as a sacred endeavour and even as a form of pilgrimage. When Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade in 1095 he gave several reasons for this 'holy pilgrimage';

....each of high moral value, first to defend Constantinople and by doing so heal the schism between East and West; second, to be a repentant act of faith that would culminate in the moral reformation and total renewal of Christendom; third, it was to be a mass pilgrimage of believers united in the expectation of the imminent return of Christ. J. G. Davies, Pilgrimage, Yesterday and Today, Why, Where and How? p. 18.

“the immanent the return of Christ”? Nothing has changed.From the Washington Blog;

Millions of Evangelical Christians Want to Start WWIII to Speed the “Second Coming” … and Atheist Neocons are Using Religion to Rile Them Up to Justify War Against Iran. Posted on February 18, 2012 by WashingtonsBlog;


I find it hard to accept any honorable intent behind the Crusades when ALL of the Reformers and a host of other highly esteemed Christians throughout history recognized the Papacy as the Antichrist.

If they were right, this in itself makes the Crusaders the army of the Antichrist.

Not to mention, although less than 200 years old, Dispensationalism (the wave of rapture Millennialism sweeping America) is now emerging as the most dangerous cult in the world for the very reasons stated above.


" highly esteemed Christian"

One would have to ask who they were highly esteemed by. I think it is important to consider the source in these matters and the reasons given by the source.

@ Louis Kuhelj,

I probably should have said "others from highly esteemed universities", as it would sound less sectarian.

Pope Urban II's speech that initiated the Crusades tells a different story. He promises "immediate remission of sins" for the participants, claiming that it is the will of God.

"I, or rather the Lord, beseech you as Christ's heralds to publish this everywhere and to perse all people of whatever rank, foot-soldiers and knights, poor and rich, to carry aid promptly to those Christians and to destroy that vile race from the lands of our friends. I say this to those who are present, it is meant also for those who are absent. Moreover, Christ commands it.

This land which you inhabit, shut in on all sides by the seas and surrounded by the mountain peaks, is too narrow for your large population; nor does it abound in wealth; and it furnishes scarcely food enough for its cultivators. Hence it is that you murder one another, that you wage war, and that frequently you perish by mutual wounds. Let therefore hatred depart from among you, let your quarrels end, let wars cease, and let all dissensions and controversies slumber. Enter upon the road to the Holy Sepulchre; wrest that land from the wicked race, and subject it to yourselves ... God has conferred upon you above all nations great glory in arms. Accordingly undertake this journey for the remission of your sins, with the assurance of the imperishable glory of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Most beloved brethren, today is manifest in you what the Lord says in the Gospel, 'Where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them.' Unless the Lord God had been present in your spirits, all of you would not have uttered the same cry. For, although the cry issued from numerous mouths, yet the origin of the cry was one. Therefore I say to you that God, who implanted this in your breasts, has drawn it forth from you. Let this then be your war-cry in combats, because this word is given to you by God. When an armed attack is made upon the enemy, let this one cry be raised by all the soldiers of God: It is the will of God! It is the will of God!

All who die by the way, whether by land or by sea, or in battle against the pagans, shall have immediate remission of sins. This I grant them through the power of God with which I am invested. O what a disgrace if such a despised and base race, which worships demons, should conquer a people which has the faith of omnipotent God and is made glorious with the name of Christ! With what reproaches will the Lord overwhelm us if you do not aid those who, with us, profess the Christian religion! Let those who have been accustomed unjustly to wage private warfare against the faithful now go against the infidels and end with victory this war which should have been begun long ago. Let those who for a long time, have been robbers, now become knights. Let those who have been fighting against their brothers and relatives now fight in a proper way against the barbarians. Let those who have been serving as mercenaries for small pay now obtain the eternal reward. Let those who have been wearing themselves out in both body and soul now work for a double honor. Behold! on this side will be the sorrowful and poor, on that, the rich; on this side, the enemies of the Lord, on that, his friends. Let those who go not put off the journey, but rent their lands and collect money for their expenses; and as soon as winter is over and spring comes, let them eagerly set out on the way with God as their guide."


"I probably should have said "others from highly esteemed universities", as it would sound less sectarian."

Possibly, but the question remains and now it is directed at the members of that university and their rationale. It might be that they have a good argument for this esteem, but I need to hear it before I accept it. I don't like to buy a pig in the poke I prefer the principle of caveat emptor.

@ Louis Kuhelj;

Granted. Lets put it this way;

"others who hold the Reformer's views" and are documented as being of the same mindset even by the casual observer.

And then use the following for documentation;

“The Antichrist and the Reformation”

During the time of the Reformation and following, Christians in every Anabaptist, English-Baptist, Lutheran or Protestant and Reformed Church, knew the Papacy was the Antichrist. This fact remains set in the books and creeds of Christendom to this day. Several examples follow;

From The Westminster Confession which also with some adjustments became the 1st and 2nd London Baptist Confessions.
Chapter XXV
Of the Church

VI. There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof. but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalts himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God.

And from the preface to the Canons of Dort;

For this Church being by God’s mighty hand set free from the tyranny of the Romansish Antichrist, and from the fearful idolatry of Popery.....

Martin Luther declared, “We here are of the conviction the papacy is the seat of the true and real Antichrist.” (August. 18, 1520).According to The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, by LeRoy Froom. Volume 2, page 121;

Referring to Paul’s words in II Thessalonians 2, Calvin says; “I shall briefly show that [they]are not capable of any other interpretation than that which applies them to the Papacy.” According to Institutes of the Christian Religion, by John Calvin.

John Knox settled the Papacy was “the very antichrist, and son of perdition, of whom Paul speaks.” The Zurich Letters, by John Knox, page. 199.

“Whereof it followeth Rome to be the seat of antichrist, and the pope to be very antichrist himself.

I could prove the same by many other scriptures, old writers, and strong reasons.” (Referring to prophecies in Revelation and Daniel.) Works by Cranmer, Volume 1, pages 6-7.

“the pretended Vicar of Christ on earth, who sits as God over the Temple of God, exalting himself not only above all that is called God, but over the souls and consciences of all his vassals, yea over the Spirit of Christ, over the Holy Spirit, yea, and God himself...speaking against the God of heaven, thinking to change times and laws; but he is the son of perdition (II Thessalonians. 2).Roger Williams (1603-1683) (First Baptist Pastor in America):” The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, by Froom, Volume 3, page 52.

Cotton Mather (1663-1728) (Congregational Theologian): “The oracles of God foretold the rising of an Antichrist in the Christian Church: and in the Pope of Rome, all the characteristics of that Antichrist are so marvelously answered that if any who read the Scriptures do not see it, there is a marvelous blindness upon them.” According to The Fall of Babylon by Cotton Mather in Froom’s book, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Volume 3, page 113.

John Wesley (1703-1791) (Methodist): Speaking of the Papacy, John Wesley wrote, “He is in an emphatical sense, the Man of Sin, as he increases all manner of sin above measure. And he is, too, properly styled the Son of Perdition, as he has caused the death of numberless multitudes, both of his opposers and followers... He it is...that exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped...claiming the highest power, and highest honour...claiming the prerogatives which belong to God alone.” Antichrist and His Ten Kingdoms, by John Wesley, page 110.

A Great Cloud of Witnesses: “Wycliffe, Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, Cranmer; in the seventeenth century, Bunyan, the translators of the King James Bible and the men who published the Westminster and Baptist confessions of Faith; Sir Isaac Newton, Wesley, Whitfield, Jonathan Edwards; and more recently Spurgeon, Bishop J.C. Ryle and Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones; these men among countless others, all saw the office of the Papacy as the antichrist.” According to All Roads Lead to Rome, by Michael de Semlyen. Dorchestor House Publications, p. 205. 1991.


A splendid assortment of voices to note the anti christian approach of defusing jihad with crusade. To one point in your fist response:

>> I find it hard to accept any honorable intent behind the Crusades when ALL of the Reformers and a host of other highly esteemed Christians throughout history recognized the Papacy as the Antichrist.

In the historical setting of the Reformation, the Crusades were passe'. The last campaign occurred in the 1270's. Luther's Reformation began in 1517. The consistent trend between the times was the mounting threat of the Muslim Turk. In fact, the Holy Roman Empire's case against Luther was tempered by the Muslim campaign against Vienna. The reformer's life was spared more by that time's Islamic threat; to save Vienna meant to place Luther's case on the back-burner.

The Crusades weren't so much ecclesiastic motivations to find a political solution to the rise of the Ottomans as a pathetically ineffective waste of effort.

As to the point about the Papacy as "Antichrist," emphasize the impact of the term "anti." In the Greek from which it is derived, it means more "instead of/an option to" than "against/in opposition to." In short, a Ford is the Anti-Chevy. This much could be seen in Andrew's quotation of Pope Urban: "I, or rather the Lord, beseech you ..." "I" in estimating what Christ would recommend. My thoughts instead of Jesus' teachings.

There is so much spirit of Antichrist in our culture today. Sorry substitutions for pure Gospel.

@ DGFischer;

Thanks for the comments. I guess in looking back from the Reformation we can see others identifying the Papacy as the Antichrist of Scripture as early as the 10th Century. So writes Mike Morrill;

Catholic bishop Arnulf of Orleans would be the first on record to identify the “man of sin” as the Papacy during his days in the 10th century.

Catholic abbot Joachim of Floris in 1190 and the archbishop Eberhard II in 1240 also related the papacy to the Antichrist. Synopsis of the End Times; A look at the popular beliefs of today by Mike Morrill.

The Reformers serve to validate the earlier claims.

Yeah, as a born-again believer in Christ, I don't think I would take my stand in any way on defending anything about the Crusades.

First, it's an indefensible position. The Crusades were just bad; there was virtually nothing redeeming about them. Second, and more fundamentally, they were waged at the hands of an apostate church led by their false and illegitimate anti-Christ, the pope.

A better defense of the Crusades would be to highlight that what went on was NOT Christian in any way, and then use that as a venue to highlight what true Christianity is through the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Bad post...


Am I to understand that coming to the aid of other people who are being killed and oppressed is "indefensible"?

This thread of comments has strayed so far from the point of the Amy's original post, that it's comical. The point was that the Crusades were not conquests initiated by the west, but were in response to conquests coming from the east. The crusades were a response.

Please help me understand how that response was not Biblical. Forget the pope. That kind of reasoning is throwing the baby out with the bath water. How is coming to the defense of others not Biblical?

"From the birth of Popery in 606 to the present time, it is estimated by careful and credible historians, that more than fifty millions of the human family, have been slaughtered for the crime of heresy by popish persecutors, an average of more than forty thousand religious murders for every year of the existence of popery."
-- "History of Romanism," pp. 541, 542. New York: 1871.

g, even if you think they should have allowed the the Muslims to "capture 2/3 of the Christian world," enter into Germany, and continue to take all of Europe without response, even if it's indefensible to stop them, it's worth correcting the mistaken notion that the goal of the Crusades was to convert Muslims. Many people think that, and it's just not correct. The truth matters.

Andrew, I recommend you read the whole article.

dave, that quote seems highly doubtful. You should probably check a more recent source.

@ Amy;

I suggest Martyrs Mirror. A standard classic.

Also, David A. Plaisted writes;

Thus the time and place of the major persecutions contributing to the 50 million figures stand with reasonable confidence. It remains to estimate numbers killed in each of these persecutions and show that they add up to 50 million. Although it is not yet possible to give a full accounting, one can assign reasonable totals to these persecutions that do add up to 50 million. See; Estimates of the Number Killed by the Papacy in the Middle Ages and Later, David A. Plaisted © 2006.



Papal Persecutions

Thus far our history of persecution has been confined principally to the pagan world. We come now to a period when persecution, under the guise of Christianity, committed more enormities than ever disgraced the
annals of paganism. Disregarding the maxims and the spirit of the Gospel, the papal Church, arming herself with the power of the sword, vexed the Church of God and wasted it for several centuries, a period most appropriately termed in history, the "dark ages." The kings of the earth, gave their power to the "Beast," and submitted to be trodden on by the miserable vermin that often filled the papal chair, as in the case of Henry, emperor of Germany. The storm of papal persecution first burst upon the Waldenses in France.

The article isn't addressing the whole issue. What about the 4th Crusade, which resulted in the bloody sack of orthodox Christian Constantinopole, or the Northern Crusades against the pagan Baltics, which destroyed all of old Prussia and Livonia, and resulted in the weakening of Lithuania(and to an extent, Poland). Hundreds of thousands of pagans & Christians died in the Northern Crusades, which were undoubtedly initiated by Christians.

What the Muslim world needs is a mix of Protestant Reform and Enlightenment Age which Christendom was subject to, to curb this huge surge of Islamic violence.

I wonder, would President Obama tell the parents of Kayla Mueller, the Christian aid worker who was killed by ISIS, that they shouldn’t be on their "high horse" either?

We just need the rules for this type of thing. That way we can know how to act towards brutality.

Daren, from the article:

The Crusades of the 13th century were larger, better funded, and better organized. But they too failed. The Fourth Crusade (1201-1204) ran aground when it was seduced into a web of Byzantine politics, which the Westerners never fully understood. They had made a detour to Constantinople to support an imperial claimant who promised great rewards and support for the Holy Land. Yet once he was on the throne of the Caesars, their benefactor found that he could not pay what he had promised. Thus betrayed by their Greek friends, in 1204 the Crusaders attacked, captured, and brutally sacked Constantinople, the greatest Christian city in the world. Pope Innocent III, who had previously excommunicated the entire Crusade, strongly denounced the Crusaders. But there was little else he could do. The tragic events of 1204 closed an iron door between Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox, a door that even today Pope John Paul II has been unable to reopen. It is a terrible irony that the Crusades, which were a direct result of the Catholic desire to rescue the Orthodox people, drove the two further—and perhaps irrevocably—apart.

Ever wonder if or why the Crusades were justified?
Is it possible it was a long overdue response to four centuries of Islamic conquest?

Here is a chronological listing of major Islamic conquests prior to the first Crusade...
NOTE: This is only listing events occurring within Christendom, the Muslims were also very busy conquering as far to the East as the Hindu Nations.

Year Event
613 (Persians capture Damascus and Antioch)
614 (Persians sack Jerusalem)
622 Hejira - Mohammed's flight from Mecca to Medina, executes all older boys and men, enslaves young boys, women and girls as sex slaves.
624 Jihad - Mohammed and his followers subdue Mecca
633 Muslims conquer Syria and Iraq
635 Muslims begin the conquest of Persia and Syria
635 Arab Muslims capture the city of Damascus
636-637 Arab domination of Syria
637 Arabs occupy Ctesiphon
637 Jerusalem captured and falls to Muslim forces
638 Caliph Umar I enters Jerusalem
639 Muslims conquer Egypt and Persia
641 Islam spreads into Egypt
641 Muslims conquer Alexandria and burn the Library of Alexandria
649 Muawiya I lead a raid against Cyprus sacking the capital Salamis-Constantia
652 Sicily is attacked by Muslims
653 Muawiya I leads a raid against Rhodes
654 Muawiya I conquers Cyprus
655 Battle of the Masts
661-680 Muawiya moves capital from Mecca to Damascus
662 Egypt falls to the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates
667 Sicily is attacked by Muslims
668 First siege of Constantinople
669 Muslim conquest reaches Morocco
669 Muslims halted by Byzantines at Constantinople
672 Muslims capture the island of Rhodes
674 Arab conquest reaches Indus River
698 Muslims capture Carthage
700 Muslims raid Island of Sicily
711 Moors (Muslims) invade Spain
711 Muslims conquest of Sindh in Afghanistan
711 Battle of Guadalate
712 Conquest of Andalusia
715 Muslim conquest of Spain
716 Muslims captured Lisbon
717 Cordova becomes capital of Andalusia (Spain)
719 Muslims attack Septimania in Southern France
721 Muslims cross the Pyrenees
722 Battle of Covadonga First defeat of Muslims by Christians
724 Muslims raid southern France and capture Carcassone and Nimes
725 Muslim forces occupy Nimes, France
730 Muslim forces occupy Narbonne and Avignon
732 Battle of Tours (Christian Victory) Charles 'The Hammer' Martel halts Muslim advance into France. He defeated an invading Muslim army and halted northward expansion.
735 Muslim invaders capture Arles
750 Abbasids move capital to Baghdad - Map of extent of conquest at this point
756 The Emirate of Cordova is established - Another map of conquered territory
759 Pippin III ends Muslim incursions in France
762 Baghdad becomes center of Arab/Muslim golden age
792 Hisham I calls for a Jihad Thousands heed his call to cross the Pyrenees to subjugate France. Many cities are destroyed.
813 Muslims attack the Civi Vecchia, near Rome
816 The Moors support the Basques against the Franks
827 Sicily is invaded by Muslims
831 Muslims capture Palermo and make it their capital
838 Muslim raiders sack Marseille
840 Muslims occupy much of Southern Italy
841 Muslim forces capture Bari, Italy
846 Muslim raiders attack areas near Ostia and Rome. Some enter Rome and damage the Churches of St. Peter and St. Paul. The Leonine Wall is built to discourage further attacks.
849 Battle of Ostia (Christian Victory)
850 Perfectus, a Christian priest in Muslim Cordova is executed, one of the first of many others.
851 Young Christians are executed for insulting the Prophet Muhammed
858 Muslim raiders attack Constantinople
859 Muslim invaders capture Castrogiovanni slaughtering several thousand
869 Arabs capture the island of Malta
870 Muslim invaders capture Syracuse
876 Muslims pillage Campagna in Italy
879 The Seljuk Empire unites Mesapotamia and a large portion of Persia
884 Muslims invading Italy burn the monastery of Monte Cassino to the ground
900 The Fatimid Dynasty assumes control of Egypt
902 The Muslim conquest of Sicily is completed when the Christian city of Toorminia is captured
909 Sicily comes under control of the Fatimids
909 The Fatimid Dynasty assumes control of Egypt
909 Muslims control all the passes in the Alps between France and Italy cutting off passage between the two countries.
920 Muslim forces cross the Pyrenees, enter Gascony and reach as far as the gates of Toulouse
945 Persian Muslims capture Baghdad
972 The Fatimids of Egypt conquer North Africa
981 Ramiro III, King of Leon, is defeated at Rueda
985 Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir sacks Barcelona
994 The monastery of Monte Cassino is destroyed a second time by Arabs
997 Under the leadership of Almanzar, Muslim forces march out of the city of Cordova and head north to capture Christian lands.
997 Muslim forces burn Compostela to the ground
1004 Arab raiders sack the Italian city of Pisa
1009 The Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem is destroyed by Muslim armies
1009 Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah orders the Holy Sepulcher and all Christian buildings in Jerusalem be destroyed.
1012 Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah orders the destruction of all Christian and Jewish houses of worship in his lands.
1012 Berber forces capture Cordova and order that half the population be executed
1015 Arab Muslim forces conquer Sardinia
1050 Islamic Berber dynasties established in Sahel
1055 Seljuk (Islamic) Turks capture Baghdad
1064 The Seljuk Turks conquer Christian Armenia
1070 Seljuk Turks capture Jerusalem and begin persecuting Christian Pilgrims
1071-1085 Seljuk Turks conquer most of Syria and Palestine
1071 Battle of Manzikert
1073 Seljuk Turks conquer Ankara
1075 Seljuk Turks capture Jerusalem
1078 Seljuk Turks capture Nicaea
1084 Seljuk Turks conquer Antioch
1085 Kingdom of Castile re-conquers Toledo, Spain from Moors
1086 Battle of Zallaca
1088 Patzinak Turks begin forming settlements between the Danube and the Balkans
1090 Granada captured by Yusuf Ibn Tashfin
1091 Cordova is captured by the Almoravids
1094 Spanish knight El Cid takes Valencia, Spain from the Moors

1095 Launch of the first Crusade. Wasn't this about time? Talk about "turning the other cheek!
It took 400 years for the Christian Nations to respond as an alliance to Islamic aggression and conquest. This was a military expedition by
European Christians to regain the Holy Lands taken by the Muslim conquest of the Levant, which resulted in the re-capture of Jerusalem.
1099 First Crusade under Godfrey of Bouillon re-takes Jerusalem

1272 The last Crusade (Ninth) ended

From: (With some additions and editing.)

-- All these Islamic military invasions and conquests of previously Christian lands that Europeans were supposed to ignore?
See for further study:

Companions of Muhammad lived to see Islam declare war on every major religion in the world in just the first few decades following his death - pressing the Jihad against Christians, Jews, Hindus, Zoroastrians, and Buddhists and many others.
The Crusades were in response to all of this.
By the time of the Crusades (when the Europeans began fighting back), Muslims had conquered two-thirds of the Christian world by the sword, from Spain and parts of Italy and France, to Syria, and across North Africa. The Arab slave-trading routes would stay open for another 1300 years, until pressure from Christian-based countries forced Islamic nations to declare the practice illegal. (in theory).

For the most part pure bunk here and a complete revisionist perspective. You should be ashamed.

Steve, from Thomas F. Madden's bio:

Thomas F. Madden is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Saint Louis University. As an author and historical consultant, he appears in such venues as The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and The History Channel.

He's also written a book on the Crusades. Perhaps you've learned some incorrect information from more popular-level sources.

Even if the view of this article can be seen as an accurate account of history, it doesn't remove the fact that the Church wasn't living out the mission of Christ here. Decades of aggression by Muslims in no way made what these Christians did something that meshes with the self-sacrificial Calvary love that the followers of Christ are to emulate. Non-Christians realize that this doesn't mesh with the teachings of the Church which is why they continue to use the crusades in the way that they do.

We don't need to make excuses for the crusades. We should own up to the wrongs done there but then also point out how the actions of those in the crusades (or the actions of any of us) in no way add to or detract from the truth claims of Christ. That truth stands on its own, and that is what people are accountable too.

For those who don't want to accept who Christ is, the crusades are just an excuse for them.

Why are protestants sticking up for the catholics. The catholics not only slaughtered muslims but millions of jews. I wouldn't defend any of the actions of the catholics as a protestant.

Maria, this isn't a matter of defending the Catholic Church, this is a matter of explaining what is true. Truth matters, and I care about it. No matter who it's about.

Whilst much of the material and some of the insights are helpful, it is a little simplistic and one sided. This portrayal of the Crusades as entirely a defensive response to Islamic aggression is overblown. They occurred for more reasons than a desire to accede to a request from the Byzantine Emperor, who subsequently regretted his invitation. The Crusaders set about imposing western forms of Christian practice in the Byzantine Empire in what must be seen as a refection of an imperialist mindset.

To suggest that western Europe was at risk during the Crusades from Islamic invasion is again something that I think is a long shot. Byzantium was a separate and very different region to the various Empires and Kingdoms of Western Europe. The undoubted threat to Byzantium did not translate into a threat to the West. They had seen off Islamic invasion during the time of Charles Martel and would see off another that got as far as Vienna, but at the time of the Crusades they were not going to defend themselves but rather another Empire altogether.

Whatever else may be said, the Crusades were a bloody attempt in the name of Christ to destroy non believers. As such I can't see how they can be defended. They were not presented at the time as a defence of western Europe, but rather of the holy land and Byzantium, and the Crusaders' sacking of Constantinople meant that Byzantium was so weakened that they eventually had no way of resisting Islam in 1453. So their concern, such as it was, to defend Constantinople achieved the opposite effect.

I've never heard Steven Runciman called a terrible historian - a big, and hard to justify call!

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