Category: Crusades

The Knights Templar, also known as the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the  Temple of Solomon, were an order of Christian knights that was formed in  approximately 1119 A.D., following the First Crusade. The stated responsibility  of the Knights Templar was to protect Christian pilgrims who were traveling to  Jerusalem. The Knights Templar were given the Temple Mount in Jerusalem as their  headquarters, and there are many legends of the Templars excavating the many  tunnels beneath the Temple Mount in search of biblical treasures and  artifacts. Primarily due to a financial dispute with King Philip IV of  France, the Knights Templar were ordered to be disbanded by Pope Clement V. Many  of the Knights Templar were arrested, tortured until they confessed to  unimaginable crimes, and then burned at the stake as heretics. Some of the  Knights Templar escaped the persecution and went into hiding. There are various  traditions as to what happened to the surviving Knights Templar, with the most  likely legend being that they eventually formed what is now known as the Freemasons. The recent books, Holy  Blood, Holy Grail and The Da Vinci Code include the Knights Templar  in their conspiracy theories. The unfounded and baseless legend says that the  Knights Templar found evidence that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, and  they blackmailed the Roman Catholic Church, leading to the legendary wealth of  the Knights Templar. Eventually, though, the Roman Catholic Church was able to  orchestrate the heresy charges against the Knights Templar, leading to their  disbanding and deaths. Similar to the other conspiracy theories in Holy  Blood, Holy Grail and The Da Vinci Code, these theories are  completely lacking in historical merit.

The crusades have provided some of the most frequent arguments against the  Christian faith. Some Islamic terrorists even claim that their terrorist attacks  are revenge for what Christians did in the crusades. So, what were the crusades  and why are they viewed as such a big problem for the Christian faith?

First of all, the crusades should not be referred to as the “Christian  crusades.” Most of the people involved in the crusades were not truly  Christians, even though they claimed to be. The name of Christ was abused,  misused, and blasphemed by the actions of many of the crusaders. Second, the  crusades took place from approximately A.D. 1095 to 1230. Should the unbiblical  actions of supposed Christians hundreds of years ago still be held against  Christians today?

Third, not that this is an adequate excuse, but  Christianity is not the only religion with a violent past. In actuality, the  crusades were responses to Muslim invasions on what was once land occupied  primarily by Christians. From approximately A.D. 200 to 900, the land of Israel,  Jordan, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey was inhabited primarily by Christians. Once  Islam became powerful, Muslims invaded these lands and brutally oppressed,  enslaved, deported, and even murdered the Christians living in those lands. In  response, the Roman Catholic Church and “Christian” kings/emperors from Europe  ordered the crusades to reclaim the land the Muslims had taken. The actions that  many so-called Christians took in the crusades were still deplorable. There is  no biblical justification for conquering lands, murdering civilians, and  destroying cities in the name of Jesus Christ. At the same time, Islam is not a  religion that can speak from a position of innocence in these matters.

To summarize briefly, the crusades were attempts in the 11th through 13th  centuries A.D. to reclaim land in the Middle East that had been conquered by  Muslims. The crusades were brutal and evil. Many people were forced to “convert”  to Christianity. If they refused, they were put to death. The idea of conquering  a land through war and violence in the name of Christ is completely unbiblical.  Many of the actions that took place in the crusades were completely antithetical  to everything the Christian faith stands for.

How can we respond when,  as a result of the crusades, the Christian faith is attacked by atheists,  agnostics, skeptics, and those of other religions? We can respond in the  following ways: 1) Do you want to be held accountable for the actions of people  who lived 900+ years ago? 2) Do you want to be held accountable for the actions  of everyone who claims to represent your faith? Trying to blame all of  Christianity for the crusades is analogous to blaming all Muslims for Islamic  terrorism.