Tuesday, May 17, 2005

More on the Crusades from Ted Baehr

My education continues without me even looking for it! Another scathing review of Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven from my favourite fundamentalist film critic, Ted Baehr. It's long, but worth the read!


By Dr. Ted Baehr, Publisher of MOVIEGUIDE®

HOLLYWOOD, CA (ANS) -- The New York Times bemoans "Hollywood Worries as Decline Continues" in an article by Sharon Waxman on May 10, 2005, wherein she pointed out that "the poor box-office performance last weekend of the first major film of the summer, KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, released by 20th Century Fox, made for 11 weeks in a row of declining movie attendance and revenue compared with last year." The Times fails to consider that the problem is that the average American does not like the politically correct, breast-beating, Christian bashing revisionist history.

In a May 5, 2005 article by Christopher Howse titled "The Crusaders Were Right After All," British newspaper The Telegraph revealed the heart of the problem audiences are having with the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. It quoted director Ridley Scott saying that the Knights Templar were the "Right-wing or Christian fundamentalists of their day." Ridley continued, "If we could just take God out of the equation, there'd be no f---ing problem."

Just who are and were the Christian fundamentalists of our day? Pope John Paul II, who revived the faith of millions; Mother Teresa, who lived out the Gospel; Pat Robertson, who has brought Christian relief throughout the world; and Dr. James Dobson, who has helped millions of families. Are these the people who have caused the world’s problems according to Sir Ridley?

How did they cause the problems when the real villains were the anti-Christian atheists such as Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, and Mao, who killed and enslaved millions, and the occultists like Hitler, who killed millions and tried to exterminate God’s people, and the false religious fanatics like the Taliban, who cut off peoples’ hands and executed them for sport?

In fact, Ridley is wrong about history, about Christians, and about the tensions in the Middle East. As the Telegraph points out, "A more realistic view of history requires less retrospective fantasy and more brain work. It means forcing our heads round to see what motivated men and women centuries ago. Try thinking the unthinkable - that the Crusaders were right, and that we should be grateful to them."

As our friend James D. Davis of the Sun-Sentinel, wrote:

"I agreed with Tom Snyder’s assessment, below. I also note that KINGDOM OF HEAVEN showed the Christian communities as hotbeds of scheming and hypocrisy. The more religious a Christian was, the more bigoted and cowardly he was. The Muslims, on the other hand, all got to be brave and true and religious, too. Yet Jeremy Irons said the movie didn’t paint one side or the other as the villains. If that was balance, I’d like to know his idea of bias.

"There were factual errors, too. A historian (Paul M. Cobb of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute) told me that the Knights Templar never raided caravans; as an elite corps, they would have considered that to be beneath them. He also said Balian wasn’t a blacksmith; he was born into a royal family. The movie had Balian viewing the Dome of the Rock from outside Jerusalem’s walls; apparently the Mount of Olives and the Kidron Valley hadn’t been created yet. Balian also prayed at the site of Calvary overlooking the city; in the real Jerusalem, the church is street level, dwarfed by Mount Zion and the Temple Mount.

"It’s funny that the movie’s production notes rave about Ridley Scott’s attention to historical detail — down to a wasp trap in a corner — but he let those gaffes get by."

Even the entertainment industry rag Variety noted on May 8, 2005 that KINGDOM OF HEAVEN short-changed history, with the comment, "The film has also been dogged in recent months by accusations that it short-shrifts real history. Jonathon Riley-Smith, one of Britain's leading authorities on the Crusades, labeled it 'Osama Bin Laden's version of history' and said, 'It will fuel the Islamic fundamentalists.'"

In his article “The Real History of the Crusades,” Professor Thomas F. Madden points out: Many historians had been trying to set the record straight on the Crusades long before [The President] discovered them. They are not revisionists, like the American historians who manufactured the Enola Gay exhibit, but mainstream scholars offering the fruit of several decades of very careful, very serious scholarship. For them, this is a "teaching moment," an opportunity to explain the Crusades while people are actually listening. It won’t last long, so here goes.

Misconceptions about the Crusades are all too common. The Crusades are generally portrayed as a series of holy wars against Islam led by power-mad popes and fought by religious fanatics. They are supposed to have been the epitome of self-righteousness and intolerance, a black stain on the history of the Catholic Church in particular and Western civilization in general. A breed of proto-imperialists, the Crusaders introduced Western aggression to the peaceful Middle East and then deformed the enlightened Muslim culture, leaving it in ruins. For variations on this theme, one need not look far. See, for example, Steven Runciman’s famous three-volume epic, History of the Crusades, or the BBC/A&E documentary, “The Crusades”, hosted by Terry Jones. Both are terrible history yet wonderfully entertaining.

So what is the truth about the Crusades? Scholars are still working some of that out. But much can already be said with certainty. For starters, the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression—an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.

Christians in the eleventh century were not paranoid fanatics. Muslims really were gunning for them. While Muslims can be peaceful, Islam was born in war and grew the same way. From the time of Mohammed, the means of Muslim expansion was always the sword. Muslim thought divides the world into two spheres, the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War. Christianity—and for that matter any other non-Muslim religion—has no abode. Christians and Jews can be tolerated within a Muslim state under Muslim rule. But, in traditional Islam, Christian and Jewish states must be destroyed and their lands conquered. When Mohammed was waging war against Mecca in the seventh century, Christianity was the dominant religion of power and wealth. As the faith of the Roman Empire, it spanned the entire Mediterranean, including the Middle East, where it was born. The Christian world, therefore, was a prime target for the earliest caliphs, and it would remain so for Muslim leaders for the next thousand years.

With enormous energy, the warriors of Islam struck out against the Christians shortly after Mohammed’s death. They were extremely successful. Palestine, Syria, and Egypt—once the most heavily Christian areas in the world—quickly succumbed. By the eighth century, Muslim armies had conquered all of Christian North Africa and Spain. In the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks conquered Asia Minor (modern Turkey), which had been Christian since the time of St. Paul. The old Roman Empire, known to modern historians as the Byzantine Empire, was reduced to little more than Greece. In desperation, the emperor in Constantinople sent word to the Christians of western Europe asking them to aid their brothers and sisters in the East.

That is what gave birth to the Crusades. They were not the brainchild of an ambitious pope or rapacious knights but a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world. At some point, Christianity as a faith and a culture had to defend itself or be subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.

Pope Urban II called upon the knights of Christendom to push back the conquests of Islam at the Council of Clermont in 1095. The response was tremendous. Many thousands of warriors took the vow of the cross and prepared for war. Why did they do it? The answer to that question has been badly misunderstood. In the wake of the Enlightenment, it was usually asserted that Crusaders were merely lacklands and ne’er-do-wells who took advantage of an opportunity to rob and pillage in a faraway land. The Crusaders’ expressed sentiments of piety, self-sacrifice, and love for God were obviously not to be taken seriously. They were only a front for darker designs.

During the past two decades, computer-assisted charter studies have demolished that contrivance. Scholars have discovered that crusading knights were generally wealthy men with plenty of their own land in Europe. Nevertheless, they willingly gave up everything to undertake the holy mission. Crusading was not cheap. Even wealthy lords could easily impoverish themselves and their families by joining a Crusade. They did so not because they expected material wealth (which many of them had already) but because they hoped to store up treasure where rust and moth could not corrupt. They were keenly aware of their sinfulness and eager to undertake the hardships of the Crusade as a penitential act of charity and love. Europe is littered with thousands of medieval charters attesting to these sentiments, charters in which these men still speak to us today if we will listen. Of course, they were not opposed to capturing booty if it could be had. But the truth is that the Crusades were notoriously bad for plunder. A few people got rich, but the vast majority returned with nothing.

Urban II gave the Crusaders two goals, both of which would remain central to the eastern Crusades for centuries. The first was to rescue the Christians of the East. As his successor, Pope Innocent III, later wrote:

“How does a man love according to divine precept his neighbor as himself when, knowing that his Christian brothers in faith and in name are held by the perfidious Muslims in strict confinement and weighed down by the yoke of heaviest servitude, he does not devote himself to the task of freeing them? ...Is it by chance that you do not know that many thousands of Christians are bound in slavery and imprisoned by the Muslims, tortured with innumerable torments?”

"Crusading," Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith has rightly argued, was understood as an "an act of love"—in this case, the love of one’s neighbor. The Crusade was seen as an errand of mercy to right a terrible wrong. As Pope Innocent III wrote to the Knights Templar, "You carry out in deeds the words of the Gospel, ‘Greater love than this hath no man, that he lay down his life for his friends.’"

The second goal was the liberation of Jerusalem and the other places made holy by the life of Christ. The word crusade is modern. Medieval Crusaders saw themselves as pilgrims, performing acts of righteousness on their way to the Holy Sepulcher. The Crusade indulgence they received was canonically related to the pilgrimage indulgence. This goal was frequently described in feudal terms. When calling the Fifth Crusade in 1215, Innocent III wrote:

“Consider most dear sons, consider carefully that if any temporal king was thrown out of his domain and perhaps captured, would he not, when he was restored to his pristine liberty and the time had come for dispensing justice look on his vassals as unfaithful and traitors...unless they had committed not only their property but also their persons to the task of freeing him? ...And similarly will not Jesus Christ, the king of kings and lord of lords, whose servant you cannot deny being, who joined your soul to your body, who redeemed you with the Precious Blood...condemn you for the vice of ingratitude and the crime of infidelity if you neglect to help Him?”

The reconquest of Jerusalem, therefore, was not colonialism but an act of restoration and an open declaration of one’s love of God. Medieval men knew, of course, that God had the power to restore Jerusalem Himself—indeed, He had the power to restore the whole world to His rule. Yet as St. Bernard of Clairvaux preached, His refusal to do so was a blessing to His people:

“Again I say, consider the Almighty’s goodness and pay heed to His plans of mercy. He puts Himself under obligation to you, or rather feigns to do so, that He can help you to satisfy your obligations toward Himself.... I call blessed the generation that can seize an opportunity of such rich indulgence as this.”

It is often assumed that the central goal of the Crusades was forced conversion of the Muslim world. Nothing could be further from the truth. >From the perspective of medieval Christians, Muslims were the enemies of Christ and His Church. It was the Crusaders’ task to defeat and defend against them. That was all. Muslims who lived in Crusader-won territories were generally allowed to retain their property and livelihood, and always their religion. …

By any reckoning, the First Crusade was a long shot. There was no leader, no chain of command, no supply lines, no detailed strategy. It was simply thousands of warriors marching deep into enemy territory, committed to a common cause. Many of them died, either in battle or through disease or starvation. It was a rough campaign, one that seemed always on the brink of disaster. Yet it was miraculously successful. By 1098, the Crusaders had restored Nicaea and Antioch to Christian rule. In July 1099, they conquered Jerusalem and began to build a Christian state in Palestine. The joy in Europe was unbridled. It seemed that the tide of history, which had lifted the Muslims to such heights, was now turning.

But it was not. When we think about the Middle Ages, it is easy to view Europe in light of what it became rather than what it was. The colossus of the medieval world was Islam, not Christendom. The Crusades are interesting largely because they were an attempt to counter that trend. But in five centuries of crusading, it was only the First Crusade that significantly rolled back the military progress of Islam. It was downhill from there.

When the Crusader County of Edessa fell to the Turks and Kurds in 1144, there was an enormous groundswell of support for a new Crusade in Europe. It was led by two kings, Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany, and preached by St. Bernard himself. It failed miserably. Most of the Crusaders were killed along the way. Those who made it to Jerusalem only made things worse by attacking Muslim Damascus, which formerly had been a strong ally of the Christians. In the wake of such a disaster, Christians across Europe were forced to accept not only the continued growth of Muslim power but the certainty that God was punishing the West for its sins. Lay piety movements sprouted up throughout Europe, all rooted in the desire to purify Christian society so that it might be worthy of victory in the East.

Crusading in the late twelfth century, therefore, became a total war effort. Every person, no matter how weak or poor, was called to help. Warriors were asked to sacrifice their wealth and, if need be, their lives for the defense of the Christian East. On the home front, all Christians were called to support the Crusades through prayer, fasting, and alms. Yet still the Muslims grew in strength. Saladin, the great unifier, had forged the Muslim Near East into a single entity, all the while preaching jihad against the Christians. In 1187 at the Battle of Hattin, his forces wiped out the combined armies of the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem and captured the precious relic of the True Cross. Defenseless, the Christian cities began surrendering one by one, culminating in the surrender of Jerusalem on October 2. Only a tiny handful of ports held out.

The response was the Third Crusade. It was led by Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa of the German Empire, King Philip II Augustus of France, and King Richard I Lionheart of England. By any measure it was a grand affair, although not quite as grand as the Christians had hoped. The aged Frederick drowned while crossing a river on horseback, so his army returned home before reaching the Holy Land. Philip and Richard came by boat, but their incessant bickering only added to an already divisive situation on the ground in Palestine. After recapturing Acre, the king of France went home, where he busied himself carving up Richard’s French holdings. The Crusade, therefore, fell into Richard’s lap. A skilled warrior, gifted leader, and superb tactician, Richard led the Christian forces to victory after victory, eventually reconquering the entire coast. But Jerusalem was not on the coast, and after two abortive attempts to secure supply lines to the Holy City, Richard at last gave up. Promising to return one day, he struck a truce with Saladin that ensured peace in the region and free access to Jerusalem for unarmed pilgrims. But it was a bitter pill to swallow. The desire to restore Jerusalem to Christian rule and regain the True Cross remained intense throughout Europe.

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.

The remainder of the 13th century’s Crusades did little better. The Fifth Crusade (1217-1221) managed briefly to capture Damietta in Egypt, but the Muslims eventually defeated the army and reoccupied the city. St. Louis IX of France led two Crusades in his life. The first also captured Damietta, but Louis was quickly outwitted by the Egyptians and forced to abandon the city. Although Louis was in the Holy Land for several years, spending freely on defensive works, he never achieved his fondest wish: to free Jerusalem. He was a much older man in 1270 when he led another Crusade to Tunis, where he died of a disease that ravaged the camp. After St. Louis’s death, the ruthless Muslim leaders, Baybars and Kalavun, waged a brutal jihad against the Christians in Palestine. By 1291, the Muslim forces had succeeded in killing or ejecting the last of the Crusaders, thus erasing the Crusader kingdom from the map. Despite numerous attempts and many more plans, Christian forces were never again able to gain a foothold in the region until the 19th century.

One might think that three centuries of Christian defeats would have soured Europeans on the idea of Crusade. Not at all. In one sense, they had little alternative. Muslim kingdoms were becoming more, not less, powerful in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. The Ottoman Turks conquered not only their fellow Muslims, thus further unifying Islam, but also continued to press westward, capturing Constantinople and plunging deep into Europe itself. By the 15th century, the Crusades were no longer errands of mercy for a distant people but desperate attempts of one of the last remnants of Christendom to survive. Europeans began to ponder the real possibility that Islam would finally achieve its aim of conquering the entire Christian world. One of the great best-sellers of the time, Sebastian Brant’s The Ship of Fools, gave voice to this sentiment in a chapter titled "Of the Decline of the Faith":

Our faith was strong in th’ Orient,
It ruled in all of Asia,
In Moorish lands and Africa.
But now for us these lands are gone
’Twould even grieve the hardest stone....
Four sisters of our Church you find,
They’re of the patriarchic kind:
Constantinople, Alexandria,
Jerusalem, Antiochia.
But they’ve been forfeited and sacked
And soon the head will be attacked.

Yet, even while these close shaves were taking place, something else was brewing in Europe—something unprecedented in human history. The Renaissance, born from a strange mixture of Roman values, medieval piety, and a unique respect for commerce and entrepreneurialism, had led to other movements like humanism, the Scientific Revolution, and the Age of Exploration. Even while fighting for its life, Europe was preparing to expand on a global scale. The Protestant Reformation, which rejected the papacy and the doctrine of indulgence, made Crusades unthinkable for many Europeans, thus leaving the fighting to the Catholics. In 1571, a Holy League, which was itself a Crusade, defeated the Ottoman fleet at Lepanto. Yet military victories like that remained rare. The Muslim threat was neutralized economically. As Europe grew in wealth and power, the once awesome and sophisticated Turks began to seem backward and pathetic—no longer worth a Crusade. The "Sick Man of Europe" limped along until the 20th century, when he finally expired, leaving behind the present mess of the modern Middle East.

From the safe distance of many centuries, it is easy enough to scowl in disgust at the Crusades. Religion, after all, is nothing to fight wars over. But we should be mindful that our medieval ancestors would have been equally disgusted by our infinitely more destructive wars fought in the name of political ideologies. And yet, both the medieval and the modern soldier fight ultimately for their own world and all that makes it up. Both are willing to suffer enormous sacrifice, provided that it is in the service of something they hold dear, something greater than themselves. Whether we admire the Crusaders or not, it is a fact that the world we know today would not exist without their efforts. The ancient faith of Christianity, with its respect for women and antipathy toward slavery, not only survived but flourished. Without the Crusades, it might well have followed Zoroastrianism, another of Islam’s rivals, into extinction.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thomas F. Madden is associate professor and chair of the Department of History at Saint Louis University. He is the author of numerous works, including A Concise History of the Crusades, and co-author, with Donald Queller, of The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople.

In another article, “Crusade Propaganda: The Abuse of Christianity's Holy Wars,” Prof. Madden adds:

Which brings us back to the crusades. If the Muslims won the crusades (and they did), why the anger now? Shouldn't they celebrate the crusades as a great victory? Until the nineteenth century that is precisely what they did. It was the West that taught the Middle East to hate the crusades. During the peak of European colonialism, historians began extolling the medieval crusades as Europe's first colonial venture. By the 20th century, when imperialism was discredited, so too were the crusades. They haven't been the same since. In other words, Muslims in the Middle East - including bin Laden and his creatures - know as little about the real crusades as Americans do. Both view them in the context of the modern, rather than the medieval world. The truth is that the crusades had nothing to do with colonialism or unprovoked aggression. They were a desperate and largely unsuccessful attempt to defend against a powerful enemy.

That's the thing about bin Laden, he is a troublesome mix of the modern and the medieval. He and his lieutenants regularly fulminate about the "nation," a reference to a Muslim political unity that died in the seventh century. They evoke an image of the crusades colored with the legacy of modern imperialism. And they call for jihad, demanding that every Muslim in the world take part. In short, they live in a dream world, a desert cloister where the last thousand years only partially happened.

Looking at the real history, all the mumbling about tolerance is wishful thinking. Islam has been on the march for centuries, believing rightly or wrongly that it is the Truth. Wishing otherwise will not make it so.

In the Ivy League, many years ago, classes on comparative religion used a text by Walter Kaufmann, Religions in Four Dimensions: Existential, Aesthetic, Historical, Comparative (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1976). On page 186, Mr. Kaufman notes:

“When Muhammad came to Medina and found that the many well-to-do Jews there rejected his religion, his doctrines changed. Henceforth the kibla, the direction taken during prayer, was changed from Jerusalem to Mecca, the old Arab sanctuary that Muhammad hoped to conquer one day. (When he did conquer it, he smashed the idols but kept much of the old ritual.) The day of prayer was changed from the Jewish Sabbath to Friday. Yom Kippur ceased to be a holiday, and Ramadan, the month of fasting, was introduced. Of the Jewish dietary laws, he kept only a few, notably the prohibition against pork and blood. In the process Islam was transformed. In the Koran Jerusalem is never named expressly, but the change of the kibla is discussed in the second sura (142ff.): “The fools among men will ask: What has turned them from the kibla they used to observe? Reply: To Allah belong east and west…” Formerly, Muhammad explained, he had wanted to see who followed him and who did not; for no Arab adopted the first kibla when he prayed, except his followers. But henceforth everyone should turn in the direction of Mecca. Tradition has it, and scholars agree, that the first kibla was to Jerusalem, the second to Mecca. At that point Islam began to appeal to Arab feelings and traditions. Instead of simply deriding the Arabs’ old religion, the Prophet now could claim some continuity with it; it only needed to be purified. The relationship to Judaism and Christianity was undeniable; but the revelations granted to Muhammad surpassed those of all previous prophets, and Islam now claimed to supersede both Judaism and Christianity, as Christianity had claimed earlier that it superseded Judaism.

“If all this seems reasonable enough and one recalls further that after his arrival in Medina, Muhammad found work for his followers by raiding caravans and blockading Mecca, prompted in part by his own desire for revenge against those who had not accepted his religion, it is hardly astonishing that Muhammad also attacked the Jews, dispossessed them, drove them from Medina, waged war against them elsewhere, killed large numbers of them, and – in the long run this proved even more unfortunate – said some very unkind things about them that became part of the Holy Scripture of Islam. Perhaps, they had said some very unkind things about him first without foreseeing that his retorts would soon be accepted as divine revelation by people from Spain in the West to the borders of India in the East, and eventually even much further east than that. And when he killed Jews, that also was recorded in the Koran. If the giving of the Koran to Muhammad, bit by bit, was a miracle, it seems no less a miracle that although the Koran was accepted as divine revelation by the Muslims they did not treat the Jews far worse than they did.”

In spite of claims that Islam is peaceful, the newspapers report almost every day that Islamic fundamentalists are killing Christians in Nigeria, Indonesia, Bosnia, the Philippines, Africa, etc. Why? Because they have a goal, and the goal is the whole world becoming Muslim.

Christians, too, have a goal – bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ – but those Christians who are wise realize that we are not fighting against men of “flesh and blood, but powers and principalities” and that the answer is evangelism, not conquest.

In spite of our tolerant revisionist history of recent years, most Americans supported the Gulf War as a liberation of occupied Kuwait from a conquering power, Iraq. Similarly, it should be noted, that when the Crusaders went to the Middle East in 1095, they thought they were liberating Christian lands from the conquering Turks, a nation of Muslims who came from Central Asia. These Middle Eastern and North African lands had been the birthplace of Christianity and had been Christian for centuries, even producing Christianity’s best and brightest theologians. Many of the towns were still over 90 percent Christian when the Crusaders arrived. Thus, the Christians who had been conquered and oppressed by the Turks in these towns welcomed the liberating Christian Crusaders from Europe. Thus, from one point of view, the battle of the Christian Crusaders was actually very similar to the action to expel Iraq from Kuwait. The Crusaders were not trying to drive Islam out of its homeland. They were trying to protect and rescue Christian countries from invading Turks who had adopted Islamic beliefs. Historian Hilaire Belloc clearly documents these facts in his book, The Crusades.

Sir Ridley should note these differences between Mohammed and Christ as pointed out by George Zeller (10/01):

  • Mohammed was the prophet of war; Christ is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6-7).
  • Mohammed's disciples killed for the faith; Christ's disciples were killed for their faith (Acts 12:2; 2 Tim. 4:7).
  • Mohammed promoted persecution against the "infidels"; Christ forgave and converted the chief persecutor (1 Tim. 1:13-15).
  • Mohammed was the taker of life; Christ was the giver of life (John 10:27-28).
  • Mohammed and his fellow warriors murdered thousands; Christ murdered none but saved many (compare John 12:48).
  • Mohammed method was COMPULSION; Christ aim was voluntary CONVERSION (Acts 3:19).
  • Mohammed practiced FORCE; Christ preached FAITH (John 6:29, 35).
  • Mohammed was a WARRIOR; Christ is a DELIVERER (Col. 1:13; 1 Thess. 1:10).
  • Mohammed said to the masses, "Convert or die!"; Christ said, "Believe and live!" (John 6:47; 11:25-26).
  • Mohammed was swift to shed blood (Rom. 3:15-17); Christ shed His own blood for the salvation of many (Eph. 1:7).
  • Mohammed preached "Death to the infidels!"; Christ prayed "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).
  • Mohammed declared a holy war (Jihad) against infidels; Christ achieved a holy victory on Calvary's cross (Col. 2:14-15) and His followers share in that victory (John 16:33).
  • Mohammed constrained people by conquest; Christ constrained people by love (2 Cor. 5:14).
  • Modern terrorists derive their inspiration from Mohammed and carry out their despicable atrocities in the name of his god;
  • Christians derive their inspiration from the One who said, "Blessed are the peacemakers" (Matthew 5:9).
  • Modern day disciples of Mohammed respond to the terrorist attacks by cheering in the streets; modern day disciples of Christ are deeply grieved at past atrocities carried out by those who were "Christians" in name only (the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, etc.).
  • Many Muslims are peaceful and peace-loving because they do not strictly follow the teachings of their founder; many
  • Christians are peaceful and peace-loving because they do strictly follow the teachings of their Founder (Rom. 12:17-21).
  • Mohammed called upon his servants to fight; Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world; if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight . . . but now is My kingdom not from here" (John 18:36)
  • Mohammed ordered death to the Jews (see A.Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad, Oxford University Press [1975], p. 369);
  • Christ ordered that the gospel be preached "to the Jew first" (Rom. 1:16).
  • The Koran says, "Fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them" (Qu'ran 9.5); Christ said, "Preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).
  • Mohammed's Mission was to conquer the world for Allah; Christ's mission was to conquer sin's penalty and power by substitutionary atonement (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 3:18).
  • Mohammed claimed that there was but one God, Allah; Christ claimed that He was God (John 10:30-31; John 8:58-59; John 5:18; John 14:9).
  • Mohammed's Tomb: OCCUPIED! Christ's tomb: EMPTY!

Author Peter Hammond in his article “Why Is There So Much Hostility Against the Bible and Christianity?” notes:

As for the Crusades, the fact is that the Crusades of the Middle Ages were a reaction to the centuries of Islamic Jihad. In the first century of Islam, Muslim invaders conquered the whole of the previously Christian North Africa, destroying over 3200 churches -- just in that 100 years. In the first 3 centuries of Islam, Muslim forces killed Christians, kidnapped their children to raise them as Muslims, or compelled people at the point of the sword to convert to Islam. Up to 50% of all the Christians in the world were wiped out during those 3 centuries. The Saracens (as the Muslim invaders were called) desecrated Christian places of worship and were severely persecuting Christians. Pilgrims were being prevented from visiting those places where our Lord was born, live and ministered, was crucified and raised from the dead. It was after nearly 4 centuries of Islamic Jihad that the Crusades were launched – as a reaction to Islamic Jihad.

The word Crusade does not appear in the Bible, nor is it commanded. However, Jihad is the 6th pillar of Islam and the second greatest command of Muhammad. It is not only commended, but commanded in the Quran. The Crusades ended many centuries ago, however Islamic Jihad is continuing to this day. In Muslim countries such as Sudan, Muslims continue their “Holy War” against Christians. Millions of Christians have been slaughtered through the centuries by Islamic militants – such as the one and a half Armenians murdered in Turkey in 1915. Many of them burned to death inside their church buildings.

It is Christianity and Christianity alone which ended the prevalent practices of human sacrifice and slavery. Respect for life and liberty are a fruit of Christianity. Those who today are promoting abortion, euthanasia and pornography are not offering us progress, but only a return to pre-Christian paganism.

The whole concept of charity was a Christian innovation. Before Christ, benevolence to strangers was unknown.

The Christian Church has made more positive changes on earth than any other force or movement in history. Most of the languages of the world were first codified and put into writing by Christian missionaries. More schools and universities have been started by Christians than by any and all other groups. The elevation of women from the second class status they were assigned to by other religions was a Christian achievement. Those countries which enjoy the most civil liberties are those lands where the Gospel of Christ has penetrated the most. Christianity gave birth to liberty. Constitutional republics, the separation of powers, limited government and freedom of conscience are a result of the Reformation.

So, I pointed out that the foundation of limited government, the Magna Carta of 1215 was written by a Christian clergyman, Steven Langton. It is the first statute, the first written restriction on the power of government. And it was firmly founded on the Scriptures, and the Common Law of England, which was written by Kind Alfred the Great. Kind Alfred began his Dooms – which were the foundations of English Common Law – with the 10 Commandments, the Exodus case laws and the Golden Rule of Christ. These documents led to the establishment of Parliament and the English Bill of Rights, which were all foundational for the American Bill of Rights and the whole concept of the separation of powers, limited government, freedom of conscience, and other essential principles of freedom - which we take for granted today.

Karl Marx declared that the first battle field was the re-writing of history. Evidently, the enemies of Christianity have been busy in our universities, in Hollywood, and in many newspapers and magazines, reconstructing peoples’ perspectives of history and reality – from an anti-Christian perspective. It is imperative that we understand the Biblical principles for all areas of life and that we know our history. More and more I see the need for producing books such as The Greatest Century of Missions and Biblical Principles for Africa. By God's grace, we have also manage to completely revise and expand the Biblical World View Manual and Reformation Conference Manual. I am also working on the Greatest Century of Reformation, and a History of the World school textbook.

We need to ensure that our children know that the teachings and example of Jesus Christ have inspired the greatest acts of generosity, hospitality, self-sacrifice and service for the sick, poor and needy. That Christianity has inspired the greatest achievements in science, art, education, economics, civil and human rights and in works of compassion and mercy. Only those ignorant of history could fail to acknowledge that Christianity has made more positive changes on earth than any other force of movement.

More importantly, it is easy for opponents of Christianity to criticize, but – what are our critics doing for the lonely, the widows, the orphans, the sick, the aged and the refugees?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Peter Hammond can be reached at Frontline Fellowship, P.O. Box 74, Newlands, 7725, Cape Town, South Africa Web: www.frontline.org.za; E-mail: admin@frontline.org.za; Tel: +27-21-689-4480

The good news is that most audiences are still media-wise enough to reject revisionist history. The problem is that the future generations could accept this politically correct, anti-Christian propaganda. Several young people have written Movieguide® who are deeply confused about these issues. Help them to be media-wise by being informed and spreading the truth to rescue them from the confusions of our age.

(c) baehr, 2005
NOTE from Dr. Ted Baehr: For more information from a Christian perspective, order the latest MOVIEGUIDE® magazine by calling 1-800-899-6684(MOVI) or visit our website at www.movieguide.org. MOVIEGUIDE® is dedicated to redeeming the values of Hollywood by informing parents about today's movies and entertainment and by showing media executives and artists that family-friendly and even Christian-friendly movies do best at the box office year in and year out. MOVIEGUIDE® now offers an online subscription to its magazine version, at www.movieguide.org. The magazine, which comes out 25 times a year, contains many informative articles and reviews that help parents train their children to be media-wise consumers. MOVIEGUIDE® also regularly broadcasts several international TV and radio programs hosted by Dr. Baehr. Also, if you want to train your family to be media-wise, call 1-800-899-6684 in North America to order the book, video or audio version of THE MEDIA-WISE! FAMILY, Dr. Ted Baehr's latest book. © baehr, 2001

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I think Ridley Scott's ostensible views pretty much reflect much Enlightenment/Post Christian thinking - a lot of hatred and problems in the world would disappear if we just "left God out of the equation."

The appeal of religions like the New Age movement and the Baha'i faith show that people are ready to embrace what they perceive to be a universal religion.

There have been times I've been tempted to go with them. After all, sometimes you have a real connection with someone from a different faith - or no faith at all - that seems spiritual, but you disagree on the details. The principles seem the same.

But the main problem comes when we try to deal with sin. What do we do with it? We've all got it, we all do it. And nobody else except Jesus deals with it satisfactorily.

That, for me, is the bottom line. And that's why I remain - however reluctantly - a fundamentalist.

1 comment:

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