If you have been reading these in order and paying attention, I noted much earlier that each generation of Christians ask themselves, ‘How do I show Jesus I am dedicated to Him?’ During the Roman persecutions (AD 60 – 313) many (again NOT ALL) followers of the Way showed allegiance by being willing or striving for martyrdom. After the persecutions ceased many (again NOT ALL) became hermits or monks to exemplify dedication. So we have in my shorthand or what I call ‘bumper stickers’: Martyrdom, then Monasticism. Next comes one that for many of us in the west (and truly I hope in all the world) would question the validity of this conviction, yet it is a fact nonetheless. This next term would be Murder (I use this ‘M’ word for alliteration, however, once explained it does seem quite accurate. During the times in Europe between the years 1096 and 1300 many (again NOT ALL) Christians were told the sign of true discipleship was to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and take back ‘God’s city’ from the infidels (Muslims).
Around the middle of the AD 600’s (AD 622) a man named Mohammed claimed to have seen a vision of the angel Gabriel, who dictated to him the exact words of God (Allah), which Mohammed wrote down and later this became the Koran. The beliefs and history of Islam will be addressed in a later post. The main point here is that within 100 years of the founding of Islam in Arabia, Muslims had conquered most of the area around the Mediterranean Sea. North Africa from the Atlantic ocean, plus Egypt, Palestine, Arabia, Asia Minor, Greece, and Rome were almost totally consumed by the Muslims. Notice that in that list was Palestine (Israel). The Muslims had taken Jerusalem and then claimed that on the Temple Mount (the place where Solomon’s and Herod’s Temple stood and where Herod’s Temple was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70) was the place where Mohammed was taken up to paradise. Obviously this event made the place a ‘holy place’ to the Muslims. So they invaded, took control of Jerusalem forcing the Christians to give up the land where Jesus was born and died.
So from AD 700 until 1000 the Christians had lost control of what they considered to be one of the most holy cities in their religion. Somewhere along the way many Christians decided Jesus wanted them to reclaim Jerusalem by any means necessary (including warfare). So in AD 1095 the pope at that time, Urban II, rallied the people to go on a crusade (a holy war) to take back Jerusalem for Jesus. The people were informed by Pope Urban that if they were truly dedicated to Jesus they would take up their swords, go on and trek, and kill Muslims to retake the Holy City. It depends on which historian you ask but there ended up being around 12 different crusades throughout a 200 year period. The details of each Crusade will be in a later posting.
Suffice it to say, in this particular time period the Christians showed their dedication to Jesus by going on a Crusade. Of course the moral and theological implications of misinterpreting Scripture is a concern. These people were not only willing but anxious to kill other images of God to show how much they ‘loved Jesus’. I look at this as a black stain on the Christian Family History. It was wrong and should have been handled differently, but my purpose here is not to get into all the intricate ramifications of their actions but to expose you to the information and assist you in a better understanding of how people of the past showed their allegiance to Jesus, and perhaps get you to consider what your generation has as signs or definitions of dedication to God and evaluate it according to Scripture to see if it is accurate or needs to be discarded and replaced.