Crusades, Inquisitions, Witch-hunts, etc.
by Clay Jones
When I teach on why God allows evil, I include a lengthy discussion on the Crusades, inquisitions, witch-hunts, slavery, Nazi Christians, and the oppression of women (for the rest of this post I’m going to sum this up as “Crusades, etc.”). Although these events aren’t typically a part of problem of evil discussions, it’s important for the Christian to answer them because the question naturally arises: If Christians really have the life-changing Good News, then why do they seem to be such bad news for society?
This has huge implications for our evangelism because many non-Christians today have a “been there, done that” attitude towards Christianity. In other words, especially in the Northeastern United States (where they had witch-hunts) and in Europe (where they had the Crusades, etc.), many consider Crusades, etc., to be the natural outworking of true Christianity. This “been there, done that” attitude is exacerbated by the parade of scandals rocking the Catholic church, especially in Italy, and the embezzlements and sex-capades so frequent among major evangelical leaders.
To this end I intend to do a series of posts answering each of these individually, but for this first post I want to explain something not only misunderstood by Christianity’s detractors, but often also by the average Christian. Don’t be fooled: most of the atrocities done by “Christians” in the name of Christianity weren’t done by Christians at all.
Of course, skeptics will cry foul and accuse me of the no-true-Scotsman-fallacy, and even many Christians will accuse me of being terribly judgmental, but please hear me out.
The Bible unequivocally teaches that a lip-service profession to Christianity is insufficient evidence that one is truly born again.
Here are several principles about what it means to be a Christian:
First, a Christian is, by definition, someone who follows the teachings of Christ. That’s pretty obvious, right? One can’t knowingly reject the teachings of Christ and still call themselves a Christian. I doubt my Christian readers will disagree. However, some village-skeptics have disagreed with me on this point and opine that anyone who calls themselves a Christian is one, regardless of what they actually believe. But that’s dumb. Anyone who knows anything of the Bible and historic Christianity realizes that to be a Christian one must hold to a specific set of beliefs. For the last two thousand years Christians have argued tirelessly and even have given their lives because right doctrine (which is just another word for “teaching”) is essential to right relationship with God.
This has an immediate implication for the subject of Crusades, etc.: since the Bible is unequivocal that murder and rape (and more) are acts of rebellion against God, then those who do such travesties, at the very least, do them contrary to God’s will, not because of it. That the skeptic has found hypocrites in the church isn’t shocking—Jesus hated hypocrisy more than any human ever has, and He constantly denounced it…
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