Since the recent presidential prayer breakfast, President Obama’s characterization of the atrocities of ISIS as something no more or less horrible than the Crusades generated quite a response! His remarks have called attention to a chapter in the history of the church that frankly embarrasses Christians. The folk lore surrounding most recollections of these Crusades leaves us wondering how such things could have been done in the name of the Prince of Peace!
Well, there is a lot of truth behind that concern. But, few recent accounts and references to the Crusades have the slightest hint about their historical background. An article appeared in Christianity Today magazine in May 2005, first written for Crisis magazine in 2002, by Thomas F. Madden, associate professor and chair of the Department of History at St. Louis University. The article, “The Real History of the Crusades,” sheds some much needed light on this matter, and in fact should shame most of us for how little we really know about what happened and why. Political correctness will make it highly unlikely for information like this to be a welcome contribution to the cultural understanding of what has come to be a derogatory and indefensible series of actions spanning four or five centuries.
Read for yourself and see if you learn anything that helps you get a better grasp of the dynamics of the Crusades. Nothing in the article is intended to excuse acts of horrendous atrocity committed by Crusaders. But there are nearly always two sides to every issue. I think you will agree that this is profitable information to know. The link is to the article in Christianity Today. Sometimes it requires a subscription to see the entire article and sometimes it does not. I apologize if it requires for you to sign up, but even if it does, the historical data will be worth your investment.