The Crusades & Islam

Campus Crusade for Christ recently shortened its name to Cru.  With this name change came  their explanation as to why.  Christianity Today reported on this and quoted one of their spokesman:

“It’s (crusade) become a flash word for a lot of people. It harkens back to other periods of time and has a negative connotation for lots of people across the world, especially in the Middle East,” said Steve Sellers, the CCCI vice president and U.S. national director who is leading the name change project.”

Without commenting on the reasoning behind a name change that appears simply to shorten an offensive word, this does remind us of an important issue in ministering to Muslims.  Even in the small amount of witnessing I have done with those in the Islamic faith over the years, I have been asked on each occasion about Christians’ role in the Crusades.  With the tenth anniversary of 9/11 looming and the need for the church to engage Muslims only increasing, we need to be ready to answer the question, “Was Christianity responsible for the Crusades?”

Though in his humility Dr. David Murray stated he was not happy with his answer, I found both his video response and Dr. Bill VanDoodewaard’s succinct appeal to the history and culture helpful in a recent post at Head Heart Hand.  Combining the two, a short summary of their response would be:

  • humbly recognize there are wrongs committed in the name of Christ
  • helpfully review that these wrongs come  not from the teachings of Christianity but human sinfulness
  • historically remind them of the setting in which the crusades occurred as Islam was far from blameless
  • heart-aim to reverse the conversation so the Muslim considers his own personal violation of moral standards that he  might see his own need for Christ
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