Tag Archives: Catholic

Correcting four myths about the history of the Crusades

Crusader
Crusader

Here is an interesting article from First Principles Journal.

Intro:

The verdict seems unanimous. From presidential speeches to role-playing games, the crusades are depicted as a deplorably violent episode in which thuggish Westerners trundled off, unprovoked, to murder and pillage peace-loving, sophisticated Muslims, laying down patterns of outrageous oppression that would be repeated throughout subsequent history. In many corners of the Western world today, this view is too commonplace and apparently obvious even to be challenged.

But unanimity is not a guarantee of accuracy. What everyone “knows” about the crusades may not, in fact, be true. From the many popular notions about the crusades, let us pick four and see if they bear close examination.

The four myths:

  • Myth #1: The crusades represented an unprovoked attack by Western Christians on the Muslim world.
  • Myth #2: Western Christians went on crusade because their greed led them to plunder Muslims in order to get rich.
  • Myth #3: Crusaders were a cynical lot who did not really believe their own religious propaganda; rather, they had ulterior, materialistic motives.
  • Myth #4: The crusades taught Muslims to hate and attack Christians.

Here’s the most obvious thing you should know. The Crusades were defensive actions:

In a.d. 632, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, North Africa, Spain, France, Italy, and the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica were all Christian territories. Inside the boundaries of the Roman Empire, which was still fully functional in the eastern Mediterranean, orthodox Christianity was the official, and overwhelmingly majority, religion. Outside those boundaries were other large Christian communities—not necessarily orthodox and Catholic, but still Christian. Most of the Christian population of Persia, for example, was Nestorian. Certainly there were many Christian communities in Arabia.

By a.d. 732, a century later, Christians had lost Egypt, Palestine, Syria, North Africa, Spain, most of Asia Minor, and southern France. Italy and her associated islands were under threat, and the islands would come under Muslim rule in the next century. The Christian communities of Arabia were entirely destroyed in or shortly after 633, when Jews and Christians alike were expelled from the peninsula.6 Those in Persia were under severe pressure. Two-thirds of the formerly Roman Christian world was now ruled by Muslims.

What had happened? Most people actually know the answer, if pressed—though for some reason they do not usually connect the answer with the crusades. The answer is the rise of Islam. Every one of the listed regions was taken, within the space of a hundred years, from Christian control by violence, in the course of military campaigns deliberately designed to expand Muslim territory at the expense of Islam’s neighbors. Nor did this conclude Islam’s program of conquest. The attacks continued, punctuated from time to time by Christian attempts to push back. Charlemagne blocked the Muslim advance in far western Europe in about a.d. 800, but Islamic forces simply shifted their focus and began to island-hop across from North Africa toward Italy and the French coast, attacking the Italian mainland by 837. A confused struggle for control of southern and central Italy continued for the rest of the ninth century and into the tenth. In the hundred years between 850 and 950, Benedictine monks were driven out of ancient monasteries, the Papal States were overrun, and Muslim pirate bases were established along the coast of northern Italy and southern France, from which attacks on the deep inland were launched. Desperate to protect victimized Christians, popes became involved in the tenth and early eleventh centuries in directing the defense of the territory around them.

If you asked me what are the two best books on the Crusades, I would answer God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades by Baylor professor Rodney Stark and The Concise History of the Crusades by Professor Thomas F. Madden. If you get this question a lot from atheists, then I recommend you pick these up. Anything by Rodney Stark is useful for Christians, in fact.

Wayne Grudem explains what the Bible says about capital punishment

Theology that hits the spot
Theology that hits the spot

Reformed Baptist theologian Wayne Grudem speaks on the Bible and capital punishment.

About Wayne Grudem:

Grudem holds a BA from Harvard University, a Master of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary, and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. In 2001, Grudem became Research Professor of Bible and Theology at Phoenix Seminary. Prior to that, he had taught for 20 years at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he was chairman of the department of Biblical and Systematic Theology.

Grudem served on the committee overseeing the English Standard Version translation of the Bible, and in 1999 he was the president of the Evangelical Theological Society. He is a co-founder and past president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. He is the author of, among other books, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, which advocates a Calvinistic soteriology, the verbal plenary inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible, the body-soul dichotomy in the nature of man, and the complementarian (rather than egalitarian) view of gender equality.

The MP3 file is here.

The PDF outline is here.

Topics:

  • what kinds of crimes might require CP?
  • what did God say to Noah about CP?
  • what does it mean that man is made in the image of God?
  • is CP just about taking revenge?
  • what does CP say about the value of human life?
  • does CP apply to animals, too?
  • could the statements supporting CP be understood as symbolic?
  • one purpose of CP is to protecting the public
  • another purpose of CP is to deter further wrongdoing
  • but the Biblical purpose of CP is to achieve justice by retribution
  • does the Pope make a good argument against CP?
  • what is the role of civil government in achieving retribution?
  • do people in Heaven who are sinless desire God to judge sinners?
  • should crimes involving property alone be subject to CP?
  • is the Mosaic law relevant for deciding which crimes are capital today?
  • should violent crimes where no one dies be subject to CP?
  • is CP widespread in the world? why or why not?
  • what are some objections to CP from the Bible?
  • how do you respond to those objections to CP?
  • should civil government also turn the other cheek for all crimes?
  • what is the “whole life ethic” and is it Biblical?
  • what do academic studies show about the deterrence effect of CP?
  • how often have innocent people been executed in the USA?
  • should there be a higher burden of proof for CP convictions?

The Bible is awesome because it gives us knowledge about God’s character. How are we supposed to act in a way that is pleasing to God if we don’t know what he thinks of the issues of the day? We won’t know how we are supposed to act unless we know who God is first. And that’s why when we read the Bible we should be looking to find out the truth about who God is.

Correcting four myths about the history of the Crusades

Crusader
Crusader

Here is an interesting article from First Principles Journal.

Intro:

The verdict seems unanimous. From presidential speeches to role-playing games, the crusades are depicted as a deplorably violent episode in which thuggish Westerners trundled off, unprovoked, to murder and pillage peace-loving, sophisticated Muslims, laying down patterns of outrageous oppression that would be repeated throughout subsequent history. In many corners of the Western world today, this view is too commonplace and apparently obvious even to be challenged.

But unanimity is not a guarantee of accuracy. What everyone “knows” about the crusades may not, in fact, be true. From the many popular notions about the crusades, let us pick four and see if they bear close examination.

The four myths:

  • Myth #1: The crusades represented an unprovoked attack by Western Christians on the Muslim world.
  • Myth #2: Western Christians went on crusade because their greed led them to plunder Muslims in order to get rich.
  • Myth #3: Crusaders were a cynical lot who did not really believe their own religious propaganda; rather, they had ulterior, materialistic motives.
  • Myth #4: The crusades taught Muslims to hate and attack Christians.

Here’s the most obvious thing you should know. The Crusades were defensive actions:

In a.d. 632, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, North Africa, Spain, France, Italy, and the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica were all Christian territories. Inside the boundaries of the Roman Empire, which was still fully functional in the eastern Mediterranean, orthodox Christianity was the official, and overwhelmingly majority, religion. Outside those boundaries were other large Christian communities—not necessarily orthodox and Catholic, but still Christian. Most of the Christian population of Persia, for example, was Nestorian. Certainly there were many Christian communities in Arabia.

By a.d. 732, a century later, Christians had lost Egypt, Palestine, Syria, North Africa, Spain, most of Asia Minor, and southern France. Italy and her associated islands were under threat, and the islands would come under Muslim rule in the next century. The Christian communities of Arabia were entirely destroyed in or shortly after 633, when Jews and Christians alike were expelled from the peninsula.6 Those in Persia were under severe pressure. Two-thirds of the formerly Roman Christian world was now ruled by Muslims.

What had happened? Most people actually know the answer, if pressed—though for some reason they do not usually connect the answer with the crusades. The answer is the rise of Islam. Every one of the listed regions was taken, within the space of a hundred years, from Christian control by violence, in the course of military campaigns deliberately designed to expand Muslim territory at the expense of Islam’s neighbors. Nor did this conclude Islam’s program of conquest. The attacks continued, punctuated from time to time by Christian attempts to push back. Charlemagne blocked the Muslim advance in far western Europe in about a.d. 800, but Islamic forces simply shifted their focus and began to island-hop across from North Africa toward Italy and the French coast, attacking the Italian mainland by 837. A confused struggle for control of southern and central Italy continued for the rest of the ninth century and into the tenth. In the hundred years between 850 and 950, Benedictine monks were driven out of ancient monasteries, the Papal States were overrun, and Muslim pirate bases were established along the coast of northern Italy and southern France, from which attacks on the deep inland were launched. Desperate to protect victimized Christians, popes became involved in the tenth and early eleventh centuries in directing the defense of the territory around them.

If you asked me what are the two best books on the Crusades, I would answer God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades by Baylor professor Rodney Stark and The Concise History of the Crusades by Professor Thomas F. Madden. If you get this question a lot from atheists, then I recommend you pick these up. Anything by Rodney Stark is useful for Christians, in fact.

Marquette University suspends professor for defending student who opposes gay marriage

Cheryl Abatte, Marquette University
Cheryl Abatte, Marquette University

Here’s the back story from Fox News.

Excerpt:

Students who oppose gay marriage are homophobic, according to an audio recording of a Marquette University instructor who went on to say that gay right issues cannot be discussed in class because it might offend homosexuals.

I reached out to the 20-year-old student at the center of this outrageous episode and the story he tells should serve as a warning to anyone who thinks religious schools are safe havens for open discourse.

The story was first reported on a blog run by a Marquette University professor and was picked up by the good folks over at The College Fix.

The young man, who asked not to be identified, explained what happened when his ethics instructor, Cheryl Abbate, led a conversation in “Theory of Ethics” class about applying philosophical theories to modern political controversies. There were a list of issues on the board – gay rights, gun rights, and the death penalty.

“We had a discussion on all of them – except gay rights,” the student told me. “She erased that line from the board and said, ‘We all agree on this.’”

Well, as it so happened – the student did not agree with instructor Abbate.

So after class he approached the instructor and told her he thought they should have discussed the issue of gay rights. He also recorded their conversation — without her permission.

I’ll cut to the bottom line of that conversation:

“Are you saying if I don’t agree with gays not being allowed to get married that I’m homophobic?” the student asked.

“I’m saying it would come off as a homophobic comment in this class,” the teacher replied.

[…]“You can have whatever opinions you want but I will tell you right now – in this class homophobic comments, racist comments, sexist comments will not be tolerated,” she said. ‘If you don’t like it, you are more than free to drop this class.”

So the student dropped the class.

That was reported in November, here’s the latest from the Washington Times about a professor who blogged about the incident.

Excerpt:

Marquette University professor John McAdams has been suspended from teaching and banned from campus after blogging about another professor who supposedly shut down opposing views to gay marriage in her ethics class.

In November, Mr. McAdams, who runs the Marquette Warrior blog, wrote a post critical of a philosophy instructor, Cheryl Abbate. Ms. Abbate reportedly told a student in her class that his views against pro-gay policies weren’t welcome in the classroom setting because he could offend students who are gay.

Mr. McAdams accused Ms. Abbate of stifling the student’s free speech rights that professors have a duty to protect.

On Tuesday he received a letter from Dean Richard Holz saying the Marquette Warrior is under investigation and he is suspended from all faculty activities indefinitely.

You can read the professor’s response on his blog.

And let this be a reminder to you not to study anything where these leftist ideology-only professors are teaching. The woman who told the student to agree with her or drop the class was speaking in a mandatory philosophy class. That’s why I keep cautioning people against non-STEM fields. This is where the leftists congregate because non-STEM fields like English are insulated from reality. STEM areas are too difficult for people like Cheryl Abatte to infiltrate, because STEM fields require work and the work is bounded by reality. If you choose a STEM program, you can keep your own worldview, learn practical real-world skills, and get a real job doing real work afterwards. Computer science, petroleum engineering, nursing – or go to a vocational school.

Pope Francis again demotes conservative cardinal who criticized him

The story is from USA Today:

In a move that reflects the loosening posture of the Vatican on major social issues, conservative U.S. cardinal Raymond Burke was removed by Pope Francis from yet another top post.

Burke, who has long been vocal about denying communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion, was dismissed as head of the Holy See’s highest court and given the post of Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a largely ceremonial job overseeing charity to the elderly.

At 66, Burke is considered young by church hierarchy standards. The dismissal is a set-back to his Vatican career as well as a clear message from Pope Francis to those not hewing to his progressive view of the Catholic Church.

The move was expected by Vatican watchers given that Burke, the former archbishop of St. Louis, had openly criticized Francis’ less doctrinaire approach to the faith. Last year, Francis had removed Burke from the Congregation for Bishops, a group tasked with the appointment of new bishops worldwide.

In an interview with a Spanish Catholic weekly published last week, Burke said of the pope’s leadership: “Many have expressed their concerns to me. … There is a strong sense that the church is like a ship without a rudder.”

[…]Philadelphia archbishop Charles Chaput recently characterized Francis’ reign as one of “confusion,” adding that “confusion is of the devil.”

This isn’t the first time Burke has been demoted by this Pope, either. It happened before in December 2013:

Pope Francis moved on Monday against a conservative American cardinal who has been an outspoken critic of abortion and same-sex marriage, by replacing him on a powerful Vatican committee with another American who is less identified with the culture wars within the Roman Catholic Church.

The pope’s decision to remove Cardinal Raymond L. Burke from the Congregation for Bishops was taken by church experts to be a signal that Francis is willing to disrupt the Vatican establishment in order to be more inclusive.

[…]To replace Cardinal Burke, Francis chose Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, an ideological moderate with a deep knowledge of the Vatican but also with pastoral experience. Father Reese noted that Cardinal Burke had been a leader of American bishops arguing that Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should be barred from receiving communion, while Cardinal Wuerl had taken an opposite tack.

I’m not Catholic, but Burke and Chaput are the two most conservative Catholic leaders in my opinion. As an outsider to the church, I prefer that Catholics try to be as conservative as possible, and not be influenced by the secular culture. I don’t expect them to be Bible-based like evangelical Protestants are, but I expect them to be resistant to the secular culture on things like abortion, gay marriage and the free enterprise system. This is disappointing to me, to go from Benedict to this. Benedict was a Pope I respected, but this Pope… I don’t like who he tries to make friends with.