Tag Archives: Catholic

Correcting four myths about the history of the Crusades

Crusader
Crusader

Here is an interesting article from Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

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

Bible study that hits the spot
Bible study 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 Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

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.

Reminder: lack of border security will eventually lead to unrestricted abortion

Can you be pro-life and vote Democrat? Well, as we saw in the Democrat debates, all the Democrat candidates were in favor of open borders. And illegal immigrants tend to vote for higher taxes and more government, in order to get benefits from government provided by high-producing taxpayers. The net result of importing millions of big government voters is unrestricted abortion.

Here’s a nice article from Catholic journalist John Zmirak, who is so conservative that I could swear he’s a evangelical Protestant.

He writes:

I wrote this a long time ago: “Immigration decides whether America will be saved. Abortion determines whether it deserves to be.”

That sums up most of my politics. Not because I don’t care about other issues. Of course I do. But these two are what you might call “existential.” And they are also connected.

You see, the immigration issue decides a lot of others. In fact, it’s the tipping point for most of the topics conservatives care about. This for a simple and bluntly practical reason: Most immigrants vote Democrat.

[…]In many states that last year elected a pro-life, pro-family member of the Senate or the House, the vote margins were relatively close, and Hispanics voted two-to-one in favor of the pro-abortion Democrats. Had the voting rolls been padded with recently legalized immigrants … how many of these seats would still be in the hands of liberal Democrats who favor abortion on demand for all nine months (if need be, paid for by the taxpayer), gay “marriage,” explicit sex education and countless other measures that violate the most fundamental premises of the natural law?

[…][Let’s say we] grant amnesty — the full rights of citizenship, including the right to vote, collect government benefits and use affirmative action at the expense of (for instance) impoverished white male war veterans — to the estimated 10-12 million illegal immigrants in America. We would be adding at the very least 6.3-8 million liberal, pro-abortion voters. No, these recent illegals need not, by the laws of physics, vote for liberal, pro-abortion Democrats. But that is how they will vote, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

[…][N]ew arrivals overwhelmingly tend to vote liberal and pro-choice. … Don’t believe us? Ask the Pew Research Center, which found in 2012:

“Hispanics are more likely than the general public to say they would rather have a bigger government which provides more services than a smaller government which provides fewer services.

“Some 75% of Hispanics hold this view; just 19% say they prefer a smaller government. By contrast, just 41% of the public at large voice support for a bigger government.

“Support for a larger government is highest among immigrant Latinos, with 81% holding this view.”

What’s really interesting to me in what he wrote is how he talked about how Roman Catholics, who are supposed to be pro-life, are actually in favor of abortion, because of their support for illegal immigration.

Hold on to your hats, this is very strong medicine, especially for Catholics:

The U.S. Catholic bishops, who beckon these immigrants into the country and profit from their arrival, could help. They could make it a priority to evangelize such new Americans on their duty to vote for just laws that preserve innocent life. Instead of voting for their own perceived tribal and economic interests (i.e. more free money from the government). No sign of the bishops attempting that, alas.

[…]As I’ve pointed out here before, the bishops collected 40% of their budget last year from federal contracts for non-profits. Most of those contracts were for serving immigrants. So their bottom line is at stake. Likewise filling the pews, since 40% of U.S.-born Catholics leave the Church and never come back. Immigrants briefly warm their empty seats, before leaving too. So immigration is a bottom line, life-or-death issue for these bishops. Abortion’s only a life and death issue to the babies. And the bishops don’t get a check from the feds for each baby saved.

Maybe if we could figure out some kind of bounty like that, we’d see the bishops fighting as hard for unborn babies as most do for de facto open borders.

What I found most interesting is how rank-and-file Catholics are more likely to vote Democrat than Republican. And that’s especially true of Catholic women.

SurveyMonkey election poll cross tabs for unmarried women Nov 2016
SurveyMonkey election poll cross tabs for unmarried women Nov 2016

Especially Catholic women

Here are the results from a recent survey of Catholic women:

According to America’s nationally representative survey of Catholic women, 55 percent of Catholic women who intend to vote in 2018 plan to vote for Democrats, while 37 percent plan to vote for Republicans. Three-quarters of all Catholic women intend to vote in 2018.

[…]Overall, the survey found that 59 percent of Catholic women are Democrats or lean Democratic, whereas 38 percent are Republican or lean Republican. (Those numbers decrease to 41 percent Democratic and 24 percent Republican without “leaners.”)

I’m not sure if these Democrat-voting Catholic women realize the long-term consequences of their voting on issues like abortion, but they should. At least, they should if they hope to get married, because marriage-minded men probably aren’t interested in marrying a woman who favors murdering innocent people as an “antidote” to reckless, premarital sex. No marriage-minded man would put a woman who supports abortion with her voting in charge of his children.

Mainstream media defends Pope accused of covering up homosexual sexual assaults

Barack Obama shakes hands with Pope Francis
Barack Obama shakes hands with Pope Francis

During the past week, news stories reported that Pope Francis actually knew about the epidemic of sexual assaults and rapes by homosexual priests in the Catholic church. His response leaves a lot to be desired.

The National Catholic Register reported this earlier in the week:

In an extraordinary 11-page written testament, a former apostolic nuncio to the United States has accused several senior prelates of complicity in covering up Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s allegations of sexual abuse, and has claimed that Pope Francis knew about sanctions imposed on then-Cardinal McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI but chose to repeal them.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, 77, who served as apostolic nuncio in Washington D.C. from 2011 to 2016, said that in the late 2000s, Benedict had “imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis” and that Viganò personally told Pope Francis about those sanctions in 2013.

Archbishop Viganò said in his written statement, simultaneously released to the Register and other media, (see full text below) that Pope Francis “continued to cover” for McCarrick and not only did he “not take into account the sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on him” but also made McCarrick “his trusted counselor.” Viganò said that the former archbishop of Washington advised the Pope to appoint a number of bishops in the United States, including Cardinals Blase Cupich of Chicago and Joseph Tobin of Newark.

Archbishop Viganò, who said his “conscience dictates” that the truth be known as “the corruption has reached the very top of the Church’s hierarchy,” ended his testimony by calling on Pope Francis and all of those implicated in the cover up of Archbishop McCarrick’s abuse to resign.

Speaking as a Protestant, I thought that Benedict was the best Pope the Roman Catholic church ever had. I used to call him “The Protestant Pope”, because he had so few of the problems that Protestants like me dislike about Roman Catholic doctrines. It doesn’t surprise me that he did the right thing when the crisis was brought to his attention. But his successor has not done the right thing. He has different priorities.

The New York Times reported:

As he flew near Caribbean islands devastated by Hurricane Irma on his way back to the Vatican from Colombia on Sunday, Pope Francis said that political leaders and others who denied climate change reminded him of a passage from the psalms about man’s stubbornness.

[…]On the flight, the pope nevertheless appealed again to Mr. Trump, this time on his decision to end President Obama’s Deferred Action for Children Program, known as DACA.

[…]In contrast to his negative appraisal of Mr. Trump’s approach to immigration, the pope praised Italy’s efforts to welcome large numbers of migrants even as it sought to stem the tide of immigrants coming from Libya.

In fact, the defenders of the Pope made clear that his priorities are global warming and open borders, not following what the Bible says about sex outside of marriage.

Catholic journalist Emily Zanotti explains, in the Daily Wire:

In a bizarre interview with a Chicago NBC affiliate, Cardinal Blaise Cupich, head of the Archdiocese of Chicago, suggested recent claims made by a former apostolic nuncio — the Vatican’s envoy to the United States — that Pope Francis not only disregarded sexual abuse allegations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, but promoted McCarrick and sought his counsel, were going down a “rabbit hole.”

The Pope, Cupich told NBC, has more important things to attend to than sex abuse scandals, like climate change and immigration.

“The Pope has a bigger agenda,” Cardinal Cupich said. “He’s got to get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the church. We’re not going to go down a rabbit hole on this.”

Clearly, this is the focus of Catholic church leadership. Global warming and open borders both help to destroy free market capitalism, and increase the size of the secular government.  (Global warming alarmism allows the government to tax and regulate energy production and consumption, and open borders brings in a lot of low-skilled immigrants who tend to vote for higher taxes and more welfare spending). That’s the Pope’s priority. And since it’s also the mainstream media’s priority, they are defending him from his critics.

Ben Shapiro, writing in the far-left Newsweek, explains:

So, did the press leap to investigate Vigano’s claims? Did they demand answers from Pope Francis? Did we see the same type of courageous, comprehensive coverage of Francis’ activities that we saw from the Globe team circa 2003? Of course not.

Instead, mainstream media outlets went out of their way to portray Vigano as a disgruntled conservative angry at Pope Francis’ progressive interpretation of Catholic doctrine. The New York Times headlined, “Vatican Power Struggle Bursts Into Open as Conservatives Pounce.” Their print headline was even worse: “Francis Takes High Road As Conservatives Pounce, Taking Criticisms Public.”

Yes, according to the Times, the story wasn’t the sitting Pope being credibly accused of a sexual abuse cover-up—it was conservatives attacking him for it. The problem of child molestation and sexual abuse of clergy took a back seat to Francis’ leftist politics, as the Times piece made clear in its first paragraph: “Since the start of his papacy, Francis has infuriated Catholic traditionalists as he tries to nurture a more welcoming church and shift it away from culture war issues, whether abortion or homosexuality. ‘Who am I to judge?’ the pope famously said, when asked about gay priests. Just how angry his political and doctrinal enemies are became clear this weekend…”

It wasn’t just the Times. On Wednesday, Reuters headlined, “Defenders rally around pope, fear conservatives escalating war.” On Thursday, Reuters doubled down with this headline: “Conservative media move to front line of battle to undermine Pope Francis.” The Telegraph (U.K.) reported, “Vatican analysts say the attack appears to be part of a concerted effort by conservatives to oust Pope Francis, who they dislike for his relatively liberal views…

[…]The media’s disgraceful attempts to cover for Francis because of their love for his politics merely exposes the actual malign motivations of many in the media: they were happy to expose misconduct and evil inside the Catholic Church when the pope was a conservative; they’re happy to facilitate a cover-up when the pope is a liberal.

As an evangelical conservative Christian, the Bible means more to me than the opinions of any man. The Bible is God speaking to his creatures about what their priorities ought to be. So, as a Bible-believing Christian, I’m primarily concerned about chastity, fidelity, protecting the unborn and promoting natural marriage. I wish we could all agree that these things should be our priorities. People should not be having sex outside of marriage, or cheating on their spouses. Unborn children should not be killed. Young children should grow up in stable homes with their biological mother and father present.

And I also believe in small government and low taxes, because parents need to keep the money they earn, in order to run their families properly. Parents should not be taxed to pay for high energy costs (global warming alarmism causes higher energy costs, for example Germany and Canada) and unskilled immigrants (higher police, education and health care costs, as seen in places like France and the UK). I want strong families where children grow up loved and protected. And I think Catholics should agree with me on this.