Preview of Vol.3 Myths of Modern Academia; The Crusades

 

Chapter Four

 Myth: The Religion of Christianity spread in the same fashion as Islam; mass invasions, forced conversion of the resident peoples, followed by Dhimmi-like subjugation

  “ Although we discuss Islam and Islamism later in this chapter, it is important to point out here that Islam, like Christianity, was for centuries routinely spread by forced conversion, to save souls but also often for the purposes of political control” (1)

The above citation is from a popular textbook used in a nearby state college and clearly states that both Christianity and Islam spread in the same manner, the text clearly implies that the patterns of propagation of both religions were parallel. To their credit, at least the book admits that forced conversion was routinely part of the Muslim conquering process, an admission often avoided in the secular world.

According to the text, then, the apostles Peter and Paul and the rest of the disciples of Jesus gathered armies and proceeded to invade the surrounding Roman occupied neighboring lands, full of Jewish and pagans of every sort, conquered them and then forced them to convert or become like Dhimmi, just like the Caliphs of Islam and Mohammad himself had done.

It does make for an interesting story, but one which is so decidedly false that it is a wonder that anyone, even in today’s historically bereft society, would actually believe it.

The first question we have to ask is; where is the history of this period of invasion and conquest by the apostles of Christ? It certainly is not in the Bible. And for the first three to four hundred years of Christianity, prior to the adoption of Christianity by Constantine, there is no record of Christian warriors invading Roman provinces or India or China or anywhere else. In fact, as every reader I’m sure knows, the history is really quite the opposite; Christians were routinely thrown to the lions or burned at the stake by Roman soldiers on orders from their superiors. In fact all of Rome was lit up at night by the burning bodies of the followers of Christ during the reign of Nero. And this kind of persecution continued under later emperors like Diocletian.

Christ allowed himself to be nailed to a cross; though he said he could have called down an army of angels at any time he chose. And the apostle Paul made clear that the life of an Apostle of Christ was not divide and conquer but rejection and persecution. He said;

“To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless…when we are cursed we bless, when we are persecuted we endure it, when we are slandered, we answer kindly. To this day we are the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.” 1 Corinthians 4: 10-13

Nor did Christ ever lead an army or give orders to any of his disciples to do so. I defy anybody to come up with a history of rampant Christian conquests and forced conversions anywhere for at least the first three hundred years of the faith. Both the bible and secular history (Roman documents) are clear about the first 300 years of Christian history; the spread of the faith through the preaching of the word and salvation by faith in that word is a history well attested and unassailable. We will talk about some forced conversions by Christian political and military leaders in this chapter that occurred much later in history; but what about the first three hundred years and the sacrifice and slaughter of all those Christians and the apostles? Do those years and the history of the spread of the gospel in the New Testament count for anything? I should hope so. It was during that period that the vast majority of Christendom, both Latin and Greek, was evangelized and came under Christian teaching.

The first three hundred years of the spread of Islam tell a completely different story. When Mohammad began to lead his first raids against Jewish towns and Arab villages indifferent or hostile to his message, most of the surrounding world was part of Christendom, from North Africa through the Mid-East and into most of Europe. As Mohammad grew more affluent and powerful he was able to build a large army and soon conquered all of Arabia and forced all of the Bedouin tribes into a unified submission.

Having been so successful in Arabia, Mohammad himself led his armies into Syria and Persia before he died. Within the first hundred years the Muslim armies had conquered all of North Africa, the Middle East (including Syria, and Persia and Palestine) Cyprus and most of Spain. In the next century they conquered Sicily, Corsica, Crete and the southern part of Italy. Historians may quibble as to why the Muslims decided to invade all the surrounding lands with armies; but no one argues about the way they spread Islam and the Muslim culture to these lands; they used the sword.

The word of Allah was not spread by small groups of itinerate preachers, Christianity was. Christianity in its inception spread like wildfire despite persecution. Islam spread like wildfire by means of coercion and the sword. In Cyprus they slaughtered tens of thousands of Christians. In North Africa the inhabitants put up a desperate and brave defense led by a bold Jewish woman, but eventually Islam dominated and brought Dhimmi to the Atlas Mountains.

All though it could be argued that parts of the Koran don’t support forced conversion of the “People of book”, Islam has usually followed the example set by Mohammad rather than the more pacific statements of the Koran. Besides, as sociologist and scholar Rodney Stark has pointed out, the Muslim didn’t view offering captured infidels the “free choice” of conversion to Islam as a forced conversion. And this was the routine process approved of by practical Muslim theology. (Stark)

Charles Martel forced conquered Germans to be baptized in the name of the trinity and to denounce the worship of Satan during his wars with the Saxon tribes. And during the crusades forced baptism was sometimes demanded as terms of surrender to cities under siege. After the Muslim held city of Acre surrendered, King Richard and King Phillip demanded the defenders be baptized, but when the so called “converts” were released they immediately rejoined the army of Saladin. On seeing this, Richard realized the demand was futile and stopped the provision from being enforced. (McLynn)

The account of the Viking evangelist Thorvald gives us a view of the reasons why some went on pilgrimage and how forced conversion might have been viewed in general during the years preceding the first crusade. Thorvald was an Icelandic Viking, a convert to the Christian faith in the late tenth century. Being filled with zeal for the gospel of Christ, he became an evangelist, but one with a few rough edges left over from his Viking career. He became enraged when two men he had shared the Gospel with mocked his faith and he promptly slew them. He slew another man for criticizing his preaching. Deeply grieved by his lack of grace and self-control he made a pilgrimage to the distant holy land to atone for his sins.

Compare this to the Muslim history given us in the Hadith of Ikrima;

“Some unbelievers were brought to Ali {the fourth Caliph} and he burnt them. The news of this event reached Ibn ‘Abbas who said… “I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Apostle, “Whoever changes his Islamic religion, then kill him.”  Volume 9, Book 84, Number 57

Note that even the ex-Viking raider from far off Iceland in 990 AD knew that slaying those who rejected the faith was falling short of the grace of Christ and required atonement while the followers of Islam saw the killing of those who resisted the will of Allah as routine and acceptable behavior.

Forced conversion was not the norm in medieval Europe that it was in Islam. Unbelief has never been tolerated in Muslim countries and this attitude shapes the way modern Muslim nations view the tiny nation of Israel. They cannot and will not tolerate or accept the presence of a non-Muslim nation existing in the midst of the Muslim Middle East, unless forced to.

The statement in the textbook suggesting that “Islam, like Christianity, was for centuries routinely spread by forced conversion”, implying the two religions started and spread in the same manner betrays the anti-Christian bent of our halls of learning and is clearly a myth.

(1)   “Human Geography: Places and Regions in Global Context.” 6th ed. Paul L. Knox & Sallie A. Marston, editors. Pearson, 2012.

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About notmanynoble

woodcutter from Washington State
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2 Responses to Preview of Vol.3 Myths of Modern Academia; The Crusades

  1. Steven Posey says:

    Old Viking habits die hard 🙂 I love those viking age stories; I hadn’t heard that about Thorvald. Well, enemies of Chritianity are always going to see the worst and ignore the best. Thanks for posting.

    Like

    • notmanynoble says:

      Hahahaha. I can really sympathize with Thorvald, I have Swedish blood. I particularly liked the part where he threw the sword on the guy who criticized his preaching….lol. No, I am not condoning it…I haven’t got a lot of knowledge of the old vikings, if you ever want to post something here on it let me know Steve.

      Like

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