Did anybody else see that movie “Kingdom of Heaven” that came out about 6 years ago? It was a long, gory, mediocre movie about the Crusades. Of course, it was a wildly inaccurate fictionalization of Christianity’s darkest period. In order to purge the memory of that movie from my mental history, I’ve picked up the book entitled “God’s War: A New History of the Crusades,” by Christopher Tyerman. It’s a fabulous historical account of the Crusades. I would recommend it to anybody willing to slog their way through 950 pages of academia.
Today’s Christians have to face up to the disturbing fact that our brothers and sisters in the Lord committed heinous atrocities throughout the Crusades. Stories of murder, rape, pillaging, and unchecked marauding are pervasive in Tyerman’s account of the period.
Christians today cannot either 1) live in the past and constantly apologize for these abominations or 2) pretend like they never happened. Instead, we need to learn from our past and grow out of that place. We have to understand that our brothers and sisters went through this crisis of violence but that the Prince of Peace has called the church out of that dark place. In the same way, Christ does not compel us to sin but only to repent.
Yes, Christianity went through a tragically violent period during the Crusades. Thanks be to God that we have been given the gift of disgust.