***Don't start reading here. Read the intro in Part One first.***
1. I’m sorry we made it a war.
Maybe because it’s easier when it’s all black-and-white, but it’s devastating the number of people who have been killed in the name of spreading the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. During the summer of the year 1099 – because Pope Urban the II had given a rousing speech promising riches and happiness - the combined force of five armies, mostly French and Italian Christians, arrived outside of Jerusalem, their main target after being on the war march for two years. The Pope had said, “God himself will lead them, for they will be doing His work. There will be absolution and remission of sins for all who die in the service of Christ… Let none hesitate; they must march… God wills it!” On July 15th, we stormed Jerusalem.
There’s a historian named Raymond of Agiles, and he described it like this, “Piles of heads, hands and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick one's way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small matters compared to what happened at the temple of Solomon, a place where religious services ware ordinarily chanted. What happened there? If I tell the truth, it will exceed your powers of belief. So let it suffice to say this much at least, that in the temple and portico of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins.
And there were six more Crusades.
While it’s easy for me to reject everything they did, to say that real Christians would never do such a thing, and that I had nothing to do with it, let me stop myself by remembering how often I still blindly speak like it’s still a war against people.
It’s just that I learned to use the language of competition and war to describe what it means for me to relate to people who aren’t Christ followers. We’ve said that we should “win them to Christ…,” that we should “defend our families and values” that we must “conquer hearts” and “break down” resistance to the gospel. We’ve spoken of “strategies” and how we “fight” for souls.
I do believe there’s a fight, by the way. I believe sometimes it’s harsh and violent and tough – because I believe in a real spiritual enemy – the enemy that used to be the Angel of Light, and got turned inside out by his own conceitedness. A fallen angel who has only dark plans for God’s children. He’s our enemy. But people made by God’s hand are not.
I’m sorry we got the enemy wrong, and I’m sorry we made it a war.