by Glen H. Jones
Recent events in the Muslim world have seared the term jihad (holy war) into our consciousness. The term conjures up images of bombings, beheadings, political assassinations, and other bloody acts of violence. Two converted Muslims contend, however, that Christians have, at times, waged their own version of jihad.
The authors point out that Christianity's beginnings prohibited or greatly curtailed acts of violence. Many early Christians refused to serve in military combat. In time, post-apostolic church fathers formulated a so-called "just war" principle, which stated that wars should be fought as a last resort, used as a defense mechanism, provide a reasonable outcome of success, and be waged with as minimum a force as is needed to accomplish victory.
All that changed when Constantine espoused Christianity and married the church and state. Once the Roman Church gained equal footing with the secular powers, religious authorities demanded that all spiritual teachings had to follow official church doctrine. Dissenters were persecuted or put to death.
The Crusades provide a most shameful chapter in church history. In 1095 Pope Urban II called for a crusade to retake the Holy Land from the Muslims. It was a bloody affair, with little quarter shown by either the Crusaders or the Muslims. The Crusaders succeed in taking Jerusalem from the followers of Islam. Other crusades were equally bloody on both sides.
The Inquisition of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries provide another shameful event in church history. Thousands, perhaps millions, were tortured, mutilated, burned at the stake, and otherwise murdered. The Roman Catholic Church absolutely forbade anyone to disagree with the smallest of Church teachings.
Protestants, too, hounded those who disagreed with their interpretation of the Scriptures. Ulrich Zwingli in Switzerland, Martin Luther in Germany, and even John Calvin urged persecution of those who opposed their teachings.
The authors suggest that both Islam and Christianity have waged persecution and war in the name of their religion.
Type: Church History
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