Commonalities of the Vatican's Crusade and
by Rit Nosotro
America's War on Terror
Compare the United States call for an international alliance against terror to the Vatican’s call for powers to join together in a crusade against aggressive Islam that had swept across Northern African and the Middle East.
“This is not, however, just America’s fight. And what is at
stake is not just America’s freedom. This is the world’s fight.
This is civilization’s fight. This is the fight of all who believe in
progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom.”
- George W. Bush
“Accordingly, undertake this journey eagerly for the remission of
your sins, with the assurance of the reward of imperishable glory in the kingdom
- Pope Urban II
Words are a power has cannot be underestimated! It was the words of Pope Urban II that called for the separate powers to join together in the first major crusade against Muslims who had terrorized the Holy Land and threatend Christiandom. It was the words of President George W. Bush that called for an international alliance against the terrorist who had attacked the USA, Israel, and other nations of freedom and tolerance.
Like the rudder of a ship, or the spark that sets a forest ablaze (James 3:4-6), the tongue is small and powerful. Pope Urban II set a generation on fire to free their oppressed Christian brothers living in the Holy Land. President Bush steered the US ship of state to set free the Kuwaitees, Afghans, and Iraqis living under the oppression of terrorizing dictators. Both leaders brought about a safer stronghold of decency by mobilizing great resources with words spoken from a position of authority.
An alliance against terrorism was formed due to the lengths in which Islamic terrorists had taken their “jihad” or “holy war”. On September 11, 2001 there was a catastrophic terrorist attack against the United States. It was immediately evident that the rest of the world would not be immune from these attacks with attacks taking place in Spain and Bali. It seemed that preemtive military action was the only way in which the world could take the offensive against terror.
“If God is for us, who can be against us?" 5 was what the Vatican spoke into the minds of Europeans at the start of the Crusades. In his call to the Franks for the Crusades at Clermont, Pope Urban II portrayed the Muslims as a terrible threat. He described them as being “an accursed race” and “a race wholly alienated from God”. The Pope described the Crusades as being something God had called them to do and the famous words “It is the will of God! It is the will of God” were shouted out as a result of his speech. The people were led to believe that they were fulfilling what God had commanded of them to do by carrying out the Crusades to protect Jerusalem. The Pope used the "keys to the kingdom" doctrine (Matthew 16:19) to garentee salvation to Crusaders in spite of the clear teaching of Jesus who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except by me!” (John 14:6).1 One source describes how strongly the Vatican used God to further their mission, “…the popes moved from denouncing bloodshed to demanding it in the name of God”. The word of the Vatican was falsely equated with the WORD of God in order remove the Muslim invaders.
The Vatican not only convinced powers to join their fight by using religious promises but also by using economic incentives. It was once again the words of Pope Urban II that described the land of Jerusalem, “That land which, as the Scripture says, ‘floweth with milk and honey’… Jerusalem is the center of the earth; the land is fruitful above all others, like another paradise of delights".3 At the time that the Pope was giving his speech Europe was overflowing with people and overcrowding was becoming evident, more land was needed. It would not have been hard to convince groups of people ready to have more space to fight for a place as wonderful as the Pope described. Also if the European nations gathered together to fight against the Muslims they would be able to benefit from each other. They could share resources, expand trade, and also learn new techniques that could eventually benefit them economically. The Vatican was smart enough to know that there needed to be plenty of good reasons other than it being “God’s will” for the European powers to join them.
For the United States, terrorism is a threat on a political and economic level. The terrorist attacks that have taken place thus far have not just been harmful to human life but they have also impacted the economies of the countries in which they occurred, “The experience of September 11 was that the economic shock wave went well beyond the US...".6 One attractive thing about Iraq is the oil wealth that would be freed up there. The US has been accused of only thinking of the oil but it seems that other nations have considered how their economies could be assisted as well. However, the United States already has one of the strongest economies in the world which helped them in getting other nations to join the fight. Surprisingly, nations such as Russia, China, and Japan have all too some degree supported the removal of terrorism. Similar as it was with the Vatican, nations are always looking to their own development even if they have good intentions weaved in as well.
In contrast with the Vatican’s call against Muslims, the United States call has tried to steer clear of getting religion involved in the issues. Bush has clearly stated that the “war on terror” is not a war against Islam. The U.S. Government is careful to not put the Muslim faith in the category of “enemy” but only those Muslim terrorists that pose the threat. However, it has been clear that the struggle in Iraq for example is “a struggle for hearts and minds" 2 because of the religious beliefs that the people hold. From the beginning of Islam, Mohammad held religious and political power as inseperateable. Although the Crusades occured during a time when the Church held nearly equal political power of the state, they were never one in the same. The Christian Church and State have grown increasingly apart over the centuries. This is in contrast to most of the nation states where Islam holds a majority, with few exceptions such as Turkey, Islam and the State continue to opperate hand in hand.
Christ explained, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).1 In rebuttal, the Koran teaches Muslims that, "Allah is only One Allah. Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that He should have a son” (Sura 4:171). Islam has historically proven to be a threat to religious freedom even as seen in Saudi Arabia and Iran. Saddam Hussein of Iraq paid $25,000 to each family whose member had used their life as a suicide bomber against Israel, an ally of the United States. President George W. Bush however, has been called upon to “justify" 4 the war with some Christians who think that warfare is completely against God’s will. Bush has not tried to use God as a reason for the war but he has made it clear that the terrorists pose a threat to the freedoms of the world, religious freedoms included. This reasoning contrasts with the Vatican who used religion as the only reason for war.
Despite the years that have passed the Muslim world still finds itself in the middle of a battle ground. The issues though different do share some similar basis. In both the Crusades and the War on Terror a call was sent out for a joint effort against the threat that was being posed against the world. It will be interesting to see if the ultimate results of the War on Terror compare in anyway to the unfortunate result of the Crusades. The Crusades began as a simple recapturing but resulted as a horrific episode in European Church history. Man’s true nature seems most evident in warfare, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)1 which can be seen in the Crusades as well as in the horrific acts at the Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq. The question still remains to be answered for the War on Terror; will it be another stain on the history of mankind? Only the future will tell! One thing is for certain, never underestimate the power of words!
1The Christian Growth Study Bible, New International Version® Copyright © 1997 by The Zondervan Corporation. All rights reserved.
2Sojourners Magazine©“'War on Terror' or Real Security?” By David Cortright and George A. Lopez
3“Pope Urban’s Clermont Address,” Microsoft® Encarta® 98 Encyclopedia. © 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved
4“An Alliance Against Evil” by Tricia Tillin
5 Romans 8:31, “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (NIV) © 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society; Bible Gateway.com http://bible.gospelcom.net/
6 “The Economic Effects of Terrorism”
"Certainly they disbelieve those who say: Surely Allah is the third (person) of the three; and there is no god but the one God, and if they desist not from what they say, a painful chastisement shall befall those among them who disbelieve" (Sura 5:73).
“O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not "Three" - Cease! (it is) better for you! - Allah is only One Allah. Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that He should have a son” (Sura 4:171).
Islam denies the Father and the Son:
“The Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them" (Sura 9:29-30).
“It does not befit GOD that He begets a son, be He glorified” (Sura 19:35).
Islam denies the Deity of Christ:
“The Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, was no more than God’s apostle” (Sura 4).
“They do blaspheme who say: "Allah is Christ the son of Mary” (Sura 5:72).
“And when Allah saith: O Jesus, son of Mary! Didst thou say unto mankind: Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah? he saith: Be glorified! It was not mine to utter that to which I had no right” (Sura 5:116).
“In blasphemy indeed are those that say that Allah is Christ the son of Mary” (Sura 5:17).
Clearly then, the Qur’an denies:
1. The Trinity;
2. The Sonship of Christ;
3. The Deity of Christ.
The conclusion is inevitable: the god of Islam is not the same God of the Holy Scriptures. Christians do not adore the same God as Moslems. On the contrary, the Qur’an explicitly denies the doctrine of Christ as taught in the Bible. Rather than adoring God with us, Moslems pray to their god that he might destroy us because of our faith in Christ, the Son of God. “The Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them" (Sura 9:29-30).
“Pope Urban’s Clermont Address,” Microsoft® Encarta® 98 Encyclopedia. © 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
“Crusades,” Contributed by Joel T. Rosenthal; Microsoft® Encarta® 98 Encyclopedia. © 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
“Section 15: Medieval Christianity & the Crusades,” USU 1320:
History and Civilization © Damen, 2004
“NATO’s contribution to the fight against terrorism”
“War on Terror,” by Anup Shah
“Response to Terrorism”
“An Alliance Against Evil” by Tricia Tillin
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