Crusades re-examined (letter)by Damian WyldNews Weekly
, December 18, 2004
While I commend Bill Muehlenberg for his interesting review of Bernard Lewis' book The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror
, I am quite surprised by some of Mr Muehlenberg's observations (News Weekly
, December 4).
In his comparison of the Islamic jihad and the Christian Crusades, Mr Muehlenberg suggests that the latter "were a late, limited and perverted trajectory of Christianity".
Given the recent public renewal of interest in this aspect of our cultural heritage, I find it unfortunate that some choose to approach it from an apologetic angle, giving further ammunition to revisionist historians who would paint the period as just an early jaunt by nasty Western imperialists.
In suggesting the Crusades were "late", when does Mr Muehlenberg suggest they should have begun (particularly if, as he seems to imply, they should not have occurred at all)?
Aside from this, crusades in all but name had already been occurring in both East and West for centuries (the Reconquista
, for example).
That they were "limited" is a curious claim. It completely ignores the fact that crusades and similar conflicts continued until relatively modern times (the Battle of Lepanto, the Turkish siege of Vienna and the maritime endeavours of the Knights of Malta - well into the 18th century - spring to mind).
Pope Pius XII even said in his Christmas speech of 1956 that he had considered calling a crusade to free Hungary.
To claim the Crusades were "limited" also ignores the incredibly diverse regions in which they were employed, ranging from the Holy Land, to Spain and even the Baltic and beyond.
Personally, I find the assertion that the Crusades were a "perverted trajectory of Christianity" to be a slight, not only on the advocates and participants of the Crusades (including saints in both categories), but also on the Faith they held - a faith still held by many.
Such an assertion demonstrates a misunderstanding of the theological underpinnings of what was always a temporal
struggle in defence
of Christians and Christendom.
This would seem to me a very noble cause.Damian Wyld,