During Ramadan 1996 the following two messages have been circulated among
Millions of Christians. They are a very good formulation of a true Christian
attitude towards the horrors and evil of the Crusades. Maybe these 
statements can help in a small way that understanding and forgiveness can
grow. They definitely do reflect the true Christian and Biblical attitude,
though it is very sad, that still today, the name "Christian" religion is 
abused for violence and power politics. 

The Crusades

The  900th anniversary (1095-1099) of the dreadful events of the First Crusade
present Christ's followers with an opportunity to express deep remorse for the
past. We need to humbly ask for forgiveness for the blood that was shed in the
name of Christianity. As each Crusader wore the symbol of the Cross, we need to
recognize the great mistake which made the symbol of love for all men into a
sign of division, hate and extermination.  

Jews, Eastern Christians and Muslims were all affected by the Crusades. Jews
were slaughtered in several places. Eastern Christians (Greek Orthodox and
others) were mistreated and humiliated by the Crusader armies, increasing the
divisions which already existed. Muslims were killed in great numbers,
encouraging  centuries of deep hostility. Wars have been a major part of human
history, but religious wars in the name of Christ do not reflect the spirit of
the Gospel.  Jesus said, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute
you. Do good to those who hate you, and bless those who curse you." (Luke

Many Muslims have a much better memory of the Crusades than Christians. "It's
another  Crusade!" is a phrase  that recurs regularly in the rhetoric of some
Muslim leaders. Muslim fundamentalists frequently refer to western cultural and
economic influence as the last crusade.  

On this first day of prayer during Ramadan 1996, let us reflect on the past and
ask the Lord to search our hearts concerning our present attitudes. Many of us
have ancestors who were involved in the Crusades. Many more of us are the
spiritual descendants of those who participated in and supported the Crusades. 

While the past cannot be rewritten, each one of us can take a step toward laying
a new foundation for future generations. As Christians we can say that we are
sorry for the past. Let us pray for a healing of wounds between Jew, Christians
and Muslims. Through His death on the cross, Jesus made the way for us to have
forgiveness of sins, to be reconciled to the Father and to one another (2 Cor.
5:17-20). "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of
God." (Mt: 5:9).


Many Moslems' image of Christianity consists of the crusades and the degenerate
tourists and television reports from the supposedly Christian West. The
following report describes some initiatives and facts which accompany and will
in part initiate a new phase in contacts between Christians and Moslems:

Christians pray for Moslems during Ramadan
Millions of Christians will pray, and some fast, for Moslems from 21 January to
19 February 1996. Initially the idea of a few Christian leaders who met in the
Middle East to pray for the kingdom of God in that area of the 10/40 Window, the
practice is increasingly being adopted by other Christian churches and
movements. More information is available from your national Evangelical Alliance
or from a nearby Youth With A Mission centre or other mission agency.

The Reconciliation Walk in the footsteps of the crusaders
27 November 1995 was the 900th anniversary of Pope Urban II's awful call to
Western Christianity to march to free the Holy Land from the 'unbelievers'. An
initially eager troop, believing that they would prepare the way for the Messiah
by liberating Jerusalem, set off from Cologne. The crusading armies soon became
a pack of brutal plunderers destroying everything in their path. When they took
Jerusalem on 15 July 1099, they viciously murdered all the Jews and Moslems,
carrying a cross in one hand and a sword in the other - and Satan celebrated one
of his greatest triumphs: he had made the church sin in God's name.

That is history for the Western world - but not for the Middle East's Moslems.
For them, the crusades are still an open wound. For that reason, the
Reconciliation Walk was founded. The idea is to invite as many Christians as
possible to follow in the footsteps of the crusaders from Cologne to Jerusalem,
to ask and pray for reconciliation and forgiveness, and clean the historically
bad image of Christianity in a spirit of repentance. Info: Reconciliation Walk,
P.O.Box 61, Harpenden, Herts, AL5 4JJ, England

More on the Reconciliation Walk

I just finished reading Our Hands Are Stained With Blood: The Tragic Story of the "Church" and the Jewish People by Michael L. Brown, Destiny Image, 1992, 242 pages, ISBN 1-56043-068-0, $9.95. This is a book written to call for repentance of the Church over the horrendous acts of persecution and hatred committed against the Jews over the many centuries. A very much needed story. The author is uniquely qualified being a Jewish Christian and living so to speak on both sides of the drama. It also has a chapter on the Crusades, but the scope of the book is much wider. This is only a small part. Very much recommended. It also has a little on the relationship of Muslims and Jews but not very much since that is not the focus.

I still haven't seen a good book on the Muslim-Christian relationships giving a good and unbiased treatment of our mistreatments of each other. If you know one, I am most interested and please let me know. Even in one sided ones, if they are well researched and documented. But please no cheap accusatory propaganda books. Polemics isn't very helpful.

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