The history of the Crusades begs a larger question, does God condone killing if it’s done for his name?
In the Old Testament, the Israelites often went to war with the consent of God, sometimes massacring people, including women and children, after they were conquered. This was the case when Joshua conquered Jericho and other cities in the Promised Land. For more info, read the Book of Joshua.
The Crusaders were probably inspired by such stories, for they committed similar atrocities, massacring both Jews and Muslims in their quest.
Even though the killings in the Old Testament are hard for some Christians to reconcile, the Bible says that God’s purpose was to keep the Israelites separate from the influence of the pagan nations and their gods. The irony is that the Israelites turned to the pagan gods anyway, and they were also punished by God many times. God didn’t destroy Israel completely, but he came close to it, they certainly didn’t receive preferential treatment when it came to punishment.
The whole of the Old Testament was preparing the way for Jesus to come. Jesus was the ‘game-changer’, no longer was there any teaching about killing enemies, in fact, the central core of Jesus’ teaching, besides relationship with God, is to love others, even enemies, and to spread the word of salvation. The message of salvation (the way to be right with God through Jesus) should actually be an expression of love, not judgement or hatred of others.
In Matthew 5: 43-45, Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy’. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
Christians during the Crusades may have felt justified in killing in the name of God, but Jesus changed all that. The most important thing that Jesus taught was to love God, love others and accept God’s gift of salvation.
Next: Christians Are Hypocrites