Obama goes Medieval on Christians

Barak Obama created an uproar when he compared medieval Christianity to the present day ISIS atrocities. His comments were nothing new, but they brought to light the simplistic understanding that most people have of the time period.
And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.
Thomas F. Madden, a professor of medieval history and director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Saint Louis University, addresses Obama's misconceptions about the medieval time period:

Medieval historians have long lamented the gulf between fact and popular perceptions when it comes to these events. The Crusades were not brutal wars of colonial oppression or zealous attempts to spread Christianity by the sword. The First Crusade was called in 1095 by Pope Urban II in response to desperate appeals from the Christians of the Middle East, who had lately been conquered and continued to be persecuted by the Turks. And these were only the latest in more than four centuries of attacks on Christian peoples by Muslim powers. At some point Christianity as a faith and as a culture had to defend itself or else be subsumed by Islam. The work of the Crusader, who put his life at risk and underwent enormous expense, was to save Christian people and restore Christian lands. This was no perversion of Christianity. Christ had commanded his followers to be like the Good Samaritan, hurrying to bind up the wounds of their brother who had been robbed and beaten. This was the same Christ who said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” That is how Crusaders honestly saw themselves following their Christian faith...
As for the Inquisition, it was instituted in 1184 by Pope Lucius III to deal with a specific problem. Medieval European kingdoms held heresy to be a capital crime against the state. (The Church had no capital offenses.) That meant that people were arrested and tried in state courts on religious charges and, when found guilty, executed. The purpose of the Inquisition was to place Church courts using Roman laws of evidence between the accused and the state. The Inquisition not only discerned whether the accused was a heretic, but also provided a means for him or her to repent and escape the fires of the stake. The Inquisition actually saved uncounted thousands whom the state courts would have roasted. Indeed, the witch crazes that ravaged Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries occurred only in those areas in which there was no well-developed Inquisition.
Professor Madden sums it up well when he says,
Of course, many Christians, like the president, may still consider the Crusades and the Inquisition to be a distortion of their faith. Yet they should at least accept that others can honestly disagree.
Many Christians are too quick to buy the narrative that many "bad" things have been done in the name of Christ, which makes Christianity evil. The problem is that "bad" things have been done in the name of everything. Religion can be used as excuse by anybody, but that does not mean they are excused. If the actions do not correspond to the name, it is their own shame and religion is not to blame. After all, what is in a name?

Ravi Zacharias also made some helpful comments regarding Obama's speech..


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