The Crusades Controversy: Puting Old Myths to Rest

Feeling Cornered

Has anybody ever asked you about the Crusades and what you thought of them? Chances are, somebody has. I myself was confronted with this question some years ago and to be honest, I froze. I felt embarrassed since I had no idea what to say in response.

Certainly the topic of the Crusades is not something most ordinary people have  devoted much thought and study to. It’s not one of those events in history that lots of people are losing sleep over. And yet, some of us wish we’d been better equipped to answer questions about it!

30 Minutes Is All You Need

Thomas F. Madden is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Saint Louis University. He has written several scholarly works on the history of the Crusades and the impact they’ve had in our modern world.

Thomas Madden
Thomas Madden

His most recent work on the topic is a very short and accessible 50 page booklet called The Crusades Controversy.

In six short, but by no means simplistic, chapters, Madden has managed to provide us with enough information to clear away the most common misconceptions and distortions many people still hold about the Crusades.

Two portions of the booklet deserve lengthy quotations.

“the Crusades….were a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslim armies had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world. At some point Christianity as a faith and a culture either defended itself or was subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.”

“The eighteenth century saw the rise of the Enlightenment with its strict emphasis on rational thought, religious tolerance, and anticlericalism. In an intellectual atmosphere like that the medieval Crusades did not fare well…the Crusades were described as a bizarre manifestation of medieval barbarism in which thousands of the deceived and the foolish marched through rivers of blood in a pitiful attempt to save their souls. In his famous Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776–88), Edward Gibbon insisted that nothing good at all came out of the Crusades, except perhaps Europe’s exposure to more sophisticated Eastern cultures.”

These two quotes are among the many excellent take-away points of the booklet.

Now you can answer the questions!

I highly recommend Madden’s little booklet The Crusades Controversy. It’s a superb and easy to digest introduction to a topic around which there is much misinformation and even disinformation!.

At 50 pages, you can read it easily in one sitting. I can’t think of a better way to give yourself a sound basic knowledge on this intriguing topic. Enjoy your reading and help set the record straight!

Why We’re Catholic: the Why Behind the Faith

It’s good to know the truth

We ask questions all the time.

We pose them to our friends, family, acquaintances, coworkers, you name it.

In any extended conversation, questions will abound on a wide variety of topics. Sometimes those questions are about religion and we have all experienced being asked about that topic.

Why We're Catholic BookAs Catholics, it behooves us to be able to answer the many questions the world is sure to throw at us. It’s in keeping with Scripture that we be always prepared “to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear” (1 Peter 3:15-16).

The truth of God’s revelation sets man free and we stand in a position of being able to share it with anyone we may encounter.

Trent Horn can give you a hand

Trent Horn, staff apologist with Catholic Answers, recently released his fourth book titled “Why We’re Catholic: Our Reasons For Faith, Hope And Love“.

As the title suggests, Trent sets out to provide well-grounded and charitable answers to the many questions Catholics are faced with on a daily basis. Everything from the existence of God to the problem of evil, from the resurrection of Jesus to the hope of eternal life in heaven, in 25 brief yet substantial chapters, Trent has gifted us with a magnificent bird’s eye-view of some of the most common aspects of the Catholic faith that get questioned on a daily basis.

One particular chapter that deserves special mention is number 16 titled “Why we believe in spite of scandal”.

Trent Horn author of Why We're CatholicI was pleasantly surprised to see this topic included in the book since I believe it doesn’t get enough treatment in the field of Catholic apologetics.

Armed with statistical data that I had never heard of before and a candid yet balanced tone, Trent manages to make, to my mind, a very compelling case for the fact that despite the heinous sins of some of its members, the identity of the Catholic Church as the spotless Bride of Christ remains the same. This quote captures the essence of that chapter:

The issue is not whether the patients are sinners, or even if the staff are sinners. The issue is whether the hospital (or the Church) has the cure for sin that has infected everyone.

How Can You Believe This Stuff?

Trent wanted to answer a question he (and most devout Catholics) get often: How can you believe all this stuff?

He answers:

This is the number-one question Catholics get asked—and, sometimes, we ask ourselves.

Why do we believe that God exists, that he became a man and came to save us, that what looks like a wafer of bread is actually his body?

Why do we believe that he inspired a holy book and founded an infallible Church to teach us the one true way to live?

Be Not Afraid

It can be daunting to face a situation where our faith is questioned or even challenged. A lot of us wish we had all the answers at our fingertips or at the very least something to give to those inquiring of us that’s both accurate and accessible.

Trent’s book is more than capable of making all this possible, especially for most average people who, in Trent’s own words from another memorable quote, “aren’t in a rush to read a book that is so thick it can double as a step stool“.

This book is 1) accessible to any reader, 2) enjoyable to read, and 3) equips you with excellent answers to the questions you are asked about Catholicism.

It is my hope and prayer that this book will strengthen your resolve and prepare you to witness to our Lord Jesus Christ in a way that brings glory and honor to His name.