What About the Crusades, Witch Trials,
and the Inquisition?
While the many previous examples show the positive benefits of Christianity on the world, there are many non-Christians who point to specific times and events in history as supposed evidence of the negative impact of Christianity. These events are the few examples typically used to justify their claims of the negative influence of Christianity. The primary historical events they point to are the Crusades, the Salem Witch Trials, and the Spanish Inquisitions. Many Non-Christians claim that these events show that religion in general, and Christianity specifically have been responsible for more deaths in history than any other cause. In fact, millions of deaths are claimed.
With the exception of the Crusades, a study of the actual numbers of those killed in these historical events show that the claim of millions of deaths is significantly over inflated. These claims have been repeated so often that many believe and repeat the claims without ever checking them.
List of Wars and Anthropogenic Disasters by Death Toll
In the case of the Crusades, it is important to realize that the initial reason for the Crusades was to take back land which was taken by Muslim Conquests.
People were motivated to take part in the Crusades because of various reasons. Many of the reasons were not consistent with Christian teachings, especially the incentive offered by Pope Urban II. The Wikipedia article above indicates that for anyone who participated, he would grant that all of their sins would be forgiven. This certainly is not consistent with the teachings of the Bible and Jesus Christ, as only God can forgive sin, and only Jesus Christ offered the necessary sacrifice to pay for sin.
Considering again the objection raised of the deaths claimed by Christianity through history, it is absolutely tragic that any deaths, much less 1,000,000+ deaths, are attributed to those who have caused them in the name of Christianity. It is important however to consider the teachings of Jesus, and then compare His teachings to the actions of these individuals who killed in the name of God. Can one truly claim to act “In the name of God”, when they are acting opposite the teachings of Christ?
This link shows the facts of the Crusades,
The Real Murders ... Atheism or Christianitys?
I asked the following questions earlier,
“Would the world be better off without Christianity?”
“What has the actual impact of Christianity been on the world?”
If we were to consider the same questions in regards to other belief systems and whether or not they have been a benefit to the world, what would the facts show? The first link above exposes the lie of millions of people dying because of Christianity, and shows the real influence on the world that the philosophies of Atheism and Secularism have had.
Many non-Christians claim that the deaths caused in the Salem Witch Trials and the Inquisitions were done to force the spread of Christianity or because the persons being killed violated Christian standards. Because of this, they claim that Christianity is the cause of those deaths. But again, should Christianity be blamed when those perpetrating those deaths are acting opposite the teachings of Christ.
Some non-Christians object to claims that the deaths caused by Hitler, Mao, Stalin, and others were caused because of Atheism. They believe that since the murders weren't committed to forward Atheism, the deaths shouldn’t be attributed to Atheism.
Is it reasonable to attribute to Christianity the deaths committed by those working in direct opposition to the teachings of Christ, but not attribute to the philosophies of Atheism and Secularism the deaths which happened under Atheistic and Secular leaders living consistently with the philosophies of atheism and secularism?
Consider the philosophies of both belief systems and the logical results of each system. Do we credit or blame a philosophy because of those living opposite to the teachings of that philosophy, or because of those living consistent with the philosophy?
Consider Christianity. What are the teachings of Christianity and its founder Jesus Christ? Is it to spread Christianity “by the sword”? No. What does Christianity teach through the verses of the Bible?
Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.”
Matthew 22:37–39 “Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.”
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
Matthew 15:19 "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies."
Exodus 20:13 "You shall not murder."
Romans 13:9 "For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”"
Christianity teaches to love, and against murder, (not against self-defense). Anyone not living consistent with these commands is violating the teachings of Christianity. We can also see how the benefits indicated in the Is Christianity A Benefit? section are quite consistent with the teachings of Christianity.
What about Atheism? Some non-Christians will object that Atheism isn’t a religion and shouldn’t be considered. It is a philosophy though, just as Christianity is a philosophy. Considering both are philosophies, it is valid to evaluate Atheism in reference to the deaths in history carried out by those acting consistently with its philosophy. With no book similar to the Bible to quote from, we are limited to the observation of the events in the world which are consistent with the teachings of the philosophy itself. The philosophy of Atheism when taken to its logical conclusion is that without God, nothing can be considered evil nor prohibited. Once again, Atheists can and do live moral lives, but without God there is no foundation an Atheist can point to for a standard of objective morality.
What is atheism?
When we consider the philosophy of Atheism, and then look at the actions of Marx, Stalin, Lenin, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot in history, are the actions of these leaders consistent with this philosophy? Let’s look at the events associated with these persons in history.
Think back to the Worldview section. People usually act consistent with their worldview or philosophy and a person doesn't need to have decided to intentionally to push their worldview. Their actions give insight to their motivations, and are the evidence of their true worldview.
Atheism has no objective foundation for right of wrong. As such, while most Atheists live according to a moral standard they have determined (subjective), there is no foundation for an absolute morality (objective) in Atheism. Some leaders in history who hold to an Atheistic worldview have lived consistent with the belief that there is no God or morality. Elimination of those, deemed of lesser or no value can be used as a means to an end. With no absolute morality, this can’t be considered wrong or evil. Remember, a standard of objective Good must exist before something can be considered Evil. And without the existence of God, there cannot be a standard of Good. In some instances in history, the killing of millions of people was a means to an end. Many were killed because of their belief that there was a God and many were killed for other reasons. Hitler killed 12 million people in an attempt to eliminate inferior human species from the human race.
Some say that Hitler was a Christian because he claimed to be a Christian. But what is most important when considering the intent of someone, what they claim or what they do? Even if Hitler claimed to be a Christian, what philosophy was his actions consistent with? Evolution and Atheism, not Christianity. What is true is that killing millions of people to forward the end Hitler attempted is consistent with an Atheist philosophy and not a Christian philosophy. And this is regardless of whether Atheism is promoted or not, or whether those promoting this end claim to be Christians or not. And could it be that Hitler was willing to say whatever his audience wanted to hear to get them to do what he wanted? I know, that’s never happened before in the history of the world. NOT!
The Bible verse which shows where Hitler’s heart and motivations are, and Stalin and Mao for that matter as well is Proverbs 8:36b.
Proverbs 8:36b “those who hate me love death.”
Hitler - The Ultimate Evolutionist
Atheism / Secularism Influence on Life
Atheism and Mass Murder
Who Is More Responsible For The Mass Murders of History? Christians or Atheists?
From Darwin To Hitler
Richard Dawkins, atheist atrocities, and historical revisionism
Atheism and Child Murder
This last link above gives us an even greater appreciation of Matthew 18:6
Matthew 18:6 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea”.
If this punishment is what the Bible suggests for causing a child to sin, what punishment would be valid for the killing of a child? Doesn't this seem to conflict with the Old Testament, where God ordered the killing of entire cities of people, including children? Non-Christians point to this killing of innocent people as proof that God is really not a God of Love. When we consider ALL the information, what is the most reasonable conclusion?
When this objection is raised it is easy to assume these cultures and peoples were as the culture we ourselves live in, with the human rights we enjoy (due in large part to Christian founders of this nation). Remember that it is difficult to conceive of living in a culture without the benefits we so often take for granted. History confirms the Bible which shows these cultures to be exceptionally wicked, even sacrificing their children to idols.
Psalm 106:36-38 “They served their idols, which became a snare to them. They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons; they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood."
Did God Commit Atrocities by Ordering the Killing of Entire Cities of People?
Genocide in the Old Testament
Did God Command Genocide In the Bible?
A Response to New Atheism
Six Questions to Ask an Atheist
Questions to Ask an Atheist
Christopher Hitchens vs Dinesh D'Souza - Is Religion the Problem - 2010
In this last link I think you will see that Dinesh D’Souza very effectively and I believe much more articulately presents his case. I’ve included it so that you can see a very effective response to those who claim that religion is the cause of the problems of the world.
One last illustration I remember from some time ago as to the effect Christianity has had and still has on the culture:
Suppose you were walking down a dark street at night in a rough part of Chicago and you saw a group of young men walking towards you, each carrying something. How would you feel? Comforted or apprehensive?
What if you knew that they had just come from a Bible class, and you could see that what they were carrying were Bibles?
Now how would you feel? Different than how you felt above?
I hope this section has clearly demonstrated the difference between the philosophies of Christianity, and that of Atheism. I hope it has also shed light on the true impact these two specific philosophies have had on the world throughout history.
Now that you have read through a number of the evidences supporting the truths of Christianity, I have a reality check for you. How well can you now support and defend what you believe against challenges to what you believe?
The following is an Atheist Role Play, where Brett Kunkle is presented as an atheist in front of a classroom of students. He is there to challenge what they believe and to give them a reality check, by presenting to the students some of the effective sounding arguments which are presented by knowledgeable atheists. After you view the videos, honestly ask yourself,
“How would I have done if I had been presented with these arguments?"
It is only when tested that we discover how ready we are to respond.
After Brett’s presentation he then reveals his identity to the students, discusses the purpose of the role play, and challenges these Christian students to learn how to defend Christianity intelligently.
Atheist Role Play - Brett Kunkle
Part 1 - www.youtube.com/watch?v=46G9MlM6lgM
Part 2 - www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDTPbNEY5Ic
Part 3 - www.youtube.com/watch?v=zS3lbHyi_0o
Part 4 - www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwrGlg4nRnE
Part 5 - www.youtube.com/watch?v=rI4eogFg5M4
Part 6 - www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixZV6a7PAVk
Here is the entire role-play to another class of students with the same teacher:
Atheist Role Play
Here is a similar roll-play with Sean McDowell
Atheist Encounter | Sean McDowell, PhD
Next Page: Sharing The Truths Of Christianity