It is very popular to have a completely negative view of the Christian Crusades that took place between 1095 and 1291. In fact, I have often heard people apologize for them. Why? I am coming to believe that there is a significant amount of revisionist history going on that has poisoned the well. In fact, until recently, I also bought into this tainted way of looking at them.

Over a few blogs, I am going to briefly give four misconceptions about the Crusade that I hope will add some perspective.

Misconception 1: The Crusades were not provoked

Often people will say that the Christian Crusades had no external reasoning behind them. In this, there is no blame that can be placed on the “peaceful” Islamic dynasties which were the innocent victims of ruthless Christians coming from the West.

However, any look at the preceding six hundred years of history will show that this idea cannot be sustained in any way. Notice the progression maps I have created to show a snapshot of world events:





Muslims had been on a conquest of the Eastern world for over five hundred years. Two-thirds of the formerly Christian lands were now ruled by Muslims. Muslim pirate camps were set up all over, threatening the East and the West. They were threatening southern France and Italy, coming as far as the island of Sicily. In 1009, a mentally deranged Muslim ruler, Abu ‘Ali Mansur, destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and ordered the destruction or confiscation of 30,000 churches. A Muslim Seljuk Sultan set up a capital in Nicaea, the site of the first great ecumenical Christian council in 325, just 125 miles from Constantinople.

Is it any wonder that Alexis I, Patriarch of Constantinople, called on Pope Urban II in Rome for help? Is it any wonder that Urban responded by calling on the West to come to the aid of their brothers and sisters in the East, who had long suffered the aggressive tyranny of Islamic invaders?

Far from being unprovoked, the call for the Crusades was one of the most just calls for war in all of history.

God’s Battalions is a great book on the Crusades. Get it.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    77 replies to "Four Misconceptions about the Crusades: #1 The Crusades Were Not Provoked"

    • John B

      Chad and Fr. Robert.
      You both ‘focus in’ on John Chapters 8 and 10, and indeed they are very important to the Trinitarian case.

      There are a number of ‘issues’ discussed here ,so I will deal with these individually – rather than proceeding through the scriptures verse by verse!

      In terms of the Jewish Law, stoning was only permitted in cases of blasphemy
      In all other cases, the persons taking place in stoning would themselves be charged with murder
      If the Jewish authorities REALLY believed that Christ has blasphemed they would have hunted him down and stoned him.
      Most modern bibles tell us that Christ’hid’ and left the temple.
      Many believe that Christ escaped by supernatural means.
      The Greek word used for ‘hid’ is ‘ekyrbe’ which Thaylers Lexicon (quoting Winers Grammar) says can be used to mean ‘withdrew quietly’

      The Jews being addressed included the very pious religious leaders.
      Christ had just called them-
      (i)Illegitimate v41
      (ii)You belong to your Father, the Devil (v44)
      (iii)Made himself greater than our Father Abraham (v53)
      (iv)Abraham rejoiced to see MY DAY (note not ‘me’)(v56

      Not in these chapters or indeed any scripture
      On the contrary he DENIED he was God and called himself Son of God, Son of Man, the Messiah.
      Christ declared his SONSHIP and dependancy on the Father!

      They were mistaken!

      THE USE OF “I AM” IN JOHN 8 vv 28 and 58
      Trinitarians try to equate with with the “I AM” used to describe the Lords messenger in Exodus 3:14 but consider –
      John 8 v28 “…I AM , and I can do nothing on my own..”
      NOT an omnipotent being!
      John 8 v58 “before Abraham came to be I AM” see
      earlier comments. Christ declaring himself
      to be the Messiah.
      Space running out -see next post!
      Every Blessing
      John B

    • John B

      The Greek words for “I am’ in Johns Gosple are ‘ego eimi’
      and they mean “I am, I am he”
      The same words are quite common in the bible- although we find these words CAPITALISED in John -no doubt for theological reasons.!
      Consider the blind man who had his sight restored -when questioned he replied ‘ego eimi’ – “I am the one”
      Similarly Acts 10:21 etc.

      WHAT ABOUT JOHN 10 :30?
      This is said to be one of the two ‘deciding’ verses in the Arian controversy.(ugh, that one !,I hear Robert say!!)

      “I and the Father are one”

      That clinches it !!!???

      “ego kai ho pater hen esmen’

      The Greek word used for ‘one’ is ‘hen’

      But ‘hen’ or ‘en’ is used in the scriptures to denote ‘oneness of purpose’ or ‘in agreement’

      1 Corinthians 3v8
      “the one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose’ (hen)
      John 17v22 ‘so that we (people being addressed) may be one (hen) as we are one (hen)

      For a bit of fun look at the KJV regarding 1 John 5 verses 7&8
      (i) What is shown as v7 has been found to be a fraud and is no longer in modern bibles. It was the only explicit trinitarian verse!!!
      Note the Greek use of ‘hen’ to mean ‘these three are one’
      (ii)Verse 8- which is now verse 7 in modern bibles ” these three agree in one ‘hen’

      Great selctivity employed by Trinitarians.

      I see I have a little space left-
      What about the use of the words ‘ye say ye are gods ‘ if you call them ‘gods’ to whom the word of God came.”?
      Christ was insulting the Pharisees who were the current ‘crop’ of ‘gods’ and warning them that the same fate awaited them that afflicted their ‘predecessors’.
      They would soon be judged by that righteous man who God had ordained! (Acts 17:31)

      If I’ve missed out any important points please forgive me!
      Too many things to consider!
      Every Blessing
      John B

    • John B

      So sorry, but I have missed out your comment that references to the Trinity are found in the OT.

      The main argument I find alleges that the Trinity is alluded to in the Shema.

      Mark 12 v29-31
      “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is ONE Lord”

      Trinitarians believe that it is possible that the ONE may be a ‘compound One”

      The Hebrew word used in Deuteronomy 6:4 for ‘one’ is “echad’ which is a ‘counting number’.
      It can denote ‘one bunch of grapes’ or ‘one grape’.

      The precise meaning is determined by CONTEXT , just as it is in English.

      There is another Hebrew word “Yashid’ which means solitary or only or alone. He is an only (yashid) son.

      This is NEVER used in connection with God.


      The Greek is interesting.
      The Greek word used for ‘one’ is “heis’
      See 1 Corinthians 9v24 ” Do you not know that the runners in a stadium run a race, but there is only one (heis) winner”. Imagine multiple winners! Could be Interesting!

      So, old friend, take your pick!

      I know what makes sense to me!

      Every Blessing
      John B

    • @mbaker: I am not a “friar” (of course that is a Roman Catholic title, in a so-called mendicant order, Augustinian, Dominican, etc. ), “Fr.” is a short moniker for “Father” a pastoral title for Catholics, some Anglicans and the EO or Orthodox, in so-called holy orders. I have thought about not using it? Since I am semi-retired now. And not all Anglican rectors use the title “Fr.” (Though I was at one time an Anglo-Catholic, years back), But since I am known by such with so many, and too as a hospital chaplain. But, its is surely only a “pastoral” title, 1 Cor. 4:15.

      And I have been simply responding to John B.’s posts, which he started btw. But indeed WE have both said enough, he is in certain heresy! So I will quit!

    • Last thought here, “Thayler” btw was a unitarian!

    • John B

      Fr . Robert
      Most interesting!
      He was of course quoting from Winers Grammar.

      We can end off where we ‘came in’ – my bemoaning the fact that monotheists were irreconcilably divided by Doctrine of the Trinity – and I believe that this could have been avoided if men were not so ‘power conscious’back in the fourth century.
      Unfortunately we are now in a full scale confrontation with the Islamic world and ‘their’ problem mainly arises from the fact that their texts have been ‘edited’ by men seeking power. An unedited seventh century Koran was found in the desert about 25 years ago – translated it looked remarkably like the Hebrew Bible culturally ‘adjusted’.
      The Mullahs say it’s a forgery! Of course they would!

      There is a certain irony in life.
      My wifes ancestor who fled Germany after the Reformation Radical Reformationist)was the descendant a Duke who was knighted in Jerusalem in the 12th Century for his role in one of the crusades!

      As for me I’ll stick to my ‘primitive Christianity’!
      Erasmus got it right. Keep it simple (as Ockham would say!)
      With respect
      John B

    • @John: I have written some on my own blog about the history of Monarchianism and Modalism, etc. A man here to read would be the first great Western/Latin theologian: Tertullian.. See his book Against Praxeas. (And yes, I have a copy, and have read it!)

      Indeed surely the Church has covered all this ground in the 2nd and 3rd Centuries! And sorry mate, but you are by biblical, theological & historical definition, an Adoptionist! And the best of so called “Primitive Christianity” is surely the history of the top-tier Reformers!

      Let us end this, and not labor the readers, at least here!

    • Chad Dougless


      Just to be clear from your comments you would assert something more on the lines of:

      1. Jesus is the Messiah
      2. Jesus is fully human
      3. Jesus is from heaven?
      4. Jesus is not God

      I think those are the points that you are typically trying to make here, but I am uncertain at best as you do not handle the texts with any sense of continuity but splice them together to attempt to disprove a point long accepted in Christianity.

      The Gospel of John is replete with examples of Jesus’s divinity. You claim that the Logos, the Word, is merely a metaphor for God’s wisdom and is just an aspect of God. Or at least that is my understanding of your argument. Of course, the text of John 1:1 would indicate that the Word was with God and was God from the beginning. So far, it is easy to follow and does not lend any credence to the Word being a separate person more than just an aspect. That being said, John 1:14 states that the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst men. An obvious reference to Jesus, and one that I assume you would say is valid. By simple logic we can see:

      1. The Word was with God
      2. The Word was God
      3. The Word became flesh
      4. This flesh is Jesus

      Of course you should see the easy obvious step that Jesus is God by simple reasoning. So at the very least you cannot deny that Jesus is God, but you could attempt at least a defense of modalism. Keep in mind that it will make it extremely difficult to defend, given that you would have to say that God fully manifested Himself in Jesus for the modalistic view to truly hold, which would ignore passages of Jesus asking or talking with the Father, or the all important symbol of the Trinity, Matthew 3:16-17. This text shows all three members of the Trinity at the same time, which decries an attempt at modalism as they all exist simultaneously.

      Old Testament references can wait for another time. But you could start with Genesis 1:26.

    • John B

      Fr. Robert
      I do NOT believe that Christ was adopted by God – you misread my comments regarding Hebrews :1.
      The unknown writer of Hebrews was probably an adoptionist!

      You have failed to pin a badge on me – apart from ‘an heretic to orthadoxy ‘- which I accept.

      The Reformation left the Christian church only partly reformed and some of the ‘issues’ seem to have been accepted by Luther without comment.
      The question of infant baptism is an example that caused enormous problems later on.

      In an earlier post I referred to a pastor friend who said that all he could do was to provide a ‘warm fireplace’ for his parishoners. Tradition is such a place – although it has resulted in the mass slaughter of many innocents over the ages!
      Anyway it’s a good place to be for those who see what they want to see!

    • John B

      You seem to have a haibit of totally ignoring things you do not wish to see.!!

      Let’s go back to fundamentals and John 1 v1-18

      Can anyone really say that he or she known exactly what the Greek means?
      Look up “John 1:1” in Wikipedia and you will observe the linguistic difficulties involved in its translation. The paper notes about 11 translations and provides a link to a further 70 possible translations.
      NOW how on earth can you compare your desired translation with the clear and explicit statements about the’person of Christ’?
      Does John not make himself clear whan he summarised his mission in John 20 v31 “now these are written that you may (come to) believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God…”.
      Is Christ wrong when he says in John 20:17 that he is going to his Father (& our Father) and His God (who is also our God)?
      Is Christ just talking in his ‘human nature’ ? If you think so then can anything He said be taken seriously?

      So many crisp statements -i.e. given some in my posts…
      when Acts calls Christ a ‘servant of God’ is this just meaningless.?

      You or your friends cannot even adress the argument
      If God is always The Father
      If the Father is NOT the Son
      THEN The Son is NOT God.

      I wonder if you are serious in your argument -or just wasting time!?


    • John B

      My post following post 2 does not seem to have been transmitted -so here goes again!
      Regarding John 8 verses 28 and 58

      The Greek words for ‘I am” or “I am he” are ‘ego eimi’
      The words are commonly used -for example ,the blind man who had his sight restored used the words when asked if he was the one who had been healed.
      Similarly Acts 10:21

      WHAT ABOUT JOHN 10:30?
      This was said to be one of the two verses which ‘resolved’ the ‘Arian heresy”

      “I and the Father are one”
      “ego kai ho pater hen esmen”

      The Greek word used for ‘one’ is ‘hen’

      But note that ‘one ‘ or ”hen”’denotes oneness of purpose as in 1 Corinthians 3:8
      “the one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose’ (hen)

      John 17v22 “So that we(audience) may be ‘hen’ just as we are”hen”.(in agreement, having common purpose)

      Readers may care to look at 1 John Chapter five verses seven and eight. in the KJV
      (i) The use of ‘hen’
      (ii)The interpretations assigned to them
      (iii)The fact that verse seven has been removed from modern Bibles.

      Hope I have answered your points!
      Every Blessing
      John B

    • John B

      Hi MIchael
      Have I ‘triggered’ some ‘forbidden’ word?
      I notice that a similar post (number 3) has awaited moderation for three days now?
      Would appreciate a response!

    • C Michael Patton

      John, I am not sure. The blog moderates itself. I don’t know why it flagged any posts of yours. I will check.

    • @John, Wow mate, “wasting time”? I did much of that with you! And keeping with the our blog host’s subject, you are standing closer to Islam, than Christianity, as per Christ!

      Time to quit mate, don’t ya think?

    • Todd L

      @Fr.Robert, being a newcomer to this blog and now having read the comments in particular, yours. I was particularly disturbed.
      I think the arguments regarding the Trinity and indeed any doctrine perceived by men hundreds of years later than Christ’s death should be largely ignored and everyone should rather concentrate on what unites rather than what divides. Perhaps if this were the case the crusades, inquisitions and various other outcasting events throughout the Christian world would not have taken place.
      The bible is not some sort of secret code that needs to be decipherment. The more you try to look into doing just this the more you escape from the essence of Christ.
      As a man of the cloth one needs to be careful not to fall into the category of a modern day Pharisee. Your comments towards @John B regarding “heresy” are particularly disturbing. If one studies who used such words in history they were generally extremist in nature ! Not really a drawcard one would thing for normal people other than by way of fear! Again not the essence of Christ !

    • John B

      Final Post,
      My initial point was that if it were not for the Doctrine of the Trinity we would probably not have Islam today- and we would not have had the Crusades- which are a ‘justification’ for the fanaticism we have today.!
      As Paul Johnson observes, so many things could have been avoided by choosing alternative words!
      Unfortunately power considerations always win!
      Thanks for your patience!

      Every Blessing

    • We surely cannot re-write history, or sit in God’s Sovereignty & Providence! The so-called “fanaticism” will lead the world finally to Zech. 14, the Second Coming of Christ, the Judgment of Israel’s enemies.. Indeed the great “Economy of God”, and the “Eschaton” fully!

    • Chad Dougless

      John B,

      Your assertion may be correct about the Doctrine of Trinity causing confusion which led to the rise and spread of Islam, but it is ultimately hard to pinpoint precisely that as the cause for this.

      Unrelated, it is interesting that you accuse me of being blind to what I do not wish to see while you splice and twist Scripture to suit your interpretation. The puzzling part really comes from your interpretation of how the Pharisees viewed Jesus’s statement of “I am.” They directly accused him of equating himself with God, or calling himself God. Jesus’s words would give rise to a very clear understanding of the context of the words he spoke.

      Their reaction clearly delineates the purpose for his words. Jesus points that he is a stumbling block for these Pharisees, which seems quite obvious. It is good that you attempt to use Scripture to support your view, but you ignore context and obvious other issues with viewing Christ as someone other than Immanuel (God with us). Of course you have answered these verses as simply our own mistranslations of these verses, and that it may simply be a lack of understanding of historical apostolic views of what Jesus said.

      If only we had any statements from the apostles to point out their understanding…of course we could see what Thomas said in John 20:28 (ho kurios mou kai ho theos mou). Note here that Jesus did not correct him and tell Thomas that Thomas was incorrect about assuming Jesus was God. Or Paul’s statement in Titus 2:13 or Peter’s statement in 2 Peter 1:1.

      I pray that you would consider that you stand apart from apostolic teachings passed down through Scripture and common Christian understanding of the nature of God. Analyze the impact of removing the God from Christ and how that impacts the atonement and need for Christ in salvation. We may never agree, but you should approach things with more caution when you clearly stand apart.

    • “Apart” is always the nature of heresy! Note, Rom. 16: 17-18 with Titus 3: 10-11. And how can we “caution” a heretic, espeically one who attacks the “Deity and Divinity” – of Christ?! In this postmodern age, but with the Word of God, itself! And this is not a personal attack really, but the nature of ‘the faithful word’! (Titus 1: 9)

    • @Todd L : Well my statements here are as I noted, are not really personal as biblical and theological! And I am an old “theolog” myself. Sadly, John B’s statements are quite simply a denial of the Deity & Divinity of Christ! And indeed here is the essence of Christ, as both God & Man! Without this was simply don’t have a Redeemer, or a Redemption!

      Finally, I am a Reformational & Reformed “churchmen”, perhaps you need to see what that means also! Btw, did you know that St. Paul was ALWAYS a Jewish “Pharisee”! (Separated unto God!) See Romans 1: 1, indeed Paul saw himself and his life & calling as “set apart” unto God! Actually, such is the call & life of every Christian! And for such, we simply must have the Divine “Christ Jesus”!

    • John B

      I am quite sad that no-one seems to understand a main pillar of my thesis.
      That is, the Trinitarian case is based on a few verses which are capable of multiple interpretations -e.g. John 1v1
      You accept your own , this being that Christ is God incarnate,and reject mine (that Christ is the incarnate Word). Who really knows?

      You then ignore dozens of verses in crisp, clear and unambiguous language to make your case!

      Heaven help us all!

      Thank goodness for people like Todd L.!

      Dare I say, a man full of the true Christian spirit.?

      John B

    • John B

      I believe that I behaved dismissively towards your earlier post – for which I apologise.
      I have a heavy schedule today but I plan to respond adequely to your post no 19 as soon as I can
      Every Blessing

    • C Michael Patton

      I did not realize how far off the comments are to the original post. That happens. But please no more that are off topic (as important as these diacussionsmay be!)

    • […] to speak intelligently on the matter with many people in the future. There are four installments: one, two, three & still awaiting the […]

    • […] Misconception number one: “The Crusades were not provoked.” In sum, Muslims had been conquering Christian territory for hundreds of years. The Crusades were one response. […]

    • Cynthia

      Thanks for this series on the Crusades. I am not seeing reason #4 for some reason. Would love to read it. Within the last couple of years I watched a history channel program on the dark ages and it struck me that when thinking and talking about the church in these times we often perceive that all the evils were caused by the church. We look back we see “evils committed” without really thinking about what they were facing (the context they existed in). It is absolutely true that if the church did not arm itself, Islam would have most likely taken over. That can be really hard to swallow for those of us who don’t like war. Anyway, not to get long winded…thanks for the always helpful information.

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