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Friday, May 06, 2005

Martyrdom: The Best Church Growth Plan EVER!!!

The ancient Christian Church grew by leaps and bounds on account of the sword. Of course, the sword was aimed AT the Christians, not BY them. Yes, that's right, in the first 3 centuries after Christ's ascension, the Church was hotly persecuted, first by the majority of the Sanhedrin, then by the Romans (and other sundry lovelies). The second century theologian, Tertullian, once said that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.

But the persecution of Christianity is not just an ancient phenomenon. More believers were killed in the 20th century on account of Christ than in the previous 19 combined.

I guess one of the things that concerns me is that not only do most people ignore the plight of persecuted Christians, but many of us refuse to acknowledge one of the chief sources of this strife: the Muslim world. That's why I am very cautious about this new movie on the crusades, "The Kingdom of Heaven." From what I have read thus far, it is revisionistic and soaked in political correctness. WORLD magazine has a good piece on it. And so does columnist Debbie Schlussel. If you only read one thing today (other than the Burr), read Schlussel's article.

I'm not defending the crusades or the acts of the crusaders. The fact of the matter is, insofar as they were guilty of rape, murder and theft, they were acting contrary to the faith of the New Testament. Never once does Jesus Christ or St. Paul urge their followers to take arms. The same cannot be said about Mohammed or the Koran. The ancient church was badly battered by their opponents, even as Jesus had foretold, but they didn't raise militias. They endured their sufferings, mirroring their Savior, with strength supplied by God.

Study the history objectively. In the sixth century, Turkey, the Middle East, northern and eastern Africa, were all heavily Christianized. Within a century or two of Mohammed's birth, his armies had overtaken all these lands. And now they remain the hottest beds of persecution toward Christians and Jews. People forget that Spain was dominated by Islamic occupiers for 800 years. Even in the 16th century, Muslim armies were advancing against Vienna. Dr. Alvin Schmidt records the details of violent Islamic expansion in his book, "The Great Divide." This article from Issues, Etc. gives a pithy summary.

So if you go see "Kingdom of Heaven," please consider doing a bit of study first so your brain won't be confused by the dis-information. Better yet, don't go see it. And keep the iconography in mind. The symbol for Christianity is the cross, the sign of one Divine Man's suffering for the sins of all. The symbol for Islam is the scimatar, a means of inflicting suffering upon all. Hmmmm...

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Michael P. O'Connor said...

Could one also note that the cross not only being the sign of the suffering of one, but the salvation of all?

Anonymous said...

The scimitar? I've never heard of a scimitar being a symbol of Islam, and have studied it for a bit. You may be thinking of the crescent moon, then, which is a prominent symbol. --Jerry

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

I don't claim to be an expert in Islam. But, fairly or no, it is commonly asserted that the scimitar represents Islam. In fact, Dr. Alvin Schmidt ( argues that the shape of the scimitar is modelled after the crescent moon you speak of. Just doing a cursory scan of book titles from, I found a newly published book on Muslim women entitled "The Scimitar and the Veil." While not an "official" symbol of the religion, it is a prominent image. In Christianity, the sword is an occasional symbol, taken from the New Testament. "The Word of God is living and active, sharper than a sharp two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12)." But it is not so prominent. I think it is meaningful that the flag of Saudi Arabia, the land of Mohammend and Mecca, has the basic Islamic creed on it with a sword (though admittedly not a scimitar) beneath. Thus I think the case can be made that the scimitar/sword is a symbol representative of Islam. If it is demonstrated that I am in error, I will amend my article.

Christopher P. Stewart said...

The Scimitar is of a pre-islamic Thracian origin. It was used in the Gladiator games in ancient Rome.

Here are some details on the weapons is use in the games:

I would not make much of the use of a sword etc on the flag of Saudi Arabia. This has far more to do with the House of Saud's connection with the extreme form of Wahabi islam than anything else.

Before the house of Saud ran Arabia, the holy places of Islam were protected by the Hashimites who were from Jordan.

You may wish to read the book

"The 2 faces of Islam: The House of Saud from tradition to terror" by Stephen Schwartz which goes into the Wahabi in great detail.

It could be said that most western swords of the medieval period are in the form of a cross,and I would not infer that all Christians are sword carrying killers.

Anonymous said...

I'll check out Dr. Smith's article. My own info was based on Bernard Lewis' works, including his general history of the Middle East, and "What Went Wrong?", which examines how the Arabs and Turks went from world powers in the 16th century to third-raters within a few hundred years. Dr. Lewis does not apologize for either side in the Crusades, but nor did he have anything to say about the scimitar's particular symbolism for Islam. If it were the case that the scimitar was a particular symbol of the faith, I think that would have been quite relevant to "what went wrong" (a concise, magnificent book). --Jerry

Bowman said...

Yes, Muslim armies took over the Middle East and Northern Africa, as well as spain within a couple hundred years of his prophecy.

On the other hand, none of those areas became a muslim majority (and in the case of spain, never) for another couple hundred years. Only on the Arabian peninusla, where Christianity had hardly penetrated, did Islam become the relgion of the majority very quickly.

Point being that sure, Muslim armies expanded rapidly but they were just like the empires that had preceeded them (ie the Romans, Persians, etc).

And the scimatar? give me a break.

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

I never said anything about North Africa, etc. having a majority of Muslims. I just made the point that those were Christian lands conquered by Muslims armies. Just like the Romans as you said.

And once they ruled those lands, Christians and Jews were given secondary citizen status. They became Dhimmis. They were subjected to Sharia. They could not proselytize. They could not testify in court. They could not serve in public office. They could not bear arms. They were not allowed to ride horses or camels. They had to cross the street to get out of the way of a Muslim. There were restrictions on the building of synagogues and churches. They were not allowed to pray out loud. The Dhimmi had little recourse if harmed by a Muslim. Any criticism of Islam or Mohommad is punishable by death. A Muslim who converts is killed. There were no laws against raping and murdering Christians/Jews. And on and on.

The point is that the economic, social and political restrictions placed on Dhimmis coerced many to convert.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your interview on Issues
Etc. about Horror movies. Very good and informative. BTW, if you know where I can get a copy (rental) of "The Addiction" I'd appreciate it. Up here in Minnesota
I can't find it anywhere!

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