God’s Battalions: The Case For The Crusades, by Rodney Stark

God’s Battalions: The Case For The Crusades

By: Rodney Stark

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – January, 2016

Monthly Book Suggestion Jan 2016Written by Baylor University Professor Rodney Stark this short easy to read work confronts a number of misconceptions about the history of the Crusades. Some of the familiar arguments that have been given against the Crusades since the time of the enlightenment, and which still haunt Christianity today, are reviewed in light of the actual situations of the day as revealed through letters and documents of various participants. Professor Stark demonstrates that these conflicts were not simply unprovoked wars of expansion, religious zealotry, or fortune hunting by European barbarians. Neither were the Muslim opponents sophisticated and enlightened cultures that were more advanced and civilized than the West. The Crusades were, in fact, the result of a series of political and military provocations that had been growing since the advent of Islam.

One criticism that this reviewer had of the book was that, although the author attempted to make the case that the Crusades were not promoted as a means of penitence, a careful read reveals that a twisted view of Christian teaching did, in fact, promise eternal reward to the volunteers. Nevertheless, Stark adequately points out that numerous Crusaders took up the sword in a selfless and sacrificial attempt to confront evil.

Regardless of one’s opinion of this time period, God’s Battalions is a thought provoking and enjoyable read about one of histories more misunderstood eras.