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April 3, 2013 1:56 am

Jesus and the Violent History of Christianity

avatar by Bernard Starr

Email a copy of "Jesus and the Violent History of Christianity" to a friend

The Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople, by Eugene Delacroix.

Christians call Jesus the Lamb of God, the Prince of Peace and the Embodiment of Love. These spiritual and humanistic depictions of Jesus, drawn from the Gospels, have attracted billions of devotees to Christianity throughout the ages and have inspired the devotion that continues today.

Yet the history of Christianity is marked by violent acts that do not bring to mind images of peace or love, acts that are antithetical to Jesus’ life and ministry and that fly in the face of his most important teaching: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Mark 12:31).

What inspired the Crusades, the Inquisition, and other violent and murderous acts that defined Christianity over many centuries? Was it lofty images of Jesus and his “love thy neighbor” dictum?

What was Pope Urban II thinking when he initiated the first Crusade in the name of Jesus and Christianity, declaring “God himself will lead them, for they will be doing His work. There will be absolution and remission of sins for all who die in the service of Christ”?

And what of Pope Gregory IX? Did feelings of peace and love drive him to launch the Papal Inquisition and promote the sixth Crusade? Did these Church leaders believe that Jesus would praise their war mongering?

Would the Jewish Jesus have cheered Spain’s King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1492 for their hasty expulsion of 200,000 Jews, representing 10 percent of the Spanish population? The king and queen claimed high authority for their orders, supported by “the counsel and advice of prelates, great noblemen of our kingdoms, and other persons of learning and wisdom of our Council.” Jews were to “depart and never to return” under penalty of death and confiscation of their possessions.

And which Christian doctrines and image of Jesus drove Martin Luther to urge his followers to set fire to synagogues “and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them … to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom…” Did Martin Luther think Jesus would applaud this genocidal rampage when the synagogue was his spiritual home ( “And he went to Nazareth where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up for to read” (Luke 4:16)?

Indeed, how would Jesus have responded to the abuse of his name to front violence and anti-Semitism? To tackle this thorny question, in my new book, “Jesus Uncensored: Restoring the Authentic Jew,” I create a mock trial in which Jesus testifies against prominent historical figures from the fourth to the 20th century for committing atrocities in his name. He asks these perpetrators to provide citations in the Gospels, other parts of the New Testament, or any additional writings or testimonies about his life that they believe support their crimes against humanity.

Unfortunately, we will never know how the defendants would respond. Would they even dare to justify their acts in Jesus’ presence? But the trial does dramatically illustrate that Jesus had nothing to do with heinous acts committed in his name. Perhaps the best expression of that were the emotional outbursts from observers in the visitors’ gallery at the mock trial: “Would you have expelled Jesus, Mary, and Joseph — they too were Jews?” And “Where was the love that Jesus taught — Jesus is all about love?”

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  • It is no surprise that Christianity is tainted with bloodshed and violence – these were the trademarks of Christ himself. In my articles on the violence of Christ, http://www.riaanbooysen.com/barbelo/christ-the-violent-messiah and http://www.riaanbooysen.com/the-triumphal-entry-and-cleansing-of-temple, I show that once Christ had been rejected by the Jews, he had become an extremely violent person. He stormed and ransacked the Temple with more than 300 men and subsequently raised a rebel army with which he had hoped to overthrow the Romans. The so-called ‘second coming’ of Christ was, however, foiled by Festus. Simon Peter was known to Josephus as Simon bar Gioras, the leader of the sicarii faction who was also a murderer, robber and rapist.

    • Sese

      How sad, that adults believe such fabricated lies about Christianity. Believing a lie and rejecting the truth, and they’re not even aware of it.

  • Perhaps, your readership might also be interest in my FREE book, Man’s Search For Spirituality by E Christopher Reyes.
    This book is a comprehensive, chronological presentation of Christianity and its often undeclared adversaries. Now available in various formats.




  • Jaxx Philip

    http://bit.ly/1jvSlzI <*–

    Mr. Bernard Starr you should read this..
    And it is wrong to say the Christians did alll this.. its the Roman Catholics who did all this… The craze for power and money of the Popes of those times made them do this not Christ…

    There is something called Orthodox Christianity the older one of the two..

  • I have said nothing insulting nor agaisnt your guidlines.

    • Won’t be reading the book, how bout removing my post, “I have said nothing,,,,,,,,,,,,,,”

  • Marsilio GOBIO

    I am sorry to noticed how while mentioning only the proven wrong doing of Christianity, it is carefully neglected the other face of it: I mean the side of the Saints, the side of the Marthyrs, the side of those who lost their lives to the benefit of the others and the Faith. Are forgotten those missionaries,who dedicated their life in dangerous Countries, curing, teching and bringing the BEST of the Christian Message.It amazing to notice how somebody wants to inform or see only what he wants other to see. When speaking about Christianity, it would be honet and correct, to mention everything and not only what is convinient. The wrong doing are well known, while the good deeds are not considered. Pope Jhon Paul II, infact, apologized in the occasion of the birth of the third Century (2000), for the wrong doing of the Church, which have nothing to do with Christ teaching. I did not see any other Representative of different Faiths or Denomination, to do the same. On the contrary, there was a carefull SILENCE. Thank you.

    • Bernard Starr

      While it’s true that individual acts and missions of brotherhood and compassion have also occurred, and continue to this day, the leaders indicted in my mock trial had broad dominion over Christianity. Their actions and edicts affected entire societies and led to widespread persecution and slaughter of Jews. For example, as I wrote in my book Jesus Uncensored: Restoring the Authentic Jew, “In warming up for the slaughter that was to come, the crusaders wantonly killed Jews along the route to the Holy Land. In particular, you, Godfrey de Bouillon, a Frankish knight were one of the leaders of the First Crusade. You declared that you would ‘avenge the blood of Jesus on that of the Jews, and leave none of them alive…” And, “Other crusaders on the way to Jerusalem slaughtered more than ten thousand Jews in Europe. In one day in 1096 in Worms, Germany, all the Jews—1,100—were massacred except a few that were forcibly converted.”
      Also covered in the book are more contemporary efforts at reconciliation, including Vatican II called by Pope John XXIII in 1962 and the later contributions of Pope John Paul II.

      • Sheila

        Mr Bernard, Bless you my brother! I like very much what you are doing. Sir, it is very difficult to look at ones faults. We don’t want to ever think that “All have sined” We just like to point to the other persons fault. So, don’t take much of the negative feedback personal..its just the nature. I will look into getting a copy of your book..sounds like a good conversational opportunity:O)

  • GregG

    Jesus was born a Jew, lived as a Jew, died a Jew…and will always be a Jew. He lived a Torah led life. He was a Pharisaical Jew. He followed the Law. He believed in the Resurrection. BTW, what does St.Paul, St. Peter, St. Stevens, and St. John have in common? They’re all Jews. What most Christians don’t understand is that they are following a Jewish belief system. Jesus kept the Feasts…and thus the traditions. Wake up Christians… and understand Jesus(Yeshua)is Jewish!

    • Marsilio GOBIO

      Infact, I think that Christians are let’s say… “Modern Jews”

    • Bernard Starr

      Yes, and that’s what my book, “Jesus Uncensored: Restoring the Authentic Jew,” is all about. Whether you accept or reject Jesus as Messiah, he was a dedicated practicing Jew, with no intention of launching a new religion

      • We can sit here with a 21st century mindset and do all the condemnation we like but to paint these Popes with a broad brush is truly unfair. Jews also in history waged wars and murdered in defense of their faith. Let us not forget that Muslims were not without their own bloodied hands through out their own conquests. What we hope to agree on here is that we surly all have sin on our hands. Let us try to learn from the past and work toward a more peaceful solution to the problems before us. I think yes the recognition of the Holocaust by all those involved and the slaughtering of Jews by the Christian ought never be forgotten so that we may learn from error but you seem to think that Islam gets a pass for some reason. You seem to dress up that part of the story as though Muslims lived peacefully with Christians and Jews. Is this true? What about the Turks and the slaughter of the Armenians? They have yet to take responsibility for the act. Let’s not be so selective in our human evaluation when it comes to carnage because there is plenty of that to go around. I would add one other thing, when your own people stand the chance of being wiped off the face of the earth and you are one of those people and you ask “What would Jesus Do?” then you are confronted with a real dilemma especially if you are the leader of those people be they Jew, Christian, or whatever. Did Jesus erase self defense from the human instinct? You tell me.

        • Bernard Starr

          The point of my article—and more extensively in my book—is that violence committed in the name of Jesus had nothing to do with Jesus. Of course heinous acts have been perpetrated by other religions—and non-religions.

  • Very simply…by their works. Not all who say they are means they are…even as many chose not to answer the call of Moses at Sinai. According to Jesus if one loves Him he will keep His commandments and because one loves Him He and His Father will make their abode or dewelling within that one. Even as Paul the Apostle said not all Israel is Israel. Jesus said broard is the road that leads to destruction and many will go that way but straight and narrow is the road to eternal life. By their works you will know them.

  • Lilah

    My Mother, may she RIP, was a Holocaust survivor. She told me over and over again, “don’t trust the Goyim.” Can you blame her?

  • art frank

    If Jesus was the God that Christians believe in, and was responsible for what they did to the Jews for 1500 years, then maybe we should rethink the meaning of “God”. Truth is, Jesus was the worst thing that happened to the Jews. His followers caused Jews nothing but suffering and death.

    • Bernard Starr

      But Jesus was hijacked for that purpose. That’s the point of my mock trial.

  • Paul Ringo

    Thanks for this post. Non-violence is one of the clearest markers for those who are serious about dying to ‘self’, picking up their cross and following Him. It’s not so much about guns etc as it is about walking in love and forgiveness without judging others.
    His love cannot fail.