I usually don't get too deep with heavy theological matters, despite my graduate studies in theology. My mission is to reach sailors and as such, my theology has to be pretty simple. Yet I was reading something the other day and it almost begged me to comment publicly.
The fascinating book I'm reading is called God's Battalions, by Rodney Stark. In this book, he suggests that the Crusades were not simply an attack on Islam and Judaism, but rather a response to Islamic invasion of western lands. I'm still reading through it so the jury is out on what I think.
Nevertheless, here is a quote from the book which bothered me. It was written by Pope Urban II, "We have heard that some of you have conceived the desire to go to Jerusalem, and you know that it is pleasing to us, and you should also know also that if any among you travel...only for the good of their souls and the liberty of the churches, they will be relieved of the penance of all of their sins."
Really? Fighting in a war, not believing in Christ, is the way to receive justification? This honestly smacks the face of the Scriptures, where we read (Ephesians 2:8): For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.
You and I cannot earn our salvation. Those knights who fought so bravely and honestly for the good of the church did so in vain. Not one drop of their own blood given in valiant fighting could have gotten them one step closer to heaven.
It's too bad. I hope some of them knew the truth. I'd like to meet one when I get to heaven.