Question: "What were the Christian crusades?"
Answer: The crusades are among the most frequent objections to the Christian faith. Some Islamic terrorists even claim that their terrorist attacks are revenge for what Christians did in the crusades. So, what were the crusades and why are they viewed as such a big problem for the Christian faith?
First of all, the crusades should not be referred to as the "Christian crusades." Most of the people involved in the crusades were not truly Christians...even though they claimed to be. The Name of Christ was abused, misused, and blasphemed by the actions of many of the crusaders. Secondly, the crusades took place from approximately 1095 to 1230 A.D. That was between 775 and 910 years ago. Should the unbiblical and un-Christ-like actions of supposed Christians 1000 years ago still be held against Christians today?
Third, not that this is an adequate excuse, but Christianity is not the only religion with a violent past. In actuality, the crusades were responses to Muslim invasions on what was once land occupied primarily by Christians. From approximately 200 A.D. to approximately 900 A.D. the land of Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, etc. was inhabited primarily by Christians. Once Islam began to spread and become powerful, Muslims invaded these lands and brutally oppressed, enslaved, deported, and even murdered the Christians living in those lands. In response, the Roman Catholic Church and "Christian" kings / emperors from Europe ordered the crusades to reclaim the land the Muslims had taken. The actions that many so-called Christians took in the crusades were still deplorable. There is no Biblical justification for conquering lands, murdering civilians, and destroying cities in the Name of Jesus Christ. At the same time, Islam is not a religion that can speak from a position of innocence in these matters.
For a good, historical, and balanced summary of the various crusades, please read the following article - http://www.theopedia.com/Crusades.
To summarize briefly, the crusades were attempts by "Christians" in the 10th through 12th centuries A.D. to reclaim land in the Middle East that had been conquered by Muslims / Arabs. The crusades were brutal and evil. Many people were forced to "convert" to Christianity. If they refused, they were put to death. This is blatantly unbiblical...and perhaps that is the best summary of the issue. The idea of conquering a land through war and violence in the Name of Christ is completely unbiblical. The crusades may have been done by so-called Christians...but many of the actions that took place in the crusades were completely antithetical to everything the Christian faith should stand for.
How can we respond when, as a result of the crusades, the Christian faith is attacked by atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and those of other religions? We can respond in the following ways: (1) Do you want to be held accountable for the actions of people who lived 900+ years ago? (2) Do you want to be held accountable for the actions of everyone who claims to represent your faith? Trying to blame all of Christianity for the crusades is analogous to blaming all Muslims for Islamic terrorism.