He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" - Romans 8:32

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Sunday, July 18, 2010 

Losing the Crusades - A Blessing?

Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times poses an interesting question for Christians to consider:

On my family’s recent trip to Israel, one of the topics we were debating was whether the loss of the Crusades was ultimately a good thing for Christianity, and the loss of the Second Temple ultimately a good thing for Judaism.

I’m no scholar of religion, so I simply throw the idea out there for you to weigh in on. The argument is that losing the Crusades freed Christianity from a focus on a particular site and made it more global and universal in a way that made it more likely to appeal to Asians, Africans and Latin Americans. In other words, losing the Crusades helped the church grow in the long run.

In the case of Judaism, the argument is that as long as the Second Temple was around, religious worship focused on sacrifice and traditional practices, and that losing the temple led to a greater focus on spirituality and ethics and all the things we now associate with religion. I raised this issue with a Reform rabbi, very delicately, assuming that this was heresy. To my surprise he said that it was accepted in many quarters that the destruction of the Second Temple had ultimately been a good thing for Judaism, and that even Maimonides had said this. Not heresy at all, he said.

This isn’t the kind of issue I normally write about on the blog, but it was a provocative discussion and so I’m happy to pass it on and invite your thoughts.

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