We are hearing again of beheadings. Here’s another:
A group of Muslims asked [a certain priest] to share his views on Christ and Muhammad. [The priest], fully aware that ‘showing disrespect for the Prophet’ was a capital offense, declined. But when the Muslims persisted, promising to protect him, he told them that Muhammad was one of the false prophets foretold by Jesus, and a man whose marital activity had rendered him a moral reprobate. His questioners, deeply offended, reported him after all, and [the priest], holding to his statements, was beheaded.
You are wondering where this happened, thinking that you must have missed this one in the midst of the recent reports of beheadings in France by followers of Muhammad. But no, this happened in Andalusia (present-day Spain and Portugal) during the Islamic reign of Abd al-Rahman II (832-852). The priest’s name was Perfectus. Conflicting accounts of Muhammad’s “immoral marital activities” may be found readily enough online. But speaking against that along with calling Muhammad a false prophet cost Perfectus his head. Found guilty of blasphemy against the Prophet, he was executed in 850, beginning a time called the al-Andalus “epoch of the martyrs” during which many others, both men and women, were executed for standing true to their Christian convictions.
When news of Islamic persecutions and beheadings began making news two or three decades ago I thought this was a new thing being carried out by Islamic “radicals” with a political and moral agenda. They hated (justifiably I felt) the corruptions coming into their society from the western world, and they were seeking to deal with it.
My view—that this was a new thing—was a very ignorant one, but typical, I would say, of myopic western thinking. For one thing, and maybe I am speaking more for myself than others, what we in the West know of history is enough to have us sent to the back corner of the schoolroom with the dunce hat on our head. Further to that, though, we Christians in the West are inclined to view world events from the very short-sighted perspective of our own day. Our eschatology—our understanding of the end-times—is seen through the lens of present-day events that we are sure will bring upon us the fulfillment of prophecy—great shakings, upheaval, devastation. However, not too many years ago I made an eye-opening discovery upon reading Ted Byfield’s twelve-volume history The Christians, lent to me by a friend. Let me tell you, there’s a lot of devastation and upheaval behind us. And a lot of blood. In some of the things you read of back in the Dark Ages, “blood to the horse bridles” is not necessarily a metaphor. Yet we tend to view the four horsemen of the Apocalypse as something to be fulfilled in the future. With emphasis on the word fulfilled that is no doubt is true, but these horsemen have been riding throughout the earth for a long, long time. In past centuries there have been invading conquerors and war and famine and pestilence so severe, so overwhelming, so devastating, that with blood flowing like water, and corpses piled high on every hand, those left living were sure it was the end of the world.
Along with this history lesson, I learned also from Byfield’s The Christians (the source of my quote about Perfectus) that the Islamic jihad we hear about so often now goes back a long way too.
Jihad is an Arabic word simply meaning “struggle,” but which in the Qur’an is used with reference to the Islamic holy war with its objective of bringing all the world into submission. That is the meaning of Islam—“submission to the will of God.” Its fundamental tenet is “There is only one God, and Muhammad is his prophet.” All the world is to submit to that. Muhammad the founder of Islam was born in Mecca about 570 and died in 632. In 610 he claimed that the angel Gabriel appeared to him in a cave near Mecca and began reciting to him messages purportedly from Allah. Many such appearances throughout the course of his life resulted in the Qur’an. During the 150 years following his death the sword of Islam brought into submission a vast area of the known world, most of which by that time was “Christian,” at least in name. More than half of what was known as Christendom was conquered—all of Arabia and Asia Minor (present-day Turkey), Palestine, north Africa and then Spain. The Muslims moved swiftly across Mediterranean north Africa conquering all before them from east to west till they reached the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, where their leader charged his horse into the foaming surf brandishing his sword and crying Allahu-Akbar—God is great. He shouted into the wind that only the ocean stopped him from going further.
Further, of course, would be North America, where on September 11, 2001, Islamic terrorists resumed this man’s quest, and the twin towers of the World Trade Centre came down. Hearing the news, many Muslims throughout the world shouted Allahu-Akbar, rejoicing in their victory toward the goal of Islam. It is with this continuing goal in mind that we in the West began hearing the threat, “We are coming—soon—to a neighbourhood near you.”
Islam appeared unstoppable back in the Dark Ages. They had such easy successes that they felt invincible; surely Allah was with them. From North Africa they crossed the Strait of Gibraltar in 711 into what is present-day Spain, and within a few years were largely in control of the Iberian Peninsula. From there they looked north beyond the Pyrenees into Europe. There they were stopped in their tracks. Charles Martel (Charles the Hammer) stopped the Muslim invasion of Europe at the battle of Tours in southern France in 732, a victory that determined the course of western civilization.
My personal conviction is that God allowed the Muslims to conquer most of Christendom back then because it had fallen into great apostasy. I am not alone in my conviction; here is a quote from The Pilgrim Church by E.H. Broadbent: “Mohammedanism was a judgement on idolatry, whether pagan or Christian.” Indeed, true Christianity was then for the most part unrecognizable in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions. The “Christians” were continually fighting with one another—not just with words, with weapons. Rome and Constantinople (now Istanbul) were chronically at war; all their resources were exhausted in their conflicts with one another. As a result they were easy prey for their new enemy. And Rome and Constantinople were just the two major players; there was infighting among countless other factions. I noticed over and over in Byfield’s history that the writers attributed Islamic victories to the fact that the armies of “Christian” states and kingdoms were perpetually at one another’s throats.
…Hello? Is it any wonder that Islam, according to several online sources, is the fastest growing religion in our day? Is not Christianity in a state of apostasy in our day as well? Are not we Christians hopelessly divided one from another? Apparently there are something like 30,000 registered denominations in the western world alone. What a grief that is. And we wonder why we are so weak in the face of the foe. It appears that “divide and conquer” is a tactic our Adversary the Devil continues to use very successfully. Not that we in our day resort to the sword like our primitive forebears, of course. We are more civilized now.
Finally the 11th–century Christians did unite to deal with Islam. Warring factions forgot their differences under a new banner—the Crusades. The first of the Crusaders left Europe for Palestine in 1096 to “liberate” Jerusalem from the Muslims who held it, knowing of course that there was much spoil to be gained in the bargain. After a three-year journey and a five-week siege they sacked Jerusalem in 1099 and literally annihilated its population of Muslims and Jews, holding Jerusalem till 1187 when Saladin retook Jerusalem. It is all a sad and sickening story drenched in blood. I felt deeply ashamed to read that “Christians” had done such a thing. In fact I couldn’t continue reading that volume. I had to set it aside. But as Byfield himself states in his preface, the Crusades were not unprovoked—a teaching much in vogue these days; we’re taught now that malevolent Christian forces entered Palestine bent on regaining Jerusalem even if it meant destroying innocent peace-loving Muslims. Not so. The Crusades were provoked by the earlier Islamic invasions.
That does not by any stretch justify the Crusades—a “Christian” kind of jihad. The Crusader’s sword bathed Palestine in Muslim blood, and Jewish blood as well, all in the name of Jesus Christ, supposedly. No wonder His Name is blasphemed among those peoples to this day. Jews and Muslims have never forgotten this. In fact I saw in one news report an ISIS leader labelling the western powers they are fighting against “Crusaders.”
They are certain they are just in doing so; they are echoing Saladin when they do so. In regaining Jerusalem from the Crusaders, Saladin was embracing the updated definition of jihad—just war, coined that by a contemporary, Islamic legal scholar al-Sulami in his work The Book of Holy War.
The “Christian” Crusaders—from the Latin crux, cross—they too had proclaimed themselves just in going forth under the banner of the cross to liberate Palestine from the Muslims.
What a grief of heart it all is.
The only just jihad
What kind of beast it is that rages about devouring men and women and beheading innocent children I know not, but I know its origin. This also I know. This beast cannot be stopped by all the military might of the world. It cannot be defeated by carnal weapons of any kind. The only One capable of permanently stopping such a beast is… a Lamb.
These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them, for He is King of kings and Lord of lords, and they who are with Him are called and chosen and faithful (Rev. 17:14).
Ultimately only one Warrior is able to defeat Islam—the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the Lamb of God, leading His armies clothed in white who go forth under His banner with His secret weapon—the Cross. As someone has said, when the Devil finally brought onto the field the greatest weapon in his arsenal—death—the Lord met him with His—dying. Do we know this, dear brothers and sisters? Then let us take up our own cross and join Him in that dying. Let us be numbered among those who are with Him, so that our world may come to know fully the outcome of that Great Battle, and share in its spoils. Who are those who are with Him? The called, and chosen, and faithful. The first two we leave to Him. The third is our part.
Let us be faithful, then, even though—it is with a great cry of sorrow on my heart that am writing this, as there was on the heart of the man of God who, having been part of a great move of the Spirit himself, wrote toward the end of his life—“It seems that no revival or move of the Spirit ever has or ever will accomplish the Herculean task of breaking the denominational hold” (G.W. North, 1913-2003). This breaks my heart. Especially the words ever will. Because prophetic Scripture reveals an army of faithful soldiers who are one with one another and with their leader the Lamb of God; they are going forth together with Him to certain victory. Let us be in that army brothers and sisters. Now. Let us not be intimidated by past failure. Let it not discourage us. Let us who love the Lamb of God and His cause hear Him sounding the Trumpet of war and, with broken yet valiant heart forsaking all—including the denominationalism that divides us one from another—put on the armour of light and take up our cross and go forth under His banner certain of victory and singing His song. His war is the only just jihad, the only just war. His objective is world conquest. Victory is certain.
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.
His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.
He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.
Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. (Rev. 19:11-16 NKJV)
There it is, brothers and sisters, fellow soldiers in Christ. In righteousness He judges and makes war. This has absolutely nothing whatever to do with spilling by sword or bullet or bomb the blood of human beings for whom Christ died. He rides forth with His armies to deal finally and forever with all evil, not with carnal weaponry, not with earthly weaponry, but “with the sword of His mouth.” And so, surely we know that those who fight with carnal weaponry have no part in His war. That is not how He accomplished the triumph of Calvary. He triumphed over all evil… at Calvary. Now He rides forth in a robe dipped in blood—His own. What a dread thought. He goes forth with the armies of Heaven to wreak upon an unbelieving world the victory and judgment of Calvary. He is making wondrous incursions among His former enemies these days; we hear more and more, and it is wonderful to hear, that many from Islamic countries are turning from darkness to light and are joining the Lamb in His just jihad even though it cost them all to do so—family and friends, living and live itself. Does this not provoke you and I to jealousy and inspire us to do the same? Let’s go forth to the battle singing the victory song. We will yet be able to sing this song right through to the end, yes, even the third verse of it!
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.
Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
But the church of Jesus constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never ‘gainst that church prevail;
We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.
Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King,
This through countless ages men and angels sing.