When the violence of Islam is criticised, the usual response by Muslims and others is: ‘What about the Crusades? Isn’t Christian history as bloody as Islamic history?’
However, such a comparison ignores a fundamental difference between the two religions and evades pertinent truth. While the crusades were a failure on the part of medieval Roman Catholicism to obey the New Testament (‘love your enemy’; see Matthew 5:43-45; 26:52; Luke 9:56; Romans 13:10; 2 Corinthians 10:4-5; Ephes-ians 6:12), Islamic violence is in perfect harmony with the dictates of the Qur’an (see Suras 2:178, 244; 4:84,96; 9:5,12,41,73,122).
So, by the standard of the Bible, both Islam and the Roman Catholic Church are guilty.
Furthermore, Muslims were not the only targets of Vatican violence; Jews and Protestants have also been victims. While some early Protestants had difficulty disowning the unbiblical legacy of Rome, the Reformed Churches appealed to the Bible against both Islamic and Roman Catholic persecution.
Of all Rome’s Protestant victims, the Reformed Churches of France suffered the most. From the St Bartholomew Massacre (1572) to the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685), the catalogue of crimes against Reformed believers defies imagination.
Rome persecuted the Huguenots because they rejected papal tyranny and tradition in favour of a pure attachment to biblical doctrine and practice.
Thus, the authentic ‘Christian response’ to both Rome and Islam is the ‘Reformed response’.
This is clearly reflected in a document entitled The Form and Manner of Baptising Pagans, Jews, Muslims and Anabaptists converted to the Christian Faith, which was ‘composed by the National Synod of the Reformed Churches of France, assembled at Charenton [near Paris] in the year 1645’.
The form relating to Muslims is worthy of note. It reminds us that the basic issues are those of Scripture, the person and work of Christ, and the character of the Qur’an.
Christ died for our sins
The ‘form’ contains the following questions and answers.
Do you … believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments be inspired of God, and contain his whole counsel for the salvation of men, and are the only perfect rule of faith and life?
Do you … believe that Jesus the son of the blessed virgin Mary, who was conceived in her by the virtue of the Holy Ghost, and formed as to the flesh out of her own substance, is God and man, blessed for evermore, perfect God, and perfect man; man born of a woman in due fullness of time, and God begotten of the Father from everlasting?
Do you … believe that the Lord Jesus … was holy, innocent, without blemish, and separate from sinners; and that he did not suffer death for his own sins, but for ours only?
Do you … believe that his death is the propitiation for our sins, yea, and for the sins of the whole world; and that this propitiation is infinitely meritorious, through which everlasting glory and salvation were purchased for us?
Do you … believe that Muhammad was [a false prophet,] and that his Qur’an is … broached on design to set up a false and abominable religion?
Do you … believe that the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation, to everyone that believeth; and that in the Christian religion only, God the Father hath revealed his good will and pleasure for the salvation of men, until the end of the world; and that since its revelation, there is not any new religion to be expected, for that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only great Prophet promised unto the faithful of the Old Testament …?
Lured by love
Thus the Huguenots help us to assess correctly the religious dimension of the current world crisis. While guilty terrorists must be brought to justice, we must avoid a crusade against innocent Muslims.
May they only be targeted with truth and lured by love. May God in his infinite grace and mercy bring both Muslims and inconsistent Christians to a true confession and expression of the gospel of his dearly-beloved and only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Only then will the world know peace and harmony.