by Pastor Gordon Brubaker

Christ Meeting the World

"Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them,
for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you."

1 Timothy 4:16


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A Study of Conflicting Beliefs

Session Three - November 6, 2002
Q: “What was the motivation for Christian / Islamic Expansion?”

What was the motivation for Christian expansion? 

Christianity was a persecuted faith until 313 when Emperor Constantine the Great of Rome declared that all inhabitants of the empire would be allowed to worship freely. In succeeding decades Christianity was established as Rome’s official religion. Christianity was a humble religion from the beginning. They never advocated violence or armed rebellion. They never organized an armed fighting force. They taught “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” They taught the Beatitudes of Matthew 5:3-12.

The accusations against the early Christians were not that they were trouble makers or rowdies, but that they refused to worship the Emperor as a god, they hurt the business of those who sold idols, and they allowed women to participate in worship services along side the men! 

The Church expanded through persecution, Acts 8:1, which scattered them through the county side and as they went they preached and persuaded people of the Gospel of Jesus. They went about healing and doing good, signs of their God that Jesus had come to bring God’s love to His lost children. 

When Rome collapsed in 476, the Church alone was organized to carry on their ministry. The people turned to the Church for leadership and assistance and even protection. Thus the Church rose in power and acceptance as a guardian. 

As the “barbarians” kept invading they were converted not by force, but by persuasion to Christianity. All through Christian history there was conflict between the Church and the State. Only during the Crusades (1095-1291) were the two united, but it did not last long, being of little benefit for either. Christian theology has developed the concept of civil authority and religious authority. Evangelism is still the cause of growth for the Christian faith.

What was the motivation for Islamic expansion? 

Mohammad died in 632 leaving no instructions for the future government of the Muslim community.

Abu Bakr (632-634) Father-in-law to Mohammad, father of Aisha (Mohammad’s third wife, who was nine at the age of marriage) was elected caliph (successor) achieving three goals: 1) Islam secured the Arabian Peninsula from chaotic revolt firmly establishing Islam; 2) First written version of the Qur’an; 3) Conquest fulfilled Muhammad’s command, “No two religions are to exist in the Arabian Peninsula.” Died of natural causes, naming Umar as the caliph.

Umar (634-644) expanded the domain of Islam by defeating Syria (634), Iraq (636), Egypt (639), Persia (642). Jerusalem submitted to Muslim control. Umar is seen as the most just of the caliphs.

Defined the protection given to Christians under Islam: “The protection is for their lives and properties, their churches and crosses, their sick and healthy and for all their co-religionists. Their churches shall not be used for habitation, nor shall they be demolished, nor shall injury be done to them or their compounds, or to their crosses, nor shall their properties be injured in any way. There shall be no compulsion for these people in the matter of religion, nor shall any of them suffer any injury on account of religion... Whatever is written herein is under the covenant of God and the responsibility of His Messenger, of the Caliphs and of the believers, and shall hold good as long as they pay Jizya [the tax for their defense] imposed on them.” 

Only after “peace” (defined as Islamic rule) was established could unbelievers be protected! 

Umar defined the “House of Peace” and the “House of War.” John Kelsay explains, “The territory of Islam signifies a political entity that acknowledges the supremacy of Islamic values.... The territory of Islam is theoretically the territory of peace and justice.... More concretely, the Sunni theorists thought of jihad as the form of Islamic action at the intersection of the territory of Islam and the territory of war.” Islam and War (Louisville; John Knox, 1993), 33-34.

Jihad is completed only when the entire world is placed under the submission of Allah and when his laws reign supreme. 

Umar’s laws of mercy toward unbelievers had the following restrictions: 1) Christians have no right to build new places of worship; 2) Christians have no right to remodel a church in conquered lands; 3) Muslims could confiscate places of worship in towns taken by storm, i.e. towns that did not peacefully submit to Allah; 4) Muslims could destroy every church in the conquered land.

When Umar was asked what would happen to those who violated the rules, he responded, “Anyone who violates such terms will be unprotected. And it will be permissible for the Muslims to treat them as rebels or dissenters namely, it is permissible to kill them.” So much for protection of the freedom of worship!

Uthman (644-656) and Ali (656-661) – CIVIL WAR 

Uthman assassinated Umar bringing division to Islam. Uthman in turn was killed by rebels, but he was able to codify the Qur’an into it’s final form. Modern editions still bear his name (like King James). 

Ali, was Uthman’s son-in-law, and cousin of Muhammad. Aisha waged war against Ali but there was no decisive victor. In 661 Ali was assasinated. Islam divided between Ali’s followers (Shi’ites) and the traditional Muslims (Sunnis).


With Ali’s death internal warfare stopped. Islam began to look out toward the world: Cyprus - 647, Tunisia and Kabul in modern Afghanistan - 670, Island of Rhodes - 672, North Africa - 700, Spain -711, Chinese Turkestan border - 715, Morocco - 722. The Dome of the Rock, in Jerusalem was built in 691 to show superiority of Islam over Judaism. In 715 the Great Mosque of Damascus replaced the Cathedral Church of St. John to show superiority of Islam over Christianity. 

In 732, Muslim armies were defeated at Tours, France (about 100 miles south of Paris), but held Spain until their last city was lost in 1492. The defeat at Tours caused much internal strife. Muslim leaders decided it was better for them to have their capital at Baghdad rather than Damascus. 

The emphasis shifted from war to internal expansion of Islamic theology, law, and science.


Invented the clock pendulum, magnetic compass, algebra. Collected the writings of Aristotle and Plato in the large Baghdad library. First to use anesthesia in surgery, first to discover epidemics spread through contact and by air, developed first ambulatory or mobile hospital (carried of a camel’s back), and separated pharmacology (the use and effects of drugs) from medicine. From China, Muslims learned how to make paper. Their diet improved from the introduction of plums, artichokes, cauliflower, celery, squash, pumpkins, and eggplant. 

Islam’s political goals suffered, for 300 years there was no political expansion. Some regions even began declaring independent rule. 

The Fatimid Dynasty (909-1171), centered in Cairo, captured North Africa, Palestine and much of Syria. The 6th caliph of Fatimid declared himself to be the incarnation of Allah. Al - Hakim (996-1021) began a violent persecution of Christians and the destruction of Roman catholic holy sites which encouraged the start of the Crusades. 

CRUSADES 1095-1291 

In 1064-65, 7,000 Christians were slaughtered on a pilgrimage at Jerusalem. Pope Leo IV (847-55) had begun laying the groundwork for a holy war promising forgiveness of sins for anyone who fought against the infidels, implanting jihad into Western thinking. Pope John VIII (872-82) affirmed this teaching. With the slaughter of innocents there was a reason to put their militant faith into practice. They were ready to match Muslim brutality equally. 

Pope Urban II believed that a holy crusade would help reunite Rome and Constantinople. Saladin, however, was able instead to unite Islam, recapturing Jerusalem in 1187. After the battle for Acre (1191), Richard the Lionhearted slaughtered 2,700 Muslim prisoners. Jews were caught in the middle as even the crusaders destroyed their synagogues. 

Results of the crusades: 1) Islam was strengthened and Christianity was weakened; 2) an attempt to unify the Church failed; 3) the desire for booty and shrines proved greater than spiritual renewal; 4) the church emphasized victory by the sword over evangelism.

“For many Muslims, the Crusades have never ended. For many Christians they became the past that would haunt the future.” Unveiling Islam, page 75.

GENGHIS KHAN - (1162-1227) 

Genghis started expanding his empire. Genghis attacked Muslim territories in Iran and by 1231 the Mongols occupied Iran and Mesopotamia . In 1258 the Mongol army laid waste to Baghdad, reaching Egypt before finally being stopped.

Europe was under threat of invasion. Islam was left in intellectual decline. Muslim scholars were deported or killed, Muslim cultural centers were looted and destroyed. By 1241 they were also poised near Budapest, Hungary for an invasion of Europe which was spared only by the death of the Khan. As the Mongol Empire broke up, the army converted to Islam by 1300. 1380 marked the turning point of Mongol power in Europe, being defeated in battle by the prince of Moscow, however they continued to rule in Eastern Europe until 1480. 

1515 - 1919 

While Christianity saw the revival of Protestantism, Islam saw the emergence of the Turks as heroes of the faith. Christianity was splintering, and Islam was being reunified by political necessity. Islam defeated and captured Constantinople in 1453, expanding into the Balkan Peninsula. Constantinople became the new capital of the Ottoman Empire. Ferdinand and Isabella pushed Islam out of Spain in 1492. In 1450 Portugal began the are of colonialism on the coast of Africa. Followed by Spain and Britain and the rest of Europe.

The Ottoman Empire laid siege to Vienna, Austria twice. At its height in 1680, the Ottoman Empire stretched from Poland to Baghdad to the tip of the Arabian Peninsula to Morocco. 

In a land and sea conflict Russia defeated the Ottoman Empire in 1768-74, freeing Bulgaria, Romania, and Serbia. 

Siding with Germany in WW I was the demise of the Ottoman Empire. In 1923, the Conference of Lausanne drew the modern boundaries in the Muslim heartland. 1,000 years of unprecedented expansion was now dormant. Islam controlled Spain for 800 years, Portugal for 600, Greece and Bulgaria for 500, Romania and Serbia for 400, Sicily for 300, Hungary for 150 years.

Islam now faced a world view unknown to their psyche – defensive survival! 

European and Western colonization was an adaptation of Islamic methods of expansion, combining military strength and religion. In 1884 Europe divided Africa among themselves, laying many modern national boundaries. That Islamic controlled portions of Africa were included in this division was no small insult! Even worse for Muslims were the Christian missionaries. Colonialism and missions were identified by Islam as interwoven elements of Western corruption. Then Britain guaranteed a Jewish homeland in Palestine, a promise fulfilled in 1948.

Unveiling Islam, page 78.

1) With the notable exception of the Crusades, Muslims have initiated almost all wars, due to the philosophy of jihad.
2) War is not a side bar of history for Islam; it is the main vehicle for religious expansion. It is the Muslim duty to bring world peace via the sword.
3) Conservative Muslims see Western culture as destructive to Islamic traditions and beliefs.
4) While modern people are only familiar with the defensive Islam of the last 300 years, the religion has never forgotten the previous 1,000 years of conquest in the cause of Allah. It is the tradition of conquering Islam that has reemerged.

"Many faithful Muslims believe that they have no choice but to go on the offensive. The more intense their belief that the West has degraded Islamic values, the greater the risk of their violent reaction." Unveiling Islam, page 79.

The Caner brothers list a number of current circumstances as examples of the above statement: page 79:

1) The national salvation Front and the Armed Islamic Group hope to overthrow moderate leaders in Algeria.
2) In 1996, the tradition-oriented Islamic Welfare Party became the largest political group in Turkey's Parliament.
3) Since U.S. liberation of Kuwait from the Iraqis is the Gulf War, Kuwait has outlawed non-Islamic education and any Christian proselytizing.
4) The Brunei government, under a cloak of religious freedom, is pressuring Christian schools to replace Christian religion classes with Islamic instruction. Christian gatherings of more than five people are now illegal.
5) All Mauritanian citizens must be Sunni Muslims. Attempting to leave the faith is a crime.
6) Although the Bangladesh constitution guarantees religious freedom, a 1998 amendment established Islam as the state religion.
7) Kenya's Islamic leaders have declared jihad against the African Inland Church and World Vision International.
8) In 1992, Tanzania's government banned all religious preaching outside of churches.


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