Addressing Sin in Christian History: Talking to Kids About the Crusades

May 07, 2024

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Today's question says, "How can I talk to my children about ways that historical Christians have sinned? The Crusades, in particular, are an important topic where we are. I've said that someone who believes X doing bad things doesn't disprove X. Is this enough?"


Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.

Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview podcast where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the children that God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz, and I'm thrilled that you've joined me today for another episode. Today's question says, "How can I talk to my children about ways that historical Christians have sinned? The Crusades, in particular, are an important topic where we are. I've said that someone who believes X doing bad things doesn't disprove X. Is this enough?" Really good question for us to think through because I'm sure that most of us have encountered objections like this to Christianity, whether it's with those within our sphere of influence who are hostile to the Christian faith or who are just hesitant to embrace it, or if we've just done any interacting online.

There are tons of objections like this to the Christian faith, and so it's important that we prepare our children to face such objections and to understand why it is that we can have confidence in the biblical worldview.

This is a question we're going to dive down deep into today, but before we do that, if you have not yet rated this content would ask that you invest the two seconds that it takes to rate it currently, less than 20% of our faithful listeners have rated this content on different podcasting platforms. So really appreciate you investing those few seconds to do that. That really helps us get this content out to more Christian adults so that we can equip even more parents, ministry leaders, and educators to get their kids thinking critically and biblically. Also, if you have a question that you would like me to answer on a future Foundation Worldview podcast, you can submit such questions by going to

Now, as we think through helping our children understand such objections and thinking through them, we need to ask ourselves a question that I typically have us ask ourselves on the Foundation Worldview podcast, and that is what is the goal? As parents, we know that we have a very limited amount of time with our children. We have a limited number of years, days, and hours, so we want to make sure we're always thinking through what is the goal with everything that we're doing with them to make sure that it is purposeful. And so I would say that our goal here is to help our children think critically so that their faith is not shipwrecked every time they encounter a challenge. Because challenges such as this, the one mentioned in this question, are going to arise all throughout their lives. And so we want to equip them with the careful thinking skills that they need to ensure that their faith isn't just shipwrecked every time someone brings up an objection to Christianity.

Now, as we're thinking through specifically ways that historical Christians have sinned and ways in which they have acted in ways that did not align with Christianity, we need to take our kids through several steps. So here are several steps I think we need to take our children through. After I've outlined each one, we're going to dive down deep into each one, talking through how we can specifically help our children think through each of these steps. So the first thing I think we need to do is discuss what Christianity teaches about humans. Second, we need to discuss what these teachings should lead us to expect. Third, we need to discuss specific historical examples and how they align with what Scripture teaches, and then discuss how we measure the acts of the followers of any religion. So those are the four things I think we need to do in this process.

So what we're going to do now is we're going to dive down into each of these four steps and look at how can we have this conversation with our children. So the first step I said was to discuss what Christianity teaches about humans. Now, those of you who have taken the children in your care through our Biblical Worldview and Comparative Worldview curriculums, your children will already be equipped to discuss the answer to this question because we spend an entire unit, an entire five lessons in our Biblical Worldview curriculum, and then our Comparative Worldview curriculum looking at what does Scripture teach about humanity? What is the biblical view of humanity? Now, in this short, under 20-minute podcast, I am not going to be able to cover everything that we cover in depth in those two curriculums. But if you haven't taken your children through these curriculums, I'm going to walk you through just a few simple steps that I think you can do to help them understand what Christianity teaches about humans.

So I think that there are three truths that are really important for us to cover and the first one is that God created us as male and female image bearers, and a great place to take our kids to in Scripture is just the first chapter of Genesis to help our kids understand this truth. So if you're working with kids, you can take 'em to Genesis chapter one, verses 26 and 27, read through this passage and then ask them what truths are revealed about humans in this passage. So Genesis one verses 26 through 27 says, then God said, let us make man in our image after our likeness and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God, he created him, male and female, he created them.

So in this passage, it's very clear God created humans as male and female in his image. So that's an important truth for us and our kids to know. The second truth that I think is really important for our children to understand about humans that's revealed by the Bible is that we are fallen, but Jesus came to redeem us. Now, there is a whole host of passages of Scripture. We could take our children to help them understand our fallen nature and the fact that Jesus came to us. But a short and sweet passage that I think explains this really well is one Corinthians chapter 15, verses 21 and 22, and these verses read for as by a man came death by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead, for as in Adam all die. So also in Christ shall all be made alive.

So, all humans share in Adam's sin and, therefore, in Adam's death. And just as we all share in Adam's sin and death, those who are redeemed by Jesus share in Jesus's perfection, in his righteousness and in his resurrected life. Okay, so we can take our kids to this passage and say, okay, what truths about humans are revealed by this passage? And it's very clear that we are fallen, but Jesus came to redeem us. Then the third truth that I think it's important to cover with our children is that even after being redeemed, Christians will still struggle with sin. Even after being redeemed, Christians will still struggle with sin. And a passage that explains this very clearly in Romans chapter seven, verses 21 through 25, and these verses say, so I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.

For I delight in the law of God in my inner being, but I see in my members another law, waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members, wretched man that I am who will deliver me from this body of death. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. And so we can ask our kids, okay, what is Paul saying in these verses? Even though he's been redeemed, he is still fighting against sin and he will be fighting against sin until Jesus returns. So this first step discusses what Christianity teaches about humans, and three important truths to cover is that God created us as male and female image bearers. We are fallen, but Jesus came to redeem us. And then even after being redeemed, Christians will still struggle with sin.

So the second step is we want to discuss with our children what these teachings should lead us to expect. So after we've gone through these passages of Scripture and we've talked through these three truths that the Bible reveals about humans say, okay, so now that we know that this is what the Bible teaches about humans, what should these teachings lead us to expect that we will see in our world? Well, a few things. I think. First we should know that all humans have objective inherent value because humans are created in God's image. Each and every human has objective inherent value. If you're working with little ones, you can just say each human has real value that cannot be taken away from them because it was given by God. Another truth is that we will not always see people treating one another as if they have objective value.

Those verses about us being in Adam's sin because we share in Adam's sin and death, we are not going to always treat one another as if we have objective inherent value. So we're going to expect to see people treating one another poorly. And then third, all people, even Christians, will struggle with sin. So we should expect that while we're in this world, we are going to see humans not treat one another as God's image bearers. Now, we should strive to treat one another as God's image bearers, but the biblical worldview leads us to believe that there is going to be a struggle with that. Then the third step that I mentioned before is with our kids. We want to discuss specific historical examples and how they should be viewed in light of Scripture. So this is where we would actually talk about things like the Crusades or the Spanish Inquisition, and we would want to discuss these with our kids and then talk through, okay, how should we view these events in light of what has been revealed in Scripture Now, it's so important in this process and just in life in general that we teach our children how to research.

Well, actually, just several hours ago, before recording this podcast, I was working on a new answer key for one of our curriculums, our Careful Thinking curriculum and the answers that I was working on today were actually from this specific unit the curriculum where we teach children how to research. Well. We look at, okay, what are the sources that someone has cited? How can we tell whether or not this is a reliable source? What weight should we place in this source and in this world that's just so full of information and competing ideas and just endless sources of information online, we need to equip our children with the skills that they need to discern. Is this a reliable source? How can I research this claim? Well, that's so important. One thing that we teach in that curriculum and that it's important to go through is to teach our kids that it's important to research from multiple sources, that we don't just want to look to one source, we want to look at multiple sources.

So a good thing to do with our kids is if we're talking about the Crusades, is to look at different sources that have information about the Crusades. We can look up some articles online. We can go to the library and check out some books. Then we can talk with our kids as we're reading through these different sources. Okay, what are some of the similarities that are mentioned in these different sources? And then what are some of the differences? Is there any conflicting information? Because we want to have as clear a picture as possible as to what actually happened if we're going to take an honest evaluation on it. And would also encourage you, I know this is something that is not very comfortable for many Christians, but I think it's important is we don't want to just research from Christian sources. There's a few reasons for this.

First, while Christians have been redeemed and reconciled to God, and we would hope that they were being honest and are using their minds for the glory of God, that is not always what happens. So we have to evaluate every source critically, but also because of God's common grace, there are non-Christians who can accurately report the truth of history, and we want to equip our kids just to be able to navigate different sources to tell, okay, is this telling the truth or does it have truth mixed in with some error, or is this just a completely erroneous source? When we're specifically thinking about the Crusades, when we're thinking about just how different Christians have acted throughout history, and when we're thinking about Christianity's influence on the world, I think there are two helpful sources to have on hand. One is a Christian source, one is a non-Christian source.

So the Christian source is the book Bullies and Saints by John Dixon. And it just takes a historical look at what has happened in the world of Christendom over the past 2000 years, and people within who have claimed the name of Christ who have been bullies, and people who have claimed the name of Christ, who have actually lived as saints as those who have been reconciled to God. And another book by a non-Christian, it's called Dominion by Tom Holland. And this just goes through how Christianity has impacted the world. And Tom Holland is not a Christian. So this is important for us to see, for our kids to see, to take an honest evaluation of where Christians have faithfully lived out the biblical worldview and where they have not. So we just really want to train them to evaluate sources well and to research Well, and if you don't feel equipped to do that, highly recommend you check out our Careful Thinking curriculum at Foundation Worldview because that was a really difficult curriculum to write.

It's really hard to teach children how to research well, but we have done all of the work for you there. All you need to do is put in the hard work of getting kids through the curriculum so that they will be trained to evaluate information and different sources. Well, then, the fourth step that I mentioned is to discuss how we measure the acts of the followers of any religion. So anytime we want to know if the followers of a religion are faithfully following that religion, what do we do? What we look at is the text that objectively anchors that religion. For example, when we think about the terror events of 9/11, how can we tell if those who incited the terror events of nine 11 were faithfully following Islam? Well, we look at the sources, okay, the objective sources where Islam is grounded.

So that would be looking at the Quran and the Hadith, the oral tradition. So if the actions of the men who incited the terrorist violence of nine 11, if they align with the teachings of Muhammad, we can conclude that these men faithfully represented Islam. If their actions do not align with the teachings of Muhammad, we can conclude that their actions do not faithfully represent Islam. And it's similar with actions of Christians like the Crusades. How can we tell if the Crusaders were faithfully following Christianity? Well, we look to the objective source where Christianity is grounded the Bible. So if the actions of these men align with the teachings of Jesus, we can conclude that these men faithfully represented Christianity. If they do not, we can conclude that their actions do not faithfully represent Christianity. So if we can train our kids to always think like this, it's really important because that's going to help them see clearly what is part of the biblical worldview and what is not.

Many of the actions of the Crusaders did not align with what was presented in the Bible. They did not align with the teachings of Jesus for his followers. And so anytime they're evaluating a Christian throughout history, that's how they tell whether their actions were faithfully Christian and we're morally right or morally wrong. And it's the same with any religion. We want to be fair to different religions. I actually remember when I was growing up, there was a story on the news one time about what had happened out in Utah, I believe, and it was with a Mormon man who had kidnapped a couple of different girls, and he had just taken them, and he had had them for years. And I remember making some kind of snarky comment to my mom. I was like, oh yeah, that's what happens if you follow the teachings of Joseph Smith. And my mom looked at me and she was like, Elizabeth, she's like, that man's actions do not represent every Mormon. She was like, you actually have to read what the Mormon books are to tell if that man was faithfully following Mormonism or not. And that's true. We want our kids to be fair evaluators, both of Christianity and of other religions because we want them to be critical thinkers because we know that God is the one who gives wisdom, for the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. And so if our children are actually thinking well, and they are fairly evaluating the evidence, it is going to consistently lead them to Christianity.

Well, that's a wrap for this episode. But as always, my prayer for you as we lead this time together is that no matter the situation in which you and the children God has placed in your care, find yourselves that you would trust that God is working all things together for your good by using all things to the image of His Son.

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