Generally speaking, many Christians today are ill-equipped to discuss the basics of their own history. Like the history of our nation, the history of our church is fundamental in explaining who were as people. We did not simply emerge as the Christians we are today, rather, we have been shaped by two thousand years of spirituality, ecclesiology and exegesis which make up the foundation on which our churches stand. We do ourselves a great injustice when we discard our heritage and believe that we have finally arrived. Medieval church history in particular is the unwanted step-child in Evangelical church families. “We’ll just pretend that never happened and continue on with bible study.” We can not allow this mentality to prevail. Must must rescue the history of the medieval church, OUR church, and understand it’s contributions and short-falls and how it compromises our own spiritual being.
The following is a modified speech from Pope Urban II, given at the Council of Clermont in 1095. The original sermon can be read here. This sermon, given to a gathered crowd, incited the first Crusade against Moslems residing in the Holy Land. This is not an endorsement of any Crusade, rather a creative vehicle used to expose our own need to recover the “holy lands” of medieval church history. Again, this sermon is modified to incite Evangelical Christians and students of history to “take back” the history of our church from modernist history, pop culture and improper Christian education. These enemies must be slain! We must put down the swords against each other and engage in battle against these enemies of church history. Evangelicals, it is the will of God!
“Oh, race of Evangelical Americans, race from across the suburbs and carpools, race chosen and beloved by God as shines forth in very many of your works set apart from all nations by the situation of your country, as well as by your evangelical faith and the honor of the holy church! To you our discourse is addressed and for you our exhortation is intended. We wish you to know what a grievous cause has led us to Your country, what peril threatening you and all the faithful has brought us.
From the confines of universities and blogs a horrible tale has gone forth and very frequently has been brought to our ears, namely, that a race from the kingdom of modernity, an accursed race, a race utterly alienated from God, a generation forsooth which has not directed its heart and has not entrusted its spirit to God, has invaded the lands of Medieval church history and has depopulated it by the written word, speeches on radio waves and interviews on television; it has led away a part of the captives into its own country, and a part it has destroyed by cruel tortures; it has either entirely destroyed the churches of God or appropriated them for the rites of its own philosophies. They destroy the altars, after having defiled them with their uncleanness. They slander the Christians, and the blood of their slandering they either spread upon the altars or pour into the vases of the baptismal font. When they wish to torture people through academic debating, they write books, and dragging forth the extremity of their elitist arguments, bind it to a celebrity’s voice; then with smug faces they lead their victims around until the mind having surrendered forth the victim falls prostrate upon the ground before the altar of reason and progress. Others they bind to a textbook and pierce with arrows of modernist propaganda. Others they compel to extend their hands and, shaking them with empty words, attempt to denounce our heritage with a single blow. What shall I say of the abominable education of our children? To speak of it is worse than to be silent. The kingdom of the European Christianity is now dismembered by them and deprived of spiritual territory so vast in extent that it can not be traversed in a march of two prayer walks. On whom therefore is the labor of avenging these wrongs and of recovering this territory incumbent, if not upon you? You, upon whom above other nations God has conferred remarkable glory in mind, great courage, blogging activity, and strength to humble the Facebook messages and emails from those who resist you.
Let the deeds of your Medieval ancestors move you and incite your minds to Godly achievements; the glory and greatness of previous church history students, and of their children, and of your other leaders, who have destroyed the kingdoms of the pagans, and have extended in these lands the territory of the holy church. Let the history of the church of the Lord our Saviour, which is possessed by modern thinking and philosophies, especially incite you, and the holy places which are now treated with ignominy and irreverently polluted with their filthiness. Oh, most valiant students and descendants of invincible ancestors, be not degenerate, but recall the valor of your progenitors.
But if you are hindered by love of children, parents and wives, remember what the Lord says in the Gospel, ‘He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me.’ ‘Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name’s sake shall receive an hundredfold and shall inherit everlasting life.’ Let none of your possessions detain you, no solicitude for your family affairs, since this land which you inhabit, shut in on all sides by shopping malls and surrounded by the suburbs, is too narrow for your large population; nor does it abound in enough material wealth to satisfy the people; and it furnishes scarcely lattes and cappaccinos enough for its cultivators. Hence it is that you curse one another, that you wage war on Facebook, and that frequently you perish by mutual wounding text messages. Let therefore hatred depart from among you, let your quarrels end, let blogging wars cease, and let all denominational dissensions and controversies slumber. Enter upon the road to the Medieval Church; wrest that land from the wicked race, and subject it to yourselves. That land which as the Scripture says ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’ was given by God into the possession of the children of Christ, the Medieval church is the navel of the world; the land is fruitful above others, like another paradise of delights. This Medieval Church of the Christian race has been an instrument of God’s grace, has beautified the world through architecture, has consecrated advancements in philosophy and theology, has produced painting and sculpture alike, has given us a solid testimony of Christian spirituality. This history of the church, therefore, situated at the Middle Ages of time, is now held captive by God’s enemies, and is in subjection to those who do not know God, to the worship of the remnant modernist thinkers and philosophers. She seeks therefore and desires to be liberated, and does not cease to implore you to come to her aid. From you especially she asks succor, because, as we have already said, God has conferred upon you above all nations great glory in mind and education. Accordingly undertake this journey for the remission of your scholastic sins, with the assurance of the imperishable glory of the kingdom of heaven.”
When the professor had said these and very many similar things in his urbane discourse, he so influenced to one purpose the desires of all who were present, that they cried out, “It is the will of God! It is the will of God!” When the venerable professor of historical theology heard that, with eyes uplifted to heaven he gave thanks to God and, with his hand commanding silence, said:
“Most beloved brethren, today is manifest in you what the Lord says in the Gospel, ‘Where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them.’ Unless the Lord God had been present in your spirits, all of you would not have uttered the same cry. For, although the cry issued from numerous mouths, yet the origin of the cry was one. Therefore I say to you that God, who implanted this in your breasts, has drawn it forth from you. Let this then be your war-cry in the classrooms, because this word is given to you by God. When an armed attack is made upon the enemy, let this one cry be raised by all the students of God: It is the will of God! It is the will of God!
Whoever, therefore, shall determine upon this holy pilgrimage and shall make his vow to God to that effect and shall offer himself to Him as a, living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, shall wear the sign of the cross of the Lord on his textbook or on his tshirt. When,’ truly’,’ having fulfilled his vow be wishes to return, let him place the cross on his backpack between his shoulders. Such, indeed, by the twofold action will fulfill the precept of the Lord, as He commands in the Gospel, ‘He that taketh not his cross and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.'”