Book Review: “God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades” by Rodney Stark

March 3, 2011

This is part of a multi-part review of God’s Battalions by Rodney Stark. The summary is here. You can use the table of contents found there.

I am reading God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades by Rodney Stark. I am going to work through this book chapter by chapter here. I have read a few other books by Stark. My general opinion of him is that he comes across as slightly arrogant, he is inclined to accept some liberal axioms of scholarship……and he is immensely interesting and iconoclastic author who has the audacity to suggest that Christian history might not be a train wreck of greed and abuse. Stark’s Rise of Christianity is one of the best cases for Christianity being good for the world that I have ever read.  In other words, he is a scholar-rebel. I like rebels.

When I saw this book, my excitement was hard to contain. I bought it at Border’s and the lady at the store gave me a gentle shaming. She shook her head and suggested I read a book she had read that detailed the crusades from the perspective of a Muslim. I didn’t argue but I thought to myself, I really don’t need more critiques of the crusades they are ubiquitous in our society. I went to public schools. I was taught the facts. If there is a holy grail of the anti Christian position on church history it is the Crusades. No other argument needs to be made against the church.

“Crusades.” Therefore Christians are bad. Case closed. It is a one word argument.

Or is it? Stark argues that this anti-Christian opinion is wrong. For the benefit of myself and anyone who cares to read along with me, I am going to post a review chapter by chapter here to get a contrarian view to this common critique.  Starting today. Stay tuned.

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