By Theodore Shoebat
Christendom is in the state of abandonment, forgotten and rejected as it lies in deep slumber, but it is soon to reawaken. Enemies that we now consider allies are again reviving themselves to their old powers and empires. Turkey is working effortlessly to revive its Islamic Ottoman Empire and making its Islamist envisioning more and more conspicuous. Japan is revitalizing its military more now than ever before since the end of the Second World War. And Germany is dominating the rest of Europe while working with Islamic Turkey to invade the whole of the continent with Muslims. But for the traditionally Christian nations, where is its Christendom?
Japan is reviving Shintoism, Zen Buddhism and emperor worship; Turkey is reviving Islam as its central religion and political objective and as well as Sufism; but Christians, they have thrown out their Faith for secularism, and envisage only secular war. But this will not be the case in the future, when the lands of Christendom are surrounded by their enemies. It is a sad reality that the spirit of zeal is truly only ignited in the midst of war. In Russia, in Serbia and Poland, the flames of Christian militancy are growing, while they are still extinguished in the Western nations. But this will soon change. For where there is war, there is a cross, and thus in the bloodiest battlefields there Christ will be.
The great majority of people in the west see Christian militancy as a product of the fabricated “dark ages”, as something no different than what Muslim terrorists espouse. But when we look to the records of Christian history, what we will find is that the spirit of holy war was in the foundation of Christendom itself, that is, it is of the essence of civilization — not the dead modernist society, where spiritual anarchy reigns, that we label as “Western civilization” — but true civilization, one founded upon the blood of martyrs and warriors, thinkers and monastics.
I have been seeing this theology my whole life, hearing about how God all of a sudden changed, from being the God of war to a God of pacifism. I recall reading the Scriptures during my high school years, of how the Law of God called for the wicked to be punished, of how God commanded his people to vanquish evil doers. The American evangelical explanation to all this was that God had this warlike disposition for a time, but then changed. I wondered to myself, here is the Scriptures recounting such glorious holy wars, such just laws and teachings, and all of a sudden a radical shift in the mind of God manifests itself. I thought it truly strange how anyone could have this perception of God. It was a bipolar deity that they promoted, without balance and upholding a split personality.
This was not the god that I wanted to follow. I was searching for balance, an equilibrium between justice and mercy. I also began to grow frustrated with how much Christians were ashamed of the history of Christianity. I could not hear a conversation about the Christian Faith without someone —trying to appear objective and rational—bringing up the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, and the berated Christian always responding with apologies and pleas for forgiveness. It was really quite sad to see, and aggravating. But what was even more exasperating and disturbing was how aggressive and vicious many Evangelicals could become once you expressed support for the Crusades or the Inquisition. I remember one Evangelical vindictively telling me about how he would not have any problem whatsoever if the Muslims invaded all of Rome. His reasoning? Because the Catholic Church did the Crusades.
But if you were to tell such people that Moses, Joshua, Elijah, Jehu, Josiah and numerous other holy men in the Scripture conducted wars against the enemies of God, they would say that this is Old Testament and that the “new covenant” has now done away with such militant ideas. This disharmony when portraying the mind of God led me to be incredulous to this interpretation. But then one day my eyes began to be opened to the harmony that I sought. I came across a book written by our Lutheran friend, historian Alvin Schmidt, called The Great Divide. In this book he clearly explained the Christianity of the Crusades, and it was quite different from the dismal protests of my Evangelical contemporaries. The Crusades had medics, and these helped Christians, Muslims and Jews, without discrimination or supremacist sentiments, while at the same time these very Crusaders fought and killed Muslims in holy war. Here, in this explanation, I found the balance for which I was searching, the harmony between mercy and justice, and from there, my journey through Christian history commenced.
Some years after learning from Mr. Schmidt’s books, my desire to connect with ancient and pure Christianity, free from the taint of modernity and the Western feel-good industry, grew stronger. My soul ached to be bridged with the Christians of antiquity, for it was they who were closest to the time of Christ, to the fountainhead of the teachings of the Apostles, and to spirituality not corrupted by the bipolar theology of modern society. I began to look up ancient Christian writers, their names and books, and started reading them. Amongst the first pieces of early Christian literature that I came across was the book, The Error of the Pagan Religions by Julius Firmicus Maternus, a prolific astrologer turned Christian living in the Roman Empire in the fourth century.
Firmicus was born a pagan and was a fanatic about his religion, writing the largest text in Latin about astrology that we currently possess. Firmicus received enlightenment on God, and the same radical enthusiasm that he once had for paganism, he now had for the Christian Faith. He wrote the book exposing the evils of the pagan gods, the human sacrifices and the sadistic rituals of the bloodthirsty cults that were existing within the empire. The tone and the affirmations of Firmicus were like night and day in comparison to the books coming from American Christian publishers. Firmicus read the Scriptures, he read of how Moses ordered for the destruction of the idols of tyranny that the pagans so revered, and for which they shed innocent blood to satisfy the sanguinary devils they worshipped; he read of how Pinehas slew the Hebrews who venerated Moabite gods, and he did not shy away from them.
To Firmicus, after witnessing the sinister realities of the pagan religion, the Law of God was something to uphold, it was the way by which to triumph over the bloodthirsty despotism that the heathen religions brought. Firmicus wrote his book to give a solution to paganism, and that was to destroy it. His book was actually an exhortation to the Roman government to obliterate the pagan religions and triumph for Christianity. Here again I was introduced to the balance between mercy and justice, and to the ignored truth, that one cannot say he believes in mercy, and not believe in the destruction and uprooting of beliefs that are merciless.
To peruse the writings of the Christians of antiquity, was like drinking from a well of crisp water upon a mountain untouched by the ambitions of ravenous sophists and dry and mechanical reprobates. I would continue to read more of the writings of early Christians. The epistles of Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch and Polykarp — all written within the first century and all men who knew the Apostles — infused in my mind the necessity for war against the demonic. How Clement praised the valiant Judith beheading the general Holofernes as an example of charity, was yet another image of this harmony within Christianity, between mercy and justice, ferocity and charity.
I began reading some Lactantius, the philosopher of ancient Christianity. First I began reading through his Divine Institutes, and immediately sensed the intellectual and spiritual unity in his words. Later I read his book, On the Anger of God and learned of the essential divine attribute of anger, that a god not moved to anger, is not God. I soon began reading through Tertullian’s Apologia and learned more about the evils of paganism and false religion. From Tertullian I went to other ancient Christian scholars, such as Athenagoras, and I remember reading his letter addressed to the emperor, Marcus Aurelius, on how Christians were oppressed and persecuted by the pagans, even though they were upstanding citizens. Reading this epistle further enlightened me as to the war between light and darkness and of the intellectual vigor of Christianity.
One book that really brought me to a clear perspective on the tenacity of the Christian Faith was the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius. It was in this book that I learned of the foundation of Christendom, how it was built upon the blood of so many martyrs. Eusebius tells of the stories of thousands of martyrdoms that took place under the pagan sword, and then he transitions into something very beautiful: the birth of Christendom. As the eyes must behold the cold white moon before the sun awakens, as the night pervades the earth before the arms of the sun caress our beings, so a river of Christian blood had to water the soils and feed the roots of the flower of Christendom before it could bloom.
Eusebius ends his book on the victories of the first Christian emperor, and thus on the Christianization of the Roman Empire. This led me to read another masterpiece, The Life of Constantine the Great by the same Eusebius. In this work I learned of how Constantine vanquished the pagan tyrant and persecutor, Maxentius; how he would later defeat the bloodthirsty and traitorous Licinius; how he declared holy war on those who killed Christians; how he protected the Christians from the Persians; how he destroyed pagan temples; how he combated heresies and fought and triumphed for Jesus Christ. The life of Constantine was the beginning of Christendom, and voraciously did I read of her history, of her wars and of her tragedies. In the story of Christian empire, did I find the true Faith; in the story of Christendom did I find the continuation of divine history. The holy war that was led by Abraham, by Moses, by Joshua, the prophets and the holy kings of Israel, continued on through Constantine, through Christian emperors and dauntless warriors like Cortez and Don Juan de Austria.
In so divine a history, in the holy lives of these men now hated and forsaken, did I find civilization; in the biographies of knights and emperors, bishops and monks, did I find love; in the stories of warriors of the Cross and ardent monastics, did I find God.
Christendom never died, it only went to sleep, when we put our zeal to death through the sword of idleness and surrendered ourselves to sloth in the cosmic war against evil. In the First Crusade the warriors of Christendom, before they went out to war against the Muslims to liberate Christian lands, put the sign of the Cross on their foreheads or on their chests. They put on themselves the mark of God, for in fighting and laying down their lives, they became one with Christ. This aspiration, to become one with God, is described by the ancient and medieval monks as Theosis, and it was this that we have thrown out for callous and mechanical theology — such as Calvinism —, and other very dangerous ideas such as darwinism and deism. The absence of Theosis is the reason why Christendom is now asleep. God the Son became one with Humanity, thus Christ’s war against evil becomes our war against evil as well; empires of Christendom unite themselves with Christ, and venerate Him as their King, and their lands as His lands, and their military victories as His military victories, for He is one with them. But the modern heretics have divided Christ from His Humanity, so much so that they cannot even call Mary the Mother of God, regardless of the truth that Christ is God.
The journey of man is a ceaseless war. As we walk through the fields of life we must endure through what seems to be an endless multitude of tears that strive to suffocate the wheat of our hearts, and what could be a fruitful crop, the infernal spirits of the abyss are bent on destroying. The struggle over the soul of humanity is so violent, so bloody and ruthless, that we cannot help but say with the contemplative sage, “The life of man upon earth is a warfare” (Job 7:1). The life of the soul is perpetual warfare; it is the interior conflict that surpasses everything in the cosmos, for its aspiration is beyond all things, that is, the denial of everything for He Who is All, Jesus Christ. As Duns Scotus wrote of God, “You are truly what it means to be, you are the whole of what it means to exist.” *Scotus, Treatise on God as First Principle, 1*
Ceaselessly do I hear people differentiating between spiritual warfare and physical warfare, as though the two are radically distinct. They say that the war of the Christian must solely be spiritual and interior, and not physical and exterior. To those who espouse such an idea, let me remind you that from the beginning of history man has declared holy wars, and each one of these wars was of the spiritual. God Himself used the physical phenomena of a flood to purge the earth of the wicked, and it was for a spiritual purpose. When Abraham defeated his enemies to liberate Lot and the others captured, there was Melchizedek; when Moses annihilated the three thousand worshippers of the Golden Calf, it was after he descended the holy mountain and received the Law from the Hand of God; when Joshua conquered Jericho, it was after stood on sacred ground, and “lifted up his eyes, and saw a man standing over against him: holding a drawn sword” (Joshua 5:13), Who was God the Son, Jesus Christ.
Christ fought the devil in the desert, this was a spiritual war and an image of that interior battle for mankind’s soul, and this war manifested itself on Mount Golgotha, when Christ vanquished Satan on the Cross. Was not the Cross physical? Was not the nails, the Crown of Thorns, the spear that pierced His side, the scourge that struck His divine flesh, the grueling walk through the Via Dolorosa as He carried the holy wood, are these things not physical? They are all physical, and they were all endured for victory in a spiritual war. Christ’s war against the devil in the desert is the image of the interior war, the denial of self, and the Crucifixion is the exterior war, the physical.
Elijah fasted in the desert for forty days, this was a part of the spiritual war; but we cannot forget that he killed all of the prophets of Baal. The first is the interior, the second the exterior. St. Paul wrote that “our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.” (Ephesians 6:12) For years I have seen this verse be used to discount holy war, and to reduce the Christian life to solely prayer and fasting. St. Paul fasted, yes; he prayed, no doubt, and when the Jews came to kill him he did not hesitate to have the plan for his assassination reported to the Roman authorities, and he made no protest against the hundreds of soldiers who guarded him with swords and spears.
This was no contradiction on St. Paul’s part, rather it was a harmony to what the inspired Apostle said. The use of the soldiers was for a spiritual purpose, to protect the Church from those who seek out to destroy her, and this is the whole aspiration of holy war and the object of Christendom, protect the Church and to see to it that the world receives her light.
The women came to the well and the shepherds drove them away, and Moses arrived and drove the thieves out, “and defending the maids, watered their sheep” (Exodus 2:17) Such a short story, but it is an event that would be a microcosm for the whole purpose of Christendom: the destruction of the works of the devil, and the vanquishing of their advancers who come for no reason but “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10), for the perpetuation of the holy well, so that the sheep may drink. The moderns will object, and say that warfare must only be in the context of self-defense.
But such is a selfish way of thinking. Christ commands us to deny the self, and this can be applied to holy war wherein the struggle is not done for personal gain, but for victory in the cosmic war for the soul of humanity and the destiny of mankind, outside of the physical and the confines of individualism. This is that same spirit that Moses had when he drove the cruel shepherds out so that the women could draw water from the well. Writing on the virtue of Moses, St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote, “Considering the right valuable in itself, Moses punished the wrong done by the shepherds, although they had done nothing against him.” (Gregory of Nyssa, Life of Moses, 1. 19)
Holy war is not the desires of the flesh but of the striving for union with God, for to desire nothing is to love God. Holy war revolves around that teaching of Christ: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) This teaching was actually applied to holy war in the First Crusade. It is why Pope Urban II, in the Council of Clermont in which the First Crusade against the Turks was declared, said:
“Anyone who has a mind to undertake this holy pilgrimage, and enters into that bargain with God, and devotes himself as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, shall wear the sign of the Cross on his forehead or his chest. And conversely anyone who seeks to turn back having taken the vow shall then place the cross on his back between his shoulders. Such men will bring back to pass through this double symbolism what God himself orders in the Gospel: ‘he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.’” (Robert the Monk, Historia Iherosolimitana, trans. Sweetenham, 1.3)
The denial of the self allows the spirit to give strength to the soul, and strength gives reign to zeal, which can only emanate from love. Thus, in this, the sacred struggle against darkness, the spiritual and the physical unite as one under love, in which “perfect charity casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18), working in harmony and in unity in the war against Satan and his works, as Humanity and Divinity became one in Jesus Christ in the Virgin Mary, “that he might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8)
As St. Maximus the Confessor wrote of the holy Incarnation:
“He did not refuse to take our condemnation on himself, and indeed, the more he himself became a man by nature in his incarnation, the more he deified us by grace, so that we would not only learn naturally to care for one another, and spiritually to love others as ourselves, but also like God to be concerned for others more than for ourselves, even to the point of proving that love to others by being ready to die voluntarily and virtuously for others. For as the Lord says, There is no greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend. (Jn 15:13)”
Now, the modernly minded Christian will argue that this verse from Christ is speaking only of being killed, and not fighting, as though one cannot lay down his life while fighting. Such a limiting of a verse is contrary to how the ancient Christians applied this teaching of Christ. The ninth century Church Father, St. Cyril, applied this teaching of Christ to physical fighting during a debate with a group of Muslims during the time when wars between Christians and Muslims were very intense.
“Why do you Christians disobey Christ’s commandment to love your enemies, but instead persecute and kill us?” argued the Muslims. “If, in a certain law,” responded Cyril, “there are two commandments that must be fulfilled, which man shall be more righteous, he who fulfills both commandments or he who fulfills only one of them?” The Muslims answered: “He that fulfills both, of course.” Then Cyril said: “As individuals we forgive our enemies, but as a community we lay down our lives for one another. For the Lord has said that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s neighbor. As a community we protect one another and lay down our lives for one another. Not only is your aim to enslave us physically, you also aspire to enslave us spiritually. It is for this reason that we defend ourselves. This, therefore, is justified.” (In the Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, On Serving God and Neighbor)
In these words we find the arguments of the modernist Christians, that holy warfare should only be spiritual and never physical, and that martyrdom could never be done while fighting, utterly vanquished by the voice of Christian antiquity. There is a reason why the Christians of old times never unsheathed their swords without a thought that what they were doing was unbiblical, and there is a reason why that today the very mention of crusades and holy wars are met with indignation.
We have forgotten what man is, that man himself is something sacred and worthy of fighting and dying for.
Some protestor will burn the American flag, and an older man will beat him up, and we will praise him as a good patriot. But if some Christian, zealous and angry, attacks some blasphemer for desecrating a Crucifix, or for boasting homosexuality, we will condemn him as being “not being like Christ and having love.” This is the great hypocrisy of the modern man, that a flag is worth more than the Holy Cross on which our Salvation crushed death and vanquished the enemy of humanity; that anti-patriotism is esteemed as worthy of death, but heresy is something that is to be tolerated, and any serious anger towards sacrilege silenced as being “against the liberty message of the Gospel.”
Where are you, O Christendom? The hearts of the people have grown cold, and the flames of zeal, they are extinguished by the callous and cold icebergs of modern and effeminate heresies. With this am I reminded of the words of the Disciples when they said, “Was not our heart burning within us, whilst he spoke in this way, and opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32) Their hearts burned with zeal when they were with Christ, but you Christians of the West, your hearts as as cold as your faith. The hearts of the people must be enflamed with zeal, and only then will Christendom awaken. Christendom is not founded on constitutions, but in the hearts of people. Only when the fires of love and compassion have sparked, and the ice of indifference has melted, will Christendom be revived
That is the purpose of this book, to prepare the souls of Christians for the war that is to come, between Christendom and the nations of Satan and the Antichrist, between Christians and the imperialism of delusion. O Christendom, arise!