Establishing the Boundaries of a Biblical Worldview

Medieval

[From the archives. Originally published August, 1990.]

Old Testament Origins

Introduction

In the year 871 A.D., a young king came to the throne in a land torn by warfare and strife. At the age of 21, this young man assumed an enormous responsibility. His country had been invaded and almost completely overrun by people who did not believe in the God that he believed in. They were pagans, intent on pillage, rape, and living off their conquered foes. They were barbaric parasites, living off the economic productivity of their captives who became their slaves. The invaders had sailed in from the north in their long ships, and their military might was such that none had been able to halt their quest for domination of foreign lands. Steadily they encroached on more and more of this young king’s territory, slowly establishing their rulers in the provinces — governors who would maintain allegiance to the invaders.

This young king, Alfred by name, who inherited only a fraction of what was once a large and prosperous land, had other ideas. He believed that this foreign invasion was the handiwork of the God of the Bible, who was inflicting punishment on the people of his nation for their disobedience to the moral requirements found in the Holy Scriptures. Thus, when he inherited the throne, he began a strange course of action. Once he had established that he was unable to beat the invaders militarily, he began a tactic which, to the modern world, appears to be bizarre for one under siege in his own land. Instead of planning a military strike against the invaders, he began a task of Christian reconstruction to rebuild the remains of his nation in terms of biblical law.

First, he searched abroad for biblical scholars who would come to what remained of his country and teach the people the Holy Scriptures. He built churches and monasteries, and insisted that the people be taught and educated in the ways of God Almighty.

Second, he urged that the Scriptures should be translated into the national language. Since this young king was apparently unable to read or write, he imposed upon himself the task of mastering the skills of literacy so that he too could participate in the translation work of the Scriptures. Before he died, he left a legacy of translated Psalms and a choice selection from the early church fathers for his people to read in their native tongue.

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How a day of treachery brought an end to the lives of many Christians

man in studio dancing spanish dances

By the end of the eighth century Arab rule was well entrenched in the city of Cordova. But in its process of establishing military rule, it had created very hard feelings among many of the Spanish people. Naturally, those who objected most to Moslem rule were the Christians, but they were not the only Spaniards who wished to remove the Arab influence.

The animosity between the two groups was high. The Moslems exacted a high price. Constantine had established the right of the monarch to summons the church bishops to Council, but now in Spain that authority passed to the Arab Sultans. The Sultans used their power to wreak havoc on the church. When Councils were called, if a bishop was vacant his position was given to Jews or Moslems. While Christians lived under a treaty which allowed them, as one of the conditions, to keep their cathedral, they were eventually forced to sell half of it to be turned into a Mosque for the use of the influx of Arabs moving into the region.

… in any case apostasy from Islam was death.”

Often, under torture or under threat, Spanish Christians ‘converted’ to Islam, and once they did they were caught in a steel trap. These were called the ‘Renegades’ because they had apostatized. A minority of them remained “secret Christians.”

Moslem rule brought out of some people the worst of human character traits. The Christians were known to evade, where possible, taxes imposed upon them. But with the help of the local Bishop, who went around the parishes making up a “prayer list” of the Christians and their relatives, then promptly handed it to the Moslem leadership, tax avoidance and evasion was stamped out. This, in itself, was the result of the Muslims selling the office of Bishop to the highest bidder who now had a vested interest in keeping in good with ‘management’. Treaties with Christians were abandoned at will, and under pressure from the Moslem theologians, the Government was encouraged to ‘show its zeal for Islam’ by increasing taxes on the Christians. Many were sent into poverty.

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“I command you either to relinquish immediately the offices of worldly power that you possess, or else to apply yourselves much more attentively to the pursuit of wisdom.”

In the year 871 A.D., a young king came to the throne in a land torn by warfare and strife. At the age of 21, this young man assumed an enormous responsibility. His country had been invaded and almost completely overrun by people who did not believe in the God that he believed in. They were intent on pillage, rape, and living off their conquered foes. They were barbaric parasites, living off the economic productivity of their captives who became their slaves. The invaders had sailed in from the north in their long ships, and their military might was such that none had been able to halt their quest for domination of foreign lands. Steadily they encroached on more and more of this young king’s territory, slowly establishing their rulers in the provinces—governors who would maintain allegiance to the invaders.

This young king, Alfred by name, who inherited only a fraction of what was once a large and prosperous land, had other ideas. He believed that this foreign invasion was the handiwork of the God of the Bible, who was inflicting punishment on the people of his nation for their disobedience to the moral requirements found in the Holy Scriptures. Thus, when he inherited the throne, he began a strange course of action. Once he had established that he was unable to beat the invaders militarily, he began a tactic which, to the modern world, appears to be bizarre for one under siege in his own land. Instead of planning a military strike against the invaders, he began a task of Christian reconstruction to rebuild the remains of his nation in terms of biblical law.

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In his book, On the Medieval Origins of the Modern State, Joseph Strayer outlines the formation of the nation-state. Most of the ingredients were in place by the 14th century, he says. It took another three centuries or more to become recognizable as the modern state, but its principles were in place that early. In understanding the purpose of the formation of national boundaries, eventually becoming boundaries of sovereignty, we find the key to understanding the contemporary problems of politics. Outlining the slow development of the process to the modern state, Strayer observes,

[T]he purpose of the political game was not to create a new government, but rather to get control of some part of the existing government and use that control for selfish purposes. . . . The basic structure of government had to be preserved in order to generate the revenues sought by the upper classes.

This point is often lost in contemporary debate. The taxing system of government is not to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor; it is to redistribute wealth from the poor and middle classes to the upper classes.

This is hidden by progressive tax scales. But it helps explain why the lowest portion of taxes is paid by the upper classes. Government is in place to protect and preserve their interests.

The “Golden Age” of Applied Christianity

The victors write the history books, it is claimed.

Yet history is being rewritten in our own age by a new breed of scholars who are telling us a different story about the “Dark Ages.” In this case, it is not only a different story, it is a better story.

With the rise of the Enlightenment and its rampant anti-Christianity came a view of the past called the “Dark Ages”. It referred to the period after the collapse of the Roman Empire, and covered the next few hundred years; for some people, the “Dark Ages” remained until the humanistic Renaissance appeared. Why? Enlightenment thought was so critical of Christianity it could not face the facts. The facts being that the Bible and Christianity were the cultural reference points that replaced pagan Rome.

Imagine this. You are the last Roman Emperor. Your area of jurisdiction is dissipating in front of you. You have insufficient money to wage war, even defensive war. The tax demands you have inherited have created such hostility among the citizens, they don’t care any longer. Anything is better than this.

Among this mess was a veritable army of Christian monks and citizens who had answers. In fact, your predecessor, Constantine, not only permitted Christianity to exist, but helped established the local priests and monks as a surrogate source of justice. The Roman courts were too expensive for justice, whereas the local church was not only a cheap alternative, it had some better answers to the problems of life. So magnificent was the result of their Christian answers, that one historian noted: “[T]he early Middle Ages represented the age par excellence of ‘applied Christianity’.”[1]

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Footnotes    (↵back returns to text)
  1. Peter Brown, The Rise of Western Christendom, 2nd ed., Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2003, p. 25, emphasis in original.↵back

In the years 1564-65, Suleiman the Magnificent was preparing yet again for the control of Western Europe. Having been stopped at Vienna in a land approach to the West almost 40 years earlier, the Turkish leader planned to use the Mediterranean as a gateway to reach his desired destination. Suleiman had become intoxicated with dreams of victory by his earlier defeat of Hungary, and so launched against the Hapsburg’s at Vienna, but found no success. This defeat began the demise of the Turkish empire.

His Mediterranean plan, however, had a problem. A small band of Christians — the Noble Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem — were located on the island of Malta, and they had a reputation of disrupting the Turkish Muslims any time they sailed in to their parts of the Mediterranean. There was only one course of action: remove them.

Preparations were made and eventually a flotilla of ships transported an estimated 30,000 Muslims (not including sailors and support teams) ready to do Jihad in the name of Allah. But preparations were also made on the island of Malta under the leadership of Grand Master Jean Parisot De La Valette.

In mid-May of 1565, the island inhabitants, plus approximately 1,000 Knights, a total of about 9,000, were ready and prepared for battle. In his final speech before the battle, La Valette said,

“It is the great battle of the Cross and the Koran, which is now to be fought. A formidable army of infidels are on the point of investing our island. We, for our part, are the chosen soldiers of the Cross, and if Heaven requires the sacrifice of our lives, there can be no better occasion than this. Let us hasten then, my brothers, to the sacred altar. There we will renew our vows and obtain, by our Faith in the Sacred Sacraments, that contempt for death which alone can render us invincible.”[1]

Those words indicate the resoluteness of the Grand Master to the task at hand. Death would be preferable to surrender.

On May 24, 1565, the Turks began their bombardment of the Christian strongholds. Thus began a key battle between the Cross and the Koran that eventually resulted in the demise of Turkish Islam as a world power. They left on September 8 without having achieved their goal. They lost thousands of their best soldiers, including the Janissaries, to the resolute defenders of Malta, who knew they were really defending Europe. On one day alone, June 16, it is estimated the Turks lost about 4,000 men, while the Christian defenders lost only 150, though many more were wounded. The Muslims were eventually driven down to the sea, and there boarded their boats to begin the long journey home to confront Suleiman with their defeat.

It would take half a millennium for the Muslims to rise again and threaten the West.

Footnotes    (↵back returns to text)
  1. Ernlee Bradford, The Great Siege: Malta 1565 (London : Hodder and Stoughton, 1961), p. 57.↵back

If you only read ONE history book in your lifetime, read this one.

You cannot understand how far we’ve come away from Christian culture until you realize what had to change to get non-Christian culture. And this little book helps explain the necessary steps to abolish freedom and Christian culture.

Since the time of Magna Carta individuals have been in disagreement with their rulers over the issues of power and control, especially control over money. It took centuries for property rights in money to be abolished, eventually in the 19th century. See Debt and the Bankers for an overview.

The modern nation-state, with its claim to total jurisdiction is a return to the concepts of the Roman Empire. Thus currency debasement, high taxes, and a belief that that the empire-nation can be unified by political means are evident. But it was not always like this. There was an interlude between the Empire and us.

There was, for a while, an alternative in the middle between the Empire and the nation-state. It brought low taxes, local government, and an individual liberty rare in the history of mankind. This period shaped the modern world, both good and bad. Magna Charta, for example is a product of the period, representing the local government’s attempt to control the power of the monarch. But it also indicates the issues that transformed local government into the nation-state. See How Magna Charta Was Used To Destroy Property Rights

Joseph Strayer, Professor of History at Princeton University, and a part time CIA employee, has described the three steps necessary for the modern nation-state. These were:

1. Control of money — taxation and eventually a monopoly on the creation of currency;

2. Control of the courts — that way, the people could not use the courts to have legislation declared “illegal”;

3. And finally the population needed to accept that the nation-state was a higher priority than either church or family.

These were pretty much in place by the seventeenth century, and once the parliaments and the congresses of this world controlled the monarchy and the Church, the anti-God, democratic nation-state was the outcome with its relentless march toward totalitarian control. It’s an important study on why we’re in the mess we’re in.

Read it! Then get to work to change something.

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HOW WE GOT OUT OF THE MESS — ONCE!

Are you one of those people who think America is about to collapse?

If so, let me tell you the sign you need to see to indicate the end is near.

There are many commentators who tell us that the USA is no longer a great nation, that financial irresponsibility has driven the value of the dollar down, inflation is rampant, and only the right presidential candidate will solve the problem.

If you’re like me, you’ve heard these challenging commentaries and predictions for many years. The present financial issues with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are an indicator, they say, that the end is nigh.

There are, of course, some parallels with the Roman Empire. It, too, collapsed from within. Excessive taxation, debased currency, and a social welfare system gone astray.

But there is one particular aspect of the fall of Rome that is not present in the USA or any other western nation –at least, not yet, anyway. It is this.

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