The aim of Christianity is not to fill the earth, but to fill heaven. Why should one worry if the number of Christians is lessened in the world by deaths endured for God? By this kind of death people make their way to heaven who perhaps would never reach it by another road.
In The Crusades: A History; Second Edition, Jonathan Riley-Smith quotes the above from a report written by Humbert of Romans in the 1270s. Replace “Christianity” and “Christians” with “Islam” and “Muslims,” and this statement sounds remarkably like something that could be said by extremists today.
Go ahead and post the altered quote on a discussion forum of Christians complaining about Islam and Islamo-fascists — I’ll bet you’ll receive all kinds of positive replies in response. Then, when you tell them where the quote really comes from, I’ll bet your account gets banned so that you can’t continue posting things that make people uncomfortable and which challenge their assumptions.
The fact of the matter is, there are far more similarities between Christianity and Islam than most Christians are willing to admit. The big difference is that all the bad things in Islam which Christians complain about were generally dropped from Christianity in the past — sometimes under pressure from the surrounding secular culture. Of course, Christianity got started some 600 years earlier than Islam, so it’s hardly a shock that it might have progressed in some respects a bit ahead of Islam.
One thing that Christians complain about is how Muslims force women to cover up and bear the responsibility for men’s experience of temptation. Less than a hundred years ago, though, similar attitudes were common among conservative and fundamentalist Christians in America. They didn’t force burqas on women, but the basic premises about women’s roles and responsibilities were pretty close.
Another point of complaint is the willingness to engage in violence, even against the innocent, in the pursuit of religious goals. But how can Christians claim moral superiority on this point? Christian history is filled with wars and violence conducted by Christians on behalf of what they believed to be Christian goals. The above quote from Humbert of Romans is simply a very stark expression of what was a relatively common attitude: dying on behalf of one’s religion is a great virtue that will be rewarded in the afterlife.