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Dean Robert Munday Asks a Few Pointed Historical Questions

Monday, December 3, 2007 • 8:07 pm

Read it all to see to what “affair” Dean Munday is referring as well as find out what his other questions are.

“This whole affair raises at least six questions in my mind:

1. While not seeking to excuse any atrocities committed during the Crusades—including crimes committed by Crusaders against the inhabitants of Christian lands on their way to the Holy Land (the Crusaders were often a sorry lot—no argument there), do the Christian signers of the full page ad recognize that the Crusades were, nevertheless, a response to the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem?

2. Do the Christian signers of this full page ad recognize that Europe had to withstand repeated Muslim invasions for over 800 years; and that, without victories over Muslim forces by the Duke of Aquitaine, at the Battle of Toulouse (721) Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours (732); and, later, the defeat of the Ottoman Turks at Belgrade (1456) and the gates of Vienna (1529), Europe would have been conquered and subjugated by Muslims?

It would seem that, if Christian priests, pastors, and theologians are going to apologize for the Crusades, Muslims ought to apologize for the conquests of Spain and southern Italy, and 800 years of attempts to conquer the rest of Europe. But I am still waiting to see that in print.”

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I’d like to apologize for the Crusades.  Really, I don’t know what came over me.  I guess I was just in a bad mood or something and well, next thing I knew there I was on a campaign to rid the Holy Land of Saracens.  Sorry, my bad.

I’d also like to apologize for the Bubonic Plague, the Great Depression, and both World Wars.  Oh, and that thing with the Titanic?  It wasn’t an iceberg.  It was me.  Sorry.

[1] Posted by st. anonymous on 12-03-2007 at 09:25 PM • top

Dean Munday thank you for this:

“Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.” (I John 1:22-23)

I had lost this passage.  Enough said for a multitude of positions taken on a multitude of threads.

[2] Posted by Lee Parker on 12-03-2007 at 09:33 PM • top

May I suggest a slightly different view?  I have respect for some of the international signatories.  2 wrongs do not make a right and it is correct that Muslims should also consider apologising for past wrongs although not the individual responsibility of any individual alive.

In the UK there has been some work on reconciliation carried out by the Church in places like Northern Ireland where there are ancient grievances from ancient wrongs.  It has found that for the current generation to take ownership of the acts of forbears and apologise can result in quite extraordinary healing in communities.  An example is the head of the Cromwell family coming with his family to Drogheda and kneeling at the City gates to ask forgiveness for his ancestor’s actions - apparently a cathartic moment.

Through the openings pioneered by Canon Andrew White and the Foundation for Reconciliation in the Middle East which contains Muslims, Sunnis and Shia have been brought to the table and if you check the history Shia have always been persecuted by Sunnis.

So I wonder if this is not in fact a helpful letter.  Certainly the reports that I have read suggest that it has been well received in the Middle East.

[3] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 12-03-2007 at 10:20 PM • top

How many of those Muslim clerics, intellectuals, etc. would be willing to swear that they do not support the violent overthrow of our government and the imposition of Sharia law?

[4] Posted by Ann Castro on 12-03-2007 at 10:37 PM • top

Pageantmaster, I appreciate seeing someone else speak up in support of the Christian response to “A Common Word” and not just make easy jokes about the lameness of apologizing for the Crusades.

Sure the document sounds “PC” at times, and it is tempting to attack it because some of the “usual suspects” (including various ECUSA bishops) signed on.  But the list of signatories contains the names of MANY MANY faithful orthodox evangelicals, those who are or have been active in evang. and discipleship in the Muslim world.

I’d really encourage anyone at all in ministry to Muslims to read the full response seriously and carefully.

There’s some sections I find a bit weak, but very much I can and would sign on to readily.

I fear Dean Munday has let his perception of this document be shaped by the NYT ad and some of the more liberal signatories.

[5] Posted by Karen B. on 12-03-2007 at 11:36 PM • top

It is hard for me to read the statement “A COMMON WORD BETWEEN US AND YOU” and not notice that the Prophet Muhammad was quite clear about Allah “He hath no partner.” and “There is no god but God, He Alone, He hath no associate, ...”
Christians believe “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God ...”
So, I don’t experience this as a statement of commonality with Christians but rather as propaganda against Christianity.
If Christians buy into this as a statement of commonality, they are essentially denying the Christian faith.

[6] Posted by Deja Vu on 12-03-2007 at 11:38 PM • top

Deja Vu: there are two statements here. 
1) is the document written by Muslims.  My comment above doesn’t address that, and I’m not sure Dean Munday’s remarks address that specifically.
2) The second is a response by various Christian leaders to “A Common Word” it is that that I encouraged folks to read and take seriously.

I don’t think it’s wrong or naive to take A Common Word (the Muslims’ document) as a serious and real attempt at dialogue, thus I’m glad to see some Evangelical Christian leaders use it as an attempt of reaching out and identifying the areas of common understanding and belief.  After all, that’s what the Apostle Paul did in Athens and elsewhere.  Sometimes you need to find common ground to be heard before addressing the areas of serious and critical different between the two faiths…, I believe that is what the Response to A Common Word is attempting.

[7] Posted by Karen B. on 12-03-2007 at 11:59 PM • top

As Christians, we must hope that all Muslims will be converted and accept Christ.  As realistic people, we have to know this isn’t going to happen in our lifetimes.  So the practical question is whether the “moderate” Muslims can be persuaded, and can persuade their societies, that jihad is not appropriate in the modern world.  This is presumably what this document and other efforts are aiming for.  This is not bad.  However, apologizing for things which happened a thousand years ago seems just silly, especially since some of the things don’t need apologies historically (efforts and in some cases successes in reconquests of Christian areas).  We must be careful not to accept the Muslim point of view in apologizing.  Condemning atrocities outside the normal course of honorable warfare would be okay.

[8] Posted by Katherine on 12-04-2007 at 12:26 AM • top


(But also let’s not forget half a millennium of Ottoman subjugation—in the most brutal manner imaginable—of the Balkans, including Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Bosnia.)

[9] Posted by Craig Goodrich on 12-04-2007 at 12:33 AM • top

Frankly, while I deplore the actions of the Crusaders against other Christians, and particularly the killing of Orthodox Christians in Constantinople in 1204,  I do not deplore the attempt to retake the Holy Land. I guess Katherine said this in a more appropriate sounding way above.

But I go farther.  I wish we could even now win back Constantinople from the Turks, and see the Archbishop of Constantinople again celebrating the Divine Liturgy in Hagia Sophia!

I would of course want this done with as little loss of noncombatant life as possible, and without rapine and pillage. 

Susan Peterson

[10] Posted by eulogos on 12-04-2007 at 01:08 AM • top

I see no reason to apologize for something my ancestors may or may not have done. As I have absolutely no control, influence or power over those who preceded me, then I have responsibility for their actions. I do have total control over my own actions and some influence over those who follow.

Perhaps Dan Keusal over at St. Andrews Church could hold a seance and allow the actual Crusaders to apologize?


I have a blog thingy

[11] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 12-04-2007 at 05:20 AM • top

Yes, the great Hagia Sophia, disfigured by the direction marker for Mecca, a huge Muslim pulpit, and large medallions with Koranic writing, is a sad sight.  In fairness one has to point out that there’s a gorgeous mosque in Spain (Cordoba?) with a baroque church plunked right down in the middle of it.

[12] Posted by Katherine on 12-04-2007 at 05:59 AM • top

I’m with mousestalker on this one.  Why should I apologize for my ancestors actions?  I didn’t do it. 

However, for those who do want to apologize - where’s the apology for sacking Constantinople and killing other Christians?  If the Western Church had, instead of trying to wipe out the Eastern Christians, given them support against Islam, perhaps we wouldn’t be where we are today.  All of the ancient patriarchs except Rome are now in Arab/Moslem lands. 

What part did the Fourth Crusade play in the rise of the Ottoman Empire?  There are more people who need apology than just Moslems!  Shame on these people for deciding to apologize to “outsiders” while ignoring the crimes inflicted on their brothers in Christ!

[13] Posted by Anam Cara on 12-04-2007 at 06:27 AM • top

That should read “no responsibility for their…..”.

Maybe I need some of that 815 word processing software…

I have a blog thingy

[14] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 12-04-2007 at 06:32 AM • top

To apologize for something that you do not own is…where…in scripture?  What is it that I repent for that someone else did?  ARe we broaching the idea of repenting on behalf of another?  Perhaps I can redeem my long dead relative if I try this with God! 

I find this whole idea of trying to feel better by apologizing for something out of my control and absent of my action as disingenuous.

The crusades are history…or are they?  Perhaps a thousand years from now history will record muslim terrorism as the impotus for the current wave of military action…and call it a crusade too.

[15] Posted by Dante on 12-04-2007 at 09:09 AM • top


My apologies, in my eagerness to vent, I went straight from the reading to comment, I should slow down and smell the roses first (and read all comments)...well said.

[16] Posted by Dante on 12-04-2007 at 09:11 AM • top

As someone who has more than passing knowledge of Islam this apology letter deeply troubles me. First the manner in which they address God is pretty much taken from the prayer that opens the Quran.(Conceptually, if not lingustically.) I think any kind of theological confusion is dangerous,which is here in spades. People should also know that gestures and words mean different things to Muslims and Christians. The original letter could be construed in parts as an ultimatium. Notice the Catholic church and other leaders who did not sign this are being much more careful? Most of the signatories are the usual collection of liberal clowns, of whom nothing right,good or useful rightly should be expected. I am a little suprised at some of the Evangelical signers such as John Stott,(how dissapointing) others such as Rick Warren are simply false teachers,so par for the course. This iwill be seen as weakness, the Muslims are playing a game here, in fact if the answer isn’t to their liking under Islamic law , some can and will agree that there is legitimate grounds to fight Christians. I may sound crazy, but this is the kind of logic Sharia law and Islamic interaction with Kufirs(non-believers) and dhimmis(Jews and Christians who pay a religious poll tax, for obstensible protection) functions on. Sharia cannot and will never assume equality with non-Muslims. We are being played, if one reads carefully their letter everything per usual is our fault and never theirs. The liberals and the squishy self hating middlers took the bait. In fact in the context of Islamic law this apology can stand as a confession of guilt, which can be construed as justification for aggression. Pope Benedict by far, had the much wiser reaction ,of far more caution and discretion.

I am so sick of everyone apologizing for the crusades and everything else, most self-hating westerners know that somebody told they and their whole history is bad and so people reflexively make these cheap gestures. I am sick of the historical ignornace and self-hatred of so many westerners and Christians these days.Yes many evil things happened in the Crusades , but they where in the begining at least, legitimate resistance againest Muslim oppression. Those who went on the crusades where of many differant motives and character. Both scoundrels and the just and righteous took part. I will not apologize for this ever ,1.) because I have no personal responsiability for this and 2.) this whole thing is incredibly dishonest and one sided. What a betrayal of our ancestors (for better or worse) who saved our culture from destruction as Dean Mundy so forth-rightly points out and what a betrayal of Christians today being persecuted by Muslims. It is evil to cover that up, which those involved in this tragic farce are guilty of. Those who unwisely signed this, are named Judas. Lord have mercy upon them and open their eyes. I am sure they all are basking in the glow of their own moral superiority and feel better then the rest of us besotted rustics, who are too unsophisticated and learned to be good dhimmis.

[17] Posted by Anglo-Catholic-Jihadi on 12-04-2007 at 10:04 AM • top

I agree with points 1-4, but not the following:

“5. Most importantly, do the Christian signers of the full page ad recognise that, to a Muslim, the chief statement of Faith in Islam, “There is no god but God (Allah),” excludes the possibility that God could have a Son and that Jesus Christ is God? That, therefore, when we talk about the deity of Islam and the God of Christianity, we are talking about different gods? “

Following Dean Munday’s logic, Jews and Christians worship different deities because we recognize the Trinity and the Jews categorically deny it.  In any event, Christians, Moslems, Jews, deists all recognize the existence of a Supreme Being, whether that be called the Trinity, the God of Abraham, Issac & Jacob, the un-moved-mover, Allah, etc.  Since there is only one Supreme Being, and all such people recognize that he (or it, as the case may be) exists, then all believe in the same God, however much his attributes may be in dispute.  And this is certainly true of Islam which worships the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob - albeit with an understanding contrary to our own.

I accept the Second Vatican Council’s statement on the subject:

“3. The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom. “

This statement by Munday - and other Christians like him, usually evangelical, are highly inflammatory, distorted and distinctly unhelpful.

[18] Posted by Violent Papist on 12-04-2007 at 10:24 AM • top

Apologizing for something you did not do personally… that is in the Scriptures. 
One example is Daniel 9, in which righteous Daniel confesses the sins of the people of Israel.  Get out your Bible and read it.
Even better than that is Nehemiah 9:2, in which “The Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.”
Then we have to ask how we will deal with Matthew 23:34-37.  Jesus is holding one generation responsible for “all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah.”  They have continued to walk in the ways of their fathers, and they will receive the punishment not only of their own sins, but the sins of their fathers!
Then there is Romans 5:12, and the doctrine of original sin.  That the entire human race is guilty of Adam’s sin “because all men sinned.”  That is not saying that we are guilty because of our own individual sins, but that all sinned AT THE FALL. 
Indeed, the whole tenor of the Scriptures is that our sins are not just our own, but that we belong to a fallen, sinful people.  God is quite clear that when we renounce these sinful ways, none of the sins of our fathers are counted against us.  But it seems that, if we continue in the ways of our fathers and do not turn from them, the guilt remains on our house, on our nation, on our race.

Frankly, I am appalled that we are insulting these people.  I appreciate the concerns of Dean Munday, but various commenters on this thread have thrown out sarcastic, insulting comments.(ie. “the Titanic?  It wasn’t an iceburg. It was me.  Sorry.”)
Additionally, there are statements that this practice is unbiblical, invoking Scripture broadly and then demonizing many good people (ie. “To apologize for something that you do not own is…where…in scripture?  What is it that I repent for that someone else did?  ARe we broaching the idea of repenting on behalf of another?  Perhaps I can redeem my long dead relative if I try this with God!”)
This is completely inappropriate.  May I suggest that we open up a discussion thread on “Corporate Sin and Repentence” with some ground rules that clear the air for actual discussion of this important issue?

[19] Posted by BBTM on 12-04-2007 at 10:30 AM • top


History happened.  Bad stuff happened.

Accept it, grow up, move on.

[20] Posted by st. anonymous on 12-04-2007 at 10:37 AM • top

Actually, the most offensive thing about the letter is dating the year CE as opposed to AD.  One of the more gratuitously absurd PC euphemisms.  From my skimming, the rest isn’t really offensive, but I’ve only skimmed.

[21] Posted by Violent Papist on 12-04-2007 at 10:46 AM • top

I worry about the de facto conquest of Europe -including Great Britain and parts of the world- by the massive Muslim immigration that is going on and promises to continue and perhaps even increase.  Opposition to that has traditionally been through Christian resistance but with the secularization of Europe, there is little opposition to what is at this point a relatively peaceful process -with exceptions by violent extremists and the efforts to establish Sharia law In the UK and Canada,  Nevertheless, I do see this as a conquest with little resistance.  Apologies that we make ... and with good reason… are not reciprocated, at least partially because the stated goal of Islam is conquest of the world.  We may welcome,  as well-meaning neighbours, Muslims from many parts of the world, but this does not minimize their overall goal.  There seems to be a paralysis in western society that refuses to acknowledge this.

[22] Posted by Bill C on 12-04-2007 at 01:28 PM • top


I ask you then, if you are suggesting that I confess the sins of my fathers…where does it end?  Who is my father and who is not?  Is everyone who preceded me in existence my father?  What about contemporaries, are we fathers to each other?  We are a sinful nation…am I to confess tonight for the atrocities committed in New York city this day?  Where does it end?
Interesting to note in your reference to Daniel, he specifically states the sin is against God…no mention of sinning against others.  So, was Daniel forgiven for the sins of the nation, or was the nation forgiven because of the confession of Daniel?
Matthew…your point?  Sins against God produce bitter fruits that the community is destined to digest.  Jesus is not telling the teachers of the law, the Pharisees, nor the people gathered to repent for the sins of their fathers.  He is saying they are guilty of the same behaviors and actions…same type of sin.
With respect to Nehemiah…I don’t have enough time in my life to begin making the list of the sins of my fathers (Whoever they are) nor do I have the knowledge to begin making the list so that I may confess their wickedness.
Romans is a wonderful verse…but I am not sure of your point here either.  There is no denial on my part that “all have sinned”.  My point is that I am responsible for my actions…not yours, not my mothers, and not the ABC.  I have enough to confess and repent of, I don’t need to go other’s suitcases or history books to make my list of sin longer..
Finally, confession implies repentance…if I confess and continue there is no forgiveness…I must repent and turn from the sinful way.  Therefore my question to you would be how does one repent for an action they did not commit.  How can you make amendment in your life for something that you didn’t do?  It all seems rather an empty exercise to me.
John 20:23 makes the matter of forgiveness rather personal and timely…”if YOU forgive anyone HIS sins…” emphasis mine.
James 5:16 again it is personal “Therefore confess YOUR sins” emphasis mine.
And 1 John chapter 1.  An argument can be made here for communal sin, confession and forgiveness…but no argument can be made here for historical sin, confession and forgiveness.
I dont find your references convincing enough for me to assume the guilt of anothers actions.

[23] Posted by Dante on 12-04-2007 at 01:44 PM • top

“In fairness one has to point out that there’s a gorgeous mosque in Spain (Cordoba?) with a baroque church plunked right down in the middle of it.”

Wait a minute! How the heck did the Muslim come to Spain in the first place? I’ll bet he wasn’t invited in!

[24] Posted by Anglican Paplist on 12-04-2007 at 04:04 PM • top

You raise some very difficult questions that really ought to be sorted out.  One in particular strikes me: “So, was Daniel forgiven for the sins of the nation, or was the nation forgiven because of the confession of Daniel?”  It seems in this case like he is expecting forgiveness to extend to the entire nation.  I’m looking particularly at Daniel 9:19 here.  But you raised the question, and I’d be interested in how others read that, and what the implications of such a thing may be.

As far as Romans is concerned, I wasn’t pointing to “all have sinned and fall short…”.  I was actually pointing to Romans 5:12: “Therefore, as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned…”  Clearly this is a debated verse, but those of us who believe in Original Sin generally understand this to mean that the whole race was caught up in the sin of one man, so that we were guilty before we ever did any individual “sinful” act.  That doctrine causes me to look at sin in a more corporate way.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting I know what exactly we ought to do about this.  Your questions are very good and relevant ones.  The only problem is, there are examples of corporate sin and repentance in the Scriptures.  The implications of that are difficult, because there certainly are not teachings about how to repent of the sins of ancestors, or even that it should be a regular part of our piety.

So a few good questions that we ought to hack away at, some of these inspired by Dante:
What is similar/dissimilar when you compare the corporate confession being seen today and those seen in the Scriptures?
What would repentance look like in the context of corporate repentance?
Are you seeking personal forgiveness, corporate forgiveness, healing of relationships, etc. in this kind of setting?
What sort of sins ought to be confessed in this way, if any?
Confession only to God, or to the people offended?
Is there an aspect of reparation/making amends here?

[25] Posted by BBTM on 12-04-2007 at 05:17 PM • top

Largely in response to the comments by Karen B. and others here, I wrote a follow up to this piece, which can be found here.  I hope it is helpful.

Robert S. Munday+

[26] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 12-04-2007 at 09:36 PM • top

Thanks Dean Munday,
I greatly appreciate your followup piece.  Very helpful and deeply thought-provoking analysis… lots of food for thought, prayer and discussion with many colleagues who are involved in ministry to Muslims.

[27] Posted by Karen B. on 12-06-2007 at 09:17 PM • top

Note that the last Turkish siege of Vienna occurred as late as 1683.

Here are extract’s from Sultan Mehmet IV’s declaration of war:

“Primarily we order You to await Us in Your residence city of Vienna so that We can decapitate You… We will exterminate You and all Your followers… Children and grown-ups will be exposed to the most atrocious tortures before put to an end in the most ignominious way imaginable” [Wikipedia].

Not typical of Muslims—-but still a reminder of very real threats faced by Christian Europeans.

[28] Posted by Irenaeus on 12-07-2007 at 05:12 PM • top

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