- Jan 2019
I agree that Christianity has been a professed motivator for violence in the past, but I have to disagree that those policies are rooted or promoted in the New Testament. It's true that the Jewish people looked forward to the coming of the Messiah because they expected Him to be a political leader - someone who really would come to rule the earth and convert all peoples. When Christ arrived, however, He upturned those interpretations of Messianic prophecy entirely. His mission was purely spiritual, which is supported by His every word and the tradition of His immediate followers. You misunderstand the meaning of the use of the word "sword" in Biblical texts. The sword is pretty much always meant to symbolize authority, often vested by God, as in "...the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" [Ephesians 6:17]. This has been the interpretation used since the earliest days of the Church. You can read St. Augustine's explanation of that passage specifically, in which he interprets it as being a purely spiritual/religious message. No one in the early Church ever looked to this as a licence to commit acts of violence against other nations or religions.Speak not about hypocrisy lest ye have thy glass house stoned.
According to Matthew [10.34], Jesus said, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to bring peace, but a sword."
According to Thomas [saying 16], Jesus said, "Men indeed think I have come to bring peace to the world. But they do not know that I have come to bring the world discord, fire, sword, war."
Violence has been used to spread Christianity ever since it became the state religion of the Roman Empire. It was official policy for over a thousand years. What Muhammad and Abu Bakr did in the Arab peninsular was no different to what Alfred and Charlemagne did in England and Europe.
I think the distinction that most people make between Christianity and Islam is that the latter was intrinsically violent, while the former was entirely peaceful but perverted by cultures that inherited it later. I can't say much about the quality of Islam personally, though, because I haven't gotten that far in my study of religions. I'm still working on the main branches of Christianity and Judaism.