Pope Francis Just Compared the Great Commission to Jihad

Yes, you read that right. The leader of the Roman Catholic Church, the pontiff who speaks for 1 billion Christians, said that Jesus's call to "make disciples of all nations" can be considered equivalent to the Islamic conquest of nations following the death of Mohammed. This conquest is a primary motivation for radical Islamic terrorism today, and the biggest Christian leader said "the same idea of conquest" can be linked to the Great Commission in the Gospel of Matthew.

In an interview on Tuesday with the French magazine La Croix, Francis minimized the difference between Islam and Christianity, arguing that the religions share a concept of subjugation.

Today, I don't think that there is a fear of Islam as such but of ISIS and its war of conquest, which is partly drawn from Islam. It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew's Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest.

This connection is so asinine, it can only be explained as a deduction from the liberal tenet that all religions are morally equivalent. Here is the passage, in Matthew 28, where Jesus issues the "Great Commission" to his followers (New International Version).

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus does say "all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me," but in context this does not mean every nation should surrender to his political leadership. He explicitly asks his disciples to do something different -- to "make disciples" of all nations, not to make colonies of them.

The one connection here is the theme of struggle. "Making disciples" is hard work, and it requires personal investment with someone, rather than merely getting them to "convert." Similarly, the idea of "jihad" doesn't just mean conquest -- it also signifies an inward struggle to subject your will to the will of Allah. Nevertheless, the pope is clearly inferring more than this. He says "the idea of conquest," and nothing could be further from the true spirit of Christianity than armed conflict.

Throughout the gospels, the founder of the Christian religion insists that secular power is fundamentally different from "the Kingdom of God," which he will rule. Indeed, this was a very controversial issue among first century Jews. "My kingdom is not of this world" explains why Jesus never took up arms against the Roman Empire, and this actually frustrated his followers.

Jews in the first century expected the Messiah to bring political freedom, as well as God's connection to mankind. Many would-be messiahs rose up, arguing that they would lead a revolt to defeat the political rule of Rome. Jesus's decision not to do so was one of the main reasons why the majority of Jews in the first century rejected his teachings.

Jesus promised that he would come again, and only then would he rule in any political sense. By contrast, Mohammed actually led an army of sorts into multiple battles in Medina and around Mecca. When his followers took up the sword to spread Islam throughout the Middle East, they were acting in accordance with his example.

By contrast, when Christians took up arms to liberate Jerusalem in the First Crusade, they did so one thousand years after Jesus had died, and not at all following his example. To claim that "the same idea of conquest" that prompted the Islamic wars and radical terrorism today rests in the Great Commission is quite simply fatuous and absurd.

Next Page: Why the Crusades have nothing to do with the Great Commission.