Heathen, Pagans, and Infidels

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Suleyman the Magnificent


You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols…

I Corinthians 12:2


My wife and I are currently watching reruns of a Turkish television series on Netflix called, “Magnificent Century”.  The series is a historical fiction about the life of the greatest sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Suleyman the Magnificent, who ascended the throne in 1520 (three years after Martin Luther nailed his 99 Thesis on the door of his church).  Sultan Suleyman ruled during the pinnacle of Ottoman power and expansion.  At one point, his armies penetrated as far into Europe as the walls of Vienna.

Being a Turkish production, it is told from a Muslim worldview.  It is interesting to see how the Muslim is portrayed as the good guy and the Christian as the evil “infidel”.  Growing up Christian, of course, the roles were reversed in my worldview.  In western history books and movies, “the Turk” has always been portrayed as an evil, threatening menace to the peace and stability of the Christian world.  In the television series, Suleyman is portrayed as a wise, just, and benevolent ruler who regularly prays to God for guidance.

One scene on this subject really struck me.  The sultan was bidding his mother, sister, wife, and five year old son good bye before leaving on a military campaign against the Hungarians (who are Christians).  The little boy wrapped his arms around his father and said, “Father, let me go with you to chop off the heads of the Infidels!”  Everyone present smiled with approval at his comment.

I thought to myself:  “And we could reproduce this exact scene with Saul bidding farewell to his family as he marched off to slaughter the “heathen” Amalekites.  And we could repeat it again as Christian knights were sent off with the blessings of their families (and the Christian Church) to slaughter entire Muslim cities (pagans) in the Crusades.

I thought to myself:  Religion truly is the root of all evil.


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