Christopher Columbus......what say you?

Discussion in 'General discussions' started by Frosty, Oct 10, 2011.

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  1. Frosty

    Frosty Puritan Board Sophomore

    With Columbus Day approaching, I want to open up a discussion on Columbus. I teach at a private Christian school and discussion is bound to come up. With that in mind, I want to get your opinion on Columbus and his legacy.

    This is not about whether it is appropriate to celebrate/observe Columbus Day or not. It is about whether the man Christopher Columbus should be celebrated, accepted, ignored, vilified, or somewhere in between.

    The movement throughout the public schools is to ignore Columbus Day because of the great decline in Native population seen after his arrival, accusations of genocide, etc.

    A hero to be celebrated because he opened up the age of discovery toward the New World?

    A man who meant well but whose work had some unexpected consequences?

    A villain?

    How do you view Columbus and his legacy?

  2. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    I am so very grateful that the Lord who is sovereign over all led Columbus to accidentally discover this land. Providentally the European diseases he inadvertantly brought with him served to weaken the numbers of the savages that they were not able to overcome the various European groups that came across the ocean. I am particularly grateful for men like Cortez who liberated countless numbers of the poor wretches from the vile Aztecs. Likewise, Pizarro was God's instrument against the Incas.
  3. Frosty

    Frosty Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thanks, Ben. What would you say to those who say that Columbus disrupted the lives of the Natives and, not only that, but brought great destruction upon them (whether intentional or not)- that his overall impact was bad?

    This is not my view but I would like to know how you would approach it.

  4. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

  5. Rufus

    Rufus Puritan Board Junior

    It's not Columbus fault that others commited genocide against the Natives. Though we did do horrible things to the natives.
  6. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    As one who grew up among Native Anericans I will say this...

    The overall impact from the discovery of the Americas by the Europeans was a good thing for those living in the Americas. Contact with the Europeans brought the gospel. Christ had already been risen for more than 1400 years, and yet the Americas remained in darkness to this good news until Europeans finally made contact. It had been too long. Even being ravaged by disease and oppressed by conquerers, horrible as these things are, does not overrule the value of the gospel.

    Those who see no value in a society having heard the gospel will, of course, never see it this way. But Christians celebrate it when the gospel comes to any society.

    This is not to say, necessarily, that the Europeans themselves should be celebrated. Some were wicked people who, although claiming to be Christian, did not act Christianly. Native Americans may not want to celebrate Columbus. But those of them who've been given new life in Christ most certainly rejoice in the fact that the Holy Spirit saw fit to extend his missionary work, first recorded in Acts, across the seas. And that did begin, in some fashion, with Columbus.
  7. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    To me that is simply "white guilt" and "America is bad and has been bad since the very beginning" garbage. The natives fought and killed just like every other people group on the earth. I utterly reject the silly notion that the natives were living in this blissful utopian state until the mean old Eurpeans showed up and started killing them for sport.

    The long-term effect of Columbus was nothing short of the colonization of the Americas. This brought in the Gospel which was utterly nonexistent prior to that point.
  8. Rufus

    Rufus Puritan Board Junior

  9. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    Another pastor recently shared this story with me, concerning CC:

  10. Leslie

    Leslie Puritan Board Junior

    Columbus didn't discover America. He had maps, courtesy of the Chinese who circumnavigated the globe almost 70 years previously. Check out Gavin Menzies, the book 1423 (I think that's the date, it's close). Also there is his book 1434, showing how the Chinese brought the renaissance to Europe. There is abundant archaeological evidence that this is true. What he did was noteable, the OP still stands, how he should be regarded. But it is incorrect to affirm that someone who finds a place by using a map, in any sense of the word, discovers it.
  11. Phil D.

    Phil D. Puritan Board Sophomore

    Most historians and other mainstream scholars dismiss Menzies' claims as fanciful.
  12. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    True---it wasn't utopian before. Yet at the same time we did terrible things. Oh, we justified it with stuff like "But it's not their land---they don't use it in the right way" (John Locke's argument, by the way). Then it was, "We need room to grow" (interestingly, an argument similar to the German "Lebensraum" idea). I'm currently a twenty minute drive from the place where the Cherokees (led by a chief with the great Native American name of David Ross) started the trail of tears, driven from their home in spite of the fact that they had a stable society with strong inroads of Christianity.

    The best way to present the legacy of Columbus is this: the discovery of America led both to great advances and to great evils. We shouldn't whitewas the history any more than we should tarnish it.
  13. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Just like with Lincoln, Columbus is either 100% villain or 100% hero. There is no grey area allowed.
  14. Zach

    Zach Puritan Board Junior

    Ironically, I am writing a paper on this tonight...
  15. Weston Stoler

    Weston Stoler Puritan Board Sophomore

    I just discovered my kitchen. I went in and their it was.

    Anyways to say that WE did terrible things to the native americans is incorrect. No one alive today did anything wrong to those native americans. I feel no guilt because I was not involved. I feel bad that it happened but I am not to blame. That is like walking up to a young german and saying "You better feel sorry that your where involved in the holocaust" He is 25 how did he participate in that?
  16. jogri17

    jogri17 Puritan Board Junior

    What is wrong with white guilt when white people did do wrong things? The WCF and the puritans clearly had notions of corporate guilt that go beyond ''certain individuals who claimed to be christians did unchristian things'' argument.

    I believe we have to acknowledge that both corporately and individually we all have strong reasons to be guilty and have guilt. At the same time a legtimate case can be put torward to say we are all victims in both senses.

    This is the brillance of sin, it makes one group think in such blank and white categories. But sin is so ugly that we are both victims and villans at the same time (but not same relationship).
  17. PhilA

    PhilA Puritan Board Sophomore

    I am intrigued as to why Christopher Columbus is so highly regarded in the USA. It would be my understanding that he “discovered” Central and South America but was blissfully unaware of North America. I was always led to believe that CC always believed that his journeys were along the east coast of Asia. I was also taught that the first European explorer to discover North America was the Viking Leif Ericson followed many years later by John Cabot.

    I have never heard of his missionary zeal towards the Middle East. The main purpose of his exploration was to establish a westward sea route to the financially lucrative Far East. A plan he touted with disappointing results around the major powers of Europe. The conversion of un-believers would have been an additional benefit offered to potential sponsors. I would suggest that if it were not for the potential financial rewards on offer sponsorship would not have been forthcoming and without sponsorship, the exploration would not have taken place. Coincidentally when I was last in Rome I noticed a claim made in the Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore that one of the ceilings was gilded by the initial gold brought by CC from the Americas. As for CC’s personal motivation it is worth noting he was looking to be made governor of lands he discovered and given 10% of all revenues from those lands. It is recognised that CC became increasingly religious in later life.

    As for the statue, it is a fine monument in a superb location in Barcelona. From what I recall it was constructed in the late 19th C in time for Spain’s first international exposition. It was a Catalan project from first to last being entirely constructed by Catalan labour and materials. It was designed to point to Genoa and dignitaries from that city were invited to its unveiling in 1888. I think that this statue is a statement more about Catalan nationalism than anything else.
  18. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    When we were covering Christopher Columbus in my daughter's homeschool history, she was required to read several large sections of Columbus's diaries which gave me a fresh perspective on Columbus. Here is an excerpt from his diaries printed in "America's Providential History":

    "It was the Lord who put it into my mind--I could feel His hand upon me--the fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies...

    "All who heard of my project rejected it with laughter, ridiculing me...There is no question that the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit, because He comforted me with rays of marvelous illumination from the Holy Scriptures...For the execution of the journeyto the Indies, I did not make use of intelligence, mathematics, or maps. It is simply the fulfillment of what Isaiah had prophesied...

    "No one should fear to undertake a task in the name of our Savior, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His Service...The fact that the Gospel must still be preached to so many lands in such a short time---this is what convinces me."
  19. AlexanderHenderson1647

    AlexanderHenderson1647 Puritan Board Freshman

    Give the Norse their day back! Kidding, not up for that big a fight over the matter. But, I would hardly call what Columbus brought to the Americas "Christianity" except in the historical sense. This was the height of Papal power and his influence was never stronger. Just look at the state of what has happened to Central and South America and chunks of the North American Southwest as a result of Spanish exploration and conquest - the Roman See has a firm hold on all those areas to this day. Give it a few more years and let the Dutch or the English or the Scots or the Scandinavians land and there might be an entirely different "New World." Look at some of the Pacific Islands where Puritans evangelized and you get a stark contrast. They certainly "evangelized."
  20. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I agree, let the Norseman have their credit! Seriously, I agree with what you say, and it does give balance to this argument. What frustrates me (and this is why I posted the quotations from Columbus' diary) is that I'm tired of revisionist historians writing any evidence of God out of the history books. I want to know how Columbus knew the "Holy Scriptures"? Was he even really a catholic?
  21. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    He was an educated man of his day. Remember that this was the Renaissance, when the battle cry was ad fontes! To the sources! If you knew Latin (which Columbus, being educated enough to know cartography, would have) then you could read the Bible---no one was stopping you.
  22. AlexanderHenderson1647

    AlexanderHenderson1647 Puritan Board Freshman

    The RC would use the same terms we do in most things theological (albeit theirs has an entirely different import.) If he were anything but dyed in the wool Papist, it would be quite despite all of his surroundings as an Italian sailing for Catholic Spain. Mind you, I don't want to speak for him having not knowing for certain his true beliefs. He might have been a protoReformer like unto Wycliffe or the Waldensians or a Hussite sympathizer. There were many pockets that had not bowed the "knee to Baal," so to speak. But, it would have been quite the exception for him to escape it right in the heart of the great enemy of Christ so prominent among his surroundings.
  23. PhilA

    PhilA Puritan Board Sophomore

    Unless I am mistaken, I think the quotations stated come from Columbus’ “The Book of Prophecies” written shortly before his death and not his journals. His journals/diaries were written for a public audience and not a record of private contemplations.

    It is thought that “The Book of Prophecies” was jointly completed with his friend the Carthusian friar Gaspar Gorricio. This book is a compilation of apocalyptical religious revelations conveying a medieval notion, common amongst medieval monastic writers that the second coming of Christ was to be preceded by certain specific events. Namely, the Salvation of the World, the recapture of the Holy Temple, the re-discovery of the Garden of Eden. Columbus saw his sponsors, Ferdinand and Isabella, as the last World Emperor. (I think I recall that Columbus set half his wealth aside for the purpose of supporting a crusade to Jerusalem.) I think it is important to remember the full historical context of his age. It was immediately following the completion of the Reconquista that Isabella offered sponsorship to Columbus. Columbus wrote in the preface to his first journal:

    “…where on the second day of January, this present year, I saw the royal banners of your Highnesses planted by force of arms upon the towers of the Alhambra, which is the fortress of that city, and saw the Moorish king come out at the gate of the city and kiss the hands of your Highnesses, and of the Prince my Sovereign; and in the present month, in consequence of the information which I had given your Highnesses respecting the countries of India and of a Prince, called Great Can, which in our language signifies King of Kings, how, at many times he, and his predecessors had sent to Rome soliciting instructors who might teach him our holy faith, and the holy Father had never granted his request, whereby great numbers of people were lost, believing in idolatry and doctrines of perdition. Your Highnesses, as Catholic Christians, and princes who love and promote the holy Christian faith, and are enemies of the doctrine of Mahomet, and of all idolatry and heresy, determined to send me, Christopher Columbus, to the above-mentioned countries of India, to see the said princes, people, and territories, and to learn their disposition and the proper method of converting them to our holy faith; and furthermore directed that I should not proceed by land to the East, as is customary, but by a Westerly route, in which direction we have hitherto no certain evidence that any one has gone. So after having expelled the Jews from your dominions, your Highnesses, in the same month of January, ordered me to proceed with a sufficient armament to the said regions of India,…”

    Isabella’s confessor, Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, would go on to lay the foundations that would lead to the Counter Reformation and Spain’s prominence as a Catholic power.

    In my opinion, for what it is worth, Columbus was what we would regard as a Roman Catholic. He was born a Catholic, he died a Catholic. His achievements as an explorer/adventurer were great. However, I would suggest his lasting legacy was the widespread introduction of Catholicism to the Americas and revitalising a floundering Spain to its prominence as a Catholic force on the back of its newly discovered wealth.
  24. ProtestantBankie

    ProtestantBankie Puritan Board Freshman

    Columbus was a Papist by all accounts so I hold him not in any special regard, but living in the UK - i was glad to see some NHL matches played at a reasonable time!
  25. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    I asked my friend, and he said the reason for the statue is disputed: some same it was pointing to Genoa, some say it was because the harbor exit is to the east, some say because of missionary/evangelistic zeal. The latter is mentioned, he says, in CC's personal journal from the Santa Maria and from his early letters to Ferdinand.
  26. PhilA

    PhilA Puritan Board Sophomore

    I accept that the real reason for the direction of the statue may never be known and each is entitled to his own opinion. I would add one further possibility that CC’s purpose was to reach the east. Maybe he is just pointing to the direction of his intended destination. :D

    Not wishing to be regarded as a “secularist” I would still favour the fact that he faces towards Genoa. The fact that this was a 19th Century Catalonian project speaks volumes to me. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Catalan (Barcelona is a very beautiful city) you will appreciate that the Catalans would rather he face in any direction other than Spain!

    I do not doubt his missionary/evangelistic zeal or his wish for Jerusalem to be reclaimed. I do however believe that this missionary/evangelistic zeal was on behalf of the Papacy.
  27. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I can't agree or disagree with you since my source says it came frome "his diaries".
  28. seajayrice

    seajayrice Puritan Board Sophomore

    Post reported to Ben, I'd keep clear of Mohegan Sun for a few weeks :lol:
  29. Rufus

    Rufus Puritan Board Junior

    Columbus was a pretty bad guy, from what I've learned recently they did some pretty nasty stuff that is recorded first hand by several eyewitnesses. This isn't to convey white guilt as many settlers came to N.A. without the intention of slaughtering indians, finding gold, etc. many, especially our spirtual forefathers.
  30. PhilA

    PhilA Puritan Board Sophomore

    There is a lot of mythology surrounding this man and a lot of accepted facts that we can look back from our privileged historical perspective and condemn. From my readings of the initial accounts he comes across as reasonable for his time displaying compassion towards the indigenous peoples (especially on his first voyage). This of course must be balanced against his later exportation of native slaves to Spain, his alleged mismanagement of the colonies which led to his arrest and return to Spain in shackles etc. Was there anything particular that was recorded first hand?

    There is no doubt that his primary objective was wealth. This was an investment opportunity. However, his desire to bring “Christianity” to the heathen and thereby extend the Papal kingdom must not be discounted. I don’t think a priest accompanied him on his first voyage. This might explain why six natives were taken back to Spain to be baptised. On the second voyage, a much larger expedition to quickly exploit the initial gains, twelve priests were among the party.

    Of course Columbus never made it to North America. His first encounter with Continental America was Venezuela (third voyage 1498) and the most northerly he ever reached was the coast of Honduras (fourth voyage 1502). Perhaps he had heard that the GOP was planning to build a wall to keep him out! A plan I believe they are still discussing amongst themselves to this very day! :D
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