Do Church Members Have a Scriptural Obligation to Revere Christopher Columbus?

That’s quite the lengthy post title, right? Fortunately, the answer is far more succinct:

No.

Of course, I can elaborate too. I base that no on two considerations. First, there’s no textual reason to believe that Nephi sees Columbus in the vision he recounts in 1 Ne. 13. Second, whether it refers to Columbus or not (and see point 1), it doesn’t say anything about the person being an exemplar or in any way worth of our respect, emulation, or celebration.

Look, I know what I’m writing flies in the face of a long history of reading Nephi virtually as if he wrote “Columbus.” That’s what I grew up understanding, and I suspect it’s what most (if not all) of you reading this grew up understanding.

That belief derives from 1 Ne. 13:12, which reads:

And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.

The identification of this “man among the Gentiles” probably goes back at least as far as July 4, 1854 when Brigham Young said that the Almighty “moved upon Columbus to launch forth upon the trackless deep to discover the American Continent.” While Young doesn’t specifically reference the Book of Mormon, it’s not too big a stretch to assume that he’s alluding to it.

But take a look at the verse: it doesn’t say anything about Columbus. In fact, it doesn’t say anything about this being the first European to cross the “many waters” to the Americas. (And yes, I know Columbus wasn’t the first. But even if he had been, that wouldn’t mean Nephi’s vision referred to him.) Rather, it says a Gentile was “wrought upon” by the Spirit, crossed the many waters, and encountered his brothers’ descendants. So sure, it could have been Columbus. But it also could have been Leif Erikson. It could have been Davy Jones. It could be any of the Afghan refugees currently coming.

In fact, all we have to do is go to the next verse to realize that whoever this Gentile Nephi saw was, his was not a unique mission. In verse 13, we read:

And it came to pass that I beheld the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters.

Note that this parallels precisely what happened to the Gentile mentioned in verse 12: like him, the Spirit of God wrought upon other Gentiles, too. These later ones went out of captivity, whatever Nephi meant by that. (Honestly, it makes me think more of Australia than the Americas, but whatever.)

So could Nephi have seen a vision of Columbus? Sure. Why not? But, on the other hand, there’s no textual need for it to be Columbus and reading it virtually anybody else who travelled from somewhere that isn’t the Americas to the Americas is precisely as plausible a reading.

But that means it’s not implausible that it could be referring to Columbus. So if we decide that Columbus is the best reading, are we stuck with celebrating him?

Again, no. In Nephi’s vision, he doesn’t make any moral statements about the person who came. Sure, the person was “wrought upon” by the Spirit of God, but that doesn’t suggest any level of worthiness. In 1828, Webster defined “wrought upon” as “influenced; prevailed on.” So the Spirit of God prevailed upon somebody–perhaps Columbus, perhaps not–to cross the many waters and arrive in the promised land. That person was followed by others who were similarly prevailed upon. And, in fact, Nephi saw the multitudes of people who came smiting and scattering his people. In his vision, this represented punishment for the bad behavior of their ancestors, but not necessarily punishment by a worthy group.

Essentially, Nephi’s vision represents a coda to the story of the Book of Mormon. But it’s a tremendously vague coda, one meant to reflect divine displeasure with his people, not divine pleasure with the colonizers. Which means, for at least two reasons, we’re under no obligation to celebrate Columbus nor to make excuses for him.

Photo by Gatis Marcinkevics on Unsplash

Comments

  1. Thanks, Sam, for this timely analysis. I think it’s important to put out there.

  2. What sort of excuses are required for Columbus? I thought my entire life and still believe, after reading the writings of Columbus and his contemporaries, that he was a wonderful man. A perfect man? No, but then, except for Christ, there have not been any. I, for one, love celebrating the arrival of Columbus in the New World. As for Leif Ericson, his visit changed nothing. Columbus’ discovery changed the world. Whether it was the first European voyage or not is not important. That he spread the news of the discovery that gave the poor of Europe a place to escape their poverty and lack of freedom is what matters.

  3. I mean, the most recent excuse I’ve seen for him is that he sent slaves to Spain but not out of nefarious motives. And it seems like, when you have to excuse someone for being a slaver because he didn’t mean harm, you’re making excuses for inexcusable behavior.

  4. I adore Christopher Columbus! Why would I have any problem admiring and revering him?

  5. Georgi, if you adore him, good on you. But that’s on you; like I said, there’s no scriptural basis for it.

  6. Sam, I agree with every word, including that it’s important to say. Thank you.

    However, there’s a subtext that in my opinion must also be addressed, which is that reading Columbus into 1 Nephi 13:12 is part of the exercise of rationalizing and justifying colonialism. Some people care because they learned that verse 12 refers to Columbus in Primary or Junior Sunday School and want to protect the memory. Some people care because Columbus fits their historical model of the Book of Mormon. But I think most people care (pro and con) because they/we understand that God working on the man is a significant event in telling the story of colonialism as God’s work.

  7. Chris, that’s a good point. It’s beyond the narrow scope of what I wrote here, but it’s worth really interrogating the whole chapter; there’s a lot more there than just the (mis)identification of Columbus.

    Also, thanks for your kind words, Karen!

  8. I suspect anyone who reveres Christopher Columbus is woefully uninformed about Christopher Columbus. At least, I hope so. Should that not be the case it would be extremely concerning. I do think it is mentally hard to update long-held perceptions based on factually inaccurate information even when you get correct information, so I am sympathetic to some cases of this but Columbus was pretty egregious.

  9. Sometimes it’s hard to judge. Sometimes it’s really easy. And it’s really easy to say that Christopher Columbus defenders are white supremacists. Full stop.

  10. answermenowjack says:

    Yes, we do have an obligation.

  11. I think the only way to say the text doesn’t refer to Columbus is to apply motivated reasoning. I mean, sure, it doesn’t actually say his name, or that he was Italian, or that he sailed under the Spanish flag, nor does it list the names of his ships. But even if you believe the book was written anciently (I admit I don’t believe that) it was supposedly written for the 19th century audience. So then one has to ask why would the writing refer to a person whom everyone in the 19th century would assume to be the wrong person? There was no need to include an inspired man in the vision at all. He is included precisely because 19th century Americans would recognize him as part of their history.

    In my opinion, to think this passage doesn’t refer to Columbus is wishful thinking. I kind of wish I could say otherwise.

    ———

    From “The Good Place”:

    JANET: Fun fact – Columbus is in the Bad Place. Because of all the raping and killing and slavery.”

  12. The verses before and after the verses in question refer to the wrath of God on the existing inhabitants of the land. I think the man in the “Columbus” verses is a specific illustration of how the wrath is implemented. So the man is an instrument of wrath, as the Assyrians were the rod of God’s anger (Isa. 10:5). The fact that they were each used by God to execute punishments does not necessarily mean that they are approved by God or that we need to honor them. That’s my theological approach. Who Columbus was is a historical question. Whether what he may have started was a good thing, is a cultural and now political question.

  13. In fact, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have an absolute obligation to hold Columbus accountable for his terrible atrocities, for his literal reign of terror:

    Columbus and Accountability

    Even Columbus’s contemporaries in Spain’s pre-modern thoroughly blood-soaked religious terror culture found Columbus to be out of line and out of control. These are historical facts.

  14. Rockwell, you’ll be unsurprised to hear that I disagree. Like I said, the text doesn’t require it to be Columbus. And your reasoning requires two assumptions that are also not textually supported. There’s nowhere in the Book of Mormon that says it was written for a 19th century audience. (And, in fact, even if you read Mormon as saying that, it’s worth noting that 1 Nephi is from a different book.) Further, it’s not written to be read as a secret decoder ring; the point of the chapter is not to let us guess who the person is. The person’s identity is utterly irrelevant to what Nephi is saying. Nephi is talking about the demise (and perhaps redemption) of his people. So while it certainly could be referring to Columbus, it also certainly could not be and, I suspect, a better reading is to not worry about the referent. After all, the Book of Mormon is pretty good at naming people when it believes that names are important.

  15. purple_flurp says:

    On Rockwell’s point, that’s the simplest conclusion to arrive to and one of the reasons I struggle sometimes with the historicity of the BoM.

    I think it’s worth looking at what founding myths 19th century Americans were operating under at the time. Were Columbus and the pilgrims already mythologized at the time like they are today?

    The ‘out of captivity’ line most obviously seems like a reference to the myth that the pilgrims came to north America for ‘religious freedom’ purposes. However I don’t know if that national mythology was established in the 19th century.

    The point is that for me it’s hard to read the BoM as what it says it is because things like this make it seem very plausible that JS or or someone was just writing with the pre-established american national mythology as a starting point for many of the plot points of the BoM’s history.

  16. Columbus national mythology wasn’t really prominent among Protestant Americans in the first quarter/third of the 19th century. Anti-Catholicism was still huge, and Italians were considered inferior to northern Europeans. As non “Anglo-Saxons”, actually, Italians weren’t even really considered “white” at all, which was very important in the thoroughly racist and racialized society and polity that we’re talking about here.

  17. Sam, I have reflected on this some more and I think a bit differently now then I did in my original comment.

    Because I see the text as a 19th century creation, I can’t see it referring to anyone but Columbus. That hasn’t changed.

    However if I put my “belief in ancient origin” hat on and treat the text similar to the Bible, then I should not read Columbus into it, because I don’t do that for the Bible either. I realized upon reflection that I wasn’t treating the Book of Mormon as an ancient text when I said I would.

    A similar thing appears in the Old Testament. Isaiah 7:14 with regard to Christ:

    https://biblehub.com/isaiah/7-14.htm

    Scholars do not believe the common interpretation of this passage that this refers to the birth of Christ, but rather that it refers to someone much earlier in time. (Citation needed). I accept that hypothesis as probable. If I am to treat the Book of Mormon as an ancient text, I suppose I can do the same there and reject the common interpretation.

  18. John Mansfield says:

    There were some comments above wondering about Columbus’ popularity in the early 19th Century. A couple interesting items to point out:

    Phillis Wheatley was enslaved as a child in Africa and bought by a family in Boston in 1761. She became a poet and was emancipated in 1773. Her 1775 poem, “To His Excellency George Washington,” which led Washington to invite her to meet him, seems to have played a key role in popularizing “Columbia.” In 1791 the new nation’s federal district would be named Columbia. The capital of South Carolina was named Columbia in 1782, and Ohio’s Columbus in 1812.

    Washington Irving wrote a multi-volume history of Columbus in 1828. Like fine writers after him such as Alex Haley and Wallace Stegner, Irving didn’t let limitations of his source materials get in the way of a good story.

  19. The myth that it was only Columbus’s accidental discovery of the West Indies (Columbus himself refused to believe he had not made it to India) that made Europeans understand the earth wasn’t flat stems from Washington Irving.

  20. We seem to have a tradition as LDS that God’s Spirit only speaks to the righteous. But perhaps not; I’d wager that King Nebuchadnezzar has a much higher body count than Columbus, and God spoke to him in his dream. I imagine there are other wicked men who were influenced by the
    Spirit sometimes.

  21. History is far more complicated than what we were taught as school children, particularly since we were deliberately taught lies. I was in Spain this summer and noticed a much more nuanced view of Columbus than we have here. It’s openly acknowledged that he was not a hero, that he was stripped of his titles and lands after being put on trial, and that he died in ignominy. But his (disputed) remains are still in a place of honor in the Sevilla Cathedral considering the wealth he brought to Spain and the way his discovery changed the world. (That Cathedral also has art depicting the brutal trampling of African Moors under a horse’s hooves). Of course, Spain also benefited financially from stripping Columbus of his titles and lands. Isabel and Ferdinand are another mixed bag, bringing Catholic rule to Spain and kicking out the far more tolerant Moors. They ushered in a bloody intolerant violent reign. And in turn, the Moors were also not perfectly pluralistic, but they allowed other religions to be observed, unlike the Catholics, yet they also engaged in very bloody repression of locals.

    Basically when people say anything about the past being a good place full of good people, quirk an eyebrow.

  22. I concur with both of Rockwell’s comments.

    But you can’t be inconsistent here. The BoM also talks about the ancient Joseph seeing a future seer from his lineage, who will bear his name. We all agree this is Joseph Smith; this is documented on the Church website. But the scripture doesn’t say explicitly that this is Joseph Smith. So it could be anyone named Joseph. Do you apply the same litmus test here as well Sam? Do you agree that scripture could be talking about anyone named Joseph? The Church certainly doesn’t.

    And for the record, I choose not take the nuanced view Angela mentions about Columbus, independent of what the Book of Mormon may or not say about him.

  23. Bro. Jones says:

    Let’s just say for the sake of argument that there is such a scriptural obligation: what exactly are we supposed to do with mortal figures that we are intended to “revere”? Particularly in this church, where we have an ongoing roster of at least 15 current leaders that we’re supposed to know the names and bios of, many deceased leaders that we are also asked to study and quote— I’m reluctant to increase the list of names any, and particularly not for Columbus.

  24. Typo: I choose TO take the nuanced view Angela mentions about Columbus…

  25. I’d recommend reading both the books ‘1491’ and ‘1493’ by Charles C. Mann. They both give a very detailed and fresh look at what the New World was like before Columbus came and then after. There certainly was not a monolithic culture of ‘Indians’ that Columbus encountered. For example, the Caribs were a particularly brutal and cannibalistic tribe whose defeat by Columbus and company was celebrated by other non-Carib tribes because it meant their people would not be eaten anymore! From what I understand, Columbus’ biggest fault or weakness was that he was a terrible administrator. He was an explorer at heart and didn’t really know how to govern. Give him a break.

  26. Chadwick, I don’t think the text demands that the seer is Joseph Smith. I do, however, think there’s a lot stronger textual evidence for it. And, in fact, that’s part of the reason I see the textual evidence for Columbus-as-referent as being particularly weak: the Book of Mormon is able to name names when it wants to. It is able to describe roles clearly where it wants to. And, like I said in the OP, it tells us a grand total of three things about this person: the person is a Gentile, is wrought upon by the Spirit of God, and crosses many waters to get to the descendants of Nephi’s siblings. Could that be Columbus? Sure. But the Book of Mormon doesn’t say anything about his role being discoverer or first. Or even leader. So I’m pretty entirely sure it’s not referring to me, since I started out in the US (assuming that the US is the promised land which, itself, is another big assumption). But nothing other than non-textual tradition indicates that it has to refer to Columbus.

  27. I do think this verse is most likely referring to Columbus. The context strongly suggests it’s describing the start of European colonization of the New World, and Columbus’s voyage started that.

    But Nephi also felt that Isaiah 10 was important enough to copy into his record, and it clearly teaches that the Lord will use wicked men doing wicked things as part of his plans (especially for punishing other wicked men), but they will still be responsible for their wickedness and punished for it. That could easily apply to Columbus as well as the King of Assyria, the subject of Isaiah 10.

    So I certainly don’t think we have any obligation to “revere” Columbus, but I also don’t think we have any obligation to “hold him accountable” (whatever that means given that he’s been dead for a long time now). Either one would require us judging him, and we have some pretty clear instructions about that. But I will say that anyone who is inclined to revere Columbus had better do a little reading first and find out just what it it they’re endorsing. That information is readily available now and it’s not pretty.

    Side note: I trust the errors that led Columbus to underestimate the size of the Earth (the ancient Greeks knew better) and believe East Asia was within the range of the ships he had available were not due to the influence of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost may have helped him to be persistent, persuasive, etc. so he could make his voyage a reality.

  28. Observer: According to Spanish records, he was chiefly put on trial for his brutalization of the Spanish colonists. While they could stomach (to an extent) genocide and slavery of non-Spaniards, you can’t make a colony through brutal dictatorship, including cutting off noses and hands as routine punishments. And Spain (in addition to slavery) had an eye toward advertising themselves saviors of the savages by converting them to Christianity (a notion that reared its ugly head again in the antebellum South). Given Spain’s track record during this time period for “conversion,” I would say a big no thanks to that.

    To me, a more interesting discussion is what would have happened if Columbus had not made contact with the New World. Eventually some other European would have, and the fact of the matter is that people with higher technology pretty much always destroy those with lower technology. The level of destruction varies in terms of how devastating it is, how much the exploitation is deliberate or accidental, and what the intentions are. If it hadn’t been Spain, the same story could have played out with Portugal at the helm or I dunno, France (?) or England (well, we all know how that went). Europeans did not respect the American natives because Europeans had superior technology. Spain probably did what they all would have done if they got there first. Power corrupts.

  29. Angela C: Right, this proves he was a terrible administrator. From what I understand, a disproportionate amount of the colonists were a unruly, conniving bunch and he had a hard time keeping order and getting them to follow orders. He was not fit for ruling. Few people are. I can only imagine what it would be like to try and rule a bunch of men in a virtual no-man’s land. Piece of cake I’m sure. In this sense, I believe Columbus was incompetent, not nefarious. Incompetent people in power can cause a lot of problems!

  30. Consider the following text:

    ——

    And in that day it shall come to pass that there shall be many children of men who murmur to the parents, yea, and they shall be lazy and slothful. And they shall be called naughty.

    And there shall be many others of the children of men who shall not murmur. And they be strong, even as a horse. Yea, and if the wind shall blow with its shaft and whirlwind they shall stand straight in uprightness before the lord, like a rod of steel. And they shall be called nice.

    And in that day, the spirit of the lord shall work upon a man who lives in the north.

    And that man shall make a list of the naughty children of men.

    And he will make a list of the nice children of men.

    And yea, the list shall be very long.

    And he will ride upon the wind. And great will be the reward for the children of men who are nice. And amongst the other children of men there shall be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    ——

    It’s pretty obvious who I’m talking about here because of our cultural milieu. It doesn’t have to say much about this man for a reasonable person to conclude that we know who it is. To say we don’t know who this is talking about is to ignore the mythos. Assuming of course, that the text is not truly of ancient origin.

  31. Observer: I’m not sure I can agree he was *just* incompetent as an administrator. He was physically brutalizing colonists, in addition to the atrocities committed toward natives which didn’t rate the same attention from Spain. He also encouraged his brothers to do likewise in defense of his honor. It was a colony of women as well as men, and some of the brutalization was of the women. There were 23 affidavits attributing brutality to him and his brothers that led to his trial. So is brutality ever just incompetent leadership? Isn’t brutality always nefarious? That’s my view, but it is of course also going to make one an ineffective leader. Nobody wants to follow a draconian leader with a fragile ego who encourages outsize punishments for infractions.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/aug/07/books.spain

  32. Is brutality always nefarious? I dunno. It’s certainly never good and probably often nefarious, but I could see if Columbus felt like he was in a dog eat dog situation that the brutality enacted was possibly from his point of view self preservation. I would gander to say he felt like there were probably men amongst the colonists that wouldn’t have a second thought at killing him if he didn’t rule with an iron fist at times. Is that evil intent? I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I would bet it’s more complicated than we think.

  33. RLD, maybe holding Columbus accountable now that he’s dead means not revering him and accurately teaching what he did and is responsible for.

  34. Observer, your comments read like this: I mean, I know he committed atrocious crimes, even for the time, but maybe that’s not so bad.

    Why are you so adamant in defending or excusing his actions? Why bring in the Carib? Sure stuff is nuanced, but you seem to be willing to give him a pass when even his contemporaries didn’t. Why?

  35. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    As Sam notes, following Chadwick, the writers of the Book of Mormon are able to name names when they want. Joseph supposedly saw a future prophet from his lineage, bearing his name. It’s not a stretch to trace this to Joseph Smith (though not a slam dunk). But I think that the name of the person who was supposed to cross many waters, whose name was literally derived from Christ, would have merited specific mention.

  36. Columbus violated the moral code and tenets of Christianity from his own period. Inspired persons certainly make mistakes. But do they enslave, murder, rape, engage in sex trafficking and torture? I find that hard to accept.

  37. stephenchardy says:

    I would hazard that almost every human being on the planet is related to Joseph of Egypt in some way, after some 3000 years of human history and the disaspora(s) and all that. Finding a genetic link between the two Josephs is about as notable as noting that both probably shared a few molecules of nitrogen or carbon.

  38. I still find https://theoatmeal.com/comics/columbus_day to be my primary source of opinion on Columbus Day.

  39. Even Bartolomé de las Casas who abhorred the treatment of the natives had this to say about Columbus:

    “Truly, I would not dare blame the admiral’s intentions, for I knew him well and I know his intentions are good.”

    I think the overarching evidence is that he did not have good control of men.

    http://www.kofc.org/en/columbia/detail/christopher-columbus-fake-history.html

  40. I think the overarching evidence is that he did not have good control of men.

    I disagree. Columbus’s personal correspondences shows that he did have sufficient control of his men. He lead the genocide, and enslavement of the American natives.

  41. Got it, the Knights of Columbus, who pushed for the Holiday and the laud of him in the first place argue against “the fake history” which criticizes Columbus even though it is as much or more supported by facts than their narrative. Nothing suspect there.

  42. The amazing thing to me is that of all the people out there, Columbus has his own federal holiday. How many people out there can say that? By my count, it is Columbus, Jesus, and Martin Luther King, Jr.. (Valentine’s Day isn’t a federal holiday, though it is certainly a major, popular holiday, though I’m not sure many people really think the day is about celebrating Valentine.) All 45 US presidents get to share President’s Day. Other days are for groups of people (Veteran, Workers, military who died), or for celebrations of events (harvest, independence, end of slavery, new years, etc.). Obviously, there are many other holidays that are celebrated regionally or with less fanfare (Casimir Pulaski day anyone?) but no others that I can think of that rise to the level of Columbus day. Maybe I’ve missed something obvious?

    Anyway, my point is, if I were starting from scratch to make a list of people to celebrate with their own holiday, I don’t think Columbus would be in in my top 100.

    For the record, I’m ok with Jesus having his day.

  43. Full stop, Matthew? As in end of discussion. My opinion is that of the gods?
    Amazing how you view yourself.

  44. Kendra Harpwr says:

    Sam, how would you characterize enslaving cannibals and shipping to Europe to be educated in Christianity so that they might be returned to their people with new ideas? Perhaps Columbus could just have ordered them killed. Or just have tolerated their cannibalism in the name of people choosing their own moral laws.
    But then we as Latter Day Saints would be duty obligated to judge him on those choices according to some who posted here.
    Columbus cannot win this battle so long as people continue to see all the indigenous people living in his time as peaceful and loving, respectful of the rights of neighboring groups. Something the historical record hardly upholds. To proclaim the Spaniards destroyed such societies ignores the violence and viciousness of some of the societies they did encounter.

  45. Janice Wilson says:

    Sorry, but I cannot buy into your argument. Nephi is reciting the story of his people and and his descendants and those of his brothers. Leif Ericson’s journey had no effect on the history of his people. Columbus returning to Spain with the news of his discovery started events that had profound implications, both good and bad, for the people he cared about.
    If you choose to believe certain stories about Columbus, you should not revere him. What ever gave you the idea the Book of Mormon is asking you to revere him? I see nothing in the text that suggests that .Columbus’s own writings state he was inspired by the Holy Ghost to make his journey. You can reject that as false if you choose. Or assign it some nefarious meaning. Or perhaps realize that God’s plans for America were different from yours. Your choice.

  46. Based on the last couple of comments and timestamps, it looks like a brief, coordinated ‘stand up for righteousness!’ effort is underway. Welcome new commenters!

  47. Glenn Thigpen says:

    I do not worry about. I assumed that Nephi was talking about Columbus for many years, but there is areason that We do not live we in the U.S. do not live on a continent named North Columbia. I expect that Amerigo Vespucci could have been “weought upon by the Spirit of God,” and could be the one to whom Nephi was referring. But it is really academic/ I do not feel the need to “revere” any of thos explorers, although I do believe that I owe them a debt of gratitude for there bravery and curiosity that led to the their explorations.
    God will be their judge.

    Glenn

  48. I guess I’m just not woke enough to give a crap. If I ever get to the point where I wish to be in the “popular” group, I’ll put demonizing Columbus at the top of my list. Well, maybe not the very top, but he’ll be in my top 5.

  49. Quinn I too find Michael’s pronouncement pretentious. Who believes they have the right to call people white supremacists? Only those convinced of their own moral superiority and infallible judgment. And those who believe calling someone a name allows you to dismiss an opinion without needing to answer it.
    But why bother considering why Nephi might have been shown Columbus and the role God might have assigned him. The only standard to judge people by in today’s world is how they treated those with darker skin. Or alternate sexuality. All other considerations must no longer be even considered. That God might have other plans for the Americas than the indigenous population had for the continuation of their culture is not worth considering. That He had children He wanted to send into homes where they could learn of Christ or enjoy the privileges of the gospel would be something He should magically create instead of using flawed mortal men to bring about. I am sorry Sam. I believe Columbus followed the promptings of God. Columbus mattered to Nephi’s descendants. Neither Ericson nor the Afghan refugees nor any of the other explorers mattered to the plans to bring the gospel back into the lives of Nephi’s descendents. Columbus mattered. The American Revolution mattered to Nephi because they were markers on the path to restoring his people to truths they had a right to but had lost access to because of certain unrighteous generations that preceded them. In that they did not differ from the Europeans, Africans, Asians or Pacific Islanders.

  50. As an aside: I find it interesting that Columbus reached Central America on at least one of his voyages. So if he did, indeed, make contact with the folks on the mainland–and if that part of the world is, indeed, Book of Mormon country–then, IMO, that would serve as evidence for the literal fulfillment of Nephi’s prophecy by none other than Columbus.

  51. This paper is written as a defense of Columbus’ character and religious devotion:

    Click to access columbus.pdf

  52. “We only come out at night. We only come out at night. The day is much too bright.”

  53. Can we stop lifting one sentence out of Las Casas’ writings and acting like it proves that Las Casas was a defender of Columbus? Las Casas’ views toward Columbus were complex, and he praised his religiosity, but he did not hold back in his criticism of his brutality–not just incompetence, but actual brutality. Anyone who presents that single sentence acknowledgement by Las Casas that Columbus had good intentions at first as proof that Las Casas thought he was a good man with a few weaknesses is either lying through selective quotation or has not actually read Las Casas.

  54. Jared, if your talking about the Las Casas quote toward the beginning of Delaney’s paper–she was setting up a scenario that would help the reader to better understand Columbus’ motivations. His ultimate dream had to do with enabling the Christians to take Jerusalem from the Muslims–and perhaps even seeing the temple rebuilt.

    So however one may view his actions in the New World–the point she’s making is that Columbus was a deeply religious man and driven by what he felt was a holy quest.

  55. john f.,

    If you’re still reading this thread–I followed the link you provided to the older post on Columbus. And I have to say–looking back on my comments there–I was very harsh towards you.

    Forgive me, brother.

  56. I’m not, Jack, I’m talking about Observer’s comment above, which uses a quote I’ve been seeing pulled up a lot in the last few days, in support of arguments that do not at all conform with Las Casas’ writings as a whole.

  57. Thanks, Jack.

  58. Well, isn’t this an interesting thread.

    I don’t know how much I have to offer. I came here looking for a definitive doctrinal statement that the person in the revelation is in fact Columbus because there’s more to the claim that it could be Leif Erikson than people here acknowledge.

    See, in 1477, Columbus spent a winter in Iceland, the place from which Erikson hailed. A very recent discovery strongly suggests that Italians knew about the Norse journey to the Americas as far back as the 1300s.

    While correlation doesn’t prove causation, there is definitely room to consider that Erikson’s journey was actually Columbus’ inspiration for his own quest. If that’s the case, Erikson should be credited (or blamed) for being the impetus for all that came afterward. If he influenced Columbus, he did more than anyone on here is willing to give him credit for.

  59. Daniela S. S. says:

    Well, if someone here could read some of the Columbus’ personal journal, would discover that he was guided by the Spirit to come America without know why. When he comes to America, he starts to understand that the main necessity of the people was being evangelized, so, I really believe that those particular verses, actually, talks about Columbus.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: