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The Millennial, Pentecostal, And Purpose-Driven Christopher Columbus!?!

Today, we celebrate "Columbus Day" here in the United States.

Some of you (like me!) actually have off from work.

Others are off from school.

For the rest of you, I thought it would be fun to spend some time researching the guy responsible for giving me a day off with my family, and that anything I found I could use to provide you with some interesting reading material to help pass some time.

Explorer and navigator Christopher Columbus was born in 1451 in the Republic of Genoa, Italy. His first voyage into the Atlantic Ocean in 1476 nearly cost him his life. Columbus participated in several other expeditions to Africa. 1492, Columbus left Spain in the Santa Maria, with the Pinta and the Niña along side. Those voyages and his efforts to establish permanent settlements on the island of Hispaniola initiated the European colonization of the New World. 
Columbus Day is a national holiday in many countries in the Americas and elsewhere which officially celebrates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Americas on October 12, 1492. The landing is celebrated as "Columbus Day" in the United States, as "Día de la Raza" ("Day of the Race") in many countries in Latin America and as "Día de la Hispanidad" and "Fiesta Nacional" in Spain, where it is also the religious festivity of la Virgen del Pilar. It is also celebrated as Día de las Américas (Day of the Americas) in Belize and Uruguay, as Discovery Day in the Bahamas, as Día del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural (Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity) in Argentina and as Giornata Nazionale di Cristoforo Colombo or Festa Nazionale di Cristoforo Colombo in Italy and in the Little Italys around the world. These holidays have been celebrated unofficially since the late 18th century and officially in various countries since the early 20th century. 
Columbus Day first became an official state holiday in Colorado in 1906, and became a federal holiday in the United States in 1937, though people have celebrated Columbus's voyage since the colonial period. In 1792, New York City and other U.S. cities celebrated the 300th anniversary of his landing in the New World. President Benjamin Harrison called upon the people of the United States to celebrate Columbus Day on the 400th anniversary of the event. During the four hundredth anniversary in 1892, teachers, preachers, poets and politicians used Columbus Day rituals to teach ideals of patriotism. These patriotic rituals took themes such as citizenship boundaries, the importance of loyalty to the nation, and celebrating social progress.

That was from Wikipedia and I'm willing to bet that most people are familiar with all of that.

However, I thought we could spend a few minutes taking a look at another aspect of this holiday if not also trying to dig up some little known facts about this famous explorer.

Specifically, what might we learn about the man himself that maybe we didn't know before? Isn't it funny how educators want to be "fair and balanced" and "entirely truthful" about some things, but not about others?

Isn't it funny how the things they say "need clarifying" for historical posterity are always the types of things that are ultimately meaningless when it comes to the big picture while they choose to leave out all the other really important stuff?

Take, for instance, the 2009 "controversy" over Christopher Columbus. Yes, controversy. As one infamous headline in the national news described it that year on Columbus Day...

A Darker Side of Columbus Emerges In U.S. Classrooms 
EXCERPT: Jeffrey Kolowith’s kindergarten students read a poem about Christopher Columbus, take a journey to the New World on three paper ships and place the explorer’s picture on a timeline through history. Kolowith’s students learn about the explorer’s significance though they also come away with a more nuanced picture of Columbus than the noble discoverer often portrayed in pop culture and legend. "I talk about the situation where he didn’t even realize where he was,” Kolowith said.” And we talked about how he was very, very mean, very bossy."

Forgive me, but is it really all that important for students (especially those in Kindergarten) to know that he was a "very, very mean" man?

How is any of that important to a proper introductory study on the man and his place in our nation's (and our world's) history?

How does knowing that character flaw of his (assuming it's true) expand our knowledge and understanding of the man, his passions, the time period he lived in, and what truly drove him to embark on such perilous journeys across the open seas let alone tell us anything about the monumental discoveries he made?

Furthermore, aren't we all a little guilty of being "very, very mean" from time to time? Wait, my bad. After all, this is a secular public school that decided to go down that road.

I think a better approach would be to present both the good and the bad like The Wall Street Journal did just this morning in "Straight Talk About Christopher Columbus" when they wrote, "This Columbus Day we need no triumphalism. Let it be a day instead to ponder the human capability for good and evil and wonder how we might encourage more of the good." Ok, now that's a more fair and balanced treatment of the topic, in my humble opinion.

With that being said, wouldn't we learn more about a famous person by reading about the types of books, journals, papers, and speeches they wrote when they were alive? If Teachers were really so concerned about presenting historical figures accurately, instead of just parroting the politically correct traditional talking points, then they would teach a more complete and comprehensive understanding of the person, and not just deliberately skew the presentation to the point where it's entirely negative as in this case from several years ago.

Look, I'm not naive. I know why this trend has been happening for years now. There's a growing movement of people in this country that want to tear down all of our historical figures and make us hate this country in the end. That's the cold, hard truth I'm afraid.

Sure, I get that he was no saint, but who is? Again, it's clear to see a deliberate agenda when you consider what they decide to teach and what they decide to ignore telling the students. That's why it's a real shame that in nearly every case across the board you'll find that any discussion about Columbus' Christian faith is noticeably absent. Hardly a surprise in a nation where God was kicked out of the public classroom (and most of the public arena) long ago, but genuine Columbus Historians will tell you that his faith is what made him the man that he was, and that it's what ultimately drove him to embark upon those dangerous missions in the first place.

Get this though! Did you know that Columbus believed his discovery of the New World was necessary in order to fulfill an ancient Bible prophecy? Me neither!

So, what exactly did Christopher Columbus assert when, circa 1500 AD, he wrote about the New World in one of his famous letters?

"God made me the messenger of the new heaven and the new earth of which he spoke in the Apocalypse of St John after having spoken of it through the mouth of Isaiah; and he showed me the spot where to find it."

Whoa, easier there, buddy!

Apparently, Christopher Columbus was a Millennial, Pentecostal, and Purpose-Driven Christian before there were Millennial, Pentecostal, and Purpose-Driven Christians here in America!

No, he wasn't some "New Apostle" chosen by God to "usher in the beginning of the end times" who "heard God's voice" because "God spoke to him" through some supernatural and subjective "vision," but I admire his religious passion and zeal, and wanting to give God some of the credit.

As far as I can tell, this is not a hoax. This is legit history and factual through and through. I'm always open to being corrected though if it's not. So please feel free to do so in the Comments Section below if this entire entry today is nothing but nonsense associated with this well-known sailor that I fell for hook, line, and sinker.

Now, my intent here today isn't to criticize his deficiencies when it comes to exegesis and hermeneutics either, because I think anyone who's here reading this right now is discerning enough to see that this belief of his was incredibly un-Biblical, and it's akin to the John Hagee "Blood Moons Prophecy" or the more popular "Left Behind Prophecies" still so prevalent in Christianity today.

Instead, my point is to simply point out Columbus' admirable sense of purpose and vocation (even if it was a little skewed) that was rooted in his Christian faith, which I believe is typically lost if not ignored completely whenever hos life and work is taught in schools throughout America.

My brief study of Christoper Columbus led me to some other unexpected discoveries that are worth noting. Did you know that Christopher Columbus produced a famous book called the "Book of Prophecies" containing over 200 Biblical and Patristic passages that he compiled himself? Me neither!

Apparently, when Columbus made his case to win support from the Vatican and the Spanish monarchy, at the center of his manifesto was a millennial prophecy about the destiny of the land that he would discover.

As The Center For The Study of Religion And Society states...

To dismiss the collection, as some have, as merely a "sales-job" appealing to the highly religious nature of the Queen, however, is to miss the point. To conclude that it represents "an unfortunate, and sudden and radical, lurch from a previously rational and competent man of the world to a self-pitying and self-aggrandizing prophet," is, at best, to judge it out of context. Biblical prophecy was a major factor in Columbus's formulations. Though largely self-taught, he was remarkably well informed on the Bible, which he believed was the foundation of all learning, explicitly or implicitly setting forth all knowledge. He employed scholarly Biblical commentaries, but he also came to believe that the Holy Spirit had provided him with the illumination necessary to unlock its messages. 
That Columbus could not convince others of the prophetic importance of his accomplishments proved disappointing, but he would be bewildered to learn that later historians would dismiss the importance of his eschatology. To most, it is not a flattering reflection on the Admiral of the Ocean Sea, but it does take us one step closer to reality.

So, what was at the core of his Book of Prophecies?

He said that a "New World" was to arise in the West to fight a final Crusade against the Arab powers of the Middle East! Wow! That's eerily timely given our current war with Islamic terrorists today, isn't it?

Ok, yes, that might be true, but that doesn't make Christopher Columbus a "prophet" by any means. Not when you consider current events and the state of the world at the time that he wrote such things.

I'll admit, I do find all of it quite fascinating though.

There's even more eyebrow-raising material that Columbus wrote to make you wonder if LaHaye and Jenkins got the inspiration for their best-selling "Left Behind" series from the explorer's published works.

For example, particularly appealing to Columbus was Joachim's prediction that the prophesied messiah-emperor who would retake the Holy Land (a.k.a. the coming Antichrist), would come from Spain.

In case you're wondering like I was, Joachim of Fiore, also known as Joachim of Flora and in Italian Gioacchino da Fiore (c. 1135 – 30 March 1202), was an Italian theologian and the founder of the monastic order of San Giovanni in Fiore.

Later followers, inspired by his works in eschatology and historicist theories, are called Joachimites. He theorized the dawn of a new age, based on his own interpretation of verses in the Book of Revelation, in which the Church would be unnecessary (which, of course, is heresy!), and in which infidels would unite with Christians. Members of the spiritual wing of the Franciscan Order acclaimed him as a prophet. His popularity was enormous in the period, and some sources hold that Richard the Lionheart wished to meet him to discuss the Book of Revelation before leaving for the Third Crusade of 1189-1192.

Thomas Aquinas refuted his theories in his Summa Theologica, but in The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri placed him in paradise.

Ultimately, Joachim's theories were declared heretical and he held to an unorthodox view of the Holy Trinity. And yet, of critical importance is the fact that Joachim himself was never condemned as a heretic by the Catholic church! The ideas and movement surrounding him is what were condemned. Joachim the man was always held in high regard during his lifetime.

So, this was Columbus' go-to-guy for all things prophetic, huh? Well then. That explains a lot then.

Not unlike others of his time, the basic elements of Columbus’s apocalyptic vision included the appearance of an emperor-messiah, the conversion of all people in the world to Christianity, the final recovery of the Holy Land from the "infidels," the advent of the Antichrist, and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Also common was his belief that Christ's Second Coming was imminent.

What was unique about Columbus's prophetic vision was his deep seated belief that he had been chosen by God to play a key role in this inexorably unfolding cosmic drama.

Columbus was also conversant, largely through secondary sources, with prominent ancient and medieval theologians. His letters and notes refer to Augustine, Ambrose, Venerable Bede, Roger Bacon, Thomas Aquinas, and others. 

Most useful to him, however, were the 15th century works of Pierre d'Ailly, especially his Image mundi, in which Columbus made some 898 marginal notes, and the writings of Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (Pope Pius II). Columbus's 861 postils in Pius II's Historia rerum ubique gestarum are the earliest evidence we have of Columbus's evolving eschatology. They have been dated to 1481, some 20 years before he began work on his Book of Prophecies.

Again, the point his that Columbus wasn't regarded by his contemporaries as some fringe lunatic Christian who believed some crazy things.

At the same time, sitting here some 516 years after he wrote what he wrote, I'm inclined to think that Columbus was a guy who spent way too much time out at sea that he lost his own bearings so to speak.

This is a guy who was initially grounded in God's Word, and who was well-versed in the writings of other famous religious scholars and theologians of his day-and-age, but who still strayed from "the faith entrusted once for all to the saints" (Jude 1:3) to a point where he started believing, teaching, and confessing "myths and endless genealogies" (1 Timothy 1:4), and ironically, was "tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes" (Ephesians 4:14).

In a Lutheran layman's terms, I'm all for teaching a more accurate and complete picture of historical figures in schools, even if it reveals to us a Millennial, Pentecostal, and Purpose-Driven Christopher Columbus.

NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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