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Christopher Columbus, the Gospel Enigma

Christopher Columbus – the Enigma

On Oct 9th, 1492 on board the Santa Maria, Christopher Columbus met with the captains Martin and Vicente Pinzon’s of his two sister ships the Pinta and the Nina. Though Columbus had waited 7 anguished years to make this epic voyage into what he believed to be a God ordained mission to explore the new world, it looked like that night, the voyage would end. The two seasoned sea captains demanded this particular meeting to inform Columbus that the mission must end, for both of their crews were past the point of break down, and were planning mutiny if they refused to immediately return to Spain. It was no idle threat,

“Columbus knew that the Pinzon’s were not exaggerating the gravity of the situation. He himself had to admit that all week long the men on his own particular ship were grumbling. Once he had even heard one jokingly suggest that they throw their captain overboard and return with the story that he lost his balance while taking sight on the polestar. Columbus knew that it would only be a matter of time before it would cease to be a joke. In anguish he turned away from the Pinzon’s. Striding to the aft window, he gazed at the dying rays of the sun on the endless expanse of sea behind them. All his dreams…


There was an even deeper reason for his despair, one which he never divulged to anyone. He had long been convinced that God had given him a special, almost mystical mission: To carry the Light of Christ into the darkness of undiscovered heathen lands, and to bring the inhabitants of those lands to the holy faith of Christianity. His own name: Christopher, which literally means ‘Christ-bearer’, was to him a clear indication that God had called him to do this. Indeed, he found confirmation of his call almost everywhere he looked. He would quote in his journal such lines of Scripture as those in Isaiah which meant so much to him. Is 49:1 ¶  Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. …v6b I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.[1]


The account goes on to state that Columbus managed to negotiate three more days of westward travel, and it was on the third day, land was spotted.

The land he first sited is thought by historians to be one of the island in the Bahamas group[2]. Guanahaní is an island in the Bahamas that was the first land in the New World sighted and visited by Christopher Columbusfirst voyage, [3]



Having also experienced God’s call upon my life, and the anguish that goes into fully determining to obey Him without compromise, I empathize with Columbus as described in this account.


As a missionary to native Americans, I empathize with the historic pain and suffering of our First Nations peoples at the hands of Columbus, and other colonizers, who have committed genocide and horrendous atrocities against their ancestors. (

Yet, greater than this, must be the answer, from Gods perspective, which is always the gospel of Jesus Christ. So then, the question I ask myself is this: “What does God think about Christopher Columbus?”

I read this article, and I quote:

Irish and French Catholics have argued that Columbus, who “brought the Christian faith to half the world,” should be named a saint. Though the move had the approval of Pope Pius IX (reign 1846–1878), Columbus was never canonized because he fathered an illegitimate child, and there was no proof he had performed a miracle.

Between 1493 and 1820, Spain sent some 15,585 missionaries to the Americas.

Columbus had great moral and physical courage. Again and again he faced mutinous sailors, armed rebels, frightful storms, and fighting Indians.

Christopher Columbus had a mystic belief that God intended him to sail the Atlantic Ocean in order to spread Christianity. He said his prayers several times daily. Columbus wrote what he called a Book of Prophecies, which is a compilation of passages Columbus selected from the Bible which he believed were pertinent to his mission of discovery. What a person believes is what determines his interpretation of life and history and inspires his vision and purpose in life. Columbus’s own writings prove that he believed that God revealed His plan for the world in the Bible, the infallible Word of God. Columbus believed that he was obeying the mission God staked out for his life when he set sail west across the Atlantic Ocean.[4]

If we honestly believe the gospel, and these words of Jesus recorded in John 14:6  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me, then in light of the great commission, it looks like Columbus authentically heard the voice of God and radically obeyed Him.

Did he do it right? Absulutely NOT! The great commission reads: Matt 28: 18  And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

19  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Teaching them! NOT enslaving and slaughtering them)

Mark 1:1 ¶  The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;

2  As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

3  The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

Well, opening the door for over 15,000 Christian missionaries to come and bring the gospel to North America, sure looks like something that puts a smile upon Gods face.

Coming as ‘conquistadors’ to conquer, enslave, and oppress the resident peoples of the land is NOT the will of God. Jesus washed His disciples feet, NOT conquered them with the sword. His kingdom moves forward in love, not slaughter.

Yet, despite the atrocities of Christopher Columbus, he did open the door of the gospel to North America and the new world, and for this, God Himself commends him.

During the final chapter of his life, historians record that Columbus sequestered himself in a monastery to seek Gods forgiveness for his many crimes against humanity. Reportedly, in one of his journal entries, God did speak to him, and explain to him that though he failed in obeying Him in bringing the gospel to America, His plan would not be thwarted, and that Columbus was forgiven and allowed to enter heaven and the plan of God would move forward.

So, what is my position on Christopher Columbus?

I’m reminded of the famous quote: ‘Those that refuse to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it’

Studying his life reminded me of my sea-faring days, and how the call of God has revolutionized my life and priorities.(

I often tell people, I am very sincere in all that I do, but as I have grown older and hopefully wiser, I can see how I have often been sincerely wrong in some of the decisions I have made in life.

There is no doubt in my mind that Columbus authentically heard God to bring the gospel to North America, but the ‘gospel’ he brought was tainted by colonial teachings of conquest, that resulted in much needless bloodshed and atrocities, far from the mind and heart of God.

I remember vividly, while reading Mike Bickle’s book: ‘Growing in the Prophetic’ the lessons he and his pastoral staff learned in attempting to pastor the prophetic and embrace it, without bringing chaos to the church. He was asked about ‘false prophets’, or people proclaiming the voice of the Lord, and how they got that way. He was asked: Do these people not hear God clearly or make up stuff out of their imagination? Pastor Mike stated: As we have interviewed people who seemed to give erroneous prophetic words, we discovered something interesting. In most cases, we discerned that these people had actually heard Gods voice clearly, but the errors usually occurred in 2 main categories: Interpretation and Application. Many heard God clearly, but attempted to interpret what God said through their own agenda or understanding that resulted in conclusion that were erroneous on how God wanted what He said applied in our midst. (


How I wish Columbus knew this!!! I believe he authentically heard God to sail to the new world and bring the gospel here, but God NEVER told him to enslave, slaughter and abuse the natives living here, nor did God make him a tyrant and dictator, so corrupt that word finally reached Spain to have him removed from his post.

How does this affect me personally? I am trying to add to the work of God in USA, and so am learn history from God’s perspective. Having attempted to love and walk with native Americans since 1995, I am interested in how God has been visiting the people, before the white man came as conquistadors, and I fully understand how natives would like to remove Columbus Day from our national calendar. In light of the atrocities he committed, I see their perspective, yet from God’s perspective, Columbus, with all his faults and horrors, was sent by heaven to bring the gospel to the new world, and in this, he was wildly successful in his time, mobilizing over 15,000 missionaries to come to what was then uncharted wilderness to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Whether you endorse or condemn the work of the thousands of Franciscan and Dominican monks who came here, I choose to honor their faith and legacy in Jesus.


I’m with this brother. I HATE how our government has treated natives, and know that only in Jesus is there healing for this country.

Notice here the statement of the conquistadors; “One friar could accomplish peaceably what it might take a thousand soldiers to do forcibly, so they made it a policy to encourage these missionary efforts”

Which is why I strongly preach Christian involvement in politics, as we must be the ones dictating morality and government policy in light of the love and fear of God..

Phew! 80,000 Indians baptized in this ministry, Glory to God!!

Such was the pattern for living that God set down, as He began His work in this country: and it is as valid today as it was then. For He does not go back on His word, nor has He changed His intent.

As I have mentioned in my article: USA has a history of broken treaties and genocide of Native Americans, but the Spanish initiated this horror, long before our government:

Treachery, betrayal and murder are nothing new on North American soil.

Yet, we are looking at the work of God through Christopher Columbus, so consider this account from his journal, while caught in a storm at sea:

God loved Columbus, and like all of us, commanded him to have faith and trust in Him alone.

In conclusion, I have decided to endorse and love Christopher Columbus for his authentic faith and attempt to obey Jesus.

Columbus is in heaven and those of us who serve Jesus, will see him in heaven.


[1] Marshall, Peter, and David Manuel. “One.” Essay. In Light and the Glory. Fleming H Revell Co, 1980.





[5] The Light and the Glory.

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