Bringing Christianity to the New World | Opinion


This Monday, many places in America will celebrate Columbus Day in honor of the Italian explorer who became one of the first Europeans to “discover” America in 1492. Many banks will close, as will some schools, where many of us learned for the first time. the famous line “In 1492 Columbus sailed the blue ocean.”

But Columbus Day has fallen out of favor in recent years. Many believe that Columbus began the European colonization of the Americas which brutalized and enslaved local people. This is why many communities now celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. (Interestingly, many Scandinavian regions celebrate Leif Erickson Day, noting that Erickson defeated Columbus in North America by about 300 years).

There is no doubt that Columbus had a huge impact on the New World, both good and bad, including in religion. Columbus was a devout Catholic, who supposedly came to the New World not only for scientific exploration, but for the primary purpose of converting local people to Christianity. Upon arriving in what he believed to be India, he wrote in his diary: “You have considered sending me to said parts of India… to see how their conversion to our Holy Faith could be undertaken. In a very real sense, Columbus became America’s first missionary, and over the next 400 years Spain sent 15,000 more to the New World.

The subject of Christian missionaries is often delicate, with many critics claiming that early missionaries often used brute force to subjugate unbelievers. Columbus never believed in this approach, writing instead: “I knew they were a people who could be more easily freed and converted to our Holy Faith out of love than by force. It comes straight from the Bible, which tells us to “always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have.” But do it with meekness and reverence ”(1 Peter 3:15). From 2 Timothy 2: 25-26, “Opponents are to be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil , who took them captive to do his will.

While these guidelines have often been ignored, especially in the case of European colonization, the important point is that Columbus firmly established the imprint of Christianity in the New World. The impact and importance of Christian missionaries cannot be overstated. It is a special call from God, which often involves physical and emotional dangers, including martyrdom. “How can they call on Him in whom they have not believed?” And how can they believe in the One they haven’t heard of? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can they preach if they are not sent? (Romans 10: 14-15a).

While very few of us will ever be called by God to serve as a missionary in a far country, we must remember to serve in any mission field that God has placed for us. For most of us, it is our neighborhood or our local community. Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the harvester, therefore, to send laborers into his harvest field ”(Matthew 9: 37-38).

Columbus found his harvest field in a New World; ours may be just around the corner. “As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ (Romans 10: 15b).

If you have any questions or comments, please let me know.

If you have any questions or comments, please let me know.

Pastor Brad Schultz, Evangelical Church of Sion, [email protected]

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