3 Truths The Restoration Teaches Us About Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus is one of the most controversial historical figures. Whereas academia has demonized him, the leaders of the church have defended him as instrumental in the hands of God. It is kinda funny how often academia has demonized someone who the Church defends… Like Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and many other leaders of the church slander is Satan’s greatest tool to destroy and discredit the restoration.
Two important things to remember about Columbus is. (And this is not meant to justify his actions)
We can not judge someone in the 1400’s by 2000’s standards as we do far too often with historical figures.
We must remember that Columbus was challenging Catholic Christianity, with his claims that the earth was not flat and that Angels, visions, and revelations were real. To many of Columbus opponents he is a heretic, and in the 1400 and 1500’s it was common to lie to about a heretic to get him put away, the inquisition is proof of that. Of Columbus the Ensign has said
“Some of the debunkers, however, have become overenthusiastic, even slanderous, in their attempts to demythologize Columbus. Their approach often serves to bolster a political cause rather than promote a search for truth. Such activity is counterproductive, not because it tears down the heroic myth, but because it merely sets another myth in its place—the equally false myth of Columbus as a villain.”
Columbus and the Hand of God – Ensign Oct. 1992
So what is the truth about Columbus? Here are three truths that the Apostles have taught about Columbus.
- 1st. Christopher Columbus was led to America by God.
The Book of Mormon teaches us that Christopher Columbus was led by God to discover America and lead a whole new wave of immigrants to the new world. We learn this in 1st Nephi 13:12 which says.
And I looked and beheld a man among the gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many water; 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.
Speaking about this verse in 1976 President N. Eldon Tanner said. “This, as we know, refers to Christopher Columbus, who was impelled by the Spirit of God to cross the ocean for the rediscovery of America, thus assisting in the furthering of God’s purposes.” (italics added)
But President Tanner is not the only Apostle who stated that Christopher Columbus was called of God, in 2005 Elder Robert D. Hales said “In 1492 Christopher Columbus set out to find a new path to the Far East. Columbus was led by the hand of God in his journey.” (italics added)
In the mouth of three witnesses in 1975, President Marion G. Romney taught
“In 1492, in harmony with the Lord’s statement heretofore quoted, “that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord” (2 Ne. 1:6), Columbus was divinely led to America.” (italics added)
- 2nd. Columbus is one of only five men in the entire history of the Church that was ordained a High Priest instead of an Elder in the temple.
Less well-known than 1st Nephi 13:12 is the vision Wilford Woodruff has in August of 1877 in which the signers of the Declaration of Independence “demanded” their temple work be done. As they had played their role in the Restoration and it had not been done yet. Subsequently, Wilford Woodruff was baptized for 54 of the signers.
What does this have to do with Christopher Columbus? Everything. These Baptisms were performed on the 21st of August but Wilford Woodruff was not baptized only for these 54 men, he was also baptized for 46 other men that day by John McAllister, (John was Also baptized for 21 people, and Lucy Bigelow Young for 70 Sisters including the wives of many of the signers). Of those 100 people Wilford Woodruff was baptized for it included Christopher Columbus.
Over the next 3 days, Wilford Woodruff called upon the saints to help with the endowments of these eminent men and women. In his journals, he accounts that of these 121 men that received their endowments 5 were ordained to the office of High Priest. Those 5 include George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Wesley and Christopher Columbus, the fifth is unnamed. (Journals of Wilford Woodruff 7:367-369) That is some distinguished company to be in.
- 3rd. Angel Moroni visited Columbus.
Even less well know than Nephi’s prophecy of Columbus or President Woodruff’s ordaining him to the office of High Priest is the fact that Moroni visited Columbus and was the one that guided him to the New World. Orson Hyde taught the following
“This same angel [Moroni] was with Columbus, and gave him deep impressions, by dreams and by visions, respecting this New World. Trammeled by poverty and by an unpopular cause, yet his persevering and unyielding heart would not allow an obstacle in his way too great for him to overcome; and the angel of God helped him—was with him on the stormy deep, calmed the troubled elements, and guided his frail vessel to the desired haven.”
Elder Orson Hyde, July 4th, 1854 (Journal of Discourses 6:368).