Full disclosure: I’m going to say some things as if they’re definitely true, I’m going to ask a bunch of questions and mention some scenarios, and I’m going to say some things about how I don’t have the answers and leave you hanging. I’m going to be laying into Christians and Christianity quite a bit, because Christianity is my home. It’s part of who I am, and I need to take responsibility for my place in this community. We need to take responsibility for our faith. This isn’t about bashing on Christians. This post is about dwelling in the discomfort of reality. I can’t see the future, and I don’t have all the answers, but I believe with all my heart that this is worth writing down, talking about, and dwelling in.
Christian Christopher Columbus
Real talk: Christopher Columbus was a Christian. He wrote in his diary, in correspondences, and in published works about converting indigenous peoples to Christianity, and I’ve heard (haven’t read the works myself, so take this with a grain of salt) that he used scripture to justify his actions toward indigenous peoples. Frankly, I’d be surprised if that last part isn’t true. Regardless, there isn’t really any escaping the fact that Christianity played a role in Columbus’s life and choices, unless we want to set forth a stricter definition of what constitutes being a Christian (i.e. stricter than saying one believes that Jesus was the Christ and calling oneself a disciple).
Here’s what I mean by a stricter definition: many Christians might argue that just saying one is a disciple of Christ doesn’t actually make it so. Here’s a popularly quoted verse: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21, NRSV) In other words, Columbus wasn’t actually a Christian — not a real Christian. He just pretended to be one so he could gain power, or he just thought he was one but was blind/deceived, or he was sincere but missed the mark (“poor Columbus…BUT, at least he’s not one of us!”).
Not only is this kind of distancing not helpful, I think it can actually be harmful.
Can’t We Just Ignore That Columbus Was a Christian?
No, we can’t just ignore that Columbus was a Christian, because there will always be people who use Christianity to do evil things. Historically, there has never been a time in Christian history when there wasn’t somebody using Christian theology, doctrine, scripture, or traditions to justify some sort of manipulation, oppression, hatred, injustice, etc. We’re not just talking about wolves in sheep’s clothing, either; this isn’t only non-Christians pretending to be Christians in order to take advantage of Christians. Believe it or not, we don’t need any outside help to do bad things. Even before any kind of “official” Biblical canon existed, people were doing this. Even the New Testament shows this.
What do you think Simon’s goal was when he attempted to buy the Spirit for himself? (Acts 8:9-24) How about when certain people came from James and convinced Peter to separate himself from the Gentile Christians and create factions (Galatians 2:11-12), or all of Paul’s rebukes to the Corinthians for arguing about teachers, spiritual gifts, and public recognition or using communion as a way to further distinguish rich from poor? (1 Corinthians) How about when people were “bewitching” the Galatians into conformity, thus stripping them of their freedom in Christ? (Galatians)
Once Christianity became institutionalized, the problem grew exponentially. The Western Biblical canon, in whatever form it took, became a catalyst for every kind of evil imaginable. It became so entangled in Western life that we even gave it a name: Christendom. The Bible was very quickly appropriated by Western cultures, and Christians, unable or unwilling to disentangle themselves, traded the vibrancy of the faith for the stability of the institution.
This is inevitable, because anything that can influence people can be used for power, and anything that can be used for power will be used for power. Ignoring the fact that Columbus was a Christian usually (always?) assumes that we aren’t abusing Christianity for the sake of power. “He’s not a real Christian” implies that “real Christians” won’t fall prey to whatever evils Columbus did. It provides us with a convenient cop-out: “I’m a real Christian, so I don’t do evil things.” We effectively blind ourselves to whatever evils are being perpetrated among our own communities in the name of Christianity.
When we refuse to name the reality that Columbus was a Christian, we do so at the expense of acknowledging the way Christianity has been used for the sake of power — not Gospel power, not Holy Spirit power, not loving power, not resurrection power or reconciling power; not transformative, nurturing, refining, pruning, raised-from-the-dead, eternal life, grace-and-truth power. Abusive, toxic, oppressive, hate-fueled, arrogant, power-of-death-through-violence power. If we refuse to acknowledge that such abusive power exists within Christianity, we won’t recognize it among ourselves, and we’ll end up becoming complicit because of our delusion.
In other words, refusing to accept that Columbus was a Christian and that he did atrocious things because of his Christianity blinds us to the inevitable abuses of Christianity in our midst and causes us to live in the delusion that “Christians are good.”
So…Christians Aren’t Good?
Christians are people. Being a Christian doesn’t automatically make us good or bad. We can’t blanket that all Christians are evil any more than we can blanket that all Christians are not evil. That’s precisely the point: Christians should start publicly acknowledging both the good and the evil perpetuated by Christians. Right now, however, there’s a frightening lack of acknowledging the evil in Christian history and explicitly and publicly naming the Christians involved in those evils.
How can people trust anything that we claim about ourselves, Jesus, God, love, faith, etc. if they can clearly see evil among us but we continue to deny it’s existence as part of our communities? Christians aren’t inherently evil, but on the whole, we’re not doing a great job of being honest, either.
Let me be honest: I start feeling defensive when “Christian” is used as a descriptor to talk about people who do terrible things. I can’t help it; it’s a gut reaction. This is my faith, and I cringe when it’s explicitly associated with injustice and evil — all the more when it’s listed as a defining characteristic of perpetrators or as the very thing that inspired them. That’s a big part of why I’m writing this post, because I was unexpectedly confronted with the uncomfortable reality that Christopher Columbus was a Christian and that his belief in the Bible of Christianity was a big part of why he did what he did.
Since Columbus Day was earlier this week, some of my friends were discussing some of Columbus’s more heinous choices — you know: the raping, pillaging, enslaving choices. None of this was news to me; it’s been a long time since I became disillusioned about the historical realities of European colonization in North America. It wasn’t really news to any of us, so despite the gravity of the facts, the conversation was relatively light hearted. We were serious in our disappointment, but not shocked. Then someone said this:
“Fuck that pasty, Christian, racist son of a bitch.”
Instant discomfort. If you grew up in mostly white, conservative, Christian circles, like myself, you might be feeling it, too. If you’re not feeling that discomfort, I hope it’s because you agree with the statement and not because you’re dismissing it as ridiculous or at least because you’re open to considering it.
Yes, Columbus was probably “pasty.” Yes, Columbus was definitely racist. And, yeah, if cursing about Columbus is the most accurate representation of how someone feels, go for it. I even knew, in my head, that Columbus was “technically a Christian,” but seeing it right there — having it listed not only as a technical fact but as a directly defining reality alongside pasty and racist — was viscerally offensive to me as a Christian.
“Don’t do that,” I thought to myself. “Don’t talk about Christopher Columbus like he’s representative of all Christians — like his Christianity was an inseparable part of what he did. He was a ‘pasty racist’ who happened to also be a Christian!”
That’s when I realized how attacked I felt, and I’ve learned that when I feel that attacked and that defensive, there’s something deeper that I need to deal with, so I forced myself to step back a little from my feelings and examine the situation. I did a little bit of Google searching, a bit of article reading, and yes, Columbus, himself, connects his Christianity to his actions. I started to see all kinds of parallels between what I was reading about Columbus and things I was seeing/reading/experiencing with current expressions of Christianity.
As much as that hurts to think about — as incredibly uncomfortable as it is to name Christianity as a direct and accurate description of Columbus — it’s a reality. It’s 100% the truth, and because of that, Christianity (i.e. the Bible and Christian institutions) directly inspired Columbus’s actions. He wasn’t some wolf pretending to be a sheep; he was a fully-fledged, dyed-in-the-wool Christian who actually believed in the white supremacy, Western elitism, empire colonization doctrines being perpetuated from scripture.
I hate it! I hate every instance of Christianity and the Bible being used to perpetuate evil anywhere for any reason! But what do we expect? Do we expect that people will believe Jesus was the Christ and then magically abandon all evil and wickedness and sin? Because I’ll be honest, it kind of seems like that’s what many people expect, and that’s pretty incongruent with historical Christianity, let alone Jesus. Should we just argue it away or ignore it or try to rationalize how Columbus twisted this or that verse or how his motivations were impure? What does that do for us? More importantly, what does it do for those who suffer injustice? What does it change, and what does it benefit the world?
Leaning into our feelings of defensiveness and attempting to separate Christianity from the realities of people’s actions only protects ourselves. It’s utterly self-serving and does nothing to promote love, justice, grace, or truth. It does nothing to reconcile and heal; it does nothing to right wrongs. It only seeks to hide from the pain and suffering of reality, and our faith cannot be allowed to shrink so small.
Perspective: BLM, 9/11, and Homes
As I dwell on Christopher Columbus, I continue to notice both similar and contrasting perspectives between common, Christian responses to Columbus and recent responses to current events. I want to look at some of those perspectives, because I want us to have every opportunity to connect with this issue. This isn’t just about Columbus or how we feel about the things he did. This is about acknowledging, and actually dwelling with, the reality that Christianity, perhaps more than anything else in Western cultures in the last 1800 years, has been a direct cause of suffering and oppression (to put it lightly) for the entire world.
Black Lives Matter (BLM)
When it comes to “the Christian, Christopher Columbus,” the most common response I hear from fellow Christians is the one I mentioned above — the one that I, myself, thought as a gut reaction to my friend’s statement: let’s not permanently associate Columbus with Christianity; let’s, instead, talk about the things he did and simply note in passing that he also happened to be a Christian. In other words, let’s just say it’s a correlation and not any level of causation.
I believe this sort of dismissal is similar to how many white Christians respond to BLM: all lives matter. It’s probably the same way some white Christians will respond to the fact that I said “white Christians” and not just “Christians.” That is, we want to remove the part that causes us the most discomfort, either because it calls us out directly or because it doesn’t include us — whichever of those happens to be the most self-serving.
Saying that all lives matter as a response to the claim that Black lives matter essentially says, “Can’t we just say that people matter and simply mention in passing that some people also happen to be Black?” No, we can’t, because leaving out that crucial detail — that some people are Black — makes it impossible for us to focus properly on the specific kind of suffering and oppression being discussed. Refusing to explicitly and publicly name Black people in a discussion about the sanctity of life presumes and implies that every threat to that sanctity is dispersed evenly across all people groups, and that is factually untrue. It’s a delusion; it ignores the suffering of reality.
Similarly, we can’t just say Columbus was a racist who just happened to be a Christian, because doing so makes it impossible for us to focus properly on the specific kind of racism that he perpetuated: institutionally-backed, Christian racism — racism carried out in the name of the Judeo-Christian God (in the name of our God) under the flag of divine mandate based explicitly on Christian scriptures (our scriptures). This is the same kind of racism that featured so prominently in the American Civil War — the same kind of racism that forms the backbone of so much of America’s systemic prejudice against, and oppression of, Black people and POC.
An analogy I’ve heard several times concerning BLM and all lives matter is this: if your house is on fire, do you want your neighbors going up to firefighters and saying, “Wait a minute. All houses matter. Why are we focusing on this house like it’s the only one in the neighborhood?” I hope it’s obvious that they’re focusing on the burning house because it’s on fire.
Similarly, we need to focus on Columbus (and other Christian perpetrators of hate) as Christians, because the systemic nature of abusive, institutionalized Christianity has set the house on fire. Our house is on fire! And, it’s been on fire for well over 1000 years. Isn’t it about time we stopped ignoring that and got really uncomfortable with the heat, or are we just going to sip our coffee and pretend “this is fine?”
9/11 and Muslim Terrorists
One of my own rationalizations as I thought through my defensiveness: “Including ‘Christian’ in someone’s description could lead to a completely avoidable increase in persecution of Christians.” To put it another way, not emphasizing the “Christian” aspect of a person’s motivations for perpetrating evil would allow us to focus on the “real” problem: the evil action itself.
- This runs into a similar issue as the BLM comparison: the “real” problem is inseparably entangled with the reality of Christendom. We can’t just ignore such a critical foundation of the problem. That’s not grounded in reality.
- This is precisely the kind of self-serving, non-empathetic posture I mentioned above. It’s mutually exclusive from actual reconciliation or healing (i.e. the desires of Love) and because of that, I believe it’s mutually exclusive from the Gospel.
- Increasing Christian persecution is a really low bar, since Christians aren’t really persecuted in America. American Christian persecution is one of those delusions we maintain by distancing ourselves from the realities of suffering and oppression. It’s a tool of Christendom, and unless Christendom is dismantled, Christians will continue to be among the least persecuted groups, because they’ll hold all the power. This is precisely why Christians need to be the ones to acknowledge the evil that members of our own faith perpetuate. There’s especially a responsibility on white Christians, because we have the privilege of both Western Christianity and race. We probably have more power to tear down our own idols than anyone outside the faith, if we weren’t so in love with holding on to that power.
- For many American Christians, this would be a hypocritical position to take. After all the anti-Muslim hate that American Christianity endorsed after 9/11 by using terms like “Muslim terrorists” instead of just “terrorists,” we have no leg to stand on for arguing against “Christian, racist Christopher Columbus” or any other Christian oppressor. White Evangelicalism continues to perpetuate this incongruity through anti-immigration propaganda and Bible-backed anti-minority, anti-CRT rhetoric without ever turning a critical eye toward (or even acknowledging the existence of) white supremacy and White Evangelicalism.
But what if the issues of persecution and hypocrisy are contextual? On one hand, the term “Muslim terrorists” fosters anti-Muslim sentiments. On the other hand, it acknowledges the reality of 9/11 and gives Muslims an opportunity to do for themselves what I’m arguing Christians should do for ourselves. (That, by the way, is an argument that has been made by some American Muslims — that they do want to reckon with the fact that Muslim terrorist factions exist — so this is by no means a judgment against Muslims.) If using the term “Muslim terrorists” fostered anti-Muslim sentiments, wouldn’t it be better to just say “terrorists,” and if so, doesn’t it stand to reason that “racist Christopher Columbus” is better than “Christian, racist Christopher Columbus?”
I’m a fan of context, so I do think that context matters, but acknowledging that things can be contextual shouldn’t make us less likely to describe people as “Christian.” It should make us more likely to acknowledge it! Everyone talks about Christianity as though it’s a singular entity, probably because Christendom has been working so hard to make it that way for centuries, but Christianity was originally filled with diverse and vibrant expressions of faith, and the reality is that it still is. We just work against ourselves to pretend it’s not.
Yes, there are times when we should stand up against anti-Muslim rhetoric and declare boldly that terrorism isn’t the domain of any one group or identity, but it should be when doing so combats disparity and oppression. For example, when anti-Muslim rhetoric is used to pretend domestic terrorism doesn’t exist — a Muslim shooter is a “terrorist,” but a Christian shooter is just a “shooter” — that’s a disparity that needs correcting; a Christian shooter can be a terrorist, too, and we should call it like it is. Otherwise, we blind ourselves to the realities of domestic terrorism.
The goal should be to not blind ourselves to reality. Which response makes us better equipped to address the realities of a situation? That’s the one we should use, not the one that favors mere self-preservation.
Where Are You From?
This question is a great example of contextualizing a response. I recently saw a post on Twitter about this question. It was a short anecdote about someone who lives in a country in which they weren’t born, but they’ve lived there for a long time. Because of their obviously not-native accent, they still get questioned often, “Where are you from?”
The question isn’t inherently rude and might not be intended as a slight in any way, but it still often emphasizes that the person being asked hasn’t been fully welcomed, and perhaps they never will be, regardless of how long they live there. If for no other reason than their accent, they might always be seen as an outsider.
Is this an offensive or inappropriate question? I think that depends on the context.
Context one: in the scenario above, it’s stated that the question is asked because of a person’s accent. Based on how a person speaks, it’s inferred that they aren’t “from around here.” That’s a relatively big assumption in 2021. In America, especially, globalization and interracial marriages (among other factors) make it virtually impossible to tell where a person is “from” just by how they look or talk. The days of extreme homogeneity are long passed for Americans. Besides, even if you were from a place with a relatively small, homogeneous population, asking someone where they’re from solely based on their accent or skin color is most likely racist.
“What if we’re genuinely curious?” If we know that a person is definitely not from the area (e.g. they just moved there or we know for a fact that they just checked into the hotel up the street), couldn’t we solicit information in a less distancing way? “Where did you move from?” “Are you in town for such-and-such event?” Etc. Are those still distancing questions? I don’t know; I don’t have all the answers, but think about it.
Context two: classes just started at a state college (e.g. UNLV or UC Berkeley), and the teacher hands out questions for an ice-breaker exercise. Let’s help the students get to know each other in the hopes of creating a more comfortable learning environment. Question one is “where are you from?” Is this distancing or racist? No, because there’s no reason to assume everyone is local. In fact, there’s a good chance a lot of students aren’t local. The same can be true for areas known for tourism or lots of traffic just passing through, like the Las Vegas strip.
Context matters, but context doesn’t excuse oppression and inequity. Maybe there’s a situation where pointing out that Christopher Columbus was a Christian isn’t helpful to anyone or isn’t relative to the discussion, like if we’re talking about timelines of European travel, but that doesn’t necessarily let us off the hook for ignoring the influence of Christianity on Columbus’s decisions.
What About Motivations?
According to Wikipedia, Columbus produced a book called Book of Privileges, which was “intended to detail and document all of the favors which Columbus believed were owed to him and to his heirs by the Spanish crown, as rewards for what he believed was the successful discovery of a new route to the East Indies, as well as the conquest and Christianization of new lands brought under the dominion of Spain.” Is that true? I don’t know, I haven’t read the work, but as a thought exercise, let’s assume that it is.
Does it matter that Columbus’s motivation could have been material rather than spiritual? Would that discredit the claim that Christianity was a direct motivator of his actions, particularly those heinous ones? After all, scripture tells us one can’t serve both God and money.
I get it; we like to compartmentalize things — nice, neat, organized boxes for everything. There’s the “spiritual” and the “physical,” the “physical” and the “mental,” the “intellectual” and the “emotional,” “religious” and “secular,” etc. It would be convenient if we could say that Columbus’s motivations were truly material or political in nature, but that ignores the reality of Christendom. Even if we argue, as I have sometimes argued, that we’re in the days of post-Christendom, it doesn’t change the fact that Columbus very much wasn’t. Not only was Christendom in full-tilt during his days, it had existed for over a millennium. Any political motivation concerning the Spanish crown would have required at least religious undertones if not explicitly Christian motivations.
Even beyond the historical context, drawing clear, uncrossable boundaries between Christianity and our material/political desires is a delusion. We are desiring creatures; our beliefs and our desires are intertwined. We want what we believe is the good life, and our view of the good life is influenced by what our senses desire.
“We are not (primarily) thinking things, or even (merely) believing things, but are embodied lovers whose love is aimed and primed by the practices and rituals that ‘train’ our desires, as it were.”James K. A. Smith
Look at any of the theopolitical identities in the US right now. Part of the reason I’m writing this post in the first place is because I can’t scroll for two minutes through social media without people assuming that American Christian Nationalism is the official model of Christianity or that White Evangelicalism is the most prominent form of Protestantism in the world.
Our desires influence our beliefs, our beliefs influence our desires, and our motivations are born from both. Christopher Columbus was a Christian, and so is every Christian we disagree with. Regardless of whether his motivations were primarily about religion doesn’t mitigate the fact that his beliefs were intertwined with his desires.
There Are No Easy Solutions
Christendom has existed for over a thousand years, and while America might end up being one of its final bastions, the last five years have shown us that many Americans, like Columbus, hold to expressions of Christianity that are deeply entangled with empire thinking. Many of us can no longer distinguish between love and violence, God and idols, Spirit and flesh, life and death. We are blind to ourselves, blind to our neighbors, blind to our enemies, blind to our God…
Do we sit around and wait for Christendom to fully dissipate? Do we double down on this or that interpretation of scripture? Do we abandon “the world” and retreat to our “Christian bubbles?” Do we shed our labels and disassociate ourselves from the perversions and stigmas of Christianity?
It seems to me that, if any good has ever come out of Christianity since its institutionalization, it was always during periods of internal unrest when some Christians decided to push against the status quo of Christianity. Christendom is the status quo in America, but that may not be the case for much longer. It’s unsustainable.
Notice that I didn’t ask if we should bolster Christendom as one of the possibilities. I don’t believe that’s an option worth considering. I believe that Christendom must fall; the entanglement of God and nations is a big part of why Christians get so disturbed about a Christian Christopher Columbus. We’re so afraid of losing power, of losing control. We’re afraid of failing at evangelism. We’ve raised up our visions of the great commission to an idolatrous prominence in the work of salvation, and our conceit won’t let us give it up.
How do we topple this titan, Christendom? Or do we? If we wait, it may crumble on its own, but we may have to answer for our idleness. God may ask why we did nothing while others were suffering under a false banner of Christ. Yet, if we are, indeed, in one of those seasons of transition away from the status quo of Christendom, participating with Love in toppling the empire might be the surest way to reach the cross. Are we ready for that, or are we resigned to waiting for the rooster to crow?
Wait for us, Peter.
Some might argue that we “simply need to trust in scripture,” as though that addresses all of the evil we commit by “authorization” of scripture. Shall we continue to give vague generalizations out of our conceit? “Anyone with the Spirit will understand rightly and be just.” How much hubris do we have? Do we really believe that we, of all people throughout almost two millennia of Christian history, have finally gotten it right?
So many Christians believe the Biblical canon is set in stone — a flawless, inerrant, infallible instruction manual, which we simply need to obey in order to be pleasing to God — another delusion of self-righteousness that blinds us to the reality of suffering. God came to what was his own, and we reject him, because we can’t accept that we have planks in our eyes. The house is on fire, but we refuse to believe it, and the Bible is our excuse.
When the canon is closed, Christianity stagnates. Scripture is flattened, pressed down into a mold too tight for the Spirit, too inflexible for the adaptive, incarnate work of Love, too rigid and fragile to dwell in the discomfort of a Christian Christopher Columbus, too weak to handle the reality of suffering in our own house.
Someone may say, “It’s not our house; it’s God’s house,” but please don’t prove my point. Such a posture doesn’t even believe in the adoption one claims to have received. Or have we forgotten that Christ’s blood was meant to draw us into joint inheritance with Christ? Do we just want the blessings without the accountability and responsibility of the cross? If we truly are that entitled, maybe our enemies should just trample us underfoot and be done with it.
Where, then, does that leave scripture? Do we open the canon? How would we even do that? Can it even be done? Should it be done? Would some of us be crucified in the process? Would that make us like Jesus, or would it make us like the thieves?
Remember us, Jesus, when you come into your kingdom.
Abandon the World
I know that many Christians have already chosen this option. I grew up in these traditions. Salvation means eternal life, and eternal life means heaven after death, and all other things will fall away, burned up in the fires of judgment. All we have to do is wait for the end.
From this understanding, only an attempt to tell people of Jesus is required to fulfill Jesus’s command to make disciples, because discipleship is a shallow calling. When our own discipleship is superficial, we only need to invite others superficially. “Oh, you’ve rejected my 30 minute spiel about Jesus? That’s your choice; my work is done.” Having assured ourselves that everyone in our immediate vicinities has literally heard the name of Jesus, we feel justified in retreating to our Christian bubbles and waiting for death to lead us into heaven.
If this is our solution, then I guess there really is no need to acknowledge that Columbus was a Christian. Who cares what motivations people had for their atrocities? Who cares about the suffering of the world? Who cares if global warming is real or the COVID-19 vaccines work? Who cares if people don’t get paid living wages or the fetuses we saved have grown into starving children? We did our duty of “discipleship.” We said the name out loud and told people to repent. Now, we’ll sing until we die and be done with this world.
That seems wrong to me. It doesn’t sound like it reflects the grace and truth revealed in Jesus. It doesn’t sound like Love creating in every moment in response to the previous moment. It doesn’t sound, to me, like a God who so loved the world… Where does our belief that God is love intersect with our posture toward the world? Can we truly abandon the world to wait for heaven and still claim to love our enemies?
I know this is complicated for many, probably especially for Christians who are being told that empathy is a sin. Without empathy, “love” means something very different than what I mean here. As I said, I was raised in traditions that had all kinds of theological gymnastics for interpreting and explaining “love,” but if we acknowledge and accept and truly wrestle with the grim and disgusting reality that Columbus was a Christian who believed in the Bible, how long can we keep explaining away expressions of love that abandon people? Can we truly explain why people are being enslaved, raped, beaten, starved, and abandoned by those who claim to love them and then turn and abandon them ourselves?
What if Christianity in our context (or any context) is more twisted than not? What if calling ourselves Christians causes more harm than good?
Many Christians would be disgusted by these questions (maybe you’re feeling that twisting in the pit of your stomach right now). I understand, but I’m convinced that our discomfort, our disgust, about the idea of Christianity no longer being the domain of Christ is something we should overcome. We have to acknowledge the possibility, because Christopher Columbus was a Christian. Christendom has worked so hard to take everything we love about Jesus and pervert into a tool of power for the sake of self-gain, self-preservation, abuse, and oppression.
Is there ever a point when the label of “Christian” is a lost cause? Is the label so important? If it is, then isn’t that all the more reason to acknowledge the reality about Columbus and other evil people? Isn’t that all the more reason to take seriously the call of taking up our crosses and laying down our lives for the sake of love? If the idea of abandoning labels like “Christian” and “Christianity” are so repulsive, shouldn’t we be working harder to provide the world with something better with which to associate them?
On the other hand, if the labels don’t matter, why are we clinging to them? What does it matter what we are called or what we call ourselves? Can we be disciples of Christ, servants of Love and a risen savior, without being called Christians? If the first Christians didn’t even name themselves, should we?
If you’ve made it this far, I’d love to hear why. Were you scoffing the whole way at this heretical minister? Were you nodding in agreement? Are you a Christian? A non-Christian? A former Christian? On the fence about your faith?
Me, too. But, I know this: I still believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead, that he was God the Son in the flesh, and that the grace and truth of God is revealed in him. I still believe that God is love. Also, Christopher Columbus was a Christian, whether I like it or not. I have no intention of being like him and every intention of expressing a Christian faith that heals and reconciles.
How about you?