A BOOK REVIEW
John Eidsmoe, New Leaf Press, 304 pages, Paperback.
Did Christopher Columbus exploit the people of America – or did he evangelize them? Did Hernando Cortez subjugate the people of Mexico – or did he liberate them?
These are two of the questions posed by John Eidsmoe, a U.S. Reserve Air Force Lt. Colonel, who serves as a law professor at Faulkner Universit. Columbus & Cortez, Conquerors for Christ counters what Eidsmoe terms “the assault on Western culture” by media elites and liberal scholars on American university campuses. Eidsmoe surmises that this attack on culture is in actuality an attack on values – the biblical values upon which our nation was founded.
Dealing with a subject far broader than the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ first voyage to America, Eidsmoe captures a glimpse of the greater Providential forces which shaped our nation. He includes two sections to give the reader a historical understanding of the forces which shaped the Age of Exploration.
“Explorers Before Columbus: For Odin or Christ?” traces the Christian influence in America to the the Viking explorers who had become Christianized in the tenth century by Norway’s King Olaf. Christianity was brought to Greenland and later to “Vinland” (Newfoundland or New England) by none other than Leif Erickson, who was converted by the preaching of Olaf. Sixteen churches were established in Greenland by Leif Erickson, and while the influence of his Christianity on Vinland is mere conjecture, the Greenland colonies flourished until the 1500s and were the first Christian colonies in North America.
“The Crescent or the Cross?” deals with the Moslem conquest of North Africa and Spain in the eighth century. The Moslems advance northward to France was finally driven back to Spain by Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours. The Crusades – a futile attempt by Christian Europe to overcome Islam by force – were fought during the five centuries of world domination by Islam. Making no excuses for the travesty of the Crusades, Eidsmoe includes this section of the book as a valuable background to understanding the European mindset of 1492. Isabella and Ferdinand spent much of their reign driving the last Moslems out of Spain. They hoped that Columbus’ voyages to the Indies would bring enough gold to finance a Last Crusade to the Holy Land and drive the Moslems out of Jerusalem.
If the Spanish monarch’s motives in financing Columbus’ voyages were less than exemplary, the misconception that Columbus himself sailed for selfish reasons is refuted by Eidsmoe. The reader is given an insightful glimpse into the personality, temperament and character of Columbus as Eidsmoe makes extensive use of Columbus’ journals and the writings of those who knew him. The popular practice of Columbus bashing of our day is rebutted by the words of Columbus himself.
Many books have been written on Columbus in this quincentenary year. Most of these volumes paint a secular gloss over Columbus’ true motivations. Yet the information contained in Columbus & Cortez was readily available to all Americans a century ago when numerous volumes were published around the time of the Columbian Exposition of 1892. Sadly, the historical revisionists of the 20th century have sought to obscure the Christian character of a great man to fit their own political agenda. If there is to be a reversal of this trend, the rarer volumes, such as Eidsmoe’s, need to be studied and critiqued by Christians. We must make the real Columbus known in 1992.