(see The Ten
Commandments in the U.S. Supreme Court

(new letters added)

Christian Heritage Tours Inc.

(Books, Videos, Newsletters)

  Volume 12, No.1   Spring, 2002  

GEN. LEW WALLACE - Indiana's greatest Hero 
Author of "Ben-Hur"

Interestingly enough, Gen. Lew Wallace, Indiana's greatest hero in the National Hall of Fame, is little known - yet his great work, Ben-Hur, has been translated into almost every language in the world, and has brought countless millions into the loving arms of their Messiah, Jesus Christ. 

When asked by W.H. Warner for the "diamond sentence" in his famed book, General Wallace replied, "Here it is: 'I am the resurrection and the Life.' In Wallace's Autobiography , he writes the following concerning Ben-Hur:

"...The Christian world would not tolerate a novel with Jesus Christ its hero, and I knew it. Nevertheless, writing of Him was imperative, and He must appear, speak, and act. Further, and worse as a tribulation, I was required to keep Him before the reader, the object of superior interest throughout. 

And there was to be no sermonizing. How could this be done without giving mortal offence? It does not become me to intimate any measure of success in the accomplishment; yet I may be pardoned for an outright confession of the rules I prescribed for my government in the dilemma. First, I determined to withhold the reappearance of the Saviour until the very last hours. Meantime, He should be always coming - to-day I would have Him, as it were just over the hill yonder; tomorrow He will be here, and then - tomorrow. To bring Balthasar up from Egypt, and have him preaching the Spiritual Kingdom, protesting the Master alive because His mission which was founding the kingdom, was as yet unfulfilled and looking for Him tearfully, and with an infinite yearning, might be an effective expedient. Next, He should not be present as an actor in any scene of my creation. The giving a cup of water to Ben-Hur at the well near Nazareth is the only violation of this rule. Finally, when He was come, I would be religiously careful that every word He uttered should be a literal quotation from one of His sainted biographers. 

Of the more than seven years given the book, the least part was occupied in actual composition. Research and investigation consumed most of the appropriated time. I had to be so painstaking! The subject was the one known thoroughly by more scholars and thinkers than any other in the wide range of literature...

Nor must it be supposed I wrote day after day continuously. I wanted to; but through the whole period I was a bread-winner. Consequently my book-making hours were such as I could snatch from professional employment. Sometimes Ben-Hur or Simonides or Balthasar would call me imperiously; and there being no other means of pacifying them, I would play truant from court and clients. There are numberless paragraphs in the volume recognizable as having been blocked out on the cars 'between cities' or in the waits at lonesome stations...

Of course, most of the writing was done at Crawfordsville, with the night as the favoring time. Of summer days, business permitting, the preferred spot was beneath a beech-tree, one of the many kings of its kind...Its spreading branches droop to the ground, weighed down by their wealth of foliage, and under them I am shut in as by the walls of a towering green tent. How often, while lending me its protection and fragrant coolness, it has been the sole witness of my struggle to whip an obstinate thought into comeliness of expression; and how often, out of respect for me, it has maintained a dignified silence when it might have laughed at my discomfiture. I am under the great gray arms of the same tree at this present writing. The hum of singing things imparts life to the silence; the sunlight freckles the sward, the birds hunt their prey almost to my feet, all as when I wandered with Ben-Hur through the Grove of Daphne.

Everybody has heard of the old palace in Sante Fe, New Mexico. A rambling, one-story adobe structure, with walls in places six feet thick...The second floor from the west end plaza front opens into a spacious passage...Back of the executive office is an extensive room provided with a small window and one interior entrance. The walls were grimy, the undressed boards of the floor rested flat upon the ground; the cedar rafters, rain-stained, and overweighed by tons and tons of mud composing the roof, had a threatening downward curvature. Nevertheless, in that cavernous chamber I wrote the eighth and last book of Ben-Hur. My custom when night came was to lock the doors and bolt the windows of the office proper, and with a student's lamp, bury myself in the four soundless walls of the forbidding annex. 

Once there, at my rough pine table, in the hush of that gloomy harborage, I beheld the Crucifixion, and strove to write what I beheld. The name Ben-Hur was chosen because it is Biblical, and easily spelled, printed and pronounced. 

As this article is in the nature of confessions, here is one which the reader may excuse, and at the same time accept as a fitting conclusion: Long before I was through with my book, I became a believer in God and Christ..."

Ben-Hur - what a masterpiece! Lew Wallace - what an American hero! 

Christopher Columbus - "Christ-bearer to Uncharted Isles"

Another example of faith in action is that of Christopher Columbus. Perhaps his least-known work is the only book he ever wrote, Libro de las Profecias or Book of Prophecies. A scholarly edition of the full text was found in the Raccolta di documenti e studi published in 1894 by a special Commission of the Italian Ministry of Public Education, on the occasion of the 400th Anniversary of the discovery of America. A great American scholar and man of God, Dr. August J. Kling, translated it for the first time into English from the original Latin and Spanish in the 1970's. Dr. Kling confirms that Columbus' Book of Prophecies was a careful compilation of all the teachings of the Bible on the subject of earth, distant lands, seas, population movement, undiscovered tribes, prophecies of the future spread of the Gospel throughout the world, prophecies of travel between distant places, prophecies of the end of the world and the establishment of the earthly kindgom of Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. Columbus' entire world view was firmly grounded upon these Biblical teachings about geography and eschatology. He believed especially in the prophecies concerning the climax of world history and the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

He believed that Christ's return and the formation of His universal kingdom could not take place until all nations and tribes of the distant isles had been evangelized. Only then could the promised new Kingdom come into being. Columbus believed that his own name was a special sign that God had predestined him to be the evangelist (Christophoros = Christ-bearer) who would open up the unreached tribes of the "distant isles" to the saving knowledge of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. He believed that the Holy Spirit had given him special assistance in understanding both the Scriptures and the sciences of navigation and geography required for his life's mission.

The English translation of his Book of Prophecies gives credence to the above:

" At a very early age I began to sail upon the ocean. For more than forty years, I have sailed everywhere that people go. I prayed to the most merciful Lord about my heart's great desire, and He gave me the spirit and the intelligence for the task: seafaring, astronomy, geometry, arithmetic, skill in drafting spherical maps and placing correctly the cities, rivers, mountains and ports. I also studied cosmology, history, chronology and philosophy.

It was the Lord who put into my mind (I could feel His hand upon me) the fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies. All who heard of my project rejected it with laughter, ridiculing me. There is no question that the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit, because he comforted me with rays of marvelous illumination from the Holy Scriptures, a strong and clear testimony from the 44 books of the Old Testament, from the four Gospels, and from the 23 Epistles of the blessed Apostles, encouraging me continually to press forward, and without ceasing for a moment they now encourage me to make haste.

Our Lord Jesus desired to perform a very obvious miracle in the voyage to the Indies, to comfort me and the whole people of God. I spent seven years in the royal court, discussing the matter with many persons of great reputation and wisdom in all the arts; and in the end they concluded that it was all foolishness, so they gave it up. But since things generally came to pass that were predicted by our Savior Jesus Christ, we should also believe that this particular prophecy will come to pass. In support of this, I office the gospel text, Matt. 24:35, in which Jesus said that all things would pass away, but not his marvelous Word. He also affirmed that it was necessary that all things be fulfilled that were prophesied by Himself and by the prophets...

For the execution of the journey to the Indies I did not make use of intelligence, mathematics or maps. It is simply the fulfillment of what Isaiah had prophesied. All this is what I desire to write down for you in this book...

I said that some of the prophecies remained yet to be fulfilled. These are great and wonderful things for the earth, and the signs are that the Lord is hastening the end. The fact that the gospel must still be preached to so many lands in such a short time - this is what convinces me."

For Italian readers, this information became available in a book by Cesare de Lollis, Christoforo Colombo nella Leggenda e nella Storia, while the recent works of Samuel Eliot Morison have told the true story of Columbus' religious devotion but have failed to present details about 
his Biblical studies.

As Columbus urged his sailors to sail on through uncharted seas in the Fall of 1492, his zeal and assurance were not derived from love of adventure or greed for gold and glory, but were founded wholly upon the revealed Word of God in Scripture. Columbus named his first land discovery "San Salvador" (Holy Savior).

Throughout the later years of his life, continues Dr. Kling, Columbus' conflict and disappointment were caused by the failure of others to share his biblical and prophetic vision and strive to make it a reality. The soldiers and adventurers who followed him in later voyages to the new world had little interest in missionary work, in Bible studies, or in the preaching of the Gospel to new tribes and families of the isolated descendants of Adam and Noah. But while the larger part of mankind still spends its life, and exploits its fellowmen in the quest for gold and pleasure, the vision of Christopher Columbus is still bright wherever laymen "search the Scriptures" and expend their prayers and their treasures that the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ may be preached throughout the "distant coastlands" and "islands of the seas" until the Savior Himself returns to rule the whole world in peace and justice.

That Christopher Columbus loved the Indians, treating them with dignity and kindness is all too apparent in his Journals and letters. Columbus' Journal entry dated Friday, 12th October, 1492, gives insight into his first encounter with the Indians:

"I, that we might form great friendship, for I knew that they were a people who could be more easily freed and converted to our holy faith by love than by force, gave to some of them red caps, and glass beads to put around their necks and many other things of little value, which gave them great pleasure and made them so much our friends that it was a marvel to see. They afterwards came to the ship's boats where we were, bringing us parrots, cotton threads, darts and many other things; and we exchanged them for other things that we gave them, such as glass beads and small bells. In fine, they took all, and gave all what they had with good will. It appeared to me to be a race of people very poor in everything...They are all of fair stature and size, with good faces, and well made. I saw some with marks of wounds on thier bodies, and I made signs to ask what it was, and they gave me to understand that people from adjacent islands came with the intention of seizing them, and that they defended themselves. I believed, and still believe, that they came here from the mainland to make them prisoners ..."

The above original Journal account left to us by Christopher Columbus portrays a man of deep concern and compassion for the people of his newly-discovered America, to whom, above all, he desired to bring the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In the biography of his second son, Don Fernando, the following translation of a letter from Columbus to the government of Spain, sent prior to his last voyage, and dated 2nd of April, 1502, is here excerpted:

"Very noble Senores:

Even if the body is leaving for there, the heart remains here. Our Almighty God has shown me the highest favor which, since David He has not shown to anybody. The affairs of my enterprise are already coming to light and would make a great sensation if the obscurity of the Government would only not try to hide them. I am returning to the Indias in the name of the Holy Trinity and intend to come back...The King and Queen are willing to honor me more than ever. May the Holy Trinity take good care of your noble persons and may your very high office grow higher and higher."

Christopher Columbus' signature glorified God in his abbreviation of the beautiful names of Almighty God: El Shaddai (Almighty God) and Adonai (Lord God) - prior to writing "Christ-bearer" above his own name.

The above letter once again shows Columbus giving God all the praise and honor for enabling him to take the Gospel to "uncharted isles."

Another letter, this time written to his son, Don Diego, is dated the 29th April, 1502. Here Columbus instructs his son to present, "...two marks of new gold of very large nuggets, bundled up in a cloth and sealed so that you shall hand it over to the Queen, our ruler...It is such a treasure that I would sooner suffer and renounce a thousand necessities rather than sell it or melt it, and all this in order to present it to the Queen, because she gave it to me once, but my conscience tells me that I should return it to her so that she may see the miracle of the Lord and remember to whom she ought to thank for it. Kiss her royal hands for me and give her this letter;...and now it remains no more but to pray to the Lord that He may have you in His holy care, the same as your brother, whom I recommend to you much. Your father who loves you as he loves himself."

From the above-quoted letter of Christopher Columbus to his son, Don Diego, we see that his primary adherence was to the Lord, indicative of his statement that the finding of the first nuggets of gold were "a miracle of the Lord," and that Queen Isabella should thank God for this discovery. This letter also shows Columbus as a man of prayer, who commended his children to God's capable care.

Throughout Queen Isabella's life, Columbus' loyalty to her and to her husband King Ferdinand, was unwavering, as evidenced by his letter to The Most Learned Doctor Nicolo Oderigo, written from Seville on the 27th December, 1504. It is here excerpted:

"Learned Sir,

...While I was in the Indies, I wrote to their Highnesses an account of my voyage by three or four opportunities...I arrived here very unwell, just before the Queen my mistress died (who is now with God) without my seeing her. Till now I cannot say how my affairs will finish: I believe her Highness has provided well for them in her last will: and the King my master is very well disposed. Franco Cattaneo will explain the rest more minutely to you. May our Lord preserve you in His care!


Christopher Columbus"

To further enhance the above documents, an 1886 Washington National Republican newspaper article, graphically discloses praises, admiration and the highest esteem, both from Italy and America, of the discoverer of the new world, Christopher Columbus, during the 400th anniversary celebrations. Now in the safekeeping of the Rare Book Collection of the Library of Congress, this treasure of American history records the following:

"Saturday, June 12
Columbus and the Exposition

The Committee of arrangements for the Permanent Exposition to be inaugurated in the capital in 1892 is, we are glad to say, meeting with marked success. Leading merchants and other citizens of Baltimore are in hearty cooperation with the movement, and different cities are falling into line. It seems only fitting that, as the date fixed upon has been selected to commemorate the discovery of this continent by Columbus, some monument should be erected to that great man to mark our appreciation of the noble character, and at the same time to symbolize some fundamental differences between the new world and the old.

In our columns today will be found a print of the handsome monument erected by  Genoa to the memory of her most illustrious son. It is situated in a large space near the center of the city of Genoa. Completed on July 14, 1862, the anniversary of the great sailor's return to his home, it stands on a pedestal adorned with ships' prows. At the feet of the statue, which rests on an anchor, kneels the figure of America. The entire structure is of white marble, and is surrounded by allegorical figures in a sitting posture, representing Religion, Geography, Force and Wisdom. Between those figures are reliefs of scenes from the history of Columbus, with the inscription of the dedication. The figure at the summit is, of course, that of Columbus, and, as far as it goes, is very like him, but, on such a small scale, notwithstanding all the glamour cast around the picture by the Republican's special artist, those who had not known Christopher personally mighty experience some difficulty in recognizing him from our drawing.

It may be interesting, then, to recall the description of the navigator, which is accepted by the best authorities. In person Columbus was tall and shapely, long-faced and quiline, wide-eyed and auburn-haired, and of a beautiful complexion. At 30 his hair was quite gray. He was temperate in eating, drinking and dress and 'so strict in religious matters that for fasting and saying all the divine office he might be thought professed in some religious order.' His piety, as his son has noted, was earnest and unwavering; it entered into and colored alike his action and his speech...It would well symbolize the new departure of America in the great procession of nations, if, in the capital of our country, we should erect, to the aspirations of our people for peace, that triumphal arch which previous civilizations have devoted to perpetuating the ruthless glories of war."

That Christopher Columbus, discoverer of America, was a great and noble Christian, dedicated to bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to "unknown coastlands" is an undisputed fact. Christopher Columbus was chosen of the Lord to be the "Christ-bearer to Uncharted Isles" - a man of God.

(Copyright 2002 by Christian Heritage Ministries)

Copyright@2011-2015 - Christian Heritage Tours, All rights reserved.

for(var i=0;i