"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Christ, Columbus, Cortez, Coronado and Christians and How the Love of Money Is the Root of All Evil

"Most of us spend too much time on the last twenty-four hours
 and too little on the last six thousand years." Will Durant

The typical Christian in America feels no connection to the world as a whole. After we hear the message on Sunday morning, we will leave the corporate gathering thinking how the verses apply to us - today! While that's good, too many of us have no idea how to trace the practical application of a text throughout world history. 

Let me give an example from James 5. 
"The time has come for you plutarchs to mourn and weep because of the miseries in store for you... You have had a magnificent time on this earth, and have indulged yourselves to the full. You have picked out just what you wanted like soldiers looting after battle. You have condemned and ruined innocent men in your career, and they have been powerless to stop you."   James 5:1, 5-6 Philip's Translation
We read James' passage and see it as a caution similar to one from the Apostle Paul: "For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil" (I Timothy 6:10). We tend to reflect on these admonitions as it applies to us individually, or at most to our family.

But it seems to me an even fuller understanding of this passage comes from a knowledge of world history and our connection to it.

James, the author of the book in the Bible, was one of Christ's early disciples. Millions of Catholics believe that after the death and resurrection of Christ, James traveled to the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) to preach the Good News to the Hispanic people (Hispanic is the Roman Latin word for Iberian). James has always had a special place in the hearts of the Spanish people because of his trip to Iberia. Santiago is the Hispanic name for James, and the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) is a pilgrimage to the Santiego de Compostela Cathedral in northwestern Spain to pay homage to the alleged relics (bones) of St. James. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Way of St. James was considered by Roman Catholics a pilgrimage on par with one to Rome or Jerusalem.

It is without doubt that the gospel of Jesus Christ  came to the Iberian Peninsula soon after the resurrection of Christ. Paul himself speaks of his wish to go to Spain (see Romans 15:24). The Good News spread quickly in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, and the Hispanic people living in the southwest corner of Europe converted to Christianity. As the Iberian people began to follow Christ and His teachings, it seems logical that they would pay particular heed to the writings of James' and Paul's. These two apostles loved Spain, and they had both issued cautions about the evil that come from the love of money.

But as Christianity grew in numbers in Spain, the established church in Iberia became rich and fell in love with money. Church treasuries burst with silver and gold. Church bishops and leaders received appointments through patronage (e.g. "their gifts to the church and king"). The rich began to rule and lord over the poor in the church, a direct contradiction of James' warning (James 5:1, 5-6).  The Iberian church treasured their silver and gold more than their Savior and God.

The Evil Began in A.D. 711.

Like 9/11 in America, an event occurred in Iberia (Spain and Portugal) in A.D. 711 that traumatized the Christian people. The Muslims from North Africa, called the Moors, invaded the Iberian peninsula. With 10,000 soldiers, the Moors used violence and threatened to kill anyone who refused to convert to their Islamic religion and beliefs.

As the Moors (Muslims) moved from south to north, seven bishops of the church gathered at Porto, a little sea port on the western shore of the Iberian Peninsula. The bishops brought with them the wealth of the church, vast caravans of precious stones, jewelry, gold, silver, fortified wine and other riches. Wine connoisseurs know that fortified wine is wine with brandy added, a practice originally begun to help preserve the wine, but which continues because of its unique and rich taste. What many people don't know is that fortified wine gets its name Port Wine from the city of Porto, the place from where this wine was first shipped to the world. The full name of the city of Porto is Porto Cale, or literally "Port of the Gaels," from which the name Portugal is derived. The nation of Portugal comes into existence only after the Europeans defeat the Muslims and retake the Iberian Peninsula during the Reconquesta.

But before the Reconquesta, when everything looked dark and hopeless, seven bishops boarded ships and left Porto and sailed west into the unknown Atlantic ocean. All they wanted to do was get away from the Muslims - with their wealth. Remember, these were the "pastors" of the Iberian Christian churches. Sometimes the greater evil in a country is not the spread of radical Islam among a people as much as it is the subtle and deadly seduction of Christian churches and leaders to the love of material things over spiritual things. 

Where did these bishops go?

The Legend of the Seven Cities of Gold

For the next several centuries the people of Portugal and Spain believed the seven bishops left Porto and settled on an island called Antillia. In A.D. 1492, German geographer Martin Behaim (1436-1507) constructed the earliest globe of the world, one still in existence today.  On that globe, Behaim shows Antillia in middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  In the same year of A.D. 1492, Portuguese cartographer Martinho da Boemia presented to Portugal's King John II a map of the known world. It, too, contained the island of Antillia, representing the fabled island of the seven cities, and the furthest west anyone from Europe had ever sailed (see map below).

Near the island of Antillia on the map above, the Portuguese cartographer placed the following description of Antillia:
"In the year 734 of Christ, when the whole of Spain had been won by the heathen (Moors) of Africa, the above island Antilia, called Septe citade (Seven cities), was inhabited by an archbishop from the Porto in Portugal, with six other bishops, and other Christians, men and women, who had fled thither from Spain, by ship, together with their cattle, belongings, and goods."
Europeans were captivated by the stories of the Seven Cities of Gold. Not only was it said the Iberian bishops arrived on Antillia with their riches, but the bishops found more gold on Antillia. Some Europeans believed that the bishops had rediscovered Plato's legendary Atlantis. Rumors only increased--and in the minds of many solidified--when a few sailors reported they'd seen the island of Attillia for themselves during their Atlantic travels. In A.D. 1414 a Portuguese ship returned to Portugal and the captain and his men reported to Prince Henry the Navigator, King of Portugal. They said they had actually landed on Antillia and seen with their own eyes the Seven Cities of Gold. The reason these sailors are the only ones to have reported the discovery of Antillia to the King is recorded by English author H.C. Adams writes in 1883:
During the generations which had intervened since the settlement of the bishops on Antillia, a few Portuguese navigators had at one time or another, reached the island; but they were unable to return to Portugal, having been detained by the descendants of the bishops; who, understanding that Spain was still ruled by the infidel, were afraid that their place of retreat might be discovered, and invaded by the enemy (e.g. Muslims). The mariners affirmed, that while part of the crew were in church, the others gathered some sand on the sea shore, and found, to their astonishment, that one-third of it was gold dust. The islanders were anxious that the ships should remain until the return of the governor, who chanced to be absent. But the captain, who had heard of the detention of his predecessors, and was probably afraid that the same policy would be pursued towards himself, returned to his ship, and weighed anchor. Prince Henry on hearing the story of the mariners, expressed it is said, great displeasure at their having quitted the island without having obtained fuller information, and sent orders requiring them to return and ascertain everything of importance concerning it. It is probable that the mariners had privately learnt something of his intentions; for they took their departure on a sudden, and before his message reached them. Nor were they ever heard of again.
Adams, H. C. 1817-1899. Travellers’ Tales: a Book of Marvels. London, New York: G. Routledge, 1883.
Whether you believe the story that seven Christian bishops left Porto on the Iberian Peninsula during the 8th century with a vast amount of wealth,  fleeing their people and country during a period of severe Islamic persecution, and eventually founding an island nation in the middle of the Atlantic with a vast of gold and silver is irrelevant.

There is one key person in world history who did believe the story.

Christopher Columbus ( b. October 31, 1451- d. May 20, 1506)

Born in Genoa, Italy, Columbus entered the world during a time Europe craved the spices and silks of southeast Asia and China--not to mention gold and silver wherever it could be found. The Europeans traveled the famous Silk Road over land to trade with the Chinese. Ever since the day of Marco Polo (A.D. 1254-1324) and the Chinese leaders Ghengis Khan and Kublia Khan, the Chinese welcomed great caravans of Europeans who wished to trade with Cathay (China) and Cipangu (Japan).  The Silk Road route was long and dangerous, but it was often traveled since the days of Marco Polo because of the spice and silk trade. However, in 1453, two years after Columbus' birth, the Ottomons (Turks) captured Constantinople, the starting point of the Silk Road for Europeans, and renamed the city Istanbul.  The Ottoman Turks then forbade European trading caravans from crossing from Europe through Constantinople onto the Silk Road that led to China. European and Chinese trade virtually came to a halt.

That's when the great Spanish and Portuguese ocean explorers of the 15th century began looking for a ship route west across the Atlantic to avoid crossing the Ottoman Empire lands Asia Minor (Turkey). Contrary to what you learned in grade school, 15th century oceanic explorers knew the world was round, but the early explorers who attempted to go west from the Iberian Peninsula across the Atlantic invariably failed to get far due to the ferocious headwinds.

It was Christopher Columbus who discovered that you must begin your oceanic trip westward from a point further south, near the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa (near the modern day Western Sahara). From there, a ship's sails could catch trade winds blowing from the east (from behind) as the boat sailed west, and then on the return trip to Europe, the boat would take a more northerly route, catching the western trade winds that had made sailing west  from Europe so difficult. Columbus moved from Italy to Portugal, married a Portuguese woman, and was living on the Portuguese Island of Madeira  when he had the revelation of sailing to the unknown west from the south, beginning near the Canary Islands.

When Columbus finally received funding from Spain's Ferdinand and Isabella to sail west to discover a sea route to Cathay (China) and Cipangu (Japan) after his own Portuguese king, King John II, had denied funding, Columbus was encouraged by many to find the island of Antillia as he crossed the Atlantic. As far as everyone knew, the island Antillia and the Seven Cities was the only piece of land between Portugal and China to the west. The continent of America was not yet known to exist in 1492. 

So, when "Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492," becoming the first European to make the transatlantic trip, and landed on a remote Bermuda Island on October 12, 1492 he thought he had found ancient Antillia, either an island paradise or a group of islands that contained on them the Seven Cities of Gold. For this reason, to this day, the large islands of the Caribbean are called the Greater Antilles (from Antillia) and the small islands are called the Lesser Antilles.

The lust for gold intensified when the Indians (misnamed "Indians" because Columbus thought he was closing in on the country of India) who met Columbus in the Antilles wore gold earrings and gold nose rings. Columbus eventually left a few men in the Antilles to search for gold and sailed back to Spain in early 1493. 
The rush for gold was on. 

Hernándo Cortés (b. 1485 - c. December 2, 1547)

Hernando Cortes was born in A.D. 1485 in Spain. He studied law, but at the age of nineteen, Cortez sailed to the Spanish colony of Greater Antillies (Haiti and the Domincan Republic). In 1511 Cortes took part in an expedition to conquer Cuba.
In 1519 Cortes led an expedition to the Mexican mainland.

With only 600 men Cortez conquered the ancient civilization of the Aztecs still seeking the mythical Seven Cities. The Spaniards had guns, horses (animals unknown to the Aztecs), and armor foreign to the Aztecs. The Aztecs believed that their god Quetzalcoatl had once left Mexico by sea and had promised to return. According to legend the anticipated year of the coming of the Aztec's Messiah was 1519 - the year Hernando Cortes arrived.

The Aztec emperor Montezuma feared that Cortes was Quetzalcoatl. He dared not attack a god and so took no action against the Aztecs. By the time the Aztecs realized the truth it was too late. When the Spaniards first arrived Montezuma, King of the Aztecs, welcomed the Spaniards as friends and housed them in a palace in what is now Mexico City. However after a week Hernando Cortes took the emperor hostage and demanded that Montezuma come with him and stay with the Spaniards - or face death. 

Cortez March to Defeat the Aztecs at Their Capital (Mexico City)
The emperor gave in and from that moment he was a Spanish puppet. The Spaniards were now in control of Mexico. The Spanish conquistadors stole all the gold and silver of the Aztec civilization and pillaged the land they now called "New Spain."  Cortes was appointed New Spain's first governor. 
Cortes brought in priests of the Roman Catholic Church to "Christianize" the Aztecs. Unfortunately, due to war, disease and famine, the Aztec population dropped by an estimated 90% as the people were wiped out by the Spaniards. Cortez would return to Spain in 1541 and die in 1547 at the age of 62.
Francisco Vázquez de Coronado y Luján  (b. 1510 – d. September 22, 1554)

The legend of the Seven Cities of Gold was revived during the 1530s.

Four people survived a shipwreck on the Gulf Coast of modern Texas of the failed Narváez expedition and managed to walk back to New Spain. One of the survivors, a man named Estevanan, told a colorful story upon his return. His Narváez expedition, which began in 1527, was aimed at the colonization of Florida. In 1528, while attempting to sail from Mexico to Florida, the crew was shipwrecked on the coast of Texas. The men who survived were captured by the indigenous people. After four years in captivity, the men managed to escape, and for the next four years wandered across what is today the southern United States. When they finally encountered Spanish soldiers at Sinaloa in modern day Mexico, only four men were left, out of an initial force of 600. Through their years of wandering, the men encountered numerous indigenous tribes, and one of the legends they heard was about seven cities laden with gold, said to be located somewhere in the Sonoran Desert (the southwest portion of what is now the United States).

Coronado was the Governor of the Kingdom of Nueva Galicia (New Galicia), a province of New Spain located northwest of Mexico and comprising the contemporary Mexican states of Jalisco, Sinaloa and Nayarit. In 1539, he dispatched Friar Marcos de Niza and Estevan , the survivor of the Narváez expedition, on an expedition to present-day New Mexico. When de Niza returned, he told of a city of vast wealth, a golden city called Cíbola, whose Zuni residents were assumed to have killed Estevan. Though he did not claim to have entered the city of Cíbola, he said he stood on a high hill and that it appeared wealthy and as large as Mexico City.

After receiving a report of the possible location of the seven cities, Spanish conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado was appointed to lead an expedition to conquer the area. That expedition, gathered at Compostela for Mendoza's review in February 1540, included 1,000 men, 1,500 horses and mules, and cattle and sheep for the expedition commissary. Two vessels under command of Hernado de Alarcón were sent up the coast to support the land forces.

Coronado's exploration of modern New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma in 1541--80 years before the Pilgrim's landed in Plymouth--brings to a full circle Spain's attempt to find the fabled Seven Cities of Gold. Coronado's expedition ended near modern Wichita, Kansas without finding any of the seven cities, but from A.D. 711 to A.D. 1541 - 840 years of time - the quest for the Seven Cities of Gold captured the imaginations of the Portuguese and Spanish explorers and conquistadors.

Though some would have you believe the Roman Catholic Church came to the new world to "convert the pagans to the Christian faith," the literal truth is the hunt for gold drove the explorations west.

The Apostle Peter once said, "Silver and gold have I none," but it wasn't long before the church built by Christ on the rock of Peter couldn't say that anymore. The "love of money" led to the Seven Fabled Cities of God, and from that love of money came:

1. The subjugation, enslavement and death of hundreds of thousands native American peoples.
2. The pillaging and plundering of foreign lands and resources for personal gain.
3. Wars and battles between "Christian" forces and "pagan" forces instead of peace.

It would seem to me that much of the East vs. West and Islam vs. Christianity conflict over the past 1,500 years is simply fulfillment of the warning "the love of money is the root of all evil."

It seems not just an axiom for a personal life; it is an eternal truth for the nations.


Ramesh said...

Thank you for this historical post.

This love or desire for money or acquision of money, property and so on is driving the capitalist enterprises around the world.

Some of it good and some bad.

It is THIS desire for money that is propelling all the world's people in motion. Of course the counter motion is by believers who run against this tide.

It is interesting that here DESIRE for money and the use of FEAR seems to motivate all the politics and commerce in this world.

Buddhists hold that DESIRE and FEAR are the two guardians who prevent you from the attainment of Buddha.

Just as the two guardians guarding the tree of eternal life in Christian tradition.

In the last post I excerpted from Chomsky his distinction of money hunger vs power hunger. Historically you are correct that this money hunger wreaks havoc unless checked by something. What is this something?

Is it God in men or conscience or ethics?

Anyway, the current political upheavels are due to this.

Ramesh said...

I wanted to add that it's a different view when one looks at money as not be hoarded but as a vehicle or lubricant that propels the people of the world. Theoretically this was the thinking moving away from the gold standard.

As long as money is the instrument, hoarding or acquision will always be here.

And lot of monetary policy is to get this mechanism in motion again in spite of acquisition and hoarding.

I am sure you all look at it differently.


JD Rector said...

Thanks for an enlightening history lesson with an absolute moral implication, as well as an appropriate application! My dear departed Korean War veteran father as early as 1981 told me that he was convinced the future development historically would be based on the vast accumulation of wealth and he mentioned the rise of Islamic extremism. Now, it has been brought to light how ISIS is trying to bank roll their mission with the conquest of the oil rich producing nations. Of course, I am deeply troubled with the rise of "health/wealth" prosperity doctrine here in the American churches. Any thoughts or comments along these lines?

Rex Ray said...


How can you say, “James, the author of the book in the Bible, was one of Christ’s original apostles”?

This James that wrote the book was the brother of Jesus and was an ‘original scoffer’. (For even his brothers didn’t believe in him. John 7:5 NLT)

This James did not believe in his brother until after his resurrection. “…he was raised from the dead…was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve…seen by more that 500…then he was seen by James…” (1 Corinthians 15:4-7 NLT) Seeing him die and seeing him alive made James a believer.

This James was raised as a Nazirite and known as “The Just” and “the safeguard of the people”’. “To him only was it lawful to enter into the holy place…asked remission for the people. (Foxe’s Book of Martyrs)

“Whenever Aaron and his sons [Nazirites] bless the people of Israel in my name, I myself will bless the people.” (Numbers 6:27 NLT)

When this James was murdered, the cries of the people were so great the King fired the priest that ordered his death.

He was so popular and respected it’s no wonder as pastor of the Jerusalem church the first church counsel in deciding how Gentiles were saved, accepted “…so my judgment is…” (Acts 15:19 NLT)

Calvary did away with James’ job as a go-between God and the people. Why he kept it till the day he died is not known.

Rex Ray said...


You wrote, “…the church built by Christ on the rock of Peter…”

Peter was NOT the rock that Christ built his church! If that were the case, the church didn’t last long because five verses later Jesus calls Peter Satan. :)

(Matthew 16:16-18 NLT)
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “You are blessed Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed THIS[1] to you. You did not learn THIS[2] from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means rock) and upon THIS[3] rock I will build my church…”

The Living Bible preface states: “The Bible writers often used idioms and patterns of thought that are hard for us to follow today. Frequently the thought sequence is fast-moving, leaving gaps for the reader to understand and fill in, or the thought jumps ahead or BACKS UP to something said BEFORE (as one would do in conversation) without clearly stating the antecedent reference. Sometimes the result for us, with our present-day stress on careful sentence construction and sequential logic, is we are left far behind.”

I believe when Jesus said THIS[3], he was referring to THIS[1] and [2].

Wade Burleson said...


You make a valid point about James. I have changed "original apostle" to "early disciple" because it better communicates what I intended to say. Usually "apostle" means "one sent" and IF (a big IF) the Roman Catholic tradition is true that James went to Iberia, then he indeed was an "apostle." Regardless, we can all agree that James was an early disciple. There are three James that scholars debate could have written James - James, Son of Zebedee; James, the brother of Jesus; and James the Lesser. This post isn't so much about James as it is "the love of money."

Wade Burleson said...


I wholeheartedly agree "Peter" is not the ROCK upon which the church is built - that's what Roman Catholics say, and this post traces Roman Catholicism conquests of South America and North America.

I believe the Rock is the confession of Peter, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God."

Rex Ray said...


I’m glade we agree that Peter is not the rock upon which the church is built.

Do you plan to change the post: “…the church built by Christ on the rock of Peter…”?

Christiane said...

That pilgrimage 'the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James)' is still walked today by many Christians, Catholic or other. The reasons for this sojourn are many, but prayer and contemplation are a big part of it. There is a film that focuses on this devotion called 'The Way', in which a father walks the 'way' for his son who set out on 'The Way' but tragically died before completing it. So the father is working out his grief in honor of his son's plan by walking with the son's ashes, which the father slowly spreads at intervals and prays, and then the father commits the remainder of his son's ashes to the sea at the end of the journey.

For those who don't understand 'the Way' or its meaning to people, there is no 'explanation' .... it isn't something to 'defend' or to even suggest for others, it is a personal journey of prayer and for some, of healing.

Wade Burleson said...


I don't intend to change the post because I was writing from the Roman Catholic perspective, not mine. Hopefully anyone confused will read your perceptive comment.

Rex Ray said...


I thought this post was an excellent TRUE history lesson, but now you say, “I was writing from the Roman Catholic perspective, not mine. Hopefully anyone confused will read your perceptive comment.”

You can see where I’m going here.

It’s obvious this sentence was from your perspective:

“Though some would have you believe the Roman Catholic Church came to the new world to “convert the pagans to the Christian faith,” the literal truth is the hunt for gold drove the explorations west.”

Next sentence:

“The Apostle Peter once said, “Silver and gold have I none,” but it wasn’t long before the church built by Christ on the rock of Peter couldn’t say that anymore. The “love of money” led to the Seven Fabled Cities of God.”

These two sentences (“drove the explorations west”) and (“led to the Seven Fabled Cities of God”) express the same idea. The reader knows that and “love of money” was your perspective in both sentences.

Therefore, everything in both sentences should be true. :)

Wade Burleson said...

Both paragraphs refer to the Roman Catholic Church. Thx Rex.

Wade Burleson said...

Both paragraphs refer to the Roman Catholic Church. Thx Rex.

Rex Ray said...

You know the expression: “Fear not those who argue but those who dodge.” :)

Old friend, we both agree both paragraphs (sentences) refer to the Roman Catholic Church.

Our disagreement is the two sentences written from the Catholic prospective or from your prospective.

If they are from your prospective they should not contain any untruth.

The second sentence has”the love of money…”. Catholics would never agree that it was “love of money…”. So “love of money” has to be from your prospective. You can’t say half the sentence is mine and the other half theirs.

Do Obama’s words convict him of being a Muslim?
1. “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” (Christians don’t have a future?)
2. “America is not – and will never be – at war with Islam.”
3. “The sweetest sound is the Muslim call to prayer.”
4. “Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism.”(He can’t say “Islamic Terrorism.)
5. “We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith.” (Would he try to convert a Muslim?)
6. “I have known Islam on three continents.” (Bragging?)
7. “I know civilization’s debt to Islam.”
8. “Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance.” (Thief has hand cut off.)
9. “Islam has always been part of America.”(In his dreams!)
11. “My responsibility as President is to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam.” (Spoken like a true Muslim.)
12. “The Holy Koran tells us,..”
(What Christian believes or states the Koran is “Holy”?)

Wade Burleson said...


I'm not dodging. I think what I'm doing is saying, "Rex, if I changed everything I write because a reader says 'You are wrong' - when I feel they're reading of what I'm writing is wrong - then I would not be a writer, but one who's more concerned about pleasing those who read. My point is the Roman Catholic Church went west FOR THE LOVE OF MONEY, not for the gospel, and the Roman Catholic Church believes THE ROCK IS PETER, not me. I understand you wish me to change what I've written to express something different, but I will avoid what you deem to be the dodge by simply saying, "Rex, if you want something better said, write it yourself." :)

Always appreciate the comments.

Rex Ray said...

You gave good advice; I’ll do it.

The Apostle Peter once said, “Silver and gold have I none,” but it wasn’t long before Catholics built their church on the rock of Peter couldn’t say that anymore.


The Apostle Peter once said, “Silver and gold have I none”, but it wasn’t long before the church built by Christ on the rock of Peter couldn’t say that anymore.

The main difference; man builds the church in my statement and Christ builds the church in the other.

Big, big difference. I just want you to express what you believe.

It’s like a T-shirt given to my brother saying, “I’m not arguing with you, I telling why I’m right.” :)

Wade Burleson said...


You definitely are a great writer! Thanks, Rex.

Rex Ray said...


You're very kind. Thank you.
I'm signing off for a while.

al bantani said...

Muhammad was foretold in Bible. there are many prophecies about him in Bible. Click Here