Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christian Arrogance Among the American Colonists

Today I read a couple narratives of early colonists of America: Thomas Harriot (who was a part of Sir Walter Raleigh's failed Roanoke expedition), and the famous captain John Smith, whose exploits in Jamestown earned him both fame and infamy).  One parallel I've noticed between these two men's accounts is a striking arrogance with regard to the "Truth" of their religious beliefs, and the "falseness" of the Native Americans' beliefs, with whom both men had dealings.

Here are some quotes from Thomas Harriot:

"Some religion they (the Native Americans) have already, which although it is far from the truth, yet being as it is, there is hope it may be easier and sooner reformed."

"Many of them have such an opinion of us, that if they know not the truth of God and Religion already, it was rather to be had from us whom God so specially loved, than from a people that were so simple, as they found themselves to be in comparison [with] us."

When the Native Americans began to die in large numbers due to European diseases, Harriot comforted them with these words: "Indeed all things have been and were to be done according to his good pleasure as he had ordained."

"Their opinions I have set down the more at large, that it may appear unto you that there is good hope they may be brought through discreet handling and government to the embracing of the truth, and consequently to honor, obey, fear, and love us."

Here are some quotes from captain John Smith:

"But now was all our provision spent...all helps abandoned, each hour expecting the fury of the savages, when God, the patron of all good endeavors, in that desperate extremity so changed the hearts of the savages that they brought such plenty of their fruits."

"But almighty God (by His divine providence) had mollified the hearts of those stern barbarians with compassion."

"If he have any grain of faith or zeal in religion, what can he do less hurtful to any; or more agreeable to God, than to seek to convert those poor savages to know Christ?"

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