People today almost totally condemn the idea of empire. They think of it as evil and sinister. The greatest leader of the 20th century thought differently.
Winston Churchill had a glorious vision of empire. Naturally, the British Empire had some negative aspects. But overwhelmingly, Churchill considered the empire as a civilizing voice in the world. Through the British Empire, he desired to bring more freedom, peace and prosperity to the world by helping those who were not so able to help themselves.
Author and historian Kirk Emmert wrote a book titled Winston S. Churchill on Empire. In the foreword of that book, Harry V. Jaffa wrote that in Churchill’s view, the British Empire acted to “lift human life away from barbarism and savagery towards civilization and human excellence.” In many instances, that is exactly what the British Empire did. It was, as Churchill believed, a powerful civilizing force that benefited all of humanity!
It is hard to find anybody who understands what Churchill truly believed about empire. Even Churchill’s best biographer, Martin Gilbert, did not fully understand it. Sadly, Churchill’s vision of empire has disappeared in our world.
Many historians have praised Churchill, stating that he was responsible for winning World War ii. He himself, however, didn’t feel his life was all that successful. In a conversation at the end of his life, he told a friend that he felt like a failure. Why? Because the British Empire was collapsing. Yes, he led the Allies to victory in World War ii, but he saw that as a hollow victory. He had worked all his life to exalt the British Empire. Instead, just the opposite was taking place: His beloved empire was collapsing before his eyes.
Why? Churchill’s countrymen did not share his view of empire. Those who surrounded him and came after him no longer believed in the British Empire’s capacity to serve and to help the world. Britain’s educational establishment had also come to hold an extremely critical view of empire.
How was Churchill viewed by the educated in Britain? In 1933, Adolf Hitler rose to power and Churchill started warning Britain, and the world, about what was coming. At that same time, a famous debate took place at Oxford University approving the motion “that this house will in no circumstances fight for its king and country.”
This act by the students of the most prestigious education institution in Britain deeply offended Churchill. In a speech on Feb. 17, 1933, he called it an “abject, squalid, shameless avowal” and “a very disquieting and disgusting symptom.” Continuing in the speech, Churchill stated, “My mind turns across the narrow waters of Channel and the North Sea, where great nations stand determined to defend their national glories or national existence with their lives. I think of Germany, with its splendid clear-eyed youths marching forward on all the roads of the Reich singing their ancient songs, demanding to be conscripted into an army; eagerly seeking the most terrible weapons of war; burning to suffer and die for their fatherland.” The German youth were burning to suffer and die for the fatherland, and yet at Oxford the youth of Britain were pledging not to fight for king or country.
Churchill knew the empire was literally hanging by a thread! (Our book The United States and Britain in Prophecy proves that the empire was a gift from God. This is what Churchill did not know, but should have known. All of our literature is free.) He was trying to stir the people to save their own country. History proves that he was correct! Yet most of the educated elites, the university faculties and even the media, both in Britain and America, were against that warning message about losing the empire and even their own country.
As Churchill said a number of times, “Mankind is unteachable.” Since that time, the foolish view of the highly educated has only grown more toxic and more unhinged from reality! Politically correct modern education vociferously condemns Churchill and the empire he loved—while presenting itself like the arbiter of all that is moral and good in the world. That education system has produced most of the world’s leaders. Yet here is the truth they refuse to face: The world’s number one problem today—even more than during World War ii—is that of human survival! And that fact proves that something is dreadfully wrong with education! After all, it was education that produced this predicament. It takes educated people to make nuclear bombs.
In the foreword to Emmert’s book, Jaffa made this fascinating statement: “The glory of the British Empire was its service to a cause that transcended Britain, that transcended history, that transcended time itself.”
While Churchill was disillusioned with the British education system’s failure to build the empire, I believe we have an educational system that Winston Churchill would have appreciated. At Herbert W. Armstrong College, we offer an education that transcends America or Britain, that transcends history, and that transcends even time itself.
Our institution lives by the motto that Herbert W. Armstrong, the namesake for our college, used at Ambassador College, which he founded: The Word of God is the foundation of all knowledge. The Bible teaches us a lot about education. But most of humanity is not very interested in that type of education.
We certainly believe our Armstrong education transcends America. First and foremost, our college is a character-building institution. We teach our students to practice the way of give as a way of life. We also have a television program that offers educational materials to anyone in the world who requests them online, or in print form. It is all completely free because it is supported by a group of people who have character and want to give as a way of life.
Mr. Armstrong always believed in reaching out to the largest audience possible with the education he offered. We strive to follow in that tradition. We keep reaching out as far as we can.
We have also recently inspected many beautiful estates in Britain for a second college campus so that we can more easily expand this education beyond America. You could ask: Why aren’t we content to stay here? Because our education transcends America.
Viewing a number of the old British estates, you really sense the greatness and grandeur of the British Empire. We fully believe and practice the biblical principle that a beautiful environment is more conducive to effective study. Most of the properties we toured were truly breathtaking in their architecture and maintained grounds—a witness to greatness of days gone by.
In the old days, Churchill called those who didn’t support the British Empire “little Englanders.” These people wanted to do away with the empire—to renounce it and live an inward life. These people didn’t look past the small island of England. Churchill dedicated his life to looking beyond the borders of the isle. That is why even though he saved England from destruction, he still felt like he had failed to accomplish enough. Though he warned, he could not save the British Empire from its demise.
This is recent history, yet how much have we learned from it? If your empire is about to be destroyed, it seems logical to try and learn from that history. However, I find that America and Britain really have not learned from it.
Nineteenth-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli also believed in the building of empire. He stated, “I have endeavored to develop and strengthen our empire, believing that combination of achievement and responsibility elevates the character and condition of a people.” Disraeli saw the need to develop character in order to strengthen the empire! Such nobility of thought is lost on today’s politicians. Current political leaders do not even talk about character when they run for office because the people no longer care about it—to their own repugnant shame!
Formerly, that was not the case in Britain. A lot of effort and character went into building the British Empire. The individual’s character developed the national greatness. That is why character development is the most important thing we teach at Armstrong College. If you don’t know how to live a life of high character, then no matter how much money you make, what real quality of life is even possible?
Looking at the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction we have to ask, where will that end? If something didn’t happen to stop it, a nuclear war would stop history itself and erase all human life off the planet!
Thankfully, there will be a Being that stops it before that time, as Jesus Christ prophesied in Matthew 24:21-22. The Bible is also full of prophecies of what will happen after that time. It promises that in the thousand years that follow, true education—the very education we are working hard to provide at Armstrong College today—is going to shape history. It is an education that transcends history.
Finally, the education we offer transcends time itself. Isaiah 57:15 states that God “inhabits eternity.” This means that God lives apart from time. He created time, and the education He provides to those who will be taught by Him transcends time as He does.
Hebrews 2:8 states that God “hast put all things in subjection under [man’s] feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.” The expression “all things” is referring to all that God has made in the material universe! (see the Moffatt translation, for example). That is one of many scriptures in the Bible that show that God has transcendent and universe-scale plans for mankind that stretch out into eternity! What potential God has given to you. His message to man is filled with hope because it transcends time and space.
Many of the great men from history saturated their minds in the Bible. It has been said William Shakespeare referred to the Bible more than all the other poets combined. Shakespeare, also from Britain, was another firm supporter of empire. In his play The Merry Wives of Windsor, he wrote, “Why, then the world’s mine oyster”!—a famous phrase that lives on in our language today. Much of Shakespeare’s writings include similar references to his expansive thinking. He wrote about Denmark, Egypt and Italy. “There was not room enough for him in the island of Britain,” Hermann Sinsheimer wrote. Shakespeare’s mission was “to enrich from outside sources, from every corner of space and time, a nation that is just struggling into her proper, uninsular shape. Between the lines and between the characters one may read the legend: Our island is too small; our kingdom is the world!” (Shylock: The History of a Character).
That is empire thinking! But that has to be backed by empire education, or the goal will never be achieved. Churchill felt like a failure at the end of his life because he could not inspire the next generation to be empire builders.
As part of the education we offer at Herbert W. Armstrong College, we send students to volunteer on archaeological excavations in Jerusalem. We have helped Dr. Eilat Mazar to dig back through the millennia of history to uncover David’s palace, Solomon’s wall and Nehemiah’s wall. Excavations we participated in uncovered two seals of the biblical princes who threw the Prophet Jeremiah into prison and tried to get him killed. Digging those seals out of the ground is a solid indication that Jeremiah lived. And if Jeremiah lived, so too does God!
Projects like this reveal how the hope-filled education of the Bible transcends time! People might be skeptical of the Bible, but anyone can see the dreadful problems that we face in this world. Many scholarly people think that mankind’s survival is uncertain. At our education institutions we teach young people to face the reality of this world’s problems—and then we show them the remedy! We teach that God is going to solve those problems; that He is going to save most of humanity, including all those who have already died, in spite of ourselves! We teach this hope to all of our young people. Most importantly, we teach our students that this hope must be given to others.
As we strive to fulfill these noble educational aims, we are working to prepare a new generation of empire builders—men and women who will lift human life away from barbarism and savagery toward civilization and excellence, men and women who will help God raise up a shining new empire that will encompass the globe and bring freedom, peace and prosperity to all nations.
And that is only the beginning. Then we will help God expand His empire or civilization throughout the entire universe! (Isaiah 9:6-7). God is inviting you to be a leader in that magnificent plan!