The Fatal Danger in Not Teaching History
Many of the leaders in America and Britain today not only don’t learn history but have contempt for it. Melanie Phillips wrote for the London Times on Feb. 6, 2000, that then British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government was “obsessed with modernity and contemptuous of history and tradition.”
How could that be the case in a society that exalts higher education? Because higher education is not true education. Academics say that history is of very little value. Hating one’s own history is a dangerous disease!
In an article for the Washington Post on Dec. 23, 2001, George Will wrote:
[Lynne Cheney, wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney] recalled a 1999 survey of college seniors at 55 elite colleges, from Princeton to Stanford, which revealed that only 22 percent knew that the words “government of the people, by the people, for the people” are from the Gettysburg Address. Forty percent could not place the Civil War in the second half of the 19th century. Only 44 percent could place Lincoln’s presidency in the period 1860–1880. …
Such questions should not be difficult for high school seniors. But at the time of the survey, none of the 55 colleges and universities required a course in American history. And students could graduate from 78 percent of them without taking any history course.
History is being erased from our educational system! This is a deadly crisis.
Savior of the West
Winston Churchill deeply valued history. “Churchill’s reading of history reinforced his early education to exalt heroic virtues,” Henry Steele Commager wrote in the introduction to Marlborough, Churchill’s biography of his ancestor.
Churchill saved Western Civilization during World War ii. He learned how to be a hero from his history books. Don’t we need to understand more about this man and how Britain was almost destroyed because the people wouldn’t listen to his warning?
“He cherished, as a law of history, the principle of a people who flout those virtues are doomed to decay and disillusion, and that a people who respect them, will prosper and survive,” Commager continued. Churchill was an expert in secular history, much of which prophesies about the future!
Churchill believed that history is a way of teaching by example. In the Marlborough introduction, Commager gave seven lessons that history teaches (emphasis mine throughout):
First, history was not just the pursuit of idle hours but was, itself, philosophy and, rightly read, furnished lessons which statesmen could ponder and apply.
Second, history was both memory and prophecy. It provided the counsel and the solace of the long view both to the past and to the future. …
Third, history followed great cycles: The same themes recurred, again and again, the same drama was played out, from age to age; and as men had somehow survived the vicissitudes of the past there was ground to hope that they might survive those of the present and the future. Thus four times Britain had fought to rescue Europe from the grip of a tyrant—Louis xiv, Napoleon, Kaiser William and Hitler—and four times Britain had succeeded in saving Europe and, with it, the cause of liberty and justice. …
Fourth, history bore witness to the vital importance of national character, for character was as important to a people as to an individual, and every nation must be alert to defend and preserve it. That each nation had a special character Churchill did not doubt, and as he contemplated the long arch of centuries he was led to a fifth conclusion, that it was, above all, the English character which had lighted up the corridors of time, flickering now and then but mostly pure and clear and even luminous—the English character and that of England’s daughter nations around the globe.
From all this flowed a sixth lesson, that the test of greatness was politics and war. …
History—not least the history of war—taught a seventh lesson, and taught it not only to Churchill but through him: the vital importance of leadership.
Churchill had vision like no one else because of his love for history.
America’s Greatest President
In a statement on March 30, 1863, declaring a national day of fasting, Abraham Lincoln said:
[I]t is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
Lincoln believed the Civil War was punishment for excluding God from American society. Hatred for history today is a dual problem. We have already examined the importance of secular history. Even more important is biblical history. Both kinds are under attack in America and Britain.
Just before the Civil War, Lincoln said, “Unless the great God who assisted [President George Washington], shall be with and aid me, I must fail. But if the same omniscient mind, and the same Almighty arm that directed and protected him, shall guide and support me, I shall not fail; I shall succeed. Let us all pray that the God of our fathers may not forsake us now.”
Through Lincoln’s strong leadership, America remained united. Imagine a world in which America to this day were split into two smaller, weaker nations!
Lincoln involved God in the preservation of the nation. He learned from biblical history, which was recorded specifically so we will do just that! “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).
The Biblical Archaeologist
Essential to the success of Churchill and Lincoln was their understanding of history. The same is true for archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar, who excavates according to the history of the Bible.
In an article for the Philadelphia Trumpet on March 14, 2008, titled “Defending Eilat Mazar—and the Biblical Record,” my son, Stephen, wrote:
[A]nswering scholars who criticize Eilat Mazar’s discoveries of King David’s palace in 2005, and Nehemiah’s Wall in 2007, Herschel Shanks recently wrote in Biblical Archaeology Review, “No one would question her professional competence as an archaeologist. Her chief sin, however, is that she is interested in what archaeology can tell us about the Bible.”
To academics, using the Bible as a reputable historical document is a shameful embarrassment!
The fruits show that Dr. Mazar’s unique method works. She discovered King David’s palace by studying 2 Samuel 5:17: “But when the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines came up to seek David; and David heard of it, and went down to the hold.”
My son continued:
Near the end of David’s palace construction, the Philistines attacked. And since the new palace may not have been reinforced strongly enough to withstand the Philistine assault, verse 17 says David went down to the citadel to barricade himself within the city walls until the conflict ended. This, Eilat Mazar theorized more than 10 years ago, indicates that David’s new palace stood on higher ground than the Jebusite fortress. She published her theory in Biblical Archaeology Review in January 1997. Under the title “Excavate King David’s Palace,” on a two-page spread picturing an artist’s rendering of the ancient City of David, Mazar drew an arrow pointing at the north end of the city, underneath the caption “it’s there.” She wrote, “Careful examination of the biblical text combined with sometimes unnoticed results of modern archaeological excavations in Jerusalem enable us, I believe, to locate the site of King David’s palace. Even more exciting, it is in an area that is now available for excavation. If some regard as too speculative the hypothesis I shall put forth in this article, my reply is simply this: Let us put it to the test in the way archaeologists always try to test their theories—by excavation.”
Scholars find it fashionable to reject God’s Word. Where has this gotten them? Have they uncovered David’s palace, Nehemiah’s wall, Solomon’s wall, or clay seals from the time of Jeremiah? Dr. Mazar has!
Rejecting secular history leads to rejecting biblical history. That’s why the downward trend in America, Britain and even the Jewish state is so alarming! Satan has deceived the whole world (Revelation 12:9). That includes educators and religious leaders. Only a tiny remnant of God’s loyal people heeds the lessons from history, which is so important to our eternal future.