The Denial of History
“America remains engaged in the world by history and by choice…. Now we must choose if the example of our fathers and mothers will inspire or condemn us…. We will speak for our nation’s values that gave our nation birth.” Thus spoke the 43rd president of the United States of America in his inauguration speech on January 20.
History, the example of a previous generation, and those fundamental values that gave birth to the greatest single nation in history—this was the heritage of America that President George W. Bush invoked to inspire his nation to a vision of the future. Yet why did the president have to point to the past achievements of the United States to inspire a vision of the future? Precisely because it is this vision of the heritage of America, the blessed history of its 225 years as a nation, that Americans are so prone to forget. Toward the conclusion of his 14-minute inauguration speech, Mr. Bush returned to this theme: “I will bring the values of our history to the care of our times.”
That grand old man of presidential politics, Abraham Lincoln, also invoked America’s past when he called the fledgling United States of America to remembrance on the occasion of his Thanksgiving proclamation of 1863. That proclamation enjoined the American citizenry to set apart “a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwells in the heavens.” Why? Because he was concerned that the American peoples were so “prone to forget the source from which they come.”
Thomas Jefferson, in his first inaugural speech, acknowledged an “adoring and overruling Providence,” appealing to that “Infinite Power which rules the destinies of the universe” for guidance.
But it was James Madison, America’s fourth president, who most clearly pointed to the spiritual bedrock that underpinned the United States Constitution: “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not on the power of government… [but] upon the capacity of each and every one of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”
Thus, when President Bush, leader of the greatest single nation on Earth, pointed repeatedly to the importance of history, he implicitly pointed to the theological foundation of that which created it as the singular most blessed nation on Earth. And herein lies an unchallengeable truth—true history cannot be separated from the very Creator of the universe. When a nation begins to lose its history, it loses sight of the source of its blessings.
Once, even pagan nations acknowledged that there was a supreme, divine source of all blessings. They could not understand God, nor the ways in which He works. But the documented history of the ancient nation of Israel reveals that whenever they came among a Gentile people, the Gentiles feared the God of Israel and noted how He gave Israel special favor.
How, then, has it come about that the present-day offspring of those ancient progenitors of Israel, currently benefiting from the greatest of national blessings, have become the most ignorant of all nations in terms of their national history and venerable heritage? (To prove the origin of the British and American peoples, write for your free copy of The United States and Britain in Prophecy.)
Age of Forgetfulness
“History is to the nation…as memory is to the individual. An individual deprived of memory becomes disoriented and lost, not knowing where he has been or where he is going, so a nation denied a conception of its past will be disabled in dealing with its present and its future” (Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., The Disuniting of America).
The present transition into a new century has produced a number of books whose authors decry a phenomenon of the late 20th century—the loss of the knowledge of history. Something quite devastating has happened from home and hearth to school and college, even the greatest of our institutions of higher learning, over the past half-century.
Prominent British journalist and author Peter Hitchens describes this phenomenon and its effect in Great Britain thus: “We have gravely devalued knowledge and academic qualifications, made many thoughts almost unthinkable, sundered many of the invisible bonds which once held our society together, and inflicted upon our country a permanent and irreversible change in morals, values, customs, taboos, language, humor, art…” (The Abolition of Britain, p. v). He describes what has happened to Britain as a cultural revolution, and it has its roots in not only the denial of British history, but in its total denigration!
“History is crucial territory here. Change a nation’s interpretation of its past and you change its identity” (A.W. Purdue, Salisbury Review, Winter 2000). Mr. Purdue comments on the trend among some British historians expressing alarm and concern at the loss of British identity. Reviewing the book Englishness Identified: Manners and Character 1650-1850 by Paul Langford, Purdue comments on the period of history which the book covers: “the 200 years from 1650, a period during which English and British power and wealth increased until Britain was in the mid-19th century regarded as a phenomenon by much of the rest of the world.”
Historians cannot pinpoint the reason for the sudden rise to power of the British peoples. They lack the key to uncover this knowledge. Human history is a record of the observations by contemporaries of current events, recorded for posterity, or a recording of previous events by those who come later on the scene, based on research of records of the past. Yet the explanation as to why the events of history have occurred is the subject of divine pronouncement; it can only be reasoned by the Supreme Power who created both the stage upon which these events are acted out and its participants. The stage for the enactment of human history is defined by time, space, matter, limited to the Earth and its solar system and the human inhabitants of this world. Yet, the influences which steer the course of human history lie beyond our solar system, beyond the mere physical universe. They are subjects of a higher order—a spiritual realm.
History by Divine Decree
“This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men” (Dan. 4:17). It is interesting to note that this enlightening truth was recorded by a powerful Gentile ruler—in fact, the first emperor of the first great empire that ruled the world following the dispersion of the nations after the great Noatian deluge. It was to this great emperor-king that God revealed, through the young Jewish intellect, Daniel, the true influence over history—and even though he did not understand it, the Gentile king believed it! He believed the evidence of which he was a very part.
So moved was he by the overwhelming evidence of the hand of God in his life and the perpetuation of his empire, as revealed in vision to him and interpreted by this son of the Israelitish tribe of Judah, that King Nebuchadnezzar was inspired to write, “I thought it good to show the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me. How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation” (vv. 2-3).
The wonder of this is that the vision portrayed to Nebuchadnezzar over 2,500 years ago, a great prophecy of every single Gentile empire that would rule in the generations down to our time, has since mostly become documented history, except for the final portion of that vision which is even now being played out, as current events, in preparation for its ultimate, prophetic fulfillment. You see, to gain a full grasp on current reality, history must simply be matched with the vision of prophecy.
Dr. George Friedman, ceo of a leading U.S. think tank, Stratfor Systems, sums up this divine progression of events in a masterful phrase: “We believe deeply that embedded in history is a logic that unfolds over time” (www.stratfor.com, Worldview, Nov. 13, 2000). This logic that “unfolds over time” must come from a mind superior to that of man. The history of humankind is no mere accident. It is following a specific logic that has been planned far in advance. Sir Winston Churchill put it this way, before the United States Congress: “He must indeed have a blind soul who cannot see that some great purpose and design is being worked out here below of which we have the honor to be the faithful servants.”
The Intent of History
We are concerned about the denial of history, to the point where, in the Anglo-Saxon nations, that denial has reached a denigration of history.
What do we mean, history? For the purpose of this article we restrict ourselves to the Britannica Dictionary definition in its primary and secondary sense: “A recorded narrative of past events, especially those concerning a particular period, nation, individual. The branch of knowledge dealing with the records of the past, especially those involving human affairs.” The records may be orally transmitted or conveyed in written form.
In ancient Israel, oral history was the tradition of the masses. “Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will show thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee” (Deut. 32:7).
The God of Israel enjoined the children of Israel to teach the history of Israel to their children and grandchildren (Josh 4:6). This was to be done by oral instruction—with the parents accepting the responsibility for teaching their children and their children’s children in the home. This was not to be institutionalized teaching. It was to be a teaching of the events of the past, involving the nation of Israel, over specific epochs, handed down generation to generation in the home.
Had the nation of Israel submitted to this direction from Almighty God, they never would have lost their identity. But they soon forgot this injunction of their God and thus forgot their great history, its source and major influences. God recorded that phenomenon through the pen of the ancient patriarch Moses: “Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee” (Deut. 32:18). That was written down as documented fact of the time, to become ancient history in our time, around 3,450 years later. And it was recorded for a great purpose.
The Origins of History
It is impossible to understand true human history without the context of Bible history as our guide. The Bible is the only legitimate, unbiased record of history since the creation of man to the birth of the true Christian church. In fact, its record of history covers events vastly predating man.
The true beginning point of history in the Bible was penned by the Apostle John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4). That event predates man by countless millennia, in terms of the way we record time by this Earth’s solar system.
Yet, the beginnings of human history are recorded in your Bible in the first book, Genesis: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Gen. 1:26-27).
From the time of God’s creation of a second human being, as recorded in Genesis 2:21-25, the history of human interaction between man and his environment, man and his fellowman, really begins. And, from the beginning, that has been a chronology of trial, test and trouble. This trouble became so intense that God wiped out all humanity save eight souls, at the time of the great Flood, over 1600 years on from man’s creation (Gen. 6:16). Then man commenced, in a sense, his life and interaction with his environment and his neighbor all over again, after the Flood. But recorded history indicates that it was barely a little over a century on from the time that Noah, his wife, three sons and their wives, went forth to reestablish civilization, that mankind yet again was in a profound mess, threatening the destruction of both himself and his surrounds.
So, God had to step in once again, this time confounding the language of man, thus confusing their interaction and communication and separating them geographically (Gen. 11). This had the marked result of slowing down the course of man’s history. The Eternal Creator had a specific timetable for humankind in mind (Eccl. 3:1). This involved a sequence of events and eras destined to teach man, through the record of his own experience, that, try as he may, man ultimately would reach the conclusion that unless he yielded, implicitly and completely, to the will of his Creator, then his very reason for being—his incredible human potential—would simply go unfulfilled.
Thus, over a period of some 4,000 years, the Eternal Creator of mankind saw to it that the oral and written history of man was documented, from the beginning creation of the physical Adam to the time of the birth, life, death and resurrection of the spiritual Adam, Jesus Christ, and even almost 70 years on from His death, to the close of the first era of the history of the church. These are the inspired writings that we call the Bible. They constitute the most reliable document of history, without which the true history of humankind cannot be understood. But more than this, the Bible constitutes a record of prophecy—a concise document of predictions of events to occur throughout man’s history, revealed and documented well in advance of the actual occurrence of those events.
The History of Israel
The Eternal God revealed to ancient Israel why they were to pass down the record of their history from generation to generation: “Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons” (Deut. 4:9).
The record of history was to be a perpetual reminder of the providence of Almighty God, to guard against them forgetting their heritage and the source of all their national blessings! Thus, armed with the documents of history, and stirred with the vision of prophecy of their future through the great exposé of the events to come, Israel could have been perpetually secure in the knowledge of where they fitted into unfolding events over time. But—they had no mind to remember the past, no vision to foresee the future. The result was, they fell into slavery at the hands of their enemies. And herein lies the great lesson we must draw from the example of ancient Israel.
Of all nations on Earth that have influenced the turn of events over the past 300 years, it is the English-speaking peoples that have had the most profound and far-reaching effect. Twice over the past century Great Britain and the United States of America have joined to fend off the totalitarian aggression of powerful enemies of freedom.
Commenting on the Allied victory in World War ii, Winston Churchill declared, “For the second time in the present century, the British Empire and the United States have stood together facing the perils of war on the largest scale known among men, and since the cannons ceased to fire and the bombs to burst we have become more conscious of our common duty to the human race” (A History of the English Speaking Peoples, vol. i, p. vii). Churchill saw the British and American people as having a “common duty to the human race.”
To be sure, there have been other great empires spanning centuries of time which have had powerful influence on mankind. In the East, the great dynasties of China, the shogun of Japan, the moguls of India, the caliphs of the great Muslim era, all held sway over vast tracts of territory and hordes of subjects in their time. In the West, the Chaldeans, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks and Romans led empires of stupendous richness of economy and power of polity. Yet throughout all post-Flood history, one group of nations threads its way and leaves its indelible mark on the culture, language, customs and religion of the whole world: the nations of Israel, and primarily two in particular that had the same great patriarch as their common father—Joseph, son of Jacob, whose name God changed to Israel (Gen. 35:10). Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, fathered those descendants of Israel who became the English-speaking peoples of Great Britain and its former dominions—Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa—and the United States of America.
Unique to those nations was their system of government and jurisprudence which ultimately came to be termed democracy. By no means the perfect system, time has, nonetheless, proven the democracy practiced by the English-speaking peoples to be, as Churchill termed it, “the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time” (House of Commons speech, 1947).
Contrasting this with the Roman system of administration and law which prevails in Europe, Churchill observed, “Unlike the remainder of Western Europe, which still retains the imprint and tradition of Roman law and the Roman system of government, the English-speaking peoples had at the close of the period covered by this volume achieved a body of legal and what might almost be called democratic principles which survived the upheavals and onslaughts of the French and Spanish empires” (Churchill, op. cit., p. xix).
Having had such impact on the world, would it not be natural to think that these great English-speaking nations would want to encourage the perpetuation of their history and heritage?
Dumbing Down to Catastrophe
U.S. polls on the nation’s knowledge of history, geography and current events produce extremely worrying results.
Commenting on the dismal performance of American adults in a general-knowledge survey conducted in 1988, Gilbert M. Grosvenor, president of the National Geographic Society, asked, “Have you heard of the lost generation? We have found them. They are lost. They haven’t the faintest idea where they are.” He went on to say, “Our adult population, especially our young adults, do not understand the world at a time in our history when we face a critical economic need to understand foreign consumers, markets, customs, foreign strengths and weaknesses” (Cultural Amnesia, p. 7).
A report in the New York Times just over two years ago reported that more American teenagers can name the Three Stooges than the three branches of the federal government. An earlier survey conducted by Washington Monthly of 8-to-12-year-olds found that “they could name 5.2 alcoholic beverages but only 4.8 presidents” (ibid., p. 9).
The results of a survey conducted in British secondary schools revealed what educational publishers termed an “appalling ignorance of even the most basic names and dates.”
“Almost a quarter of secondary school pupils do not know in which century the First World War was fought, and almost as many think Oliver Cromwell was at the Battle of Hastings, according to a survey published today” (Times, Jan. 18). The situation may be far worse than this survey reveals.
Author Peter Hitchens stated recently, “They think the history of Britain, rather than being an honorable story of democracy and liberty and civilization, is actually a catalog of squalor, depression and misdeeds. Because that is what they have been told. They have been brought up by their educators and most of the broadcasting systems to despise their country” (WorldNetDaily, Jan. 21; emphasis mine).
What is most distressing is to realize that this denigration of history in British schools may have its source in something far more sinister than the general apathy and ignorance of the British citizenry. Commenting on this overt effort in politics, media and the education institutions to destroy the British heritage, A.W. Purdue reflects, “It is hard not to suspect that the attack is the spearhead of a political agenda” (Purdue; op. cit., p. 50).
Pointing the finger at a prime culprit, Purdue continues, “It is, of course, more than coincidence that the campaign for Eurofederalism is assisted by the destruction of British identity.” Sardonically, he asks a tongue-in-cheek question: “With the empire went its purpose, and devolution for Scotland and Wales will be followed by the break-up of Britain. Why don’t we be sensible and join that nice European Union?” (ibid.).
Although Peter Hitchens connects the following observation to the denigration and destruction of British history, culture and heritage, his comments bear just as well on the scene across the Atlantic in America. Drawing attention to the power of the liberal-socialist left in dominating the agenda to dumb-down the English-speaking citizenry and bury both history and heritage, Hitchens rails: “These people went into, not government or politics, but into the cultural industries of broadcasting and education. And they have taken over. They are now so dominant that most of them are not even aware that they have opinions. They think that what they think is ‘normal.’ And if they come across anyone who resists, they think that person is some kind of extremist maniac who has to be dismissed as being verging on the mentally unstable” (op. cit.; emphasis mine).
As H.G. Wells opined, “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe” (The Outline of History, 1951, ch. 40).
Do we get the point? If we do, it becomes glaringly obvious that the polls, surveys and statistics reveal that we are losing out massively on any effort to restore a knowledge of history and heritage to our English-speaking nations. To the contrary, our culture has produced a liberal-socialist, politically correct elite who now so dominate our mass media with their willful efforts to denigrate and destroy the religious and moral foundations of our nations that we stare the catastrophe, of which Wells warned, in the face!
What is the reason for history? To the Anglo-Americans, the last vestiges of the great English-speaking nations which had their genesis in the birth of the sons of Israel, God gave the command to record their history—lest they forget it, and be doomed to repeat the mistakes and reap the curse which rebellion against their God inevitably brought them—abject slavery!
As America enters a new phase under a new president, as Great Britain faces the polls to elect a new government within a few months, we would indeed do well to recall and voice the prayer of Rudyard Kipling in 1897: “God of our fathers, known of old / Lord of our far-flung battle-line, / Beneath whose awful Hand we hold / Dominion over palm and pine— / Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, / Lest we forget—lest we forget!”