These principles were derived from the text that follows. They should be understood and used consistent with that discussion.
- God determines history, not in foreknowledge, but plans all events in history to determine His final stages for the history of mankind. In God, there is no past, present, or future, as the great “I AM.”
- The people and events that are recorded, as “history,” is totally determined by one’s philosophy of life or worldview. Secular historians will ignore the movement of God in history: His people, His Church, and His providential plan.
- God has a plan for every individual of the human race and his every thought, word, and action. All are necessary to complete the most simple detail of His plan.
- Most of the “good” things that mankind has experienced was caused by the regeneration and obedience of God’s people through God’s great plan of salvation in Jesus Christ. This “good” includes capitalism, representative government, civil liberties, abolition of the slave trade and human sacrifice, world exploration, elevation of women, elevation of the common man, the Renaissance, and Reformation. These accomplishments are “good” only when they are governed by explicit Biblical principles. And, certainly, mankind is able to pervert every one of these to ungodly purposes.
One particular of this “great good” is universal public education. There is no other philosophy of life or religion in the history of mankind that supplied the impetus for universal education.
- The dominant theme of the history of mankind is the Revelation of Jesus Christ and the salvation of God’s people.
- Christians have been and are persecuted because they are a threat to the ruling powers when they are obedient to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Currently, their threat is almost harmless in the United States and in the West because of their disobedience.
- One of the great tragedies and misunderstandings of God’s Word has been the persecution of Christians by other Christians over religious issues, for example, the burning of Protestants by Roman Catholics during the Reformation and the Killing Times of the Covenanters by the English. Of course, theology was often just an excuse for tyrannical power and personal gain by those in power.
- The Dark Ages (or Middle Ages) were actually the progressive age of the light of the Gospel, as most of Europe had been overrun with barbarians. Yet, during this time it eventually produced Scholasticism, the Renaissance, the Reformation, and all the great things that have come from those events. That is not to say these seeds were evenly distributed. Certainly, in many areas there continued to be ignorance, illiteracy, superstition, barbarianism, and tyrannical governments.
- While church history has held some prominence among Christians, God’s Providence in world history is almost unnoticed today, mostly caused by the secular writing of history in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, some Christians are beginning to recover this providential perspective, for example, Vision Forum’s Mega-History Conference.
- While evolution would have mankind increasing in intelligence, the Creation account would have Adam as the most intelligent man that ever lived, even after the Fall. This high intelligence would have continued in Adam’s immediate descendants who lived for hundreds of years. Man’s intelligence is actually decreasing, as the effect of the Fall continues. Archeological evidence is accumulating to prove the high intelligence of man before and after the Flood.
- There is increasing archeological and scientific evidence of a “young earth,” very close to Bishop Ussher’s 6000+ years.
- Chapters 1-11 of Genesis are true. When properly understood, they have always been compatible with the best understood theories of science and archeological explorations. Until the Church proclaims this part of the Bible as true, her message of salvation will be limited in its effectiveness.
- Civilization needs to be re-defined with Biblical criteria.
History: The Great Deception
History is perhaps the most subjective of disciplines. If you were to write all your thoughts in the past 24 hours (actually more like 16 hours because sleeping time), you would fill a considerable book. Then, as a large appendix, you could write about what you actually did. Any of the seven billion or so people on earth could do the same. And, all that for only one day. Multiple that by 60, 70 or 80 years and likely there are not enough computers on earth to contain all the information. Then, add in all the people of history! Then, add in all their perceptions of what happened. All this history would be a staggering amount, indeed!
Now, pour that through the finest of sieves into one or several books. That is your history text. History is the highly selective account of billions of lives, actions, and things over several thousand years of earth history. Most likely, should the Lord tarry, I will not be mentioned by historians in the next millennium or even the next century. Neither will you, the reader. Yet, our lives have great significance, if for no other reason than the children that we bear. But, even they, will not likely be cited by historians? Why not? I love my children and grandchildren. Along with my wife, they are my dearest possessions on earth. Yet, historians will not care, no more than they are likely to care about you and your progeny. (I am limiting history here only as secularists see it. Certainly, our greatest worth, as Christians, is found in God’s love and plan for His own. I have focused on that dimension in what follows here.)
Historians write about the great events of history, or they write about their particular interests. For example, there are historians of the world, of nations, of city-states, of small towns, and families. There are even biographies in individuals. Further, there are histories of disciplines: economics, chemistry, medicine, psychology, etc., etc. There are histories of inventions: tools, engines, ships, weapons, airplanes, toothbrushes, toilets, etc., etc.
I have belabored enough! History is what an individual or group wants it to be. It reflects their interest and values. It reflects their beliefs. It reflects their agenda. And, what they have chosen to write about, reflects their worldview.
And, thus, we confront the writers of history. Historians have written from within their worldview to advance their interests, values, beliefs, and worldview. And, thus, we have the historical texts of our times with the dominant worldview of humanism. (See elsewhere what is humanism vs. secular humanism.) Within this worldview, Jesus Christ becomes an insignificant itinerant preaching peasant, the Middle Ages become the Dark Ages, the Reformation is hidden behind the Renaissance, and the United States had no Biblical basis.
Providence, Predestination and Free Will
Now, I am not about to get into the theological debate between predestination and free will. But, there are some inescapable realities of history on which all Christians should agree. One is that the end is determined by the beginning. Regardless of your eschatological position, all Christians agree that Christ will return to earth—the parousia or Second Coming. That event will happen according to God’s plan. My plan is to place a period at the end of this sentence — after I complete my plan of thoughts. Then, I have a plan to complete this paragraph, then, this chapter, then this book. Everyone who works, including the homemaker, makes a plan. It may be haphazard, but nothing is accomplished without a plan.
I live in a well-designed house that has been modified over the years. Its original design had a plan. That plan has been changed at least twice. The most complex of buildings has a plan. No skyscraper was ever built without a highly complex plan.
Now, buildings are inanimate objects. A plank or a brick will stay exactly where the builder places its it. But, humans will not stay put! They are not even the same yesterday, today, or tomorrow. Some speakers use the illustration of heading cats. Try herding people, as tyrants have done. Well, you know the results. It cannot be done in the long run.
But, God has a plan for the history of the human race. He will culminate that plan by his design in the future. So, regardless of one’s eschatology, He has a plan. He has spoken; he has decreed!
And, if there is a plan, inescapably, every detail must be planned. What do you choose as your endpoint for Christ’s Second Coming? The fulfillment of the Great Commission? If so, imagine the details that have to be worked out to get the gospel to every person and tribe. Each life has to achieve certain ends: survival of illnesses and accidents, a job by the parents to put food on the table, learning how to raise children by the parents, genetics to provide intelligence for the future evangelists, and a willingness to go. Multiply those scenarios by the millions. Then, add in all those thoughts that we reviewed above that must make myriads of decisions to result in those acts. Complex does not even begin to describe the possibilities.
But, there is more. There must be modes of travel to get evangelists where they need to go: horse-drawn carriage, steam engines, ships, and airplanes. Someone must invent these means of travel. Someone must invent and manufacture the printing press, inks, paper, boxes, and computers for these evangelists to use.
Well, you could choose other endpoints than The Great Commission, but the same almost infinite complexities would still have to be fulfilled.
Thus, to say that God has a plan inescapably means that billions of thoughts and actions must be controlled for God to arrive at His endpoint(s).
But, then, he said all this more simply. “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31). The teaching about sparrows is obvious. How can we know all the sparrows and other birds that exist? But, a subtlety about the hairs of our head may be missed. With meticulous care, one could count the hairs on a person’s head, so what is the big deal? Well, we lose a number of the hairs on our head every day. By the time that you finished counting, the number would have changed! So, not only does God know at any point in time, He knows moment to moment.
After this lengthy introduction, what conclusions can we draw?
History is determined by the future. “The future is logically first, but not chronologically.” From the salvation of souls to the subduing of all nations under His feet, God has planned the end from the beginning. This plan is not His foreknowledge of events, but His planning the final stages of history, as He has determined the outcome! (For God, history does not exist. He is at once “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” His knowledge never changes, so for Him, all things are now. Thus, His declaration to Moses at the burning bush, “I AM.”)
Thus, creationism is determined by God’s plan for the future. Creation had to be carried out with the most intricate design to achieve God’s final plans for mankind’s history.
And, God has a plan for every individual of the human race and every thought, word, and action. All are necessary to complete the most simple detail of His plan.
What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?
The title of this section is the same as the title of a book by D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe. In their focus on evangelism and personal righteousness, Christians are prone to miss the great historical impact of Jesus Christ’s life, his teaching, and regeneration of His people. Kennedy and Newcombe list the following (p. 3).
- Hospitals, which essentially began during the Middle Ages.
- Universities, which also began during the Middle Ages. In addition, most of the world’s greatest universities were started by Christians for Christian purposes.
- Literacy and education for the masses.
- Capitalism and free-enterprise.
- Representative government, particularly as it has been seen in the American experiment.
- The separation of political powers.
- Civil liberties.
- The abolition of slavery, both in antiquity and more modern times.
- Modern science.
- The discovery of the New World by Columbus.
- The elevation of women.
- Benevolence and charity; the good Samaritan ethic.
- Higher standards of justice.
- The elevation of the common man.
- The condemnation of adultery, homosexuality, and other sexual perversions. This has helped to preserve the human race, and it has spared many from heartache.
- High regard for human life.
- The civilizing of many barbarian and primitive cultures.
- The codifying and setting to writing of many of the world’s languages.
- Greater development of art and music. The inspiration for the greatest works of art.
- The countless changed lives transformed from liabilities into assets to society because of the gospel. (For example, the descendants of Jonathan Edwards and a criminal of his time)
- The eternal salvation of countless souls!
Further, I would like to add to or expound on this list:
- Human sacrifice. “Human sacrifice was a religious rite practiced in every country, by every religion until Christianity appeared” (Otto Scott, back cover). This practice included the supposed great “civilizations” of many historians, the “grandeur” of Greece and “glory” of Rome. These two “cultures” also included slavery and “torture as an instrument of the courts.” (Ibid.)
- Infanticide by abandonment and exposure were almost universal before cultures were exposed to Christianity. Consistently, “None of the great minds of the ancient world — from Plato to Aristotle to Seneca and Quintilian, from Pythagoras and Aristophanes to Livy and Cicero, from Herodotus and Thucydides to Plutarch and Euripides — disparaged child-killing in any way. In fact, most of them even recommended it…. They blindly tossed lives like dice.” (George Grant, Third Time Around: A History of the Pro-Life Movement from the First Century to the Present, (Wolgemuth and Hyatt, 1991), page 12.
- Limited governments created by common law and Lex Rex, e.g., the Magna Charta
- World exploration prompted by evangelism, e.g., Christopher Columbus in the Americas and Hernando Cortez in Mexico
- Dates in history were ordered. Time is B.C. and A.D., before Christ and anno domini (in the year of our Lord)
I am aware of the many of the controversies that surround the item in this list. Some I will discuss here and elsewhere. For others, I invite you to read Kennedy and Newcombe’s book and scores of other books which give more extensive and substantive reasons that the above are facts of history.
One of the greatest dangers to Biblical thinking is that “What is, is what ought to be.” There is no other philosophy of life or religion in the history of mankind that supplied the force for universal education than Christianity. God planned for His people to know His Word. The New Testament was written in the koine Greek, the language of the common people of the Roman world in the Middle East, not classical Greek.
And, how did Greek come to be the common language of that time: Alexander the Great! God used the ambitions of a thoroughly pagan military leader (who later claimed to be a god) to bring most of the Middle East under Greek dominance. With that dominance came the common language of the Greeks. This language provided for the Gospel be written in the language of the common man and allowed a large geographic location, central to the world, readily reachable by that language.
As Christianity began to grow in that God-provided culture medium, it provoked the common man to learn to read. To paraphrase the above proverb, it is difficult to get understand that “what is, is not what has always been.” Until the Reformation (see below), there was essentially no reason for most people to be able to read and write. In virtually all societies, there were castes (even if they were not called that). Most people had no money, so there was no reason for mathematics. Most people did not even own themselves, either through outright slavery or their position I society being already fixed by their birth. So, there was no reason for learning anything more than their simple tasks in life. Their religion provided no real hope or aspirations. Entertainment could be provide by others in the way of plays or traveling bards.
I recall somewhere that Augustine was startled when he saw his teacher, Ambrose, sitting and reading a book. He had heard books read aloud in public, but had never thought that a book could be read for one’s own edification! Of course, he went on to read — and to write — many books of his own. But, his is an example of the reality of “book-learning and -reading” in his day, even though he was of an educated class.
Roman Catholic Church used the Latin translation of the Bible and its favored priesthood to keep the Bible out of the hands of the common people. Further, the Church believed that only the priests could properly understand the Scriptures.
And, thus the Dark Ages were dark because the Bible has kept from the common people. But, God’s Word intended for God’s people could not be kept under a bushel, even one as large as the Roman Catholic Church. Its seeds began sprouting with John Wycliffe, John Hus, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other translators of the Bible. With the invention of the printing press and the translation of the Bible again into the language of the common man, a universal desire and impetus for universal education began and birthed the Reformation.
Christians as Martyrs and Enemies of Earthly Powers
The dominant theme of the history of mankind according to the Bible is the Revelation of Jesus Christ and the salvation of His people. All evangelicals would agree. But, Christians have not been popular in many (most?) societies in history. Rather the opposite, they have been severely persecuted with virtually every torture known to evil mankind. All evangelicals know this martyrdom. In the 3rd century, Tertullian said that “the blood of martyrs is seed” (of the church).* Again, this statement is commonly accepted among Christians of all times.
But, what may not be readily recognizable in an historical context is why Christians are persecuted. Practiced in a consistent and biblical way, Christians are “to live peaceably with all men” (Roman 12:18). Indeed, the law of love extends even to enemies.
Christians, by and large, are persecuted because they are a threat to the ruling powers! As is being discussed throughout this book, the Bible defines the stark contrast of light and darkness and goodness and evil. Darkness hates the light. Powerful people hate those that will not bow the knee to the god of Nebuchadnezzar, the gods of Rome, the racism of Hitler, or the communism of Stalin. Beginning with the Hebrew midwives, God has instructed His people to “obey God, rather than men.”
“… the world has struck at (Christians) because is has recognized the power in them” (Rushdoony, Salvation and Godly Rule, Ross House Books, 1983, page 359).
God’s people are under a set of laws that sometimes differ with those of the state. (The extent of those laws I will discuss elsewhere in some detail). Again, Christians are generally called to be the best citizens that a ruler could have (Romans 13:1-7). Yet, that ruler wants absolute obedience. He knows that the Christian cannot give that total allegiance. So, the persecution of Christians by the state is actually a premise consistent with their worldview.
This begs a question of Christians in the West. Why are they not being persecuted? Some would say that we are, but discrimination is not persecution! I will posit two reasons. 1) The influence the Reformation still lingers in the West, particularly in the United States. The Reformation spawned the most thoroughgoing worldview in Christianity since it began. While its doctrinal basis has virtually disappeared, its social and legal effects of tolerance remain.
We face an interesting divergence of scenarios. If Christians return to the complete worldview or one better (which I think is possible), building on their mistakes and keeping their principles that were correct, then what will happen? Either, they will once again force darkness to persecute them or they will reform society and the state.
At least in the United States, it is possible that the freedoms of religion in this country can be restored. But, it will not happen unless “judgment begins at the household of God” (I Peter 4:17). That is, His people confess their failure to live consistent with His truth, primarily His commandments and statutes, and begin to live in that way.
I don’t know which will happen! I hope, pray, and work with diligence that the our freedoms can be restored. But, the more serious issue is not whether persecution will occur but whether Christians will come to understand their failures in the Cultural Mandate. If they don’t, persecution may be avoided. The state will have nothing to fear! There will be no light to their darkness.
Another possible scenario is that Christians will persecute their own. Those without the light will join with the forces of darkness to persecute their brothers and sisters. This persecution has already been played out through between the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant churches in history. I fear that this is the most likely event in our times.
(One could debate whether true Christians can persecute other true Christians. “To whom much is given much is required.” The apostasy of those who once believed is worse than that of pagans. God gives them over to their wrath.)
The Dark Ages of the Light of the Gospel
The Dark Ages or the Middle Ages are various dated from the Fall of Rome in 476 A.D. to around 1000 A.D. or 1500 A.D. Again, such dating is concerned with one’s priorities and biases in historical accounts. But, just what was happening during this time relative to Christianity in Europe?
While the “civilizations” of Greece and Rome were in their flower, there were barbaric hordes all over the British Isles and Europe. The Irish, Celts, and Scots were small tribes and clans with not loyalties other than to their own little bands, and sometimes betrayal even within families. There were the warring Germanic tribes and the raiding Norsemen, who were feared by all of Europe. Slaughter, rape, pillaging, human sacrifice, enslavement, and worship of all kinds of strange gods were common everywhere.
Fast forward to the 12th-15th century. The barbarians are gone. Civilization is beginning to flourish with its evidence of increasing liberties for the common man, great architecture of the Cathedrals, art, literature, science, music, and the chivalry shown to women. It is the eve of the Renaissance and the Reformation.
Barbarism to advancing culture and civilization in 500-1000 years, depending upon location. What happened? How did the mire of humanity presage the Enlightenment? Christianity! While Protestants have rightly condemned excesses and wrong theology, with the development of the Church came missionaries with a hunger to convert souls. With the Christ of the Gospels came all His fruits, listed above. And, He came with the Bible only in hands of the priests. He came with all the imperfections and heresies of the Roman Catholic Church. But, He came with sufficient light to transform the British Isles and Europe to the dawn of the greatest achievements of mankind and the liberty that would eventually be the United States.
Church History vs. World History
Perhaps, church history has obscured God’s Providence in World History. While there are numerous books on church history, there are none of which I am aware that delineate God’s Providence in world history over long periods of time. There are many that focus on American history and the removal of God and His Word from the founding of the colonies to the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. There are more focused books on individuals and short periods of history, especially the Reformation. But, where are those similar to Western civilization history texts for high school and college classes? There is evidence that they will be forthcoming.
In July 2006, Vision Forum sponsored its History of the World Mega-Conference with 65 presentations by 12 speakers who have unique areas of study within world history. All history was covered, from Genesis 1 to the 400 year anniversary of the founding of Jamestown in 2007. It is hope that these speakers will continue to write and publish, especially into both concise and detailed books for Christians of all ages.
Genesis 1-14: Reverse Evolution!
Genesis 1-11 have always been controversial in the Christian community. I will mostly deal with the so-called “problems” presented by modern science in that section. Neither is this the place to discuss the unity and coherence of the Scriptures. However, as history in compiling a complete worldview, a brief mention of this period of history is necessary. And, the only written history of pre-Flood times is the Word of God.
John Morris estimates that there were one billion people on earth at the time of the Flood. Their civilizations would have been highly advanced, not “hunter-gatherers”, as evolutionists would tell us. They were builders of cities, workers of bronze and iron, herders of cattle who dwelled in tents (not caves), and players of complex musical instruments (Genesis 4:16, 20-22). John Reed has written a fictional account of the building of the Ark, infusing the probable technologies that made the functioning of the Ark possible.
The post-Flood world has considerable archeological evidence for advanced civilizations. As archeology over the past two hundred years has challenged and lost to Old Testament history. So, evolution is falling to archeology, proving the Biblical prediction of advanced technology among peoples who were closer to the intelligence of Adam and therefore less influenced by decline in genetic intelligence. Also, their longevity allowed decades longer for men to live and develop their ideas.
There is archeological evidence of great ships that sailed the seas of the world, even positing a pre-frozen map of Antarctica. Great architectural and botanical accomplishments of Babylon, the Mayas, and Aztecs. Many hieroglyphic accounts, as well as scientific evidence of interaction of men and dinosaurs (Job 40:15-24). Other items include flush toilets, complicated aqueducts, pyramids of Egypt, Gardens of Babylon, stone monsters of Easter island and man others.
Evolution has man emerging from the ooze, living in caves, becoming a hunter-gatherer, then becoming agricultural, and later becoming technologically capable. The Bible and archeology has man living with hunting, farming, and complex technology from the beginning.
Notes from a century ago. Herman Bavinck made these comments more than a century ago.
The quality of the civilization which we find in the land of Shinar (Genesis 14), in so far as science and art, morality and jurisprudence, commerce and industry are concerned, reached a height which, the more we come to know it from excavations, fills us with amazement. Just how and when it arose, we do not know; but the general idea that the farther we go back, the coarser and more barbarous the people we encounter will be is totally discredited by it. So long as we do not entertain all kinds of fantastic notions about the uncivilized state of the so-called “primitive” peoples, and guided by history (of the secular variety – Ed), we try to penetrate through to the past, we are confirmed in the idea of Scriptures that the oldest period of Noahic humanity, what with the initiative of such men as Nimrod, stood at a very high level of culture.
Moreover, this civilization did not remain confined to the land of Shinar. As mankind spread out more after the confusion of tongues, they settled widely separated parts of the earth. It is no wonder that these tribes and peoples, living their isolated lives, cut off from all commerce with other nations, and wrestling always with a wild and inhospitable nature, remained on the level of culture at which they began, or, in historical instances, even below it. Such peoples we speak of in historical studies as “primitive peoples,” or “uncivilized peoples,” but such designations are really misleading and inaccurate. For, among all these peoples, we find the characteristics and properties which are the basic elements of civilization. They are all human as distinguished from natural beings; they all have consciousness and will, reason and understanding, family and community, tools and ornaments.
Further, there is so much difference among these nations that it would be impossible to point out the boundary between the “civilized” and the “uncivilized” peoples. There is a remarkable difference in culture among the bush-folk of South Africa, the population of Polynesia, and the (Black) races. Irrespective, however, of how they differ, they have a common fund of ideas, traditions—concerning the flood, for instance—of memories and hopes. These point to the common origin.
All this is even more true of the so-called “civilized” peoples, the Indians and Chinese, the Phoenicians and Egyptians. The foundations of the world-picture, the Weltanschauung, which we find among all these peoples, are the same as those which are called to our attention by the excavations in the land of Shinar. This is the origin of all culture, the cradle and nursemaid of mankind. It was from central Asia that mankind spread out; and from this center mankind took along with it those elements of culture which are common to civilized peoples, and which each of them independently and in its own way brought to further development. The ancient culture of Babylon, what with its writing, its astronomy, its calendar, and the like, is still the basis upon which our culture is built. (Our Reasonable Faith, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1977, pages 54-55)
References: Chittick, The Puzzle of Ancient Man. Phillips and Whitcomb’s lectures at Mega-history conference.
What Is Civilization?
This question must be asked in the context of a chapter on history. However, its answer is best left to a study of sociology, as it has greater application there. But, one must wonder about the concept of “civilization” in which virtually every culture and nation practiced human sacrifice, sometimes by the tens of thousands (Incas and Mayas), prior to the introduction of Christianity. In Greece and Rome, wives and children were property to be used at the whim of the “husband,” sometimes even in human sacrifice. Unwanted children were often “exposed,” that is, left to die after being abandoned in the street, wilderness, or even the city’s trash dump. Justice was often the whim of the King, literally having the power of life and death over everyone in his kingdom.
Although the author may not have intended that the following be a definition, it seems quite definitive. “In any given society, civilization represents, in continuous terms. the sum total of its spiritual, intellectual, ethical, and institutional values, which in varying degrees will permit those living in it to develop as completely and harmoniously as possible.” Jean DeCarreaux, Monks and Civilization (London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1964), p. 15.
For more on “civilized” and “uncivilized,” see Bavinck’s quote under Reverse Evolution above. Also, see Giving Thanks for Western Civilization.
For more on Western Civilization and the role of Christianity, see The Case Against Western Civilization.
The Best History Lessons Ever!