Subject: What Winston Churchill can teach us: Statesmanship with Christian Ethics
Proverbs 21:1 “The king’s heart is in the hands of the Lord… He turns it wherever He wishes.”
Last week, President Trump’s first State of the Union speech was approved by nearly 75% of Americans. Analysts said he showed himself to be a true statesman, focusing on promoting the interests of American citizens. But there was another significant event last week – the 50th anniversary of the death of the world’s greatest statesman – Winston Churchill. What many may not know is his stand against Hitler, that rescued Britain from disaster, was rooted in his unwavering belief in a society grounded in Christian ethics.
In his March 1949 speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (6 months before Hitler’s death), Churchill confirmed that Christianity is the key to America’s and England’s survival: “The flame of Christian ethics is still our highest guide. To guard and cherish it is our first interest, both spiritually and materially. The fulfilment of Spiritual duty in our daily life is vital to our survival… Let us then move forward together in discharge of our mission and our duty, fearing God and nothing else.”
Martin Gilbert explains the circumstances surrounding the emergence of Churchill on the world stage in his autobiography of Winston Churchill entitled ‘The Prophet of Truth’: “As the German economic crisis intensified, and unemployment rose, Adolf Hitler’s following had increased, and by mid-January more than 400,000 men had joined his semi-military ‘Stormtroopers,’ while Nazi Party membership reached 2 million.”
What made Hitler’s ascension so dangerous was one particular demand from this new Nazi party: “The removal of German Jews from all walks of German life.” Hitler’s agenda should have been immediately confronted by England. Instead, during the 1930’s, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain worked to try to form a peace treaty with Hitler. American and British media and politicians supported Chamberlain’s efforts, even as Hitler belittled him in public speeches and on national radio. People were even promoting the idea of Chamberlain being awarded the Nobel Prize – until Hitler annexed part of Czechoslovakia in 1938 and then invaded Poland in 1939, igniting what Churchill called “The Unnecessary War” – World War II.
Churchill’s warnings fell on deaf ears. But on the day Hitler invaded France, Belgium and Holland, Churchill became Prime Minister. England began to stand alone against Hitler. Churchill broadcasted around the globe his determination to stop evil. In his famous 1940 `Finest Hour’ speech to the House of Commons, he emphasized what was at stake: “Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization”.
In our verse this week, King Solomon explained that there are times when God Himself will raise up people to do His will. Churchill’s great grandson Jonathan Sandys selected this verse to describe Churchill as one such man: “Our vision is that people will see through the example of Winston Churchill how God directs the course of history, and people everywhere will learn the lessons, take hope, and trust in God.”
Churchill’s conviction to fight evil was based on his two core beliefs: 1) the Bible is God’s Word, to be taken as literal truth, and 2) Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. When asked once what he thought about Jesus Christ, he said “Christ’s story was unequalled and his death to save sinners unsurpassed; moreover the Sermon on the Mount was the last word in ethics.”
In his 1932 essay entitled `Moses: The Leader of a People’, he explained his trust in a literally true Bible: “We reject, however, with scorn all those learned and labored myths that Moses was but a legendary figure upon whom the priesthood and the people hung their essential social, moral, and religious ordinances. We believe that the most scientific view, the most up-to-date and rationalistic conception, will find its fullest satisfaction in taking the Bible story literally, and in identifying one of the greatest of human beings with the most decisive leap forward ever discernible in the human story. We may be sure that all these things happened just as they are set out according to Holy Writ. We may believe that they happened to people not so very different from ourselves, and that the impressions those people received were faithfully recorded and have been transmitted across the centuries with far more accuracy than many of the telegraphed accounts we read of the goings-on of today. Many Centuries were to pass before the God that spake in the Burning Bush was to manifest Himself in a new revelation – as the God not only of Israel, but of all mankind who wished to serve Him; a God not only of justice, but of mercy; a God not only of self-preservation and survival, but of pity, self-sacrifice, and ineffable love.”
Our hope is the same as his great-grandson: that our President will embrace Churchill’s example in promoting and defending America, by putting Jesus Christ and Christian ethics at the front of his platform.
Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence.” He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at Editor@lstribune.net.