The Modern Interpretation of History

Modern intellectuals have removed God from their studies. Why is this such a dangerous mistake?
Main reading room in the Library of Congress, Washington D.C.
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“By what authority have historians left God and the Bible out of history?”

In 1962, Ambassador College professor Dr. Herman Hoeh wrote a book asking this question. It is a profound question, and it stunned me when I first heard it. Truly, it is one of the most profound questions we could possibly ask, especially of historians today!

Herbert W. Armstrong was the chancellor of Ambassador College in Pasadena, California. In an article he wrote about education, he heavily quoted the first chapter of Dr. Hoeh’s book, titled “The Modern Interpretation of History.” I want to share with you what he wrote, and I believe you will be shocked and enlightened by this subject like I was.

That chapter begins with that question: “By what authority have historians left God and the Bible out of history?” You need to know the answer because it has everything to do with your future!

“This question may come as a surprise,” Dr. Hoeh wrote. “Many are unaware that a radically new interpretation of history is being taught in schools and colleges today. It is a history of the world in which God and the supernatural are rejected.”

“It is impossible to believe both this history and the Bible! Both cannot be right,” he continued. Yes, the modern interpretation of history is in open conflict with the Bible! Historians well know this.

Leaving God out of history brings chaos and confusion. Still, most people have assumed that secular historians are right. They assume historians have definitive answers to important questions such as how man originated, why man exists, and where man is going. They have faith in secular history, but they haven’t proved that faith.

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One famous historian, Hendrik van Loon, confessed: “We live under the shadow of a gigantic question mark. What are we? Where did we come from? Whither are we bound?” He knew he couldn’t answer the pivotal questions of human existence! Yet he answered, “We still know very little, but we have reached the point where (with a fair degree of accuracy) we can guess at many things.”

Today, guesses masquerade as authoritative history! Are you really going to rely on guesses about the biggest questions ever asked?

Watch Jerusalem doesn’t guess. We have conclusive answers you can count on.

“Casual readers would be shocked to learn how history books are prepared,” Dr. Hoeh wrote. “It is usually assumed that history is solely a matter of collecting factual material, judiciously evaluating it, and recording it for posterity.” He then quoted historian C. W. Ceram, who warned: “Nothing could be farther from the truth.”

“A historian is not a scribe, but a judge of the evidence that is brought before him,” Dr. Hoeh continued. “He is his own final authority. He is not judged by, but sits in judgment of, history. Whatever evidence does not conform to the commonly accepted beliefs of the age or community in which he lives he summarily rejects!

“History, in other words, is based only on that part of evidence which agrees with the prevailing opinions of the society in which a historian lives. These may be shocking evaluations, but they are true. World history texts prove it. Historians admit it!”

How can we form beliefs and make important decisions based on history if it is biased?

The biggest bias of all in this modern history is that historians have ripped Bible history right out of their accounts! This is a serious omission!

The world faces many serious problems today. We have a deadly virus, and even worse, responses from government that are driving nations into terrifying debt and social breakdown. There are serious problems of political division and international conflict, nations jockeying for advantage, increasing military and arms spending, rapidly advancing weapons development. Ultimately, we have the question of human survival: How will mankind survive the threat of nuclear annihilation?

The fact is, only God can save us from our problems! Yet we are leaving God out of our lives and out of our history books! Isn’t that dangerous? I tell you it is more dangerous than any other problem I have described!

God is wrathful at our rejection of Him! He calls the modern descendants of Israel—mostly the United States and Britain—“the people of my wrath” (Isaiah 10:6). (Request a free copy of The United States and Britain in Prophecy.)

Read the history books and you see how they ignore the Bible, if they don’t flatly deny it and undermine it. That truly is a crisis—as this whole world is about to discover soon!

If you want to prove the Bible, look at biblical prophecy. Prophecy proves God’s existence and the veracity of His Word (read my article “Prophecy Is Proof of God”). You can prove that if you are willing to let go of personal biases and prejudices. We all must fight our own biases. Only God is completely unbiased and free of prejudice, and we must learn to see things as He does.

Dr. Hoeh recounted a major court case in 1954 that went all the way to the Supreme Court. A noted historian became involved in the case. He explained to his fellow historians what happened: “The problem we faced was not the historian’s discovery of the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth; the problem instead was the formulation of an adequate gloss …. It was not that we were engaged in formulating lies; there was nothing as crude and naive as that. But we were using facts, emphasizing facts, bearing down on facts, sliding off facts, quietly ignoring facts and, above all, interpreting facts in a way to … ‘get by’ ….”

This is precisely the problem with so much modern history! Historians appoint themselves as interpreters and judges, and they ignore or remove any facts they deem inconvenient. They have taken an entirely materialistic, “evolutionary” view of all history.

Anciently, many historians at least included God in their writings. But mankind has always suppressed God’s truth in some way or another.

Historians are suppressing God’s truth! They omit the truth, eliminate God and the Bible, as they interpret history. That is a serious problem!

King David wrote, “The heavens decade the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). God showed them! God has revealed Himself through His creation. His truth is accessible to anyone with an open mind and humility. Still, mankind rejects their Creator! There is no excuse for such willful ignorance!

Historians say that miracles are fantasy, that the Bible is nothing but legend and superstition. They try to intimidate you in going along with them. But God says they have no excuse for their ignorance! He holds people accountable for what they should know.

God is real! He created us. And He reveals Himself and His purposes in His Word. Human beings are not animals. We are not a product of evolution, which is and always will be an unproven theory! God created humans with His mind and the potential to build His character (Genesis 1)—elevating us far above the station of animals.

In his booklet Does God Exist?, Mr. Armstrong gave the example of an intricate, finely crafted watch. Wouldn’t it be absurd to think that watch simply appeared out of nowhere, without a creator? God’s creation makes that watch look trivial by comparison! Even a hummingbird is infinitely more complex than the highest-quality watch. The great King David said only a fool could believe there’s no God (Psalm 14:1).

The historian from the court case discussed above later said: “I was facing the deadly opposition between my professional integrity as a historian and a contemporary question of values, of ideals, of policy, or partisanship and of political objectives. I suppose if a man is without scruple, this matter will not bother him, but I am frank to say that it bothered me terribly ….”

Modern historians are pressured to choose between truth and their careers! That historian concluded: “I am convinced now that this interpretation, which we hammered out with anything but historical truth as our objective, nonetheless contains an essential measure of historical truth.” Astounding! Anyone with the authority to speak the truth to the people will be held accountable by God. Speaking something close to the truth isn’t good enough!

Shamefully, historians interpret rather than record history. The Bible interprets itself! Readers of history are too often led to accept hypotheses, or guesses, as truth.

When will historians give God a voice?

The “historical method” of study, as Dr. Hoeh wrote, “rests on only one fundamental—and unprovable—hypothesis: that God has never and does not now intervene in, or determine, the course of history.” But the truth is that God has always intervened in the world to work out His master plan!

The historian Homer Carey Hockett warned his students to avoid historical texts that mention God and the Bible. He wrote: “Moreover there are some kinds of statements which are rejected even without being subjected to the usual tests. The historian must reject them when the tests he usually makes are not applicable. Such treatment is due to statements reporting happenings which do not conform to the laws of nature as established by scientific methods.”

So they exclude any possibility of the divine. They deliberately cut God—who is spiritual—out of the equation. The words of the Bible pertain to the spiritual! But historians consider that to be ignorance. They exclude miracles; they ignore God’s prophecies; they push aside the revelation of His truth.

They will never understand true history that way. And this world will never solve our problems by leaving God out of the picture.

Don’t make that mistake. You can prove God and His active presence in the world today. He has been around throughout all history, and He has recorded so much important history in the Bible. Thank God for that! Thank Him for proving Himself to us. And the fact that we can include Him in our study of history is wonderful news!