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The Grand Strategy of History: Teaching the Purpose, Philosophy and Practice of History Teacher Training Seminar By Dr. Simon A. Mould

Objectives:  Develop a Kingdom purpose and philosophy of history.  Comprehend and present history as the “grand strategy” meta-narrative.  Identify and acquire the necessary skills to become a prophetic historian  Determine a criteria for authoritative historical research and writing. Recommended Reading: Rushdoony, Rousas John. The Biblical Philosophy of History. Ross House Books. 1997. Nash, Ronald H. The Meaning of History. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers. 1998. Cantor, Norman F., & Schneider, Richard I. How to Study History. Arlington Heights, IL: AHM Publishing Corporation. 1967. Cairns, Earle E. God and Man in Time. A Christian Approach to Historiography. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House. 1979. Elton, G.R. The Practice of History. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers. 2002. Galgano, Michael J., Arndt, Chris., & Hyser, Raymond M. Doing History. Research and Writing in the Digital Age. Boston, MA: Thomson Wadsworth. 2008. Mearsheimer, John. J. The Tragedy of Great Power Politics. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. 2001. Kennedy, Paul. The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers. New York: Vintage Books. 1989. Black, Jeremy. Great Powers and the Quest for Hegemony. New York: Routledge. 2008. Clausewitz, Karl Von. War, Politics, and Power. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing. 1997.

The Grand Strategy of History  Simon A. Mould, Ed.D.



Developing a Kingdom purpose, philosophy & practice of history A. The purpose of history Bene legere saecla vincere - To read well is to master the ages The further backward you look, the further forward you see.” Churchill “The historian is the prophet looking backwards.”1 Therefore the prophet is the historian looking forwards. Studying history forms a recognition of how we arrived at the present.2 Studying history provides us with the ability to discern “how” and “why” things happened, rather than just the “what” of historical details. Studying history enables us to understand the identity, characteristics, attitudes, and motives of a particular people and thus creates a sense of empathy towards other people. Our goal is to raise prophetic historians, who can interpret the past, discern the future, and can lead in the present. B. The biblical command to write and remember history “Then Moses said to the people, ‘Remember this day in which you came out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Ex. 13:3 “If you say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I. How can I possess them?’ You shall not be afraid of them but you shall remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt.” Dt. 7:17-18 “When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord.” Josh. 4:6-7

1 2

Friedrich Schlegel, cited in The Dark Valley, A Panorama of the 1930s, Piers Brendon, p. xiv. Cantor, Norman F., & Schneider, Richard I. How to Study History. Arlington Heights, IL: AHM Publishing Corporation. 1967. P.3.

The Grand Strategy of History  Simon A. Mould, Ed.D.

THE PURPOSE, PHILOSOPHY & PRACTICE OF HISTORY The effort to understand history was always tied to their ability to secure their future. The past was conveyed to the future generations through a prophetic act in the now that would cause the generations to honor and preserve the heritage of their liberty. “These things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (I Cor. 10:11).  Paul relives the story of the Exodus, the wilderness, and Israel’s dramatic entry in the Promised Land.  “End of the ages” = definitive and conclusive moments in history during a given age. i.e. Defining moments of history where one age ends and another begins.  The church was experiencing a definitive moment in history = from law to grace, from nation to kingdom.  Corinth understood what it meant to be at a defining moment of history where the ages come to a conclusive moment.  Greece superseded Persia as the predominant world power. Independent Greek citystates had formed alliances with each other and had overcome the Persian Empire and changed the entire course of history resulting in the Western world rising in dominance and influence over the Eastern. We today are at a definitive moment in history. The old order of super-power politics between the West and the Soviet Communists has recently ended and a new struggle between the West and the Islamic world has begun.  This change was defined by the fall of the Berlin Wall and the fall of the WTC. Those who discern we are at a defining moment in history have the power to turn that moment into a movement that will direct us towards liberty or tyranny. C. The philosophy of history. What is history?

The Grand Strategy of History  Simon A. Mould, Ed.D.

THE PURPOSE, PHILOSOPHY & PRACTICE OF HISTORY In order for history to accomplish the above purpose, it must be more than the record of past facts, figures and dates. Shrock and Shrock (1994) imply that the very purpose for studying history is to develop critical analysis skills. “We practice history to foster a critical and analytical spirit…a spirit that is probing, questioning, seeking what is logical and consistent” (p. 2). History must be a narrative, logical analysis that provides an interpretation of the thoughts and acts of men and nations that explains how the past produced the present and will forge the future. History is the story of the establishment of God’s Kingdom by the wisdom of God in contrast to the establishment man’s kingdom by the foolishness of man. II.

The grand narrative of history A. Narrative is the ability to tell the story. Historians are the story tellers. Story tellers link the past to the present and thus preserve the legacy of history into the future. Remember: zakar: to mark as to be recognized. – This is not just the recognition of the physical characters that mark the text, but recognition of the points of connection. B. Narrative is a story of movement. The task of history is to investigate the nature of movement rather than a state of being. Philosophy studies the state of something, whereas history studies the movement of that thing. The historian seeks to understand the nature of change. “History treats fundamentally the transformation of things (people, institutions, ideas) from one state into another.”3 The change that is discovered is then explained through the narrative. History is not a simple statement of fact that a nation changed from one state of being to another, rather, it is a dramatic story that describes how and why that change took place. History is the story of movement from one state to another.


Elton, G.R. The Practice of History. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers. 2002. P.10.

The Grand Strategy of History  Simon A. Mould, Ed.D.

THE PURPOSE, PHILOSOPHY & PRACTICE OF HISTORY As the historian obtains information about the past, his work of art is to turn that information into a story that gives the information significance, meaning, and relevance as it begins to explain how change took place. C. Movement is produced by power. If the history of nations is about the movement and change that is taking place within the international system, then the narrative we are seeking to explain must be focused on the movement produced by power. Why? Power is the capability to produce change. In science, power is measured by the amount of force x distance gained  time consumed. In history, power is measured similarly by how economic or military force is used to create movement in the smallest amount of time. D. Power is the inherent driving force of humanity. The quest for power is inherent in humanity because man was created to take dominion; the movement of God’s government from heaven to earth. The fall has perverted power and as a result fallen humanity uses power to create movements of tyranny rather than liberty. Where man works in alignment with God’s sovereign intention, power produces a movement toward liberty. Where man works in opposition to God’s sovereign intention, power produces a movement towards liberty. A nation’s acquisition and implementation of instruments of power such as economics, finance, knowledge, diplomacy and military strength, is its grand strategy that explains historical movements, shifts, and changes towards liberty or tyranny. This course title: the grand strategy of history, seeks to provide this narrative of grand strategy that will grapple with questions such as:4 1. Why do nations want power? (For liberty or tyranny) 2. What is power: how is it defined and measured?


Questions based upon Mearsheimer’s questions that concern the understanding of power in the field of international relations. Mearsheimer, John. J. The Tragedy of Great Power Politics. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. 2001.

The Grand Strategy of History  Simon A. Mould, Ed.D.

THE PURPOSE, PHILOSOPHY & PRACTICE OF HISTORY 3. How much power do nation’s want or consider is enough in order to secure movement and change? 4. What strategies do nation’s devise to gain or maintain power? III.

How a prophetic historian practices history. A. Developing discernment A historian is more than someone who just knows their history. The have the depth of insight and a grasp of language that enables them to convey a narrative of grand strategy. “The prophet seldom tells a story, but casts events. His images must not shine, they must burn. The prophet is intent on intensifying responsibility, is impatient of excuse, contemptuous of pretense and self-pity. His tone, rarely sweet or caressing, is frequently consoling and disburdening; his words are often slashing, even horrid—designed to shock rather than to edify.”5 They have a sense of discernment as to the nature of how change transpired. Elton describes is as a “professional hunch…based on an expert understanding.”6 This discernment is developed by understanding the fundamental spirit of a particular age. B. Developing research skills “Read in a period until you hear its people speak.”7 1. Define your research Questions to ask while building a historical context:8  Who are the important participants in a particular event? How did they respond to the events.


Heschel, A. The Prophets. Peabody, MA: Prince Press. 1962. P.7 Elton, G.R. P.17. 7 G.M. Young. Cited in Elton. P.16. 8 Galgano, Michael J., Arndt, Chris., & Hyser, Raymond M. Doing History. Research and Writing in the Digital Age. Boston, MA: Thomson Wadsworth. 2008. P.42. 6

The Grand Strategy of History  Simon A. Mould, Ed.D.

THE PURPOSE, PHILOSOPHY & PRACTICE OF HISTORY  What motivational factors (such as intellectual, religious, political, economic, etc) seemed to have affected their response?  What are their values and beliefs and are they similar or different from those commonly held by others at that time?  What was the economic, political and social atmosphere of the time? How did this overarching atmosphere play into the outcome of events? Since the focus of history is what constitutes the power that produced change, the following forces that act as powers in a society are appropriate areas of research:9  Political history: The study of great statesmen or tyrants and their role in shaping events. The role of political parties.  Intellectual history: The study of philosophers and their ideas and how they shaped opinions and values that contributed towards movements and events.  Religious history: The study of a people’s religious beliefs, how those beliefs developed, their role in the shaping of religious institutions and organizations and the effect of such institutions on society throughout history.  Military history: The study of wars and conflicts and their outcome upon the political landscape of a people.  Diplomatic history: The study of the development of international relations and their affect on the ability to build alliances or forge opposition movements.  Economic history: The study of the development of capital markets, the effect of international trade and their contribution towards the growth of political and military power.  Cultural history: The study of the cultural expressions that are derived from the common identity and values of a people as seen in their art, music, literature, architecture, and entertainment.  Social history: The study of the demographic makeup of a particular people and how the demographic changes over time affect the overall identity of a people and thus its affect on how a society governs itself.


Ibid. P.13.

The Grand Strategy of History  Simon A. Mould, Ed.D.

THE PURPOSE, PHILOSOPHY & PRACTICE OF HISTORY 2. Reading primary sources Primary sources: Forms of evidence that are derived from the time under study. They include diaries, official records, private correspondence, newspapers, memoirs, autobiographies, government records, etc. In recent years this has been expanded to include: cartoons, movies, fiction, architecture, art, etc. Evaluating the author:10  Was the author an eye witness to the event or a contemporary of the event? (i.e. a witness who saw the planes crash into the World Trade Center from Manhattan vs. a contemporary who saw it unfold on the news.) Both are important because they provide a different account based upon the context of their particular experience.  How long after the event was the account given? Fresh memories capture the emotion or impact of the event, but a later account give greater context to the event in proximity to other important issues.  What authority does the author have to describe the event? Do they fully understand what is occurring? The great the amount understood, the more authoritative the source. Evaluating the point of view: 11  Factors that influence the author’s point of view include their religious views, family background, education, gender, ethnicity, social class, etc.  The reader must discern the degree to which these factors influence the author’s point of view. These factors may cause the reader to misrepresent or exaggerate the account. An account that is misrepresented or exaggerated must not be completely discredited for it is in itself a useful indication of a particular reaction to an event by a specific type of person. Evaluating the audience: 12  A source is written with an audience in mind that may determine how the author presents their account.


Ibid. P.57. Ibid. 12 Ibid. 11

The Grand Strategy of History  Simon A. Mould, Ed.D.

THE PURPOSE, PHILOSOPHY & PRACTICE OF HISTORY  Given the readers understanding of the nature of the audience, how does that understanding affect the reader’s interpretation of the truthfulness of the author’s account? Perhaps the audience is the determining factor in the degree to which the author misrepresents or exaggerates the truth. 3. Reading secondary analysis Secondary sources: An interpretation of the facts that are written after the time period concerned from where the benefit of hindsight enables the author to make inferences concerning causations and implications of events and thus draw significance and meaning from the event into the future. The task involved in reading secondary sources must be the ability of the reader to summarize the historian’s hypothesis and note the various inferences and conclusions that the historian makes in support of their hypothesis. Secondary sources serve an important function in the research process:  Secondary sources provide background information about a topic.13  Secondary sources help to provide historical context. Historical context can be described as “the forces that shaped people’s lives, or the beliefs and mindset a people possessed during a particular time.”14  In providing context, secondary sources enable the researcher to make inferences about the past.  Secondary sources enable the researcher to note inferences about the past that may be relevant to the present and the future. It is inevitable that history repeats itself if the mindset or beliefs of a particular people have not changed or have reverted back to some previously held beliefs of a particular era. Understanding historical context allows the historian in the present to make judgments regarding both the differences and the similarities that divide the past from the present. Criteria for choosing authoritative and useful secondary sources: 13 14

Ibid. P.5 Ibid. P.34.

The Grand Strategy of History  Simon A. Mould, Ed.D.

THE PURPOSE, PHILOSOPHY & PRACTICE OF HISTORY  The author: What professional qualifications and training does the author hold? What detailed experience or leadership have they fulfilled? What have they previously published?  The audience: Is the material written for a popular audience and thus more generic and not given to deeper analysis? A quick glance at the footnotes or bibliography will reveal the scholarly depth of the material. Footnotes are a very useful means of being directed to additional reading materials on the subject of interest.  The publisher: Quality work is generally published by university presses and professional journals because the work is submitted to a peer review process that examines the work to ensure it meets certain standards of scholarship. C. Writing narrative history “The writing and reconstruction of history amount to dialogue between the historian and his materials. He supplies the intelligence and the organizing ability, but he can interpret and organize only within the limits set by his evidence.”15 The purpose of assigning a paper to a student is to provide them the opportunity to think, act and present their thoughts like a historian. 1. Thesis:  The writing must have a precise point, a thesis that is thoughtful and logically developed. Without this a paper is a collection of data or facts.  One of the most important ways the historian makes sense of the collection of facts is by developing a hypothesis. A hypothesis is a central question that posits a particular conclusion concerning a potential causation of a particular historical event or the effect of an event on another historical outcome.  Formulating hypothesis can be aided as the historian reads secondary sources that open the historians mind to the broader historical context that should beg all kinds of questions. Those questions are then developed into a hypothesis that is tested through careful primary historical research. 2. Organization:


Elton. P.86.

The Grand Strategy of History  Simon A. Mould, Ed.D.

THE PURPOSE, PHILOSOPHY & PRACTICE OF HISTORY  The historian does more than organize and present a set of historical facts about a certain historical subject. They must present their facts in such a way that makes a contribution to the overall narrative, with the thesis in mind at all times. 3. Description  A description of the way things look, feel, taste, sound, and smell. This enables readers to relate to the event with greater depth of imagination.  Such descriptions can describe a sense of confusion, the emotion of the event or a sense of completion or finality. 4. Interpretation and persuasion:  This method of writing seeks to explain and analyze the meaning of events and ideas that have shaped events. It is an explanation of why things have materialized and are supported by primary evidence.  The thesis is the persuasive argument that drives the historical interpretation and the supportive evidence that is included.  Interpretation may involve acknowledging and/or refuting other viewpoints.  Interpretation should consistent throughout the author’s writing.  Interpretation should be supported by evidence.

The Grand Strategy of History  Simon A. Mould, Ed.D.

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