Book Review: The Miracle of Freedom: 7 Tipping Points that Saved the World
By Chris Stewart and Ted Stewart
To what do we owe the great privilege of freedom?
• To a handful of Greek soldiers and their naval commanders in a life-or-death confrontation with the Persians in 480 bc?
• To a small band of Frankish soldiers who stood against the conquering armies of Islam more than 1,300 years ago?
• To the people of Great Britain who refused to surrender to the overwhelming power of Hitler’s Third Reich?
Today, fewer than 12 of the 193 countries in the world have a democratic government that has survived for more than fifty years. So, what extraordinary events in history have made it possible for us to enjoy self-rule and personal liberty? And what role has the hand of God played in securing that freedom?
In this remarkable new book, bestselling authors Chris Stewart and Ted Stewart highlight seven miracles that changed the course of the world. Skillfully weaving story vignettes with historical explanations, they affirm that history would have been dramatically altered if any one of these events had turned out differently. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
I have found this book to be very interesting. It has brought a thoughtful dialogue about how unique it is to have freedom, and what are conditions that create an environment where freedom through law is a viable form of government. Reading this book has also helped me analyze my views on the role Christianity has played in the world.
Because of the format of the book I could only assimilate reading one chapter a day. It was a little confusing to move back and forth from a fictional narrative to a factual account of the events discussed. Generally books have a continuous narrative voice, which would have been my preference.
The 7 points in history selected by the authors:
1- Defeat of the Assyrians in trying to destroying the kingdom of Judah.
The northern kingdom had already been destroyed and scattered according the Old Testament accounts, so the southern kingdom of Judah were the only remaining people faithful to the teachings that would become the Jewish faith. Without the Jews the Christian religion would never have been established, curtailing the path to freedom.
2- The victory of the Greeks over the Persians.
The Persians were a dominating force that had subjected every people they had decided to conquer. Much of Greece had already fallen under their control through deceit and an overwhelming military force. The Greeks, who didn’t have a strong national identity, sent out an elite force of Spartans who all died to protect Greece. Though tragic their deaths helped solidify the Greeks who then outmaneuvered the Persians at sea. This victory preserved the emerging philosophies, law and science that later became part of European thought.
3- The Conversion of the Roman Emperor, Constantine, to Christianity.
The fledgling Christian church had been demonized by the Romans and they were severely persecuted. The early Christians respected human life, shown by not killing infants, and through pacifism. Constantine’s conversion shows a shift in attitude towards Christians and their ideals. As the Catholic church became the predominate religion of the Roman Empire, the church became responsible for the scientific revolution through universities built, studying science, agriculture, astronomy, preservation of literature, and a foundation of law and a moral code.
4- Defeat of the armies of Islam at Poiters.
It is interesting to note that Persia, Asia and every culture were scientifically more advanced than Europe prior to the explosion of Christianity. The majority of religions are based on mysticism rather than rational thought and faith. Christianity slowly developed the mind set that man could reason and have faith. Muhammed had established the new Islamic religion, where the only law is God’s law, so the philosophy of separating church and state was and is impossible. The Arabs had formerly fought among their own tribes were now united and dominated Syria, Palestine, the remaining Byzantine and Persian Empires, Egypt, and parts of the former Roman Empire and Northern Africa. The new vassal states either converted or were suppressed as second class citizens with heavier taxes. Charles Martel led the European army against overwhelming odds against an undefeated Muslim army, however, the battle turned when their great leader, Abd al-Rahman was killed and the large Muslim army retreated. Christianity was preserved.
5- The Mongols fail to defeat Europe.
Genghis Khan was the first tribal leader of the Mongols to unite the waring factions through rewarding with political positions to any who showed merit rather than nepotism. He also killed anyone opposed to him, which encouraged loyalty. Khan, with his horde, conquered many civilizations, some who were completely eradicated and all their knowledge was lost. The Mongols were only interested in wealth and the preservation of themselves. The Mongols controlled more land in 25 years than the Romans had defeated in 400 years. After the death of Genghis Khan, the next leader set his sites on Europe for a new source of wealth. The European West was in disarray and their largest army in Hungary had been defeated and Russia was under the Mongolian’s control. Europe was saved by the death of the latest Khan because the key leaders of the Golden Horde returned home to vote for their new leader and the rest of the army followed never to return. The ideals of Christianity were preserved again.
6- The discovery of the New World.
Europe was in disarray from continual war, and corruption within the Catholic church and government. When Christopher Columbus discovered the New World it doubled the size of the earth, brought wealth in silver and gold to Europe, timber, fur and other goods for trade, gave an outlet for technology to develop, brought new foods that helped with the nutrition of Europeans, and gave a new hope to the people for a brighter future. Europeans were no longer dependent on the Ottoman Empire and improved their income through trading the new commodities. The class system broke down further with trade and people wanted to reform the institutions that had governed their lives. The New World would be the place that freedom was established in a way that had never before been seen in the history of the world.
7- The Battle of Britain.
Germany had lost honor, political and economic control in their defeat in WWI. The British Empire was also slipping into obscurity and they were no longer the most powerful nation on the earth and faced the economic crisis of the Great Depression. At that time Britain was demoralized and anti-war sentiment was extremely strong which caused this nation to willfully remain ignorant of the impending war. The new rising power in Europe was Fascist Germany, under Hitler. Winston Churchill, though initially discounted, became the prime minister of England and he had a clear vision of the threat posed by the Nazi’s. He understood that victory was essential for survival and as other nations bowed to Hitler, England became the only opposition and the leading line was the Royal Air Force (RAF). As Hitler could not dominate England in the sky he turned his forces on Russia which prolonged the war until the United States joined the allies and eventually the defeat of the Nazi’s. If Britain had fallen Hitler would have controlled all the resources of Europe and there is no way to know where is thirst for power would have ended.
I’ve read some reviews that complain that progress to freedom was not shown through technology (such as the printing press), but I believe the author’s have a valid point that the direction of the world has frequently been determined by the wars. The victors not only write history they form it. The authors are pro-Christian, also another viewpoint that seems to offend others, but their arguments seem solid with the evidence that it’s been Christian countries that have enjoyed the most freedom. The authors want us to feel grateful for freedom, but I believe they are calling on us to defend our freedom. Freedom has been bought with too heavy of a cost to lose because of apathy.
Do we still want freedom?