Lord's Beacon Lights of History

If you are looking for a distinctly Christian set of world history books, I highly recommend Lord's Beacon Lights of History above any other resource I have seen.

Dr. Lord was a Christian gentleman, a scholar, and a fine writer who published his first volume in 1883. His set was compiled in its final form, posthumously, in 1921.

This quote will give you some insight into Lord's writing style and Christian beliefs:

"I assume that there is no such thing as a progressive Christianity, except in so far as mankind grows in the realization of its lofty principles; that there has not been and will not be any improvement on the ethics and spiritual truths revealed by Jesus Christ, but that they will remain forever the standard of faith and practice. I assume also that Christianity has elements which are not to be found in any other religion,--such as original teachings, divine revelations, and sublime truths. I know it is the fashion with many thinkers to maintain that improvements on the Christian system are both possible and probable, and that there is scarcely a truth which Christ and his apostles declared which cannot be found in some other ancient religion, when divested of the errors there incorporated with it. This notion I repudiate. I believe that systems of religion are perfect or imperfect, true or false, just so far as they agree or disagree with Christianity; and that to the end of time all systems are to be measured by the Christian standard, and not Christianity by any other system."

The Beacon Lights of History is written from a thoroughly Christian and Creationist perspective: Adam walked with God in the Garden of Eden, ate the forbidden fruit, and plunged himself and his posterity into depravity from which the only hope of Salvation is in Jesus Christ.

According to Lord, mythology paganism are not the result of man's groping toward Truth, but are rather a rebellious departure from revealed Truth. This godly perspective, which is evident throughout Lord's work, is just what the Bible reveals. (See Romans chapter one.)

Lord's writing style is challenging, engaging, and inspiring. Christian families who are unafraid of the literary content of the unabridged classics will find much to appreciate in these volumes. From time to time I read portions of Lord's work just for the sheer pleasure of interacting with someone with whom I share my greatest love and my deepest joy! These are books to treasure!

I regularly use Lord's Beacon Lights of History in our homeschool and have read many excerpts aloud to my children. My 10 yo daughter has especially enjoyed hearing them--and has taken even more delight in discussing Lord's instruction with her parents!

From the Introduction to the First English Edition, Sir James H. Yoxall wrote:

"Scan [these], and you will at once comprehend why American parents who owe to this book much of their own culture are careful to afford their sons and daughters the same opportunity. '"Beacon Lights of History" will help to form you,' successful men and women say; 'it helped to make me what I am'.....Among a people as practical as ourselvs, the work succeeded because it is both practical and pleasant. To read the book is to drink at a limpid stream....into its frame and plan fit the odds and ends of historical and biographical reading ...it hangs a gallery of pictures up, to show the races, empires, deeds, and ideas of mankind...."

Here is another quote, on Providence. I hope that this one will either intrigue you--or refresh you:

"The sale of Joseph as a slave is one of the most signal instances of the providence of God working by natural laws recorded in all history,--more marked even than the elevation of Esther and Mordecai. In it we see permission of evil and its counteraction,--its conversion into good; victory over evil, over conspiracy, treachery, and murderous intent. And so marked is this lesson of a superintending Providence over all human action, that a wise and good man can see wars and revolutions and revolting crimes with almost philosophical complacency, knowing that out of destruction proceeds creation; that the wrath of man is always overruled; that the love of God is the brightest and clearest and most consoling thing in all the universe. We cannot interpret history without this fundamental truth. We cannot be unmoved amid the prevalence of evil without this feeling that God is more powerful than all the combined forces of all his enemies both on earth and in hell; and that no matter what the evil is, it will surely be made to praise Him who sitteth in the heavens. This is a sublime revelation of the omnipotence and benevolence of a personal God, of his constant oversight of the world which He has made."

Have you ever wished someone would prepare you for reading the classics and reveal the beliefs of different authors and show how those beliefs line up with Scripture? LORD DOES THIS--and he does it with enough detail that most of us could readily decide whether we'd share his views or not.

For example, in his detailed review of George Eliot's work, he states (among much more),

"However great she was as a delineator of character, she is not an oracle as a moral teacher. She was steeped in the doctrines of personal agnosticism. She did not believe in a personal God, nor in His superintending providence, nor in immortality as brought to light in the gospel. There are some who do not accept historical Christianity, but are pervaded with its spirit. Even Carlyle, when he cast aside the miracles of Christ and his apostles as the honest delusions of their followers, was almost a Calvinist in his recognition of God as a sovereign power; and he abhorred the dreary materialism of Comte and Mill as much as he detested the shallow atheism is Diderot and Helvetius. But George Eliot went beyond Carlyle in disbelief. At times, especially in her poetry, she writes almost like a follower of Buddha. The individual soul is absorbed in the universal whole; future life has no certainty; hope in redemption is buried in a sepulchre; life in most cases is a futile struggle; the great problems of existence are invested with gloom as well as mystery. Thus she discourses like a Pagan. She would have us to believe that Theocritus was wiser than Pascal; that Marcus Aurlelius was as good as Saint Paul.

This does not encourage me to remove all of George Eliot's work from my library (and as far as that decision goes, it belongs to one's own discretion), but I really appreciate Lord's willingness to prepare me (and eventually my children) to read her works critically.

Lord's bibliographies are impressive. For his chapter on "Ancient Religions: Egyptian, Assyrian, and Persian" alone, he recommends as authorities: Rawlinson's Egypt and Babylon; History of Babylonia by A. H. Sayce; Smith's Dictionary of the Bible; Rawlinson's Herodotus; George Smith's History of Babylonia; Lenormant's Manuel d'Histoire Ancienne; Layard's Ninevah and Babylon; Journal of Royal Asiatic Society; Heeren's Asiatic Nations; Dr. Pusey's Lectures on Daniel; Birch's Egypt from the Earliest Times; Brugsch's History of Egypt; Records of the Past; Rawlinson's History of Ancient Egypt; Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians; Sayce's Ancient Empires of the East; Rawlinson's Religions of the Ancient World; James Freeman Clarke's Ten Great Religions; Religion of Ancient Egypt by P. Le Page Renouf; Moffat's Comparative History of Religions; Bunsen's Egypt's Place in History; Persia from the Earliest Period by W. S. W. Vaux; Johnson's Oriental Religions; Hang's Essays; and Spiegels' Avesta.

I recommend this set VERY highly. I am not the one to do it, at least not at this stage of my life, but I would love to see someone bring this great treasure back into print! I would be delighted to see sets for sale at homeschooling curriculum fairs by 2002! Is anyone up to the challenge?

I'm not saying that I think Lord was always right or that I always agree with him (for I've found a few points I'd love to debate in a forum appropriate to that purpose ;-) but I do see a tremendous value in having the benefit of his research and careful Christian thought.

Purchasing Notes

This set is a bit tricky to buy sight unseen because it grew with its various printings and because the volume numbering is not consistent between printings. I hope that the following information will be helpful:

1. Volumes were published every year or two and the set grew throughout its published life. In the end, it totalled 16 "volumes" which were sometimes published two volumes per book. For this reason you will see complete (as originally published) sets from 1885 to the 1920's that consist of anywhere from five to 16 books. My 1921 set includes all that was ever published and it is 16 "volumes" in 8 books. There was also a set of the same year that was published as 16 separate volumes.

2. Dr. Lord himself wrote the first 12 volumes (which in the case of my personal set means six books) of _Beacon Lights_. The last four volumes were written, or partially written, by various other authors and were published after his death. I find that there is somewhat less with which I can agree, as a Christian, in these later volumes. For example, one of the supplemental volumes has a chapter praising Darwin. Based on what Lord says in his own writings, I think he would have blown Charlie out of the water!

Content posted at ValeriesLivingLibrary.com is ©1998-2012
Do not copy or repost any content from this site via email, to any web site, or in any kind of public forum.
You are welcome to keep a single paper or electronic copy of any pages from this site for personal, noncommerical use.
You are welcome to make up to 50 single paper copies of any or all pages from this site--
provided that each page is labeled with this notice,
provided that the pages are given as a gift for no compensation of any kind,
provided that no charge should be made for copying, distribution, shipping, handling, or any other costs related to transfer.
ANY QUESTIONS? Just ask. I love to say, "Yes".

Content posted at ValeriesLivingLibrary.com is ©1998-2012
Do not copy or repost any content from this site via email, to any web site, or in any kind of public forum.
You are welcome to keep a single paper or electronic copy of any pages from this site for personal, noncommerical use.
You are welcome to make up to 50 single paper copies of any or all pages from this site--
provided that each page is labeled with this notice,
provided that the pages are given as a gift for no compensation of any kind,
provided that no charge should be made for copying, distribution, shipping, handling, or any other costs related to transfer.
ANY QUESTIONS? Just ask. I love to say, "Yes".