Jonathan Sandys and Wallace Henley
The book is written by Churchill’s great-grandson, Jonathan Sandys, who lives in Houston, Texas, and is a devoted follower of Jesus. He teams up with one of the pastors at Second Baptist Church.
What makes this book unique is that it focuses on the spiritual journey of Churchill. At first, I thought they were going to make the case that Churchill was a strong believer, a tenuous thesis. But I learned that it was not the case. Rather, here is the main point: Churchill was a believer with a Christian worldview and what we see in his life is the sovereignty of God to raise up a leader to rescue the world from Hitler. The point is not Churchill’s spirituality, but God’s sovereignty in preparing him.
They show that Churchill’s nanny, Elizabeth Everest, was a strong believer, who prayed with Churchill as a young boy, who taught him the Bible, and who remained very close to Churchill until she died. Even when Churchill died in 1965, he had a picture of his nanny at his bedside. She introduced Churchill to a Christian worldview and to faith in God, a worldview to which he returned after a period of unbelief as a young man.
They bring in a variety of topics to make their case about God’s sovereignty in raising up Churchill. I think they could have been more forthcoming about his weaknesses, but they certainly acknowledged them.
A few highlights include the following quotes:
* “By the standard he set, all political leaders since have been mere pygmies – with the possible exception of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Yet even they pale in his shadow. No one else can touch Churchill for his vision, leadership, and persistence.” (Cal Thomas, p. xv)
* “There has been no one remotely like him before or since.” (Former London Mayor Boris Johnson, p. xviii)
* “This country will be subjected somehow, to a tremendous invasion, by what means I do not know, but I tell you I shall be in command of the defences of London, and I shall save London and England from disaster.” (Winston Churchill, age 16)
* “At last I had the authority to give directions over the whole scene. I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial. Ten years in the political wilderness had freed me from ordinary party antagonisms. My warnings over the last six years had been so numerous, so detailed, and were now so terribly vindicated, that no one could gainsay me. I could not be reproached either for making the war or with want of preparation for it. I thought I knew a good deal about it all, and I was sure I should not fail. Therefore, although impatient for the morning, I slept soundly and had no need for cheering dreams. Facts are better than dreams.” (The Gathering Storm, p. 82. Churchill writing about the day when he was named prime minister.)
* “We began our research into the life and times of Winston Churchill with an eye towards discovering the ‘hidden something’ behind his singular role in world history. What we found, ultimately, was a testimony not as much to Churchill’s spirituality as it was to God’s sovereignty. What we’ve endeavored to show in these pages is not that Churchill had particular beliefs about God but that God, in his wisdom, was able to use this ordinary human being for extraordinary purposes.” (p. 227)
* “Churchill biographer (and current mayor of London) Boris Johnson, for example, provides a scenario for a ‘non-Churchill universe’:
[If we] take Churchill out of the equation … we leave the fate of Britain and the world in the hands of Halifax, Chamberlain, and the representatives of the Labour and Liberal parties. Would they have treated with Hitler, as the Foreign Secretary was proposing? It seems overwhelmingly likely …
It was Churchill – and only Churchill – who had made resistance to the Nazis his political mission.” (p. 228)
* “Our contention is that Winston Churchill was a deliverer prepared and brought onto the human scene through a sovereign act of God to counteract the work of Adolf Hitler, who manifested the dark power he worshiped and was its agent in his historical moment and geographical sphere. We have not tried to cast Churchill as a religious pietist. But he was a willing and available leader with an intuitive sense of divine destiny. As we have shown, Churchill grew in his understanding that his destiny was set by God himself. He is a wonderful example of how God ‘looks at the heart,’ not at ‘the outward appearance.’” (p. 236)
This was a good book, interesting and solid, but it was not a great biography of Churchill.