How Will History Evaluate Ronald Reagan?

By Curtis K. Shelburne

Never one to leave anything to chance, one of my heroes, Winston Churchill, once remarked, “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” And he did.
I’m in the fourth volume of Churchills “The Second World War,” and getting inside Churchill’s head has been fascinating. As I watched some of the television coverage recently regarding Ronald Reagan’s death, I found myself wishing that Reagan had been the kind of prolific writer Churchill was. Reagan, too, had some fascinating stories to tell.  
It’s been interesting to me, and a tad nauseating, to see that the same media moguls who gave Reagan nothing but trouble while he was in office are now falling all over themselves to do him honor. How historians will subsequently evaluate his life and presidency, I don’t know.   
I’m not qualified to do much real evaluating of historical figures myself, but here’s what I think I think. Reagan was a “great communicator.” He really was, even though he wasn’t in the class of a Churchill in that regard. But who could be?
I think our greatest president was Abraham Lincoln who was tried by fire, stood the test, and came out as pure gold. Reagan faced some severe tests, too, but I personally think Lincoln’s pre-eminence is obvious. Yet there is this similarity (along with many more): Both spared no effort to tear down walls that never should have been built.
Well, we still probably need some years to get perspective, but I think Ronald Reagan very easily makes it into the top 10 list and maybe into the upper half of that list.
Reagan was a true leader because, like Churchill, he saw what was good in the heart of his nation, and he called his countrymen to embrace that vision and move on to greater good. I’m sure some would say he was naively idealistic about America, but it seems to me that we need more leaders who truly love this land and lead by focusing on what is best and most noble about its heritage and its history so that what is already good can become much better.
Churchill was right. England never had a finer hour than when she stood, for far too long, alone against Hitler. Churchill knew that freedom was good and tyranny was evil, and he never hesitated to say so. Reagan also believed in freedom, and he was absolutely right when he called the Soviet Union an “evil empire.” Only an evil system rotten to the core builds walls to keep its own citizens enslaved inside its borders. We needed someone to use the right word for Communism: evil.
I don’t know much about Reagan’s faith in God, but I know he was absolutely on target in this belief: Human rights are not rights which are granted to human beings by any state. Human rights are rights that come directly from the hand of God to every human being because all are created in his image. And any system of government that says otherwise is wrong and is evil.
I’m glad God blessed us with a great president who knew that and didn’t hesitate to say it.

Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at