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Dominion (book) Judea v. Rome (masthead of this site) New Testament St Paul Tom Holland

How the Woke Monster originated, 2

by Tom Holland

Holland’s book in my bedroom—Editor. For the
first instalment of this abridged series see here.

 
Mission AD 19: Galatia

Only the Jews, with their stiff-necked insistence that there existed just a single god, refused as a matter of principle to join in acknowledging the divinity of Augustus; and so perhaps it was no surprise, in the decades that followed the building to him of temples across Galatia, that the visitor there most subversive of his cult should have been a Jew.

The Son of God proclaimed by Paul did not share his sovereignty with other deities. There were no other deities. ‘For us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live’ (Romans 8.6).

Now, by touring cities across the entire span of the Roman world, Paul set himself to bringing them the news of a convulsive upheaval in the affairs of heaven and earth. Once, like a child under the protection of a tutor, the Jews had been graced with the guardianship of a divinely authored law; but now, with the coming of Christ, the need for such guardianship was past. No longer were the Jews alone ‘the children of God’ (Deuteronomy 14.1). The exclusive character of their covenant was abrogated. The venerable distinctions between them and everyone else—of which male circumcision had always been the pre-eminent symbol—were transcended. Jews and Greeks, Galatians and Scythians: all alike, so long as they opened themselves to belief in Jesus Christ, were henceforward God’s holy people. This, so Paul informed his hosts, was the epochal message that Christ had charged him to proclaim to the limits of the world.

‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:28-9).

Only the world turned upside down could ever have sanctioned such an unprecedented, such a revolutionary, announcement. If Paul did not stint, in a province adorned with monuments to Caesar, in hammering home the full horror and humiliation of Jesus’ death, then it was because, without the crucifixion, he would have had no gospel to proclaim. Christ, by making himself nothing, by taking on the very nature of a slave, had plumbed the depths to which only the lowest, the poorest, the most persecuted and abused of mortals were confined…

To repudiate a city’s gods was to repudiate as well the rhythms of its civic life. It was to imperil relations with family and friends. It was to show disrespect to Caesar himself.

By urging his converts to consider themselves neither Galatian nor Jewish, but solely as the people of Christ, as citizens of heaven, he was urging them to adapt an identity that was as globalist as it was innovative. This, in an age that took for granted local loyalties and tended to look upon novelty with suspicion, was a bold strategy—but one for which Paul refused to apologise. If he was willing to grant the Law of Moses any authority at all, then it was only to insist that what God most truly wanted was a universal amity. ‘The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”’ (Galatians 5.14) All you need is love.

Paul wrote to a second church, preaching the redemption from old identities that lay at the heart of his message. Corinth, unlike Galatia, enjoyed an international reputation for glamour.

As much as anywhere in Greece, then, Corinth was a melting pot. The descendants of Roman freedmen settled there by Julius Caesar mingled with Greek plutocrats; shipping magnates with cobblers; itinerant philosophers with Jewish scholars. Identity, in such a city, might easily lack deep roots. Unlike in Athens, where even Paul’s greatest admirers found it hard to pretend that he had enjoyed much of an audience, in Corinth he had won a hearing. His stay in the city, where he had supported himself by working on awnings and tents, and sleeping among the tools of his trade, had garnered various converts. The church that he had founded there—peopled by Jews and non-Jews, rich and poor, some with Roman names and some with Greek—served as a monument to his vision of a new people: citizens of heaven.

Among a people who had always celebrated the agon, the contest to be the best, he announced that God had chosen the foolish to shame the wise, and the weak to shame the strong. In a world that took for granted the hierarchy of human chattels and their owners, he insisted that the distinctions between slave and free, now that Christ himself had suffered the death of a slave, were of no more account than those between Greek and Jew. ‘For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave’ (Corinthians 7.22).

Like the great salesman that he was, he always made sure to pitch his message to his audience. ‘I have become all things to all men, so that by all possible means I might save some’ (Corinthians 9.22). Despite this claim, and despite the convulsive transformation in his understanding of what it meant to be a Jew, in his instincts and prejudices he remained the product of his schooling…

That the law of the God of Israel might be read inscribed on the human heart, written there by his Spirit, was a notion that drew alike on the teachings of Pharisees and Stoics—and yet equally was foreign to them both. Its impact was destined to render Paul’s letters—the correspondence of a bum, without position or reputation in the affairs of the world—the most influential, the most transformative, the most revolutionary ever written. Across the millennia, and in societies and continents unimagined by Paul himself, their impact would reverberate. His was a conception of law that would come to suffuse an entire civilisation. He was indeed—just as he proclaimed himself to be—the herald of a new beginning…

[Left, Paul the Apostle – Catacombs of St. Tecla, c. 380 C.E.—Ed.] Paul was not the founder of the churches in Rome. Believers in Christ had appeared well before his own arrival there. Nevertheless, the letter that he had sent these Hagioi from Corinth, a lengthy statement of his beliefs that was designed as well to serve as an introduction to ‘all in Rome who are loved by God’ (Romans 1.7) was like nothing they had ever heard before. The most detailed of Paul’s career, it promised to its recipients a dignity more revolutionary than even any of Nero’s stunts. When the masses were invited by the emperor to his street parties, the summons was to enjoy a fleeting taste of the pleasures of a Caesar.

But Paul, in his letter to the Romans, had something altogether more startling to offer. ‘The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children’ (Romans 8.16). Here, baldly stated, was a status that Nero would never have thought to share. It was not given to householders filthy and stinking with the sweat of their own labours, the inhabitants at best of a mean apartment or workshop on the outskirts of the city, to lay claim to the title of a Caesar. And yet that, so Paul proclaimed, was indeed their prerogative. They had been adopted by a god.

To suffer as Christ had done, to be beaten, and degraded, and abused, was to share in his glory. Adoption by God, so Paul assured his Roman listeners, promised the redemption of their bodies. ‘And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you’ (Romans 8.11). The revolutionary implications of this message, to those who heard it, could not help but raise pressing questions. In the cramped workshops that provided the Hagioi of Rome with their places of assembly, where they would meet to commemorate the arrest and suffering of Christ with a communal meal, men rubbed shoulders with women, citizens with slaves. If all were equally redeemed by Christ, if all were equally beloved of God, then what of the hierarchies on which the functioning of even the humblest Roman household depended?

The master of a household was no more or less a son of God than his slaves. Everyone, then, should be joined together by a common love. Yet even as Paul urged this, he did not push the radicalism of his message to its logical conclusion. A slave might be loved by his master as a brother, and renowned for his holiness, and blessed with the gift of prophecy—but still remain a slave. Despite his scorn for the pretensions of the Caesars, Paul warned the churches of Rome not to offer open resistance to Nero. ‘Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established’ (Romans 13.1).

If Roman power upheld the peace that enabled him to travel the world, then he would not jeopardise his mission by urging his converts to rebel against it. Too much was at stake. There was no time to weave the entire fabric of society anew. What mattered, in the brief window of opportunity that Paul had been granted, was to establish as many churches as possible—and thereby to prepare the world for the parousia. ‘For the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night’ (I Thessalonians 5.2). And increasingly, it seemed that the world’s foundations were indeed starting to shake…

In AD 66, the smouldering resentments of the Jews in Judaea burst into open revolt. Roman vengeance, when it came, was terrible. Four years after the launch of the rebellion, Jerusalem was stormed by the legions. The wealth of the Temple was carted off to Rome, and the building itself burnt to the ground. ‘Neither its antiquity, nor the extent of its treasures, nor the global range of those who regarded it as theirs, nor the incomparable glory of its rites, proved sufficient to prevent its destruction’ (Josephus Jewish Wars 6.442).

God, whose support the rebels had been banking upon, had failed to save his people. Many Jews, cast into an abyss of misery and despair, abandoned their faith in him altogether. Others, rather than blame God, chose instead to blame themselves, arraigning themselves on a charge of disobedience, and turning with a renewed intensity to the study of their scriptures and their laws. Others yet—those who believed that Jesus was Christ, and whom the Roman authorities had increasingly begun to categorise as Christiani [1]—found in the ruin visited on God’s Chosen People the echo of an even more dreadful spectacle: that of God’s Son upon the gallows.

The gospels written in the tense and terrible years that immediately preceded and followed the annihilation of Jerusalem were different [than Paul’s letters—Ed.]. The kingdom of God was like a mustard seed; it was like the world as seen through the eyes of a child; it was like yeast in dough. Again and again, in the stories that Jesus loved to tell, in his parables, the plot was as likely to be drawn from the world of the humble as it was from that of the wealthy or the wise: from the world of swineherds, servants, sowers.

_____________

[1] Tacitus explicitly states that those condemned by Nero were abusively referred to by the name of Chrestiani.Unsurprisingly, then, neither in Paul’s letters nor in the Gospels does the word appear; but already, by AD 100 at the latest, Christians themselves seem to have begun to appropriate it.

Categories
Axiology Catholic Church Christendom Dominion (book) Middle Ages Painting Philosophy of history St Francis Tom Holland Transvaluation of all values

How the Woke Monster originated, 1

See what I wrote on Saturday about Tom Holland’s book Dominion, some of whose passages from the Preface I quote below. Holland contrasts the jovial spirit of the Greco-Roman world with the medieval spirit after the Church infected the minds of Europeans:

Something fundamental had indeed changed. ‘Patience in tribulation, offering the other cheek, praying for one’s enemies, loving those who hate us’: such were the Christian virtues as defined by Anselm. All derived from the recorded sayings of Jesus himself. No Christians, then, not even the most callous or unheeding, could ignore them without some measure of reproof from their consciences. [page 9]

Because the American racial right is ignorant of European history, they don’t realise that the Woke Monster—i.e., the inversion of Greco-Roman values—has been suffered by whites since the Middle Ages, not only in recent years:

God was closer to the weak than to the mighty, to the poor than to the rich. Any beggar, any criminal, might be Christ. ‘So the last will be first, and the first last.’ To the Roman aristocrats who, in the decades before the birth of Jesus, first began to colonise the Esquiline Hill with their marble fittings and their flowers beds, such a sentiment would have seemed grotesque. [page 9]

But Holland is similar to Kevin MacDonald in one respect. Although he has abandoned the faith of his childhood, he is still sympathetic to Christianity in some ways. Holland is a secular historian, and like most secular historians that makes him dangerous: he gives us the impression that he is objective, not what we have been calling a neochristian. For example, in the Preface Holland refers to Nero as a ‘malignant Caesar’ (page 10). If the visitor has read the masthead of this site, the Spaniard’s essay on the Judean war against Rome and how Christians wrote history, he will remember that from the ancient world these Judeo-Christians were engaged in defaming figures like Caligula and Nero because they took anti-Jewish measures. (Believing mainstream historians is akin to believing what CNN has said about Trump.)

In the middle of Dominion, the book contains splendid colour reproductions such as the following, in the context of the reversal of classical to Christian values, with St Peter, the very vicar of Christ on earth, depicted in this way:

No ancient artist would have thought to honour a Caesar by representing him as Caravaggio represented Peter: tortured, humiliated, stripped almost bare. And yet, in the city of the Caesars, it was a man broken to such a fate who was honoured as the keeper of ‘the keys of the kingdom of heaven’. The last had indeed become first… [page 10]

In the Middle Ages, no civilisation in Eurasia was as congruent with a single dominant set of beliefs as was the Latin West with its own distinctive form of Christianity. Elsewhere, whether in the lands of Islam, or in India, or in China, there were various understandings of the divine, and numerous institutions that served to define them; but in Europe, in the lands that acknowledged the primacy of the pope, there was only the occasional community of Jews to disrupt the otherwise total monopoly of the Roman Church. [page 11]

As we have often insisted in discussing the climax of the Spaniard’s essay, the incredible juggling act that the Judeo-Christians performed in a process that culminated with Emperor Theodosius II, was to allow only Judaism and Judeo-Christianity as the religions of the Roman Empire. No other—and under no circumstances the previous religions with Aryan gods!

Well might the Roman Church have termed itself ‘catholic’: ‘universal’. There was barely a rhythm of life that it did not define. From dawn to dusk, from midsummer to the depths of winter, from the hour of their birth to the very last drawing of their breath, the men and women of medieval Europe absorbed its assumptions into their bones. Even when, in the century before Caravaggio, Catholic Christendom began to fragment, and new forms of Christianity to emerge, the conviction of Europeans that their faith was universal remained deep-rooted. It inspired them in their exploration of continents undreamed of by their forefathers; in their conquest of those that they were able to seize, and reconsecrate as a Promised Land… [page 11]

Time itself has been Christianised. [page 12]

If today’s members of the racial right were not charlatans, the first thing they would want to do would be to proclaim that the coming new age is no longer to be measured by the birth of a non-existent Jew (pace Holland, Jesus didn’t exist), but of the Aryan man about whom Savitri Devi wrote: ‘To the god-like Individual of our times; the Man against Time; the greatest European of all times; both Sun and Lightning…’ (see the featured post).

How was it that a cult inspired by the execution of an obscure criminal in a long-vanished empire came to exercise such a transformative and enduring influence on the world? To attempt an answer to this question, as I do in this book, is not to write a history of Christianity. Rather than provide a panoramic survey of its evolution, I have sought instead to trace the currents of Christian influence that have spread most widely, and been most enduring into the present day. That is why—although I have written extensively about the Eastern and Orthodox Churches elsewhere, and find them themes of immense wonder and fascination—I have chosen not to trace their development beyond antiquity. My ambition is hubristic enough as it is: to explore how we in the West came to be what we are, and to think the way that we do… [page 12]

Today, at a time of seismic geopolitical realignment, when our values are proving to be not nearly as universal as some of us had assumed them to be, the need to recognise just how culturally contingent they are is more pressing than ever. To live in a Western country is to live in a society still utterly saturated by Christian concepts and assumptions. This is no less true for Jews or Muslims than it is for Catholics or Protestants. Two thousand years on from the birth of Christ, it does not require a belief that he rose from the dead to be stamped by the formidable—indeed the inescapable—influence of Christianity. Fail to appreciate this, and the risk is always of anachronism… [page 13]

Remember the negrolatric revolution (BLM riots) that surprised everyone less those who see recent history as the explosion of the Christian sun in its secular, incendiary form: a red giant that I have called neochristianity (although it’s more precise to see it as ‘neofranciscanism’)?

The West, increasingly empty though the pews may be, remains firmly moored to its Christian past. There are those who will rejoice at this proposition; and there are those who will be appalled by it. Christianity may be the most enduring and influential legacy of the ancient world, and its emergence the single most transformative development in Western history, but it is also the most challenging for a historian to write about. [page 13]

One thing I like about Holland’s prose is that he sprinkles his erudite treatise with personal vignettes:

…although I vaguely continued to believe in God, I found him infinitely less charismatic than the gods of the Greeks: Apollo, Athena, Dionysus. I liked the way that they did not lay down laws, or condemn other deities as demons; I liked their rock-star glamour. As a result, by the time I came to read Edward Gibbon and his great history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, I was more than ready to accept his interpretation of the triumph of Christianity: that it had ushered in an ‘age of superstition and credulity’. My childhood instinct to see the biblical God as the po-faced enemy of liberty and fun was rationalised. The defeat of paganism had ushered in the reign of Nobodaddy, and of all the various crusaders, inquisitors and black-hatted Puritans who had served as his acolytes. Colour and excitement had been drained from the world. ‘Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean,’ wrote the Victorian poet Algernon Charles Swinburne, echoing the apocryphal lament of Julian the Apostate, the last pagan emperor of Rome. ‘The world has grown grey from thy breath.’ Instinctively, I agreed. [pages 15-16]

Then Holland says something that reminds me of Yockey’s words in Imperium: that Europeans claim to be based on the Greco-Roman world when in fact they are completely different civilisations:

Yet over the course of the past two decades, my perspective has changed. When I came to write my first works of history, I chose as my themes the two periods that had always most stirred and moved me as a child: the Persian invasions of Greece and the last decades of the Roman Republic. The years that I spent writing these twin studies of the classical world, living intimately in the company of Leonidas and of Julius Caesar, of the hoplites who had died at Thermopylae and of the legionaries who had crossed the Rubicon, only confirmed me in my fascination: for Sparta and Rome, even when subjected to the minutest historical enquiry, retained their glamour as apex predators. They continued to stalk my imaginings as they had always done: like a great white shark, like a tiger, like a tyrannosaur. Yet giant carnivores, however wondrous, are by their nature terrifying. The more years I spent immersed in the study of classical antiquity, so the more alien I increasingly found it. The values of Leonidas, whose people had practised a peculiarly murderous form of eugenics and trained their young to kill uppity Untermenschen by night, were nothing that I recognised as my own; nor were those of Caesar, who was reported to have killed a million Gauls, and enslaved a million more. It was not just the extremes of callousness that unsettled me, but the complete lack of any sense that the poor or the weak might have the slightest intrinsic value. Why did I find this disturbing? Because, in my morals and ethics, I was not a Spartan or a Roman at all. That my belief in God had faded over the course of my teenage years did not mean that I had ceased to be Christian. For a millennium and more, the civilisation into which I had been born was Christendom. Assumptions that I had grown up with—about how a society should properly be organised, and the principles that it should uphold—were not bred of classical antiquity, still less of ‘human nature’, but very distinctively of that civilisation’s Christian past. So profound has been the impact of Christianity on the development of Western civilisation that it has come to be hidden from view. It is the incomplete revolutions which are remembered; the fate of those which triumph is to be taken for granted. [pages 16-17]

And in the final words of the Preface, Holland tells us:

The ambition of Dominion is to trace the course of what one Christian, writing in the third century AD, termed ‘the flood-tide of Christ’: how the belief that the Son of the one God of the Jews had been tortured to death on a cross came to be so enduringly and widely held that today most of us in the West are dulled to just how scandalous it originally was. This book explores what it was that made Christianity so subversive and disruptive; how completely it came to saturate the mindset of Latin Christendom; and why, in a West that is often doubtful of religion’s claims, so many of its instincts remain—for good and ill—thoroughly Christian. [page 17]

Categories
Axiology Dominion (book) Tom Holland Tom Sunic

Dominion

Yesterday I got the book whose review I reproduced last Sunday: Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World by Tom Holland (pictured left). I read the preface and a few pages Holland wrote about how Hitler and Himmler had broken with Christian ethics. I found what I read fascinating, and I would like to start reviewing Dominion in many entries under a new series that could be titled ‘How the Woke Monster Originated’. Although the author is a normie, Dominion demonstrates the main thesis of The West’s Darkest Hour: Christian ethics governs today’s secular, atheistic West (a moral compass that, I would add, directs us to ethnic suicide).

I have done this with another normie writer: Richard Weikart’s book on Hitler’s pantheistic religion, not to mention another normie, the late Karlheinz Deschner’s criminal history of Christianity. Alex Linder does something similar: he reads entire books on tape recordings which he then uploads onto the internet, commenting here and there on a few illustrative passages. The difference is that Linder does in audio what I do in text.

The dust cover of Holland’s book contains these words:

Today, the West is utterly saturated by Christian assumptions… Christianity is the principal reason why, today, we assume every human life to be of equal value.

Bingo! And this cannot but remind me of what, alluding to Nietzsche’s loneliness, I said the day before yesterday about my solitude—insofar as reversing Christian ethics in our moral compass results in social ostracism, even from those who argue in racialist forums.

I said that Holland is a normie. When I just started to leaf through his book yesterday, I detected a terrible flaw. In the last two chapters, he cherry-picked historical cultural milestones (which I label ‘neochristian’) from 1916 to 1967—skipping how WW2 was a vicious conflict perpetrated by Anglo-Americans who abhorred a pagan resurgence in Europe (Tom Sunic talks about this in Homo Americanus).

Another thing that irritates me greatly about Holland is that living in London, where there are still English roses, he doesn’t denounce in the least how the English Establishment is exterminating them by promoting intermarriage. It’s obvious that, despite his lucidity in Dominion, Holland suffers from a huge blind spot at the centre of his vision.

But that’s natural: the book of a true dissident—like Sunic’s Homo Americanus—wasn’t elegantly published by a prestigious publisher (as Dominion was), nor would it have reached me as quickly and efficiently via Amazon Books. And though I’ve only just started reading it, there are several things to keep in mind before the first instalment of this new series.

First, Holland, who had a Christian upbringing and then became a secular freethinker, hasn’t read Richard Carrier. As a scholar, he has no excuse since Carrier’s magnum opus was published five years before Dominion. Like many agnostics today, Holland believes that Jesus existed, though he hastens to add that the only thing that can be known about him is that he was crucified by the Romans (before Dominion, Holland wrote a book about the last days of the Roman Republic that became a bestseller).

While Holland hasn’t read Deschner’s ten volumes, there is no excuse for him not to mention the very readable book by his fellow countrywoman, Catherine Nixey, on how Christians murdered the classical world (as a conventional scholar, Holland confines himself to Gibbon’s nineteenth-century treatise).

Needless to say, in the Index at the end of Dominion, which is replete with scholarly bibliographical references, the names of David Skrbina and Tom Goodrich are missing (as I said above, WW2 should be a perfect paradigm for Dominion’s central thesis) as is missing Kevin MacDonald (Holland has written on several occasions about anti-Semitism). Has Holland even read Hitler’s after-dinner talks?

However, the last chapter of Dominion is entitled ‘Woke’, and Holland claims that this ethos is by no means a new phenomenon but, by doing a deep psychic archaeology of the West from the ancient world, it is the same mental virus albeit mutated.

If all goes well, on Monday I will start my comments on this very erudite 612-page book.

Categories
Axiology Christendom Dominion (book) Liberalism Tom Holland

Western values are Christian values

by David Lindsay

Tom Holland has written a superb overview [Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World] of the impact of Christianity on the West. He argues we in the West are moored to our Christian past and our morals and ethics derive from Christianity. Holland believes that Christian values permeate Western culture and thinking. If anything, Christianity’s influence has been underestimated. Holland claims that many beliefs that we take for granted have Christian origins. He argues that George W. Bush was mistaken in assuming that Muslims shared a Christian worldview and such values are universal.

Holland does not fully explain what he means by Christian values. Jesus spoke repeatedly about inequality and injustice. He spent a lot of his time helping the poor and society’s outcasts. He wanted his followers to love their enemies. The Bible suggests that God is closer to the poor than to the rich. Matthew 25 states the key test for a disciple is treating the poor and the hungry as if they were Jesus. Professor Richard Hays of Duke Divinity School believes that Christians are meant to direct their energies towards the renunciation of violence, the sharing of possessions, and overcoming ethnic divisions. Holland discusses the impact of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, who were both students of the Bible. They preached a message of non-violence and forgiveness.

Saint Paul claimed that Christ’s church was open to all, slave and free, Greek and Jew, male and female. He taught that everyone is equal before God and we should love one another. These were revolutionary ideas in the Roman world and we still struggle with them today. Holland argues that because God loves each of us unconditionally, we are in turn meant to love and respect our fellow man. Holland discusses the Beatles and he claims that songs like “All You Need is Love” and “Imagine” express Christian beliefs.

Holland has written extensively about Rome, ancient Greece, and Islam. He claims that the more he studied classical antiquity the more alien he found it. Holland concluded that his values were distinctly Christian. Christianity became the dominant religion in Western Europe because of the Romans. Pagan Rome was a barbaric place. It was depraved and violent. The Romans entertained themselves by having criminals eaten alive by wild animals. Rome was also corrupt and materialistic, with only the rich having any rights. Julius Caesar is fondly remembered by classical scholars but he carried out genocide in Gaul. The Romans tended to destroy societies that got in their way. The Romans and Greek philosophers like Aristotle did not care about the poor and the downtrodden, they viewed them as losers. Aristotle justified slavery as natural, claiming some humans were slaves by nature, lacking the moral reason to be regarded as the equals of free men. Christianity must have seemed an attractive option for many ordinary people in the ancient world.

Holland does not believe that God exists but he was raised a Christian. He claims that we in the West have retained our Christian morals and ethics even though many of us have stopped believing in God. The book is not a history of Christianity. He mentions theologians like Irenaeus, Anselm, Origen, Marcion, and Pelagius. It helps to have some knowledge of Christian history to understand their significance.

When the Britain Empire occupied a country it would usually be forced by Christians to ban practices they considered barbaric. In India, Hindu widows would sacrifice themselves by sitting atop their deceased husband’s funeral pyre. The British banned this practice because of pressure from Christian evangelicals. William Wilberforce was a devout Christian, who forced the British Parliament to ban the slave trade in 1807. The Bible did not seem to condemn slavery, but British Christians knew it was wrong. As Western culture has become more liberal we have embraced behavior that the Bible specifically forbids, like divorce, working on the Sabbath, and homosexuality. We are now making our own rules, but they are still rooted in the gospels.

In 2002, the World Humanist Congress affirmed “the worth, dignity, and autonomy of the individual.” Holland views this as a quintessentially Christian idea that finds no parallel in the ancient world, or in other parts of the world today. Humanists believe “that morality is an intrinsic part of human nature based on understanding and a concern for others.” Holland argues that the source of humanist values is not to be found in science or reason but in Christianity.

Holland suggests that Western secular liberals are deluding themselves in believing that Western views on human rights are universally shared. Western Liberals have insisted that Afghans should embrace gender equality. Holland claims that “To be a Muslim was to know that humans do not have rights. There was no natural law in Islam. There were only laws authored by God.” For some Islamic scholars, such as Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi the idea of equality between men and women, or between Islam and other religions, is “a monstrous blasphemy”. There is no such thing as “human rights” only the laws of Allah; any attempt to impose those human rights on Islamic countries is infidel heresy and will lead to friction.

Holland discusses the dark side of Christian history. Over time, he writes, Christians “have themselves become agents of terror. They have put the weak in their shadow; they have brought suffering, and persecution, and slavery in their wake.” He notes, for example, that the efforts of missionaries to bring Christianity to Africa were undermined by a “colonial hierarchy” in which black people “were deemed inferior.” But he also argues that the very standard by which we condemn colonizers is itself Christian.