The Best History of Western Civilization I’ve Read Yet

'Dominion' by Tom Holland May Be the Best History of Western Civilization I’ve Read Yet The Garrett Ashley Mullet Show

The premise of ‘Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World’ is self-evident. What we know of today as the Western tradition, and the sway that tradition has held over the rest of the world’s cultures, would not be possible without the soul of Christian life and thought having transformed Western Europe over the course of the last 2,000 years.

Yet more than the subject matter lends greatness to Tom Holland’s work. Every great idea can be poorly executed, after all, before being carelessly hung out to dry. If the workman is more interested in going through the motions than he is passionate about the conclusions he’s come to, as concerns the reason for his undertaking the work in the first place, the result will be boring and tedious.

It is not just the topic which induces me to recommend this book, then. The mode of delivery is excellent. The details drawn out from two millennia of world history are poignant. In short, ‘Dominion’ is the kind of holistic approach we need when coming to the question of what went into building what we should recognize as Western thought and civilization today. Imperfect as it may be, the God who animates and directs it is, nevertheless, holy and perfect.

In short, Holland produces a work of art. The same mindset which led to the great paintings, sculptures, and architecture of the West, borne of desire to glorify God, pursuing with excellence His purposes on this earth, has evidently captivated this author also, as he lays out the special case for why Christianity was essential for the development of science, technology, political philosophy, jurisprudence, and culture which we now credit with a very high standard of living in the developed nations of the world, whether they are consciously Christian or not.

The Neglected Causes of Beneficial Effects

Precisely because so many of us have no clue where these products of life in the developed world came from, Dominion is a special book. Increasingly aggressive secularism, from the Enlightenment to the present, has warehoused our origin story, putting it into long-term storage, hidden from the public in dry, dusty departments of religion, clear views obstructed by ignorance, pride, and vanity. Even as its effects are relished, we give little to no thought for their cause, though we must, if we will keep on having these things to enjoy.

It’s not so dissimilar from how the children of Israel took less than 40 days of Moses’ absence on Mount Sinai to devise a scheme to make new gods for themselves, which they intended to thereafter credit with having delivered them out of Egypt.

As with the Israelites, so also with our elites in the West, they only mentioned “this Moses” who had brought them out, and flippantly forget him with a passing reference to not knowing what has become of him; our elites, too, as those of ancient Israel, have confined their recollection of our rich heritage with brief vignettes to men and women they now regard as wholly irrelevant to our modern, scientific age. The dryness of their presentation reveals what low regard our betters have for their own betters.

But that is to say, we are still living in Paine’s ‘Age of Reason,’ too, where the notion of a Creator is scoffed at as irrational and superstitious, particularly if we get into particulars stemming from special revelation. Nevertheless, this is still very much the Lord’s world, and we’re just living in it. Whether or not we recognize it doesn’t change the reality, except in our capacity to enjoy and benefit from reality.

The House that Christianity Built

Here comes Tom Holland to help us, pointing out clearly and decisively that the paganism of the Greeks and Romans could never have been sufficient, nor ever have produced, the wonders and developments which supplanted theirs, all the while building on and incorporating what they knew which was salvageable.

Likewise, the pre-Christian Germanic and Norse peoples could not have built the house we now inhabit. Even less could Islam, or the philosophies and esoteric cults of the Far East, have resulted in anything approaching the concept of “human rights” which Biblical theology insists.

It’s all the stranger, therefore, in reading ‘Dominion,’ to return to the debates of the present, where various factions presumptuously take it for granted that true liberty is found only in banishing every vestige of Christian faith from our public spaces. They’re wrong, and we know that. But it’s important to know more specifically how and why they’re wrong.

Yet we enjoy a peculiar blessing all the same, whether or not we know, not so dissimilar to the enduring faithfulness and lovingkindness God showed to Israel, despite her unbelief and stubbornness.

“For the cloud of Yahweh was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.”

Exodus 40:38

We don’t deserve this favor any more than Israel did. Yet that recognition should turn us, all the more rather than less, to an appreciation and gratitude, both to God and to the long line of faithful Christians who have made life in this day fuller, better, sweeter, longer, and richer for us, through their commitment to truth, beauty, and goodness, and the presenting of their bodies as living sacrifices from the resurrection to this point.

Appreciation and Gratitude

Only by being appreciative and grateful for our inheritance can we silence the hateful neo-pagans who today call for vengeance against Christians and conservatives. For what do they seek vengeance, after all? Tearing down their altars, and toppling their Asherah poles, and smashing their idols, and grinding the dry old bones of their prophets to dust before scattering them to the winds – all this drives them into a frenzy, just as it did their own spiritual ancestors.

After all, both Christians and conservatives, whether or not the latter are believers, seek to conserve what, if not the root and branch of the blessings which Heaven bestowed on our ungrateful peoples over these past twenty centuries?

And against us are arrayed mere echoes of bygone demons and their cults. Worshiping the earth, they revel in sexual immorality of every kind, just as they always have. And once bored with erotic abandon, they seek also what their predecessors did, in molesting and mutilating the bodies of children in ritualistic sacrificial devotion.

They don’t want vengeance on Christians and the conservators of the West for any wrong done to them personally. More to the point, they seek vengeance on behalf of all the gods of the ancient Egyptians, Canaanites, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, and Germans; recognizing this fact, we can correctly identify their madness as not so much mental illness as material evil.

All the while, it is good for us to regain perspective in recalling, if ever we knew to begin with, that these gods and their devotees have always been at war with the Christ himself, and only incidentally his disciples.

From Beginnings to Ends

Our enemies today resemble the vicious, abusive uncle of Peter Abelard’s wife, who sent men to ambush and castrate that eloquent scholar as recompence for marrying without his permission or blessing, and against his depraved wishes. The wrongs they claim to have suffered were no wrongs at all, but the exercising of God-given rights.

Meanwhile, the wrongs they themselves perpetrate on unwitting lambs and flocks, if not satisfactorily dealt justice in this life, will be left to the wrath of God, which will be poured out in the Father’s good timing, and at His discretion.

The end of the story has already been written, then. Those who read the words of the book know this well. Yet it can be helpful and encouraging to reconsider the story up to this point as well.

If we will learn our own history and heritage, we will remember that all authority in heaven and on earth was given to the Lord Jesus Christ, and on the basis of the dominion he sent his disciples into all the world to make more disciples of all nations. From then to now, and forevermore into eternity future, the gates of Hell will not prevail against his everlasting kingdom. Tell the righteous it will go well for them.

This Episode’s Links:

This episode is sponsored by

· Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast.

Send in a voice message:

Support this podcast:

Leave a Reply