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Empires of Dirt: Secularism, Radical Islam, and the Mere Christendom Alternative

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  204 ratings  ·  61 reviews
As it self-destructs, the strategy of secularism (the idea that nations can be religiously neutral) is splitting between American exceptionalism and radical Islam. American exceptionalism, the belief that "America" is more than a nation, is folly. Radical Islam is obviously wrong as well, but Muslims at least own the nature of the current cultural conflict. You must follow ...more
Paperback, 276 pages
Published November 8th 2016 by Canon Press (first published December 1st 2013)
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Peter Jones
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Typical Wilson and I mean that as a compliment. A solid layman's/pastoral introduction to what a Christian nation or society might look like. He does a great job answering various retreatist ideas as well as those who want to change culture...sort of. His post-millennialism helps, as does his ability to use logic. He also does not expect too much. It is a mere Christendom. But I would take his vision over 95% of what is being pushed by reformed Christians these days. ...more
Matthew Huff
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read another reviewer who labeled this perhaps the most important book Wilson has written, and I am more than happy to throw my support behind such high praise.

I am an ardent fan of Wilson's and have read several of his books; Empires of Dirt, however, is one of the greatest, timeliest, and most extraordinary of his expressions to date. His grasp of America's present ills is sure, and his biblical, postmillennial, optimistic vision of mere Christendom a delicious remedy.

Wilson argues for the e
Thomas Achord
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Whether one agrees or not with his conclusions, this is probably one of the most important books Wilson has written. It is his vision of what he calls Christendom, what others will likely call theonomy, and what I call sanity. Secularism is a spent force, says Wilson. Factions seek to carve up the dead carcass. Islam offers to eat it whole. Conservatism is lack of a force. Christendom is the only option biblical and aligned with reality. Christ is Lord of the public square. He is Lord of these U ...more
Rick Davis
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: culture, politics
This is a great book that deserves to be widely read. It appears that Wilson aims this book at a fairly narrow readership, conservative Presbyterians familiar with the R2K controversy surrounding Westminster West, which is a bit of a shame. There are many important ideas in this book that would benefit a broad evangelical audience.
Mark Christenson
May 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
“If the Church is not transforming the culture around her, then the culture around her is transforming the Church.” Chapter 8 was phenomenal. Five out of five. Thanks Doug.
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good Critique of Anabaptists and R2K

Great insights into our culture and our sins. Helpful explanation of theonomy and mere Christendom. Wilson also does well critiquing anabaptist politics and R2K politics. Both of those errors are dead ends.
Jason Garwood
Dec 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely brilliant book. Once again, Doug has given postmillennialism some teeth. Which is convenient because many of us are tired of gumming around.

My favorite book of 2016, hands down.
Jacob Van Sickle
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In this book Wilson proposes a Mere Christendom in the face of the Islamic and secular onslaught. He argues for a transformationalist view of cultural engagement, seeing Christ as Lord of all culture not just the really church. Although I think Wilson could give other Christ and culture paradigms more credit, his critiques land.

I love the idea of a Mere Christendom and have faith that it can happen. I just doubt that I’ll see it. Maybe my great grand children will blow off the dust of this book
Joshua Jenkins
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. Up with Christendom.
Joshua Arnold
It was an easy read

It was an easy read, but his writing style is just too difficult to really follow for me sometimes. It seems that he assumes the reader knows all the terms he uses, and a lot of times his explanations just leave me more confused than before, and uninterested to try to figure it out.

I still enjoyed the read for the most part, though. I still gathered some insights on some things that helps me. If it was a deeper theological work, I would have abhorred it, because of how many ti
Sean Higgins
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, culture, politics
Read this again with our elders. Got more out of it the second time...and I'm still a Dispensationalist. Ha!


This is a two-by-four book in two ways.

First, it is a two-by-four hit to the head for those (like I have been) who believe Jesus doesn't care about the public square let alone if presidents, kings, and justices rule in His name. As Wilson asks, if Jesus doesn't care about those things, where does it say that in the Bible? If Jesus does care, then shouldn't we? Uh, yes.
Jacob Rush
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A must read for any Christian who wants to think biblically and historically about Christians and culture. Doug here ties together many themes and musings he's had on the topics of postmillennialism, culture, theonomy, and Christendom, and does it in a way that is thoughtful, and yet critical towards a hands-off doom and gloom mentality of the world's progress.

Cultural reformation is *not* a social gospel, rather it is what the gospel inevitably *does*.
And that reformation must always start fi
Joe Hyink
There IS lot of solid material here. For me, though, it could have been half its length or even just a series of blog posts (which maybe it was at one point). It was a bit of a frustrating read for me because Wilson spends and inordinate amount of time explaining what his views are rather than proving them. And the way he goes about it is by interacting with books I have never read or care to read. I was disappointed by the lack of material about Radical Islam specifically, which I was particula ...more
Jan 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Grand. I think this works as a fantastic companion book to Wilson's (also grand) Rules for Reformers. In Rules, Pastor Wilson gives principles for engagement. In this book, he gives us what the telos of engagement is, which is to hasten the day when all the kingdoms of the earth will bring their glory into the new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:24). Besides this he applies the gospel throughout taking thoughts captive, showing the means of grace, and calling us to the need of the hour, which is courage in t ...more
James Aaron Kirkpatrick
"What did you think?", asks Goodreads, in requesting my review of Empires of Dirt. After reading this book and surveying where we've been during my lifetime and taking note of the trajectory we appear to be on for the rest of my life, I think the thoughts in the book's last paragraph:

"There was a time when this God, unknown to this current generation, was known to our fathers. How do we get back there? We get there through Jesus. Jesus is the only way to the Father. He is also the only way to an
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Bracing. What Doug Wilson does best is inspire and there’s plenty of inspiration here. Oh, sure, there’s lots to debate, too. But let’s start that debate and get it out of the way because there’s plenty of work to be done and we have been called to do it.
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is arguably one of the most important Wilson books so far.

Americanism, secularism, libertarianism, two kingdoms theology - will all be overcome by the next Christendom. Long live the King.
D. Ryan
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Couldn’t put it down. What Wilson has to say is at once humbling and inspiring. We have fallen a long way, but it is thrilling to think of what is to come.
Daniel Markin
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
Wilson gives a quirky, humorous, and sharp critique of Secularism, Radical Islam, and of limp wristed Christianity. I was fired up and motivated towards his call to Christendom after the read.
Mark Evans
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Best book I have read on issues of Church and state, “Christ and culture” and so on...

“The Church is formal worship, the cultus. The Kingdom is the culture that surrounds the Church, having grown out of it. The reformational work of reclaiming education or the fine arts is Kingdom work, done by Christians, to be distinguished from the formal work of the Church, done by ministers, elders, deacons, and congregants. The “task” of the Church is Word and sacrament, period. Other tasks taken up by the
Caleb Smith
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first Doug Wilson book. I was kind of familiar with him before, though not greatly, and, given what I did know, I went in a bit unsure. The book both confirmed and bypassed much of this concern, and that will make sense in the rest of the review.

Wilson's thesis is pretty simple. Calling it "mere Christendom," he argues that the nations of the world, his own US of A included, ought to formally and publicly recognize the Lordship of Christ over their governments. He does not It is time
Andrew Fendrich
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-bookshelf
This was my first look at Doug Wilson’s writing. Not knowing much about the guy except that he’s held some... interesting... beliefs over the years, I’ve got to say: this book was fantastic. It’s a blend of presuppositional apologetics and theonomy, while examining cultural trends in our post-postmodern American society. While I wouldn’t strictly call myself a “theonomist,” I do agree with Wilson’s assessment that all Christians are theonomists; it’s just about the “how.” And his overarching poi ...more
Alex Kearney
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
“All societies are theocratic, and the only thing that distinguishes them is which God they serve”

I feel a bit embarrassed. Before opening this book up, I thought the idea of a formal government edict recognizing Jesus as Lord, establishing Christianity as its national religion, was a bad idea.

Wilson is right. I have been so effectively catechized by secularism that I didn’t really want Jesus to be Lord of EVERYTHING, as He already is.
David Bruyn
Jul 13, 2021 rated it liked it
I have no quibble with Wilson's rejection of a 'secular', neutral political order. I don't doubt that the lordship of Jesus needs to be preached to all and to all levels of power. And the weight of history is on his side, as far as a mere Christendom goes. I suppose the rub comes in defining how non-believers have to function in such an order, and how the magistrate relates to churches he disagrees with. ...more
J. Rutherford
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
For the last several years I have spent a lot of time thinking through the question, how do we, as Christians, live within and respond to culture? As I have worked out these issues, I have had Douglas Wilson’s Empires of Dirt recommended to me a couple of times. The freedom of a PhD program, Corona virus lockdown, and the occasion of a new book project on the subject has given me the opportunity to give it a read and review. In sum, I was not persuaded that Wilson’s “Mere Christendom” is a Bibli ...more
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished-in-2020
Thought provoking. Doug Wilson is always a delightful read.
Chris Griffith
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Top notch.
Zach McDonald
Dec 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
I wanted to give this book five stars. I reallllly did, but I couldn't. I wanted to because Douglas Wilson is so enjoyable to read, he is convictional, and he, for whatever reason, always seems to hit the bullseye. This book was no different, a real joy to read, really convictional, and hit the nail on the head. Wilson confronts secularism, the rise of Islam, postmillennialism, R2K theology, 'mere Christendom' concerns, etc. However, my problems with the book are as follows. First, I know this i ...more
Joshua Lister
Sep 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Good but not what I had hoped it would be. The first few chapters are a helpful primer for understanding why "mere Christendom" is what Christians should want but the middle portions of the book are somewhat bogged down. Too much time is devoted to a tedious academic response to "Reformed-Two-Kingdom" theological writers. I wouldn't expect that the typical Christian, picking this up for the first time, would have to get over that hurdle. If they are at all like me, they wouldn't have even heard ...more
Timothy Nichols
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-goals
Eloquent and clearly argued, _Empires of Dirt_ calls conservatives to repentance. Faced with our failure to disciple the culture in which we live, we have retreated to our ghettos under the shrinking shelter of the religious liberty offered by a secular state. That state—aspiring as it does to godhood—has no principled basis for maintaining liberty and limited government. Hence its incessant slide toward totalitarianism and the inherent rot that makes it so vulnerable to the encroachments of rad ...more
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