The whole of Christianity is paradox. At its heart, it’s rooted in paradox. That God can become man, that death can become life, everything about it is paradoxical. But in historical terms, the paradox is that a faith that puts at its center “the first shall be last, the last shall be first” – the story of exodus, of the slaves being the favorites of God, or of course the crucifixion and the resurrection, that the cross becomes the emblem of triumph over worldly empire – this faith in itself ends up becoming the most globally hegemonic way of explaining what humanity is here for. And there is obviously an incredible tension there between the power that Christianity has come to exert and the nagging sense that actually it’s in powerlessness that God’s favors are to be found.

Historian Tom Holland discusses the role of Christianity in Western imperialism on the latest PloughCast.