Saturday, November 12, 2011

Post-Constantine "Christendom"

By the end of the century (4th), the emperor Theodosus finalized the conquest of Christianity, making the faith of the Christians the only legal religion in the empire. Within one century, the Christian church had moved from the status of a minority, persecuted sect to that of the only legally sanctioned religion in the Roman Empire. Indeed, as some historians tell the story, Christianity had "triumphed" over its enemies. The Christian church had arrived, or so it appeared. Thus arose "Christendom" - an alliance between church and empire.

On the other hand, other historians and theologians recount these events as the "fall of the church." This type of story telling is perhaps too naive, simplistic, or sweepingly judgemental - surely there is much to be learned from post-Constantine Christians. Nonetheless, one finds in "Christendom" particular ways of thinking about Jesus that obscure (if not set aside) his teaching. In other words, some serious consequences came in the wake of the "triumph of Christianity." Painting in too-broad strokes, one might characterize some of these consequences this way:

  • "Christianity" increasingly loses the biblical emphasis upon discipleship and replaces it with an emphasis upon religious ritual.
  • "Church," rather than denoting the New Testament concept of a community of disciples living as the "body of Christ," begins to connote a hierarchy that protects "orthodoxy."
  • "Salvation," instead of being construed as the gift of a transformed, abundant life in the now-present kingdom of God, begins to be equated with an otherwordly reward. More crassly put, "salvation" is increasingly viewed as a fire-insurance policy, a "Get Out of Hell Free Card" guaranteeing an escape from the fires of torment and ensuring the receipt of treasures in heaven.
 In Christendom, the "whole world" may be dubbed "Christian," and yet it is un-Christlike.

We in the Western world are long removed from those days of governmentally established Christianity, living in the day of "separation of church and state." Nonetheless, such habits of thought remain.

by Lee C. Camp in 'Mere Discipleship - Radical Christianity In A Rebellious World'

THE NAKED GOSPEL - Andrew Farley

Please download this book for FREE by clicking here. You can also buy a copy for yourself by clicking here. It is a MUST read for every Christian! As Andrew puts it, it is "Jesus plus nothing. 100% natural. No additives.It's the truth you may never hear in church. The Naked Gospel is a chapter-by-chapter assault on the churchy jargon and double talk of our day. It puts forth a message that is simple but life-changing. With a fresh take on Scripture and unapologetic style, The Naked Gospel will challenge you to re-examine everything you thought you already knew."