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.
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'