Sunday, October 10, 2010

Shedding no tears for the end of Christendom

Very insightful quote pointed out by Dave Black, coming from Larry Hurtado:

In the Western nations where Christendom once was dominant, it is dominant pretty much no more. I for one don’t grieve this one bit. I regard “Christendom” as a morally dubious phenomenon that probably did as much harm to the gospel as it ever did any good. It consisted more in the promotion of institutional power of churches and church officials. It may have had some effect in shaping professed public morals, and perhaps even some effect on moral practice. But I don’t like the idea of any religion being able to exercise social coercion, and I think that religious faiths should live or die solely by their ability to commend themselves to the consciences of people.

I love it, he says what I have said many times but far more eloquently. I would take Larry's statement a step farther and say that Christendom by and large was a force opposed to the Gospel. When Christianity becomes institutionalized and formalized, the Gospel is squeezed out and the community of the saints is reduced to ritual. In the nearly 2000 years that have passed since the cross, over 50% of that time the "church" was ruled form Rome and the Gospel was anathematized. Even in the years since 1517, Christendom has reigned in most of the West. I feel hopeful that we are on the cusp of revival, a real revival that will take place in homes and on the street instead of in cathedrals and seminaries. A revival that will invite persecution and that will not wilt, but instead thrive under that persecution. I have no illusion of an easy, comfortable, church-going middle-class life for my children that are Christians but I would rather equip them to be witnesses to a hostile world than accomplices to a Gospel-less Christendom.

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