10 Apr (#18) WHAT’S THE Distinction Among CHRISTENDOM AND CHRISTIANITY?
in Everyday Devotions
Individuals outdoors the church are frustrated when people today inside the church fail to see that there should really be a clear division in between the two. They really feel that Christians are out of line when they treat the culture about them as if it had been their church. Honestly, as a Bible-teaching pastor, I agree to some degree. Some Christians are incorrect in how they recognize the partnership in between church and society.
All through the Bible a clear demarcation exists in between God’s people today and other individuals. God repeatedly tells His followers that they can not act like their neighbors—non-believers living amongst them and the culture about them. God has various expectations of His personal. The Old Testament records recurring conversations in between God and His people today that sound like a dad whose kids maintain pestering him to get away with the similar stuff as the neighbor children. The dad tells them no, explaining that his loved ones guidelines are various from the loved ones guidelines subsequent door. In the New Testament the words “church” and “world” mark this split in between the two proverbial households. Sin indicates crossing that line of demarcation. Holiness indicates abiding by the guidelines on this side of the line.
Some Christians look to miss this. Across history and especially in America, they see their nation as 1 major church, resulting in a issue named “Christendom.” My book A Contact to Resurgence specifics this issue. Let me sum up what I say there.
For starters, Christendom is not the similar as Christianity. Though Christianity has existed for a couple thousand years, Christendom popped into becoming about 500 years ago (the precise date varies based on which historian you choose). America was an experiment in Christendom. It was to be a nation established largely by Christian people today with Christian principles pursuing Christian purposes. The line in between church and the planet quickly became incredibly blurry.
America wasn’t the only location exactly where this issue named Christendom took hold. But it led the nations in basing moral values on biblical principles so that people today much more or significantly less shared a frequent outlook on proper and incorrect even when they failed to reside up to their ideals. Most every person knew sex was reserved for marriage. Marriage was for a man and a lady. Pornography and casual sex had been usually understood to be evil, even if numerous didn’t practice what they preached. And final but not least, kids had been viewed as a desirable component of life. All these fundamental mores and other individuals had been component of the frequent vision of the superior life inside a superior nation that was as understood in Christendom.
At the center of cultural influence inside Christendom had been religious leaders and homes of worship. They had been necessary to upholding the moral framework of a superior nation. Politicians had been anticipated to think in God and attend church, and political speeches had been supposed to be littered with the language and imagery of Scripture. Locations of worship had been offered added benefits such as tax exemptions as a way of recognizing their worth to the higher culture in advertising virtue, restraining vice, and assisting the needy.
In spite of the dividing line becoming blurred in the intense, Christendom and Christianity are not the similar issue. Christendom is far larger and broader than Christianity, encompassing non-Christian beliefs like the deism of Thomas Jefferson, the Unitarianism of numerous higher-level politicians, or the beliefs of outliers like the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Below Christendom, America designed a new national religion that took ideas and photos from Old Testament Israel and reappropriated them. In A Contact to Resurgence, I say it this way:
Assume of American civil religion in biblical terms: America is Israel. The Revolution is our Exodus. The Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and Constitution compose our canon of sacred scripture. Abraham Lincoln is our Moses. Independence Day is our Easter. Our national enemies are our Satan. Benedict Arnold is our Judas. The Founding Fathers are our apostles. Taxes are our tithes. Patriotic songs are our hymnal. The Pledge of Allegiance is our sinner’s prayer. And the president is our preacher, which is why all through the history of the workplace our leaders have referred to “God” without the need of any definition or clarification, permitting people today to privately import their personal understanding of a greater energy.1
In this blatant borrowing, the spiritual symbols had been kept and the substance was lost. But it is no wonder people today error Christendom for Christianity.
All through some 500 years of history, Christendom and Christianity have been mutually opportunistic, every single utilizing the other to advance the trigger. Christendom wanted the social added benefits of Christianity without the need of the scriptural beliefs. President George Washington mentioned in his farewell address, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports… Explanation and expertise each forbid us to count on that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” A century and a half later, president-elect Dwight Eisenhower mentioned, “Our kind of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith, and I do not care what it is.” two
THE DEATH OF CHRISTENDOM
When people today care tiny about the content material of faith, it should really be no surprise when that faith becomes irrelevant to true life. Christendom as an all- highly effective method has died more than the course of just a couple of decades. Nations that had been component of Christendom are now more than a 500-year infatuation and are largely post-Christendom. The Bible is no longer a hugely regarded book, a pastor no longer a hugely regarded particular person, and the church no longer a hugely regarded location.
Mark Driscoll, A Contact to Resurgence (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Home Publishers, 2013), 11–12.
Patrick Henry, “‘And I Do not Care What It Is’: The Tradition-History of a Civil Religion Proof-Text,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 49, problem 1 (March 1981): 41.