grace in the 21st century part 7



‘In post-Christendom, the church is that community of people who look to discover what God is actively doing in the world around them and then join themselves to that work.’[1] Tim Keel


The presence of religion can be observed in Europe from the beginning of the Roman Empire. It flourished after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, as Hellenistic cults competed with Romans deities[2] for the dominant force of the religious era.[3] When the resulting Christianity came into the landscape something dramatically different happened. The world epoch that became known as the era of Christendom[4], has lasted for many centuries and has become the larger meta-narrative that has shaped the contemporary church throughout the western world, into the church that can be seen today.  Carter describes the troublesome relationship between the church and state when he says,

‘The concept of Western civilization as having a religious arm (the church) and a secular arm (civil government), both of which are united in their adherence to the Christian faith, which is seen as the so-called soul of Europe or the West.’ [5]

This description gives insight into how this period had a distinct impact on the Western church. The influence of this instruct relationship can be seen today on the continent of Europe, in its’ beliefs, value and direction. If Christians are to fully understand this epoch that they find themselves in they must reference from a time in history when Christianity was formed. Christianity must pinpoint key moments through history when the meta-narrative disintegrated into history and resulted in a new period known as ‘post-Christendom’.[6]

Christianity must look to ‘the author and perfecter of our faith’ (Hebrews 12:2)  for the forward of the narrative of Christendom. Jesus of Nazareth was a Galilean man, nurtured on Jewish scriptures. He came to earth to complete an act of redemption and grace that fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament (Isaiah 22:21-25, Micah 4:1-3). Jesus was revolutionary and came to bring salvation to this world. It is from this foundation that the perspective Christendom must be understood.

[1] T Keel, Intuitive Leadership: Embracing a Paradigm of Narrative, Metaphor, and Chaos (London: Baker Books, 2007) p.127

[2] P Partner, Two Thousand Year: The First Millennium: The Birth of Christianity to the Crusades (London: Granada Media, 1999) p.3-15 has a great overview of this period of history and explains more of the conflict between Hellenistic cults and the Roman deities.

[3] J Luxmoore and Babiuch J, Rethinking Christendom: Europe’s Struggle for Christianity (Leominster: Gracewing, 2005) p.7-8

[4] S Murray, Post Christendom: Church and Mission in a Strange New World (Carlisle: Paternoster Press, 2004) p. 23 here he explains that the phrase was coined in the ninth century.

[5] C Carter, Rethinking Christ and Culture: A Post-Christendom Perspective (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2006) p. 14

[6] Frost M, Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christendom Culture (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006) p.1-27 we see in this Chapter entitled ‘Self-Imposed Exiles’, a great explanation of the narrative of Christendom and its collapse.


1 Response to “grace in the 21st century part 7”

  1. October 6, 2009 at 9:25 am

    I found your blog… shame you seemed to have lost it… come on Ali… get blogging…

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