CHRISTIANITY OR CHRISTENDOM?

The deception of ‘Christendom’ is the attempt to invoke God to validate national institutions, ideologies, and values. In English, the term is used to refer to “that part of the world in which Christianity prevails,” either because most citizens claim to be Christians, or because a specific church is recognized by the government as the official, state-approved religion of that country.

In political contexts, ‘Christendom’ is often synonymous with “Western European civilization,” and therefore, Christianity becomes identified with specific nations, ideologies, and cultural norms.

The practice has prevailed since the merger of Church and State under the Roman emperor Constantine the Great. The English term is a combination of “Christian” (or “Christianity) and “kingdom,” and one that is unique to English-speaking populations.

But the term appears nowhere in the Hebrew or Greek Bible. In contrast, the New Testament proclaims the universal kingdom of God in which the old barriers of social, national, and ethnicity have no place.

The term ‘Christendom’ is a roadblock to the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ since it associates his message with specific nations, races, ideologies, and cultures. This all too easily hardens hearts to the gospel that are not well-disposed to said nations, ideologies, or cultures, whatever the reasons for their dissatisfaction.

‘Christendom’ is a pale imitation of Christ’s proclamation of God’s Kingdom, if not a counterfeit. Political operatives use it to advance their political agendas and to imply that God backs their presumption of power over others.

In contrast, Jesus called all men and women to repent and believe in God’s kingdom and sovereignty, a political reality that transcends all national, ethnic, economic, and cultural boundaries. By his death, Jesus redeemed men and women from every nation, tribe, tongue, and people, making them into a new “kingdom of priests” – (1 Peter 2:5-10, Revelation 5:5-12).

In Christ,” no longer can there be divisions based on national identity, economic status, or gender. “In him,” God dissolved the “middle wall of partition” between “Jew and Gentile.” For disciples of Jesus, one’s gender or nationality is neither an advantage nor disadvantage. What counts is whether one takes up the “cross” and follows him “wherever he goes” – (Galatians 3:28).

All attempts to identify Christianity with specific nations, cultures, or whole “civilizations” contradicts scriptural teachings, and far worse, constitutes idolatry.

Jesus is not Canadian, Egyptian, Russian or American. God is one and rules over all men. While Jesus certainly was Jewish during his life on the earth, since then, he has become the Lord over the entire Cosmos.

The more politicized Christians become, the more they identify Christianity with their nation, culture, and preferred political ideology. And thus, they embrace the insidious deception known as ‘Christendom’ – “God is on our side and against theirs!!”

The same Jesus who suffered an unjust death on behalf of the world, even for the “enemies of God,” is not the exclusive possession of any nation, society, culture, or political system. If anything, the Cross of Christ stands in opposition to the political agendas and cultural values of this age.

The deception of ‘Christendom’ is the attempt to domesticate and pervert the Jesus of Scripture in order to use him to validate national institutions, ideologies, and values that, all too often, are more antichrist than Christian. The irony is that those very institutions of this age are already in the process of “passing away” because of Christ’s death, resurrection, and his exaltation to become “Lord of all” – (1 Corinthians 7:28-31).

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