SYNOPSIS – The deception of ‘Christendom’ is the attempt to invoke God and Jesus to validate national institutions, political ideologies, and cultural values.
In common usage, the English term ‘Christendom’ refers to “that part of the world in which Christianity prevails,” either because most citizens of a nation or culture claim to be Christian or because a specific church is recognized by its government as the official religion of the nation.
In political contexts, ‘Christendom’ has become synonymous with “Western European civilization” and Christianity, consequently, is identified with specific nations, ideologies, and cultural values.
This 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. It occurs nowhere in the Hebrew or Greek Bible.
In contrast to ‘Christendom,’ the New Testament teaches the “kingdom of God,” a realm in which the old social, national, and ethnic barriers have no place. In the gospel accounts, “kingdom of God” is the term found most frequently on the lips of Jesus to refer to his message.
The term ‘Christendom’ is a roadblock to the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ since it associates Christianity with specific nations and cultures. All too easily, its use as a cipher for Christianity hardens hearts to the genuine Gospel among men and women not well-disposed to the nation or culture that labels itself ‘Christendom.’
‘Christendom’ is a pale imitation of the proclamation of God’s Kingdom by Jesus and the Apostles, if not its satanic 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 submit to God’s sovereignty. His kingdom is 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.” In him, divisions based on national identity, economic status, or gender are disallowed- (Galatians 3:28, Revelation 5:5-12).
“In Jesus,” God dissolved the “middle wall of partition” between the circumcised and the uncircumcised, between the Jew and the Gentile. No one is advantaged or disadvantaged before God based on his or her gender, race, or nationality.
Any attempt to identify or limit Christianity to a specific nation, society, or “civilization” contradicts scriptural teaching and constitutes idolatry. Jesus is not a Canadian, an Egyptian, a Russian, or an American. God is one – He created and rules over all men. Jesus certainly was Jewish while on the earth but now he is elevated to be Lord over the entire Cosmos.
What counts is not national identity but whether a man or woman is “in Christ,” a disciple, and a faithful member of his covenant community. All those who belong to him are children of the same Father.
The methods Jesus bequeathed to his people to establish his Kingdom differ from those of the political institutions of the present fallen world order. Christians engage society and the State by means of gospel proclamation and self-sacrificial service to others, not through the employment of political might or violence.
The “weapons” that Jesus provides his church are perhaps impotent and contemptible in the eyes of the world, yet they are the very means by which he brought his message to humanity. His approach was epitomized in his submission to arrest, trial, and execution at the hands of an all-powerful empire.
The more politicized Christians become, the more they identify Christianity with their own nation, culture, and preferred political ideology. Thus, they embrace this insidious deception called ‘Christendom.’ “God is on our side and against theirs!!”
The same Jesus who suffered an unjust death on behalf of others, even for the “enemies of God,” is not the exclusive possession of any nation, society, culture, or political system. The Cross of Christ stands always in opposition to the political agendas and cultural values of this age.
The deception of ‘Christendom’ is the attempt to domesticate Jesus and use him to validate national institutions, ideologies, and values that often are more antichrist than Christian. The irony is that these very institutions are among the forms of this age that already are “passing away” because of his death, resurrection, and exaltation to reign over the Cosmos – (1 Corinthians 7:28-31).