The deception of Christendom is the attempt to invoke God and Jesus to validate national institutions and ideologies.
In popular usage, the English term ‘Christendom’ refers to “that part of the world in which Christianity prevails,” either because most citizens of a particular nation claim to be Christian or because a specific church is recognized by the government as the official religion of the nation. Thus, that nation is identified as “Christian.”
In political contexts, ‘Christendom’ is virtually synonymous with “Western European civilization,” and consequently, Christianity 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,” but the word is found nowhere in the Hebrew or Greek Bible.
In contrast to ‘Christendom,’ the New Testament teaches the “kingdom of God,” a realm in which all 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 describe his message.
‘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, ones not generally well-disposed to the nation or culture that claims to represent Christianity.
And ‘Christendom’ is a pale imitation of the proclamation of God’s Kingdom by Jesus and the Apostles, if not a satanic counterfeit. In this fallen age, political operatives use it and similar terms to advance their political agendas, implying to the gullible and ignorant that God backs their agendas and presumptions of power.
In contrast, Jesus called all men 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, he 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, being contrary to the cross of Christ – (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 specific nations, societies, or “civilizations” contradicts scriptural teaching and constitutes idolatry.
Jesus is not Canadian, Egyptian, Russian, or Australian. God is one, and He created and rules over all men. Christ certainly was Jewish while he was on the earth, but now, he is the Lord who reigns over all humanity and the entire Cosmos.
What counts before God is not national identity but whether a man or woman is “in Christ,” a disciple and faithful member of His covenant community. All those who belong to Jesus 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 world order. Christians engage society and the State by means of gospel proclamation and self-sacrificial service to others, not through political might and violence.
The “weapons” that Jesus gives his church are impotent and contemptible in the eyes of the world, yet they are the very means by which he redeemed humanity, indeed, the creation itself. His approach was epitomized in his submission to arrest, trial, and execution at the hands of the all-powerful Roman 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!!”
And in the end, Christians who immerse themselves in the political systems of this age will not reform them. Instead, they will be corrupted by them. One cannot play with fire and not get burned.
Moreover, the same Jesus who suffered an unjust death on behalf of others, even for the “enemies of God,” is not the exclusive property of any nation, society, culture, or political system.
If anything, his crucifixion stands in opposition to the political agendas and cultural values of this age. He summons us to love our enemies, to show them mercy, and to do good to them, ideas none of the governments of this age endorse, let alone practice.
The deception of ‘Christendom’ is the attempt to domesticate Jesus and to use him to validate the programs, values and ideologies of national institutions, values all too often are far more antichrist than Christian.
The tragic irony is that these very same 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. None of them will endure, though the kingdom of God most certainly will stand forever.