Embracing our post-Christendom future
by Jeff Gissing | @jeffgissing
We are living in a post-Christendom era–a time in which the influence of the Christian church has become significantly diminished. Post-Christendom is not post-Christian. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is as powerful as it ever was, but it’s transformative work will take place despite resistance rather than with the support of society.
Opinions differ on where we are in the process of decline, but most agree that the age of a “Christian America” has come and gone. To the extent that America is Christian that Christian faith is increasingly more akin to moral therapeutic deism described by sociologist Christian Smith.
I recently read two articles that are worthy of your time:
- On The Telegraph blog Tim Stanley argues: “…It’s perfectly possible to be a Christian within a society that regulates or proscribes religious practices. The Christians in classical Rome or the Catholics in communist Poland proved that.” However, removing the influence of Christianity from a culture creates an undesirable alternative: “A society that has no moral point of reference beyond the reason of the individual (and who, in their right mind, would trust that?), or the ever shifting law of the land, is bound towards selfishness and tyranny.”
- Timothy Tennent of Asbury Theological Seminary notes that we have a huge opportunity afforded by this post-Christendom period. That is the chance to recover a robust Christianity “finally set free from the domesticating influence of Christendom.” We’re not there yet. Tennent describes our depressing current reality: “We have retreated so far from biblical Christianity you can almost hear the Christian oxygen being sucked out of the culture at every turn. The church has become one of the most vacuous spaces of all.”
It’s an exciting and alarming time to be a Christian, especially a Christian in ministry leadership. While I do not know what the future holds, I know the God who holds the future.