Christendom or America

Mark Noll made me aware of Hugh McLeod’s definition of Christendom:

a society where there are close ties between leaders of the church and secular elites

the laws purport to be based on Christian principles

apart from some clearly defined outsider communities, everyone is assumed to be a Christian

Christianity provides a common language, shared alike by the devout and the religiously lukewarm

A 2ker has to wonder where any reader of the New Testament supposes this is the blueprint for society. The Roman Empire was pagan. The apostles knew that and sought to make the gospel known to those whom God foreknew as his people. They also expected seemingly a quick return by their ascended Lord.

If you want that kind of society from the pages of Scripture, you go to the Old Testament. Say hello to theonomy. But Christ and the apostles failed to measure up to Christendom on all these grounds:

They had bad relations with pagan elites. That’s why they were executed — hello.

They had no instruction about laws being based on the gospel (or even “Christian principles”).

Shouldn’t have to be said, but they did not — get this — assume everyone was a Christian. Nero? Hello.

They had a firm sense of the antithesis. The difference between believers and the world pervades the New Testament.

One could reasonably conclude that Christendom is not Christian.

That makes secular America Christian. Christians have bad relations with secular elites. 2kers at least don’t expect laws to be based on Christian principles (whatever that is). No Christian (not sure about some progressive Roman Catholics) assumes every American is Christian (mainline Protestants are equally progressive but they draw the Christian line to keep Trump voters out of the kingdom). And most serious Christians in the United States go through life recognizing a gap between Christian and American cultural norms — shops are open on Sunday.

In other words, 2kers live more in line with the teaching and experience of Christ and the apostles. Christendom-inspired critics of 2k use as their norm Christian developments after Constantine, not those after Christ. Indeed, the novos ordo seclorum of 1789 was a return to the kind of society Christ and the apostles lived and breathed in. They did not know Constantinianism or Christendom which America rejected.

That also means critics of 2k are anti-American. For shame!!!

But there’s hope for Christendom. Even as Norway secularizes it still has a national church:

On Jan. 1, the Scandinavian country cut some ties with its Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Norway, rewording the national constitution to change the denomination from “the state’s public religion” to “Norway’s national church.”

The change means the nation of just over 5 million people – about 82 percent of them Evangelical-Lutherans – will still fund the church but will no longer appoint its clergy, who will still be considered civil servants. . . .

Secularism has been on the rise in Western Europe since the 1960s, with church attendance declining and strict laws on public displays of religion in nations such as France. But the past decade has seen the rise of anti-secular groups and politicians in England, Germany and France.

Meanwhile, some Norwegians feel the divorce is not sharp enough. Kristin Mile, the secretary-general of the Norwegian Humanist Association, told The Local No, an English-language Norwegian news site, that the change only muddies the relationship between church and state.

“As long as the constitution says that the Church of Norway is Norway’s national church, and that it should be supported by the state, we still have a state church,” she said.

Is that what piners for Christendom want?

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30 thoughts on “Christendom or America

  1. The PCUSA — with its New Age neo-paganism, lip service to the HCF, good relations with many “faiths”, broad range of members and attenders (from married pastor couple Meghan and Kaitlyn to Donald Trump) — is still our best candidate for national church.

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  2. America is a multi religious nation in its technical sense but 70% of the citizens claim Christianity. That majority translates into the values of the majority being legislated. Our founding fathers were Christians too.

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  3. Iptrey, would the second of your publically-posted Ten Commandments prohibit your avatar image? What would the penalty for violating the second be, who would decide if you had violated it, and (pretty please) could we vote on your punishment?

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  4. Seems the question or issue isn’t what percentage of Americans claim Christianity and if enough (a majority?) whether then their “Christian” values get to influence legislation – but what is the nature of the relationship of the Church, the called out ones, to the world. I don’t think it’s necessarily about how to get a better world.

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  5. Just this past week I had an interesting conversation with my neighbor down here in sunny South GA. She was bemoaning the newly passed law that alcohol will now be sold on Sunday. I asked her why she cared? Being the daughter of a SBC minister she very directly let me know that that was the Lord’s day and he should be honored. I actually had the nerve to say “but you and everyone else go out to eat on Sunday…” She looked at me and just repeated “but the Lord’s Day is to be honored.” My point was understood I do believe but drinking is considered much worse than “trading on a Sunday.” After I said that, it made me think really hard on my own practices after church on Sunday. 2K is making more and more sense to me and perhaps the Holy Spirit? may be having a word with me as well?

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  6. Dgh—2kers at least don’t expect laws to be based on Christian principle

    mcmark–and another “at least we don’t” to add to the list—–Also we have avoided being anabaptists in the process
    When God says “This is my Son, hear Him”, that means to hear only his words of comfort and gospel, but not so much His commands in the Sermon on the Mount, because we know that Jesus is not a new lawgiver, because even though we don’t expect laws to be based to the Mosaic theocracy, we are not simply going to forgive everybody and set them free on the world, we can find our “principles” from common sense pragmatism and you don’t have to call it “common grace” but God’s providence gives some to be Christian worldview teachers and some others have the “vocation” to pick up the trash when it’s Michigan cold

    Theodore D. Bozeman, “Inductive and Deductive Polities”, Journal of American History, December 1977, p 722–Having supported from the beginning a version of Protestantism supportive of property consciousness, the Old School leadership had incentive enough for worry about social instability… Old School contributions to social analysis may be viewed as a sustained attempt to defend the inherited social structure…The General Assembly found it necessary to lament the practice of those who ‘question and unsettle practice which have received the enlightened sanction of centuries’…

    David VanDrunen–One way in which historic Reformed two-kingdoms doctrine differed from traditional Lutheran formulations lies in the application of the law-gospel distinction. Lutherans have often associated the kingdom of God’s left hand with the law and associated the kingdom of God’s right hand (generally analogous to the Reformed conception of the spiritual kingdom) with the gospel. To many Lutherans this meant that areas of the church’s life that bore the character of law—such as ecclesiastical government or discipline—belonged to the kingdom of the left hand, and thus in many Lutheran lands the civil government took oversight of them. In distinction, the Reformed typically saw ecclesiastical discipline as vital aspects of the identity of the church. The church was to take full responsibility for its government and discipline and not cede jurisdiction to the state. http://themelios.thegospelcoalition.org/article/bearing-sword-in-the-state-turning-cheek-in-the-church-a-reformed-two-kingd

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  7. If anything, Christians should oppose Christendom for the sake of unbelievers. For to insist on Christendom would be to seek a privileged place over nonChristians rather than to share society with them as equals. This seeking of a privileged place over others not only violates Jesus’s prohibition against lording it over others, it provides many a stumbling blocks to those who would otherwise listen to the Gospel. That is because many unbelievers would be distracted from listening to the Gospel by the control over them being exercised by Christians.

    However, avoiding Christendom is no excuse for the Church’s silence on society’s injustices or on immoral foreign policies. The Church must speak out as an institution since its silence implies approval to varying degrees.

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  8. Curt, what if seeking Christendom is to honor and glorify God?

    And what if speaking out on injustices is to seek a privileged place over the silent ones?

    Your platitudinarianism never seems to grasp mixed motives. See a Coens’ movie.

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  9. D.G.,
    What if getting rich is to honor and glorify God? Can our ends surpass our means?

    Your second question is a good question. This is where I split with Marx. I don’t believe in the proletariat dictatorship because of your second question and because it plays the same game that is played when the bourgeoisie exercise classocracy only it switches the positions of the first and last place teams.

    Finally, your last paragraph only shows a desire to make me the subject of the discussion. That is flattering but it is also a distraction.

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  10. D.G.,
    Yours is not a call to self-examination, it is an accusation.

    I believe that the subject here is about Christendom and America. So why in talking about that subject do you want to discuss me? If you want to discuss introspection, start with yourself. But don’t expect me to join in. My comments will be focused on the subject discussed in your article.

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  11. D.G.,
    Again,it is an accusation to distract people from what I wrote. In addition, the burden proof lies with accuser, not the accused. And since you are acting as both accuser and jury, your game here is rigged and, again, designed to distract people from what I wrote.

    I’ll add one more point. You have never accused me of anything on those comments where I express full agreement with you. It is only on those comments where the views I express are different from yours that you start making accusations. So I will repeat what I first wrote and perhaps you can identify the parts you agree with and the parts you don’t agree with.


    If anything, Christians should oppose Christendom for the sake of unbelievers. For to insist on Christendom would be to seek a privileged place over nonChristians rather than to share society with them as equals. This seeking of a privileged place over others not only violates Jesus’s prohibition against lording it over others, it provides many a stumbling blocks to those who would otherwise listen to the Gospel. That is because many unbelievers would be distracted from listening to the Gospel by the control over them being exercised by Christians.

    However, avoiding Christendom is no excuse for the Church’s silence on society’s injustices or on immoral foreign policies. The Church must speak out as an institution since its silence implies approval to varying degrees.

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  12. Curt, whenever I push back on implications of your views, you again talk to me like we are dating. Stop it. I disagree with your understanding of social justice, equality, tribalism, on and on. Let it go.

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  13. D.G.,
    You push on the implication of my views, you make accusations or use some other deriding comment. Basically, you respond to me like Trump responded to Meryl Streep and John Lewis. You insult and that suggests, if not implies, that my comments don’t need to be considered because of the source.

    However, the implication of accepting tribalism as I have defined is the embracing of moral relativity. I will provide that definition again so that people can come to their own opinions. Tribalism occurs when loyalty to group trumps commitment to principles and morals with the end result being that what is right and wrong is determined by who does what to whom. Thus, tribalism embraces moral relativity because there are no absolute standards by which we are all judged. In addition, with tribalism and the lack of absolute standards by which all are judged, comes a lack of self-awaraeness while those who differ are judged harshly. For those interested, see if the Bible promotes absolute standards by which all are judged or right and wrong being determined by who does what by whom.

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  14. D.G.,
    Moral relativity so? And I wouldn’t look toward liberals alone for providing any solution. The solution to tribalism is found in sharing and collaborating with other groups while holding our own groups accountable first.

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  15. D..G. (a.k.a., Mikey from the Life cereal commercials),
    I would think that 2kt encourages Christians to share and collaborate with others as individuals; the dispute was whether the Church should as an institution. Isn’t that a fair representation?

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  16. D.G.,
    Just stating a fact. But is that lack of collaboration a good thing in all instances? Is the lack of collaboration as an institution with others scriptural or the result of some unnecessary types of thinking?

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