The deception of Christendom attempts to invoke God to validate national institutions and perverts the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Invariably, the mixing of Church and State leads to the association and even the identification of Christianity with specific nations, cultures, and political ideologies. And when church leaders employ terms like ‘Christendom’ to distinguish one country from another, they replace the biblical faith with a false and even antichrist religion.
According to common usage, ‘Christendom’ refers to “that part of the world in which Christianity prevails,” either because large numbers of a nation’s citizens claim to be Christian, or because a specific church is recognized by the government as the national religion. Thus, that country becomes identified as “Christian.”
In contemporary political usage, ‘Christendom’ is virtually synonymous with “Western European civilization,” consequently, Christianity is identified with specific nations, political ideologies, economic theories, 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 occurs nowhere in the Hebrew or Greek Bible.
In contrast to ‘Christendom,’ the New Testament proclaims the “kingdom of God,” the realm inaugurated by Jesus in which all the old social, national, and ethnic barriers have no place. In the gospel accounts, “kingdom of God” is the term found most often on the lips of Jesus to describe his message and mission.
The concept of ‘Christendom’ is a roadblock to the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus since it associates the biblical faith with specific nations and cultures. All too easily, its use as a synonym for Christianity hardens hearts to the genuine gospel, hearts not necessarily well-disposed to the country that claims to represent and defend the faith.
And ‘Christendom’ is a pale imitation of the kingdom proclaimed by Jesus and the Apostles, if not its satanic counterfeit. In this fallen age, political operatives use the idea to advance their political agendas, implying to the gullible that God backs their plans 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 one new “kingdom of priests.” In him, divisions based on national identity, economic status, and the like, are disallowed, they are 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. If anything, it is the product of the “spirit of Antichrist” that the Apostle John warned is working already in the world, an example of the “mystery of lawlessness” that is preparing the way for the unveiling of the “Lawless One.” In Revelation, both the “Beast from the sea” and the “false prophet” mimic the “Lamb” to deceive humanity into giving allegiance to the “Beast” and, ultimately, to Satan — (2 Thessalonians 2:1–10, 1 John 2:18–22).
Jesus is not Egyptian, Russian, or American. God is one. 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 the earth.
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 this world. Christians engage men by means of gospel proclamation and self-sacrificial service to others, not through political might, domination, or collective violence.
The “weapons” that Jesus gave to his church are contemptible in the eyes of the world, yet they are the very means by which he redeemed humanity and 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 respective 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 corrupt the church and pervert the gospel. 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 ideology.
If anything, his crucifixion stands in opposition to the political agendas and cultural values of this age. He summons us to love our enemies and show them mercy, ideas none of the governments of this age endorse, let alone practice.
The deception of ‘Christendom’ is the attempt to domesticate Jesus to validate the programs, values and ideologies of politicians and national institutions, ideas that all too often are more antichrist than Christian. When the church becomes a tool for advancing the agendas of this fallen age, believers must make a choice — Christ or Christendom.
And the governments and ideologies of this world are among the forms and institutions of this age that even now are “passing away” because of the death and resurrection of Christ. None will endure, though the kingdom of God most certainly will stand forever. So, why work for the “meat that perishes” when the church is called to build an everlasting kingdom?
[Originally posted under ‘Christendom’ at christorcaesar.org]
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