Christendom: 1,700 years of “sleeping with the enemy”

I was recently reading a piece by Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, on history’s habit of fluctuating between extremes of the “Left” and the “Right”, between Liberalism and Conservatism. Rohr made the interesting observation that, “It is interesting that these two different powers took the words “Right” and “Left” from the Estates-General in France”. What he said next really caught my attention, “On the right sat the nobility and the clergy (what were the clergy doing over there?) and on the left sat the peasants and 90 percent of the population”.

It struck me that the image of the clergy sitting with the nobility is a good working definition of “Christendom”.  The term “Christendom” applies to Protestants as well as to Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox starting in AD 313, when Roman Emperor Constantine I ended the persecution of Christians and made Christianity the preferred religion of the Empire with the Edict of Milan.

The institutional “Church” does not acknowledge the fact that although the “Clergy” has been sleeping with enemy (i.e., the “Nobility”) for a solid 1,700 years, both Jesus and Paul have been sitting on the opposite side of the isle with “the peasants and 90 percent of the population” for that entire period.

I have often said that the demise of “Christendom” in the late 20th/early 21st century offered a great opportunity for the universal “Church” (the Ekklesia) to become more closely aligned with Jesus, Paul, and the peasants and away from Nobility and Empire. Although this would appear to be a short-term disaster for the contemporary institutional “Church” as it exists today, it would provide an opportunity for the institutional church to repent and “change its mind” (cf. Rom. 12:2).  The alternative would be to continue to fade into irrelevance. I believe that the institutional “church” must do corporately what it continually calls its laity to do individually: confess and repent. Were this metanoia to happen, a whole lot of existing “tradition” would instantly disappear, “Poof!”, and the local church might start doing a better job of leading the saints to union with God (theosis) than it did under Christendom.

Unfortunately, I think that the contemporary institutional “Church” is far too proud and far too arrogant to admit that it has been this wrong for this long.  I anticipate that it will continue to fume and bluster in denial of its own sin and carnality. At least for now.

Like any worldly institution, the “Church” will ultimately do whatever it has to do in order to survive, even if that means violating its own existing core values; like it did 1,700 years ago.

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  1. #1 by Tim Mcmonigal on July 6, 2013 - 12:55 AM

    Glory to God

    Sent from my iPod

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