Wednesday, August 7, 2013

From A Christendom Culture to A Post-Christendom Culture

This week I read maybe one of the best modern books that I have read all summer, Everyday Church, and it wasn't even on my summer reading list. Before I go any further let me be clear in that I highly recommend this book and if you go to the link you may be able to still get it on kindle for $1.99.

In one part of the book the authors, Steve Timmis and Tim Chester, take a look at how to live in a post-Christendom context. Below you will find very little commentary from me, but quotes and info directly from the book that sums up a lot of what I see the US going through as a society and the church in the US. Most of my observations have come from being afar, which has given me a different perspective, but based on conversations with people back home and keeping up with news outlets I believe what you will read below is on to something.

Living In A Post-Christendom Context

The assumption is that Christianity should have a privileged status in the cultural and political discourse of the nation. Presidents and would-be presidents overtly reference their faith and close their speeches with the words, "God bless America."

In his book After Christendom Stuart Murray defines post-Christendom as the culture that emerges as the Christian faith loses coherence within a society that has been definitively shaped by the Christian story and as the institutions that have been developed to express Christian convictions decline in influence. 

In addition, here are seven transitions from a Christendom to post-Christendom culture identified by Murray:

1) From the center to margins. In Christendom the Christian story and the churches were central, but in a post-Christendom these are marginal.

2) From the majority to the minority. In Christendom Christians comprised the (often overwhelming) majority, but in the post-Christendom we are a minority.

3) From settlers to sojourners. In Christendom Christians felt at home in a culture shaped by their story, but in a post-Christendom we are aliens, exiles, and pilgrims in a culture where we no longer feel at home.

4) From privilege to plurality. In Christendom Christians enjoyed many privileges, but in post-Christendom we are one community among many in a plural society.

5) From control to witness. In Christendom churches could exert control over society, but in a post-Christendom we exercise influence only through witnessing our story and its implications.

6) From maintenance to mission. In Christendom the emphasis was on maintaining a supposedly Christian status quo, but in post-Christendom it is on mission within a contested environment.

7) From institution to movement. In Christendom churches operated mainly in institutional mode, but in post-Christendom we must become again a Christian movement.

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