In the introduction to his new volume, Politics After Christendom: Political Theology in a Fractured World (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2020) David VanDrunen defines a term and a concept that we must understand: Christendom.
By Christendom I mean the vision of Christian civilization that emerged in the very early Medieval period and stretched well into the Modern era, primarily in the West. Under Christendom, Christianity sought to be a civil power as well as a spiritual power. Most Western Christians lived within institutionally unified Christian societies in which political officials supported and protected the (true) church while suppressing heresies and non-Christian religions. While church, state, and other social institutions were technically distinct, they were linked in devotion to a common Christian culture. Few people would have found it controversial to say that their community was a “Christian society.” While the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation changed the character of Christendom in some profound ways, it did not end Christendom itself.
The questions before us are these: what is the state of Christendom, is it over and if so, what should faithful Christians do? Seek to reinstate Christendom or something else? Does Scripture provide us with a model for life after Christendom?
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