Tom Holland writes a description of the beginning of Christendom in his book Dominion (pg 234). Around 1100 AD, Catholicism had spread throughout most of Europe and was the state religion across Europe. There was a continual balance and imbalance between Pope’s and royalty of various nations because the Pope was the religious leader for the whole Catholic world while royalty ruled according to God’s ordination and decree over their country. At the turn of the century, a Pope nicknamed Hillenbrand began to bring about a reformation of the church and in the leadership of nations. This reformation was a kind of reformation of holiness in a church that was seen to be morally failing, in a Greek-minded way even marriage of the priest was seen as a mark of a lack of holiness. This reformation went on to transform much of the cultures in Europe at that time and this culture was desired to be spread to other places, the name of this holiness culture was called Christendom. Now while the term Christendom was first coined at this time it had really been going on since the days following Augustine’s The City of God and denial of an eventual 1000 year reign of Christ (claiming that reign was already happening “spiritually”) (Dominion, pg 169). As long as nation-states claimed to be ruling for Christ that ruling was a form of Christendom. The problem with Christendom and much of what Augustine inspired on the matter is that it is not the actual way Jesus set up for disciples to follow on after He ascended into heaven. “Go and make disciples” is what He said not “go and reign in my place and bring the world into a Christ like law system” yet this is just what the focus of the Church became and has at least partially carried on to into our day.
Putin’s Spiritual Destiny
Following Putin’s pre-invasion address to Russia there have been a number of articles on Putin’s Spiritual Destiny explaining his reference to Ukraine and Russia’s “common spiritual destiny”. Putin’s confidence in the legacy of spiritual worldwide leadership that his area of the world, the ancient Byzantine empire, and that he is the one to regain that spiritual and physical destiny is a major driver for his ambitions. Putin believes this so strongly he is willing to invade and incur all kinds of terrible collateral damage with over 9,000 people already dead and weapons never before used in warfare to date being used against the people there. Putin has even denied clear facts and issued false accusations against Ukraine’s president accusing him ridiculously of being a Nazi even though ironically he is Jewish and had family directly killed by the Nazis. Should anyone believe this sort of kingdom building is connected to Christ?
Highlighting Again a Major Implication to the Church
We in fact should not. Putin is pursuing a kind of Christian mission not set up by Christ. Jesus said “my kingdom is not of this world” and instead of setting up a political system like we see in the Old Testament He came and showed us a way of discipleship and opened the way to individual relationship to God. On the left it is the same, Critical Theory in terms of feminism, or Critical Race Theory, LGBT activism, or just general class theory rules the day. Leftist Christians believe by stopping the mouths of the oppressors and liberating the “oppressed” a true Christendom can be founded even while they denounce vehemently the imperialism of the past what they are doing is basically the same thing.
We should really prioritize real disciplemaking and not think that if our church is having an impact in winning the culture by simply making converts, fighting evils like abortion or doing good for our school systems or on the left as mentioned above in pursuing some variant of critical theory. Sadly, today this is not so in most places. In fact, most churches today in the west are so focused on their cultural image and impact that disciplemaking movements tend to stall out under the shadow of the desire for our own internal Christendom. In fact, Christ’s way of producing salt and light in individuals will eventually have drastic effects on the culture (as we see in Rome after the first 3 centuries of Christian influence) but that effect is not the main goal, discipleship is. I hope that we as Christians can take the visual lesson here well. Now, this is not to say we should not be ready to fight the evils of the world physically too however, only that the Church needs to return to its main purpose. We are also called to work diligently (1 Thes 4:11), to do all things as unto Christ (Col 3:23) which certainly includes being a good citizen, our jobs including military and humanitarian pursuits. However, as disciples of Jesus above all we love God and our neighbors by making disciples who are able to make disciples (Matt 28:19-20). The Putin invasion is an object lesson towards overarching Church revival if we would listen to what God is saying in the midst of it.