COVID & the death of Christendom
The New Oxford Dictionary defines microcosm as: “a community, place, or situation regarded as encapsulating in miniature the characteristic qualities or features of something much larger.”
I wonder if the changes forced upon our society by the current COVID epidemic are like a microcosm of the changes coming upon us due to the death of Christendom.
By Christendom, I mean the prevailing Christian influence that has shaped, at least Western Europe and North America, for the last 5 centuries. Churches were prevalent, their influence respected, and the values of Christianity were at least a subtext for many widespread social values.
Yet, like it or not, Christendom is dying, if not almost dead. Values that shaped not only American culture, but almost every Western European country are now being rejected wholesale. And our current movement as a culture has more in common with pagan Greece than Renaissance Europe.
I do not believe the death of Christendom is necessarily a bad thing because I am not sure of how good a thing “Christendom” was. Christendom meant that it cost little to say that you believed in Jesus. You could just coast along with the tide. You could live with little or no faith in Jesus and yet still be respected as pretty much being Christian – because you were an American. (I actually know of a time when in a Southern college town, students would dress up to go out to lunch on Sunday so that people would think that they had actually gone to church. Can you imagine that now??)
I have to add that this is not news to me. It is what I have seen coming since my campus director trained me soberly in the early 1980s. He forecast that if the radical uprisings in the 1960s were like tremors, that their children would cause a cultural earthquake in 1990’s America, and then their children (grandchildren of the 60’s radicals) would own the new landscape by 2020. How is that for prophetic insight?!
Why does this matter, and what does this have to do with Trinity?
COVID has obliterated the largest most distinctive meeting we have – “church.” A germ has humbled our entire society, but it has also in mere months transformed our cultural landscape beyond what anyone had foreseen. Yet certainly, in the decapitation of “church,” we as a society are being exposed for what we are. Widespread research is already showing that a majority (that means more than half) of church attenders have ground to a halt in any participation in church.
Translating that – take away the big meeting and you take away what makes many people “Christian.” But if all that makes someone “Christian” is where they are on a given morning, it’s hard to argue that they even are a true Christian. To quote a close friend, “Is your identity tied to a church or is it tied to Jesus?”
So I believe COVID is a microcosm of the death of Christendom. The problem of a pandemic has proven that outsourcing your spirituality to professionals leaves you withering when that connection is severed. By a germ.
This is the problem. Next week I’ll try to outline what we are doing at Trinity to work for the solutions that are tried and proven over 2,000 years and when the Church was starting out explicitly as a misunderstood minority.
Things to pray for:
- Humility. Ask the Lord to help you bow before Him as worthy and to see yourself as needy.
- Vision. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you discern the times, and to see what truly is shaping our culture.
- Hope. Ask Jesus to fill you with hope because of His love and power vs. any obstacle in your heart or this world.
- A prayerful heart. Ask the Father to reinvigorate your prayer life, especially in your intercession for your neighbors and your own family.
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