Christendom refers to times and places in which the Christian world represents a geopolitical power.
- The conversion of Constantine ... was the effective beginning of “Christendom,” namely, of that particular form of the Christian religion that consists of a strong alliance of Christianity with political and social power, sometimes amounting to the practical identification of Christianity with the dominant forces of the society in which it finds itself.
- When Christianity came into the world the task was simply to proclaim Christianity. The same is the case wherever Christianity is introduced into a country the religion of which is not Christianity.
- In "Christendom" the situation is a different one. What we have before us is not Christianity but a prodigious illusion, and the people are not pagans but live in the blissful conceit that they are Christians. So if in this situation Christianity is to be introduced, first of all the illusion must be disposed of.
- Søren Kierkegaard, Attack Upon Christendom (1855), as translated by Walter Lowrie (1944), p. 97
- Is not “Christendom” the most colossal attempt at serving God, not by following Christ, as He required, and suffering for the doctrine, but instead of that, by “building the sepulchers of the prophets and garnishing the tombs of the righteous.” ... In comparison with the Christianity of the New Testament, it is playing Christianity. ... Artists in dramatic costumes make their appearance in artistic buildings. ... The teacher is a royal functionary. ... He lectures about renunciation, but he himself is being steadily promoted; he teaches all that about despising worldly titles and rank, but he himself is making a career. ... Christ calls it (O give heed!), He calls it “hypocrisy.” And not only that, but He says (now shudder!), He says that this guilt of hypocrisy is as great, precisely as great a crime as that of killing the prophets. ... This then is the judgment, Christ's judgment upon "Christendom." Shudder; for if you do not, you are implicated in it.
- Søren Kierkegaard, Attack Upon Christendom (1855), as translated by Walter Lowrie (1944), pp. 121-122
- “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.
The early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators"' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide. and gladiatorial contests.
Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an arch supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent and often even vocal sanction of things as they are.