Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
January 14th, 2015 by Joel Watts

What do we do at the end of Christendom?


We live at the so-called end of Christendom. For most of the Western church’s history, its identity has been inseparable from the social, cultural and political institutions of wider society. But now the church’s identity is being slowly and painfully separated from secular society. The result is an identity crisis for the church. We have some vague notion that we are a community called by God to do God’s will, but we seem to lack a compelling description of what exactly that entails.

via Ministry Matters™ | What are theologians for?.

Anytime there is a discussion about the end of Christendom, one person springs to mind — St. John of Damascus (the Damascene). Why? Because when the Eastern empire came to a crashing, and crushing, halt, he survived to give theological aid to Christians living in a world hostile to them. In the end of his Christendom, he could a way to delve deeply into theological controversies in order to strengthen the ship and to aid the Church in ensuring its survival against the Islamic onslaught. He produced solid defenses of Christian doctrine, without backtracking or forgetting anything, finding a way to establish the goodness of God in everything.

Perhaps, as the end of Christendom comes, we should look East to see what role the Church played, what role theology played, and how theologians were shaped.

The dominant narrative of the West is no longer Christian and that is a good thing.

Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).


4 Responses to “What do we do at the end of Christendom?”
  1. Canadian says

    Excellent. But remember, even the Reformers attempted to look east, but on their own terms. Directly in the 16th C with the Lutheran Tubingen theologians, and with the other Reformers who attempted to pick and choose what they agreed with from the father’s and Council’s. The problem is, Sola scriptura always reduces to solo scriptura and the individual will use his personal interpretation of scripture as a basis to either choose a tradition or start his own. Once this paradigm is jettisoned, the brightness of Orthodoxy and her stabilizing liturgical, conciliar and Christological underpinnings become more apparent.

  2. Know More Than I Should says

    Like much of America, the church has sold it soul to the highest bidder and is unable to buy it back.

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