Exorcising the Constantine Curse

One of my favourite authors, Reggie MacNeal, writes “We are closer to AD 30 than we are to 1990.” By this he means that our time more closely resembles that of the early Church than it does the recent past. we have witnessed the collapse of the church culture. In other words we live in a post-christendom world. Back in the early 300’s Constantine conquered in ‘the sign of the cross’ and as he became emperor Christianity became the official religion of the empire. Until this time Christianity had been this untamed movement but in her marriage to the empire she was changed. Now she became a stately institution and a dispenser of faith. The change was dramatic as the church morphed from a missional incarnational movement into an institutional hierarchical organization. This organization,in a number of guises, in partnership with the empire dominated the culture for hundreds of years. This is what we call Christendom. The collapse of this began in earnest with the Age of Enlightenment and the rise of science as a chief dispenser of truth and has been hastened of late by the rise of Post modernism with its relativism and accompanying cynicism.

The institutional model of church patently does not work any longer. If it were not for the lengthening of human life in recent history, church attendance would be miniscule. We can not afford to cling to this inherited church model! I suggest we return to the model of the missional incarnational movement of the first 3 centuries. In this blog over the coming weeks I will begin to explore ways we might do just that! Why don’t you come along for the journey?


5 comments on “Exorcising the Constantine Curse

  1. I am not going to argue that the institutional model isn’t working but I will argue that it can and does in many places. To pitch it out because it has failed in some places would be tragic. To ignore the need to morph would be equally problematic…

    Sounds like an interesting journey you are beginning Reed.. I will read with interest


  2. Thanks Jerry. I agree! I found faith in the institutional Church I do not deny that it has been used of God and over Church history there have been tremendous moves of God! As Reggie often says “Don’t hear what I’m not saying.” But the evidence that the church culture has collapsed is undeniable and we must embrace (I want to say new way but I resist) an old way of an incarnational missional movement.

  3. I fully agree with you Reed. My experience is that the church is failing. At very least it is extremely dysfunctional. I think you are suggesting that we discard the program or structure of church not necessarily the church. Jesus loves the church. I don’t think he made the program. Unfortunately it seems people love programs and structures to feel safe. Where I currently live I see church attendance declining in almost all churches. Most people don’t want a Sunday morning church. They want communitity. They want realness. I am really interested in where your blog will lead. Keep me posted.

  4. Reed,
    Jesus didn’t say we were to build political and religious structures – or fortresses – before we went out to disciple the nations, He just said, “Go!”

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