“The world in which we live is the battleground of the Church. I believe that we are now living at the end of Christendom. It is the end of Christendom, but not the end of Christianity. What is Christendom? Christendom is the political, economic, moral, social, legal life of a nation as inspired by the gospel ethic. That is finished. Abortion, the breakdown of family life, dishonesty, even the natural virtues upon which the supernatural virtues were based, are being discredited. Christianity is not at the end. But we are at the end of Christendom. And I believe that the sooner we wake up to this fact, the sooner we will be able to solve many of our problems.” —Venerable Fulton J. Sheen
Let’s face it, the Christian monopoly on politics, world views, government and society is over or at least on life support. Our country is no longer rooted in Christendom. We are moving quickly toward national secularism where the Judeo-Christian ethic and especially Christianity has become a personal hobby.
As we celebrate Independence Day, we sing “God shed his grace on thee.”
We recall the words of the Declaration of Independence that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights.
We read the words, “In God We Trust” on our currency.
And, every politician will end his Fourth of July speech with “God Bless America.”
But what is the reality?
We have removed prayer from our schools, the cross and Lord’s Prayer from public buildings, and we debate removing “under God” from our pledge of allegiance.
We have a nation where choice trumps human life, where marriage is defined by popular vote, and religious institutions are forced by law to pay for things that go against their personal morality.
Bishop Sheen’s prophetic comments were made over 50 years ago and in that half century we have seen an acceleration of the decline of Christendom in favor of secular humanism. And, as he offers, we must wake up to the fact, if we are to move forward and solve the many problems we face.
For much of history, Christians were always “strangers in this world” operating and even flourishing in societies where Christians were a minority.
How do we live our lives in this secular society? Saint Paul in his letter to Titus gives us the formula:
Remind them to be under the control of magistrates and authorities, to be obedient, to be open to every good enterprise. They are to slander no one, to be peaceable, considerate, exercising all graciousness toward everyone. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, deluded, slaves to various desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful ourselves and hating one another. But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life. This saying is trustworthy. I want you to insist on these points, that those who have believed in God be careful to devote themselves to good works; these are excellent and beneficial to others. –Titus 3: 1-8
- Christians should be good citizens, obeying the law and peacefully seek to change those things that are contrary to the teachings of Jesus.
- Christians should be good neighbors, peaceful, considerate, and gracious to everyone. We should never slander any one.
- Christians should devote themselves to good work, feeding the hungry, helping the homeless and other charitable causes.
And we need to work within the system to seek the changes that are consistent with our beliefs. But, as Paul warns Titus, we can’t be hateful of one another, remembering that we were foolish, disobedient and deluded, once, ourselves.
Yes, Christendom may be on the decline, but Christianity will still flourish by the example of those who choose to believe and lead by our imitation of Jesus.
Faith may be a choice; some people believe, some don’t, and some are still trying to decide. As for me, I’ll continue to follow Jesus and to do my part to be a good citizen and will continue to pray for this great county.
God bless America!
If you enjoyed this story, you can have Tony’s latest story delivered to your email every week, and not miss a single one. Simply subscribe by clicking here. You will be sent an e-mail to verify your subscription. Just click on the link and you’re all set.
Thank you for sharing my stories with your family and friends. Below are links to share on your social media sites.