Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Recovering Christendom

Following is something I wrote for the About page on the Alfred the Great Society website.

What is Christendom? Christendom is not simply a collection Christians living together in society, but refers to the institutions, literature, manners, works of arts, values – in short, the entire fabric of culture – which emanates out of a Christian civilization. A moment of time is all it takes for a person to turn from unbelief to faith in Christ, but it takes hundreds of years to build Christendom out of a previously pagan society. Conversely, Christendom can continue to exist for many years even after the majority of that culture has become apostate, as a lizard’s tail will twitch for a time after being severed from its body.

The presence of a Christian majority does not necessarily guarantee the existence of Christendom, if Christians are not actively engaged in the types of cultural endeavors mentioned above. Men like Constantine, Charlemagne, Alfred the Great, Boniface, Edmund Burke and Thomas Chalmers were great builders of Christendom, not merely because they led souls to Christ or defended civilization from pagan attack, but because they worked to advance a distinctly Christian vision of culture – a vision that found expression in art, literature, painting, technology and hundreds of other areas. Some of these heroes were missionaries who laid the groundwork on which others built a Christian society, while others were warriors who fought – either with the sword or the pen – to topple the pagan systems of their day. But all of them labored, one way or another, in the cause of Christendom.

Unfortunately, the vision of Christendom is in danger of being lost, even among those who lament the direction our society is taking. Too many Christians have embraced a sacred/secular dualism that has left the public square, including the arts, in the hands of the pagans. Consequently, many do not even have the categories to know how to think critically about our society’s cultural productions. In reaction, Christians often fall into the polarities of an uncritical acceptance of our society’s emerging paganism, or else an equally uncritical rejection of all cultural artifacts that are not have an explicitly Christian worldview.

To redress this, the Alfred the Great Society urges Christians to think critically about culture and the arts. Towards this goal, we offer a section of Film and Book Reviews. The books we choose to review are those which relate specifically to our culture and which can help us to better understand the world in which we live. Our reviews of films are designed to equip us to think Christianly about what our poets are saying, whether they demonstrate the emerging paganism of our society or articulate a vision rooted in the heritage of Christendom.

Thanks to the efforts of Alfred and other heroes, the nations of the West were relatively safe for Christians throughout most of the second millennium. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of many non-Western nations which continue to persecute Christians with a merciless energy that would rival anything England experienced under the Vikings. It is crucial that Christians in the West be aware of these international struggles, since they are a foretaste for what we in the West may soon experience if our society continues to embrace pagan values. To alert Western Christians to this international struggle, and to support the efforts of those who are laboring – often in secret – to build Christendom on hostile soil, the Alfred the Great Society provides a growing list of country profiles. These profiles look at the history of various nations, the state of the church in those nations and the challenges that face Christians who live there. We urge you to check out these profiles in our section The Worldwide Assault on Christendom.

The Alfred the Great Society also offers reports and commentary on current events in order that our readers may keep up with the struggle against paganism taking place in American and England on a daily basis. Be sure to visit our Current Events pages.

Finally, the Alfred the Great Society is more than merely a website. It is a society of like-minded individuals who share King Alfred’s vision for Christendom. We provide the resource for these individuals to connect to each other through our Facebook page.
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