In his delightful and uproariously funny Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams created the Babelfish. A tiny creature that, once introduced into the human body via the ear canal, burrows its way into the neural synapses of the brain and allows one to hear foreign languages in one's own tongue. Instant, real-time translation. It is a beautiful invention, even if only in the imagination.
I am wondering if my own Babelfish is malfunctioning and I am in need of a cranial operation to replace it.
You see, I keep reading and hearing from those in learned circles that "Christendom" is dead. Not only is it dead, but it is thankfully dead. In the annals of bad ideas, Christendom was a VERY bad idea.
Now, I suppose much depends on what one means by "Christendom."
The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary tells me that Christendom is: "The part of the world in which Christianity prevails."
That is a rather descriptive definition, and I suppose that people have in mind something a bit more prescriptive when they tell us that Christendom is a bad idea.
So let's try this: Christendom is the state of affairs in which a majority of people, societies, and cultures acknowledge, honor, and obey Jesus Christ personally, in their relationships, and in their vocations. Even that is a bit wordy, so let's just shorten it to: "Christendom is when lots of people acknowledge, honor, and obey Jesus."
You can see why I am beginning to wonder whether my instant translation has become off-kilter somehow. For when I hear learned men tell me that Christendom is a very bad thing, I am no longer hearing in my native tongue, but some strange, foreign language. My Babelfish is programmed to translate into a Christian language. But this is what I'm getting:
They say: "We should not seek to establish Christendom."
I hear: "We should not seek to have lots of people acknowledge, honor, and obey Jesus."
They say: "Christendom is a failed experiement."
I hear: "Seeking to have lots of people acknowledge, honor, and obey Jesus is a failed experiment."
They say: "Jesus does not want us to establish Christendom."
I hear: "Jesus does not want lots of people to acknowledge, honor, and obey him."
They say: "Establishing Christendom is a distraction from the Church's real job."
I hear: "Seeking to have lots of people acknowledge, honor, and obey Jesus is a distraction from the Church's real job."
My Babelfish must be really malfunctioning. Because all the trendy, "in," learned Christian leaders are telling me that getting lots of people to love and serve Jesus is a very bad idea.
I've become a head case. Or have they?