Friday, July 06, 2007

Apologetic Mission in Asian Context (4)

The Collapse of the Christendom

The church was the center of the community as long as it was supportive to the moral integrity, social security, and spiritual welfare in the Christendom. Once the church ailed to support these factors, it lost its position as the center of the community. The decline of the Papacy and the emergence of nationalism in the late Medieval period was the result of the failure of the church to maintain its responsibility as the protector of its subjects. As the church became the tool of exploitation under the rule of the immoral priest, many seek to break from Rome. Reformation brought these sentiments to action which finally gave rise to the collapse of the Latin Christendom.

Though the church became the imperial tool in a different form in Western countries, individualism and personal perception of religion became widespread. Industrial revolution and urbanization heightened individualism and diversity became common in Christianity. The attempt to reunite the Christians under the Christendom or the imperial church caused a great conflict and fighting between the Roman Catholics, the Lutherans and the Reformed churches. The separatists also suffered a severe persecution under the imperial church. The apologetic mission during the patristic period was to express Christianity as a universal faith. The main task of the Church Fathers was to condemn diversity a'id universalize the church. However, such a model of Apologetic mission was no longer relevant to the European context after the Reformation because any effort to universalize the faith ended with quarrel and division.

The Reformation and post-Reformation world convinced the church to defend its unity in a different way. In such a world it was no longer possible to condemn diversity and demand for uniformity. The religious division in Europe, at that time, could not be settled by forcing the churches to unite undr: a single hierarchy with a single confession. The only way to heal the division was to practice toleration, accept diversity, and co-operate for a common mission. The ecumenical movement that came into being in the early twentieth century can be considered as another guise of apologetic mission. It objective was to defend the unity of the church. However, its concern was unity in service rather than unity in belief.

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