Post-Christendom

By J Robert Charles (Director for Europe, Mennonite Mission Network)

Post-Christendom: Church and Mission in a Strange New World
Stuart Murray
Carlisle: Paternoster Press, 2004

I found this book to offer both a fresh reading of the European Christian past and a stimulating guidebook for the Christian present and future in a setting where Christianity is no longer at the center, but on the periphery of society, even if vestiges of its former commanding position remain.

Murray narrates the shift to Christendom that occurred in Europe in the fourth century beginning with Constantine and critiques the heart of the system that emerged throughout the continent over the next millennium. After describing Christendom’s break-up and legacy, he explores the shifts in imagination, ways of being church, and terminology that will be necessary for the church in post-Christendom to return to the social margins and learn to operate there, not grudgingly or in despair, but in the recognition that God’s kingdom throughout history has advanced from the margins. Murray challenges the church decisively to disavow its Christendom legacy and points to dissident groups throughout Christian history that have done just that. He concludes with a stirring call to put Jesus at the center of Christian life in the twenty-first century.

This book is full of provocative questions that invite the reader to re-think just about everything in Christian faith and practice for this era—no dust will remain on any of the mental or ecclesiastical furniture!