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The good and bad of Christendom

Hindsight is always 20/20, but when thinking about a past period in history, it is always important to be careful not to generalize or paint with a broad brush either praising or condemning an era.

Such is the case when evaluating the Middle Ages, a period in which, from an Evangelical perspective, many heretical theology and practice developed. Further, as a committed Baptist, I am a firm believer in the separation of church and state, and thus I do not condone the church/state union that took place during this period.

Nevertheless, the dominance of Christian thought during this period had some positive results culturally and even theologically that we must acknowledge and learn from.

Constantine_I_Hagia_SophiaThe rise of so-called “Christendom” began with the Edict of Milan in 313 in which Roman Emperor Constantine I declared religious toleration in the empire. The formerly persecuted Christian church now began to enjoy new-found freedom, reaching its climax in 380 when Emperor Theodosius I made Christianity the Roman Empire’s official religion. In 392 he outlawed any form of pagan worship, and the church thus became the controlling influence in the entirety of the empire.

Stuart Murray lists several important shifts that took place as a result of this new socio-political situation:

  • The adoption of Christianity as the official religion of a city, state or empire
  • The movement of the church from the margins of society to its center
  • The creation and progressive development of a Christian culture or civilization
  • The assumption that all citizens (except for Jews) were Christian by birth
  • The development of the corpus Christianum, where there was no freedom of religion and where political power was regarded as divinely authenticated
  • Infant baptism as the symbol of obligatory incorporation into this Christian society
  • Sunday as an official day of rest and obligatory church attendance, with penalties for noncompliance
  • The definition of “orthodoxy” as the common belief shared by all, which was determined by powerful church leaders supported by the state
  • The imposition of a supposedly Christian morality on the entire society (although normally Old Testament moral standards were applied)
  • A hierarchical ecclesiastical system, based on a diocesan and parish arrangement, which was analogous to the state hierarchy and was buttressed by the state
  • The construction of massive and ornate church buildings and the formation of huge congregations
  • A generic distinction between clergy and laity, and the relegation of the laity to a largely passive role
  • The increased wealth of the church and the imposition of obligatory tithes to fund this system
  • The defense of Christianity by legal sanctions to restrain heresy, immorality, and schism
  • The division of the globe into Christendom and heathendom and the waging of war in the name of Christ and the church
  • The use of political and military force to impose the Christian faith
  • The use of the Old Testament, rather than the New, to support and justify many of these changes1

Although the church developed some serious theological and philosophical errors during this period, it nevertheless exerted a positive spiritual influence on western culture. Hirsch explains:

For all its failings, the church, up till the time of the Enlightenment, played the overwhelmingly dominant role in the mediation of identity, meaning, purpose, and community for at least the preceding eleven centuries in the West.2

This had certain cultural and social benefits for the West, but with western civilization governed to a significant extent by Christianity, the church lost its missionary impulse. Church buildings became the central focus of church life; people came to the church, and therefore there was no need for the church to go to the people.

Quentin Faulkner specifically highlights what this period did to music philosophy and practice:

  • Financial support for the church was from taxes; in no way, then, was the church dependent on popular opinion. In fact, it dictated what popular opinion would be.
  • All activities in the church (including music) were geared to the learned ecclesiastical aristocracy.
  • The medieval church continued and intensified the conservatism of the early church.
  • Christianity permeated all of life, including all artistic endeavors.
  • Medieval Christians were just as fully world-conscious as their early Christian forebears.
  • There was an almost total emphasis on God’s radical transcendence, to the exclusion of his immanent, personal quality.
  • The church’s liturgy was splendid, ceremonial, and ritualistic in part because it was considered to be the divinely revealed earthly counterpart of the worship of God in heaven.
  • Liturgy was to be as “perfect” as humanly possible. To the neglect of the heart.
  • The clergy controlled and made all music in the church.
  • Music practice followed theory and was carefully controlled by it.
  • “Musicality” meant reflective of divine harmony rather than subjective expression.3

Thus it is important when looking at what happened during this period that we recognize and learn from both the good and the bad.

What positive and negative results from Christendom should we especially pay attention to, especially upon Christian belief and practice?

Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

  1. Stuart Murray, Post-Christendom: Church and Mission in a Strange New World (Carlisle: Paternoster, 2004), 76–78. Emphasis original. []
  2. Hirsch, The Forgotten Ways, 108. []
  3. Faulkner, Quentin. Wiser Than Despair: The Evolution of Ideas in the Relationship of Music and the Christian Church. 2nd ed. Simpsonville, SC: Religious Affections Ministries, 2012. []

47 Responses to The good and bad of Christendom

  1. It’s an interesting theoretical question to ask: what would you do (as a Christian) if you could control and impose culture upon society? No more need to adopt new styles to reach specific communities of musical preference, and a whole lot to choose from. How would we choose? Based on our own preferences? Turn back time to what it was a century or two ago? Ban certain styles, encourage others? If the church had such power, how could it be used for good in the arts? And since the church does not have such power but we’re merely lights in the darkness, how should those lights shine in the realm of the arts?

  2. It is interesting to see the effects of Christendom on today’s practices and mindsets. I would say that today, many churches still operate on the basic assumption that the church is the center of the community and that people will simply darken the doors because there is a church building. However, it is becoming more and more apparent that our surrounding culture is more in line with that of the early church experience. We are responsible, once more, for going out into the community and bringing people to Christ.

  3. Martin, I do think those are some great questions to consider. I might reword your first question however, to emphasize shaping and directing rather than control and imposition. The church as an establishment certainly did act in a controlling manner in ways but it also contributed, commissioned, educated, and provided. Dr. Aniol’s included lists above serve as great examples of pros and cons associated with Christendom and the power that it wielded. I’m glad to see this topic up for discussion since discussions about the Church and the Middle Ages often focus disparately on the weaknesses while overlooking or dismissing the good. This is somewhat to be expected when most media and Hollywood presentations of clergy and the Church’s agenda focus on rewriting history to primarily emphasize corruption, greed, and a hunger for power. As we all consider this topic I want to be sure to give equal weight to the phenomenal achievements of the era of Christendom in addition to considering its weaknesses. I feel that–albeit possibly unintentionally–your choice of verbs like “control” and “impose” insinuate an underlying negativity that so matches our culture’s general opinion and agenda in interpreting history in this area. I feel strongly enough about filmakers’ and our culture’s often unrecognized agenda that I considered this worth mentioning but forgive me if I misinterpreted or distracted from your intended meaning.

  4. Other thoughts on this area would be appreciated as well. Am I the only one who has noticed how quickly films are to portray the clergy in a negative light? Or how strong the focus tends to be on power and corruption when historic portrayals of the Church are made? How often are pious, religious characters portrayed as protagonists or forces for good in the depictions of Hollywood? If this is what is constantly held up before our eyes as the “reality” of history, won’t that affect the perception we have of the historic church? I would argue that it already has and is. I add these thoughts to the discussion board, hoping not to distract from Dr. Aniol’s original question, but to add additional food for thought to them.

  5. When considering Christendom,there are positives and negatives. I believe one of the most positive aspects was the reverence to the things of God. I also believe the importance of the church (being a world conscious society) was great. I think that it should tear someone up if they if they have no contact with the body of Christ (church disciplines third step could be used more effectively than today). The negatives of the church during the middle ages are many. They began to have build into a works based religion. They also omitted congregational song. The clergy gained to much authority, and Mary (and some other saints) began to be treated like gods. The combination of church and state, and the ordering of Christianity as the official religion, led to a lot of heresy and false teaching. The misuse of the sacraments also is a strong negative that began during this time. May we learn from both the positives and negatives of Christendom.

  6. Everybody would agree what happened in the Christendom period was not all good or bad. There is no question about it. Of course there are things, both culturally and theologically, one can learn from. One thing that strikes me most when considering this particular period in the history is the lack of missionary fervor. It also reminds me of hyper Calvinism that overly emphasized on limited atonement. Christianity governing the western civilization, people being so caught up in adorning the church building and perfecting liturgy, elaborate ceremony and rituals, and the activities in the church that were directed more to the well-versed ecclesiastical aristocracy, all contributed to the failure of church being not able to recognize its need to reach out to the people outside of church.

  7. When we look back to the history of Christianity, we should not only make judgements about the past, but also learn from the past so that we will know the development of our belief. Although Christendom no longer exits since Enlightenment, the results of Christendom, no matter positive or negative, has great impact on the development of Christianity after the 18th century.

    Among the numerous results of Christendom, we should pay special attention to the influence of western art development. On the positive side, Christendom is the foundation of western art development (including music, architecture, and visual arts) since Middle Ages. Churches provide a major platform for artists to cultivate various artistic ideas (although their creativity are under certain constrains). We may learn from the past that churches in today’s society can also take up the role to promote creativity and arts, which can reflect our believes.

    According to the above discussion, due to Christendom, “all activities in the church (including music) were geared to the learned ecclesiastical aristocracy.” That means the high arts were only accessible to a certain group of people, especially the people who have authority and wealth. Music or other form of arts became intangible experiences that only restricted to the upper class. This situation remains unchanged even after Enlightenment. In my opinion, the music in church (or some secular music) is for everyone to experience God. We should learn from the past that church musicians have the responsibility to teach the congregation to understand the music but not to isolate various music activities from the general public.

  8. The Church of the Middle Ages enjoyed the freedom to express their vigor for the Lord Jesus Christ. The leaders had to begin to think through and reflect on what the foundations of this new church community would consist of. This brought about many decisions, some of which would grow exponentially out of proportion. One of these situations that grew out of control was the authority of the clergy. The clergy held so much power over church and really the community. I agree with John Gray when he describes one of the positives as being their reverence to God. Although it was on “God’s radical transcendence” and it overlooked His personal quality, the motivation and yearning to please God with their best is a great characteristic.

  9. I think positive result from Christendom is religious freedom. Because of religious freedom, Christianity became popular. After Christendom, Christian persecution was ended, and Christianity revealed, created, and developed Christian culture. In addition, Christianity influenced on secular culture in music, art, and even politics. For example, the United States is based on Christian culture, which was very impressive when I experienced American culture. Moreover, negative result from Christendom is the lack of missionary perspective of the church as Dr. Aniol mentioned. After Christendom, Christianity was freed from persecution officially. Most nations possibly welcomed Christianity and gave too much freedom. I think that today most churches have lost evangelical outreach and missionary. Rather, they want to take care of only their own congregation. They seem to consider how many church members are. Churches do not go people, and churches are waiting until people visit and come to churches.

  10. As my opinion, the result from Christendom is good because it caused to start the Christian the freedom of the religion. The government made the organized laws for the Christian. The persecuted Christians didn’t need to protect his religion from the objector. However, it faced on some problems about maintaining of the Christian life in their freewill. Even though the Christendom helped the development of the Christian society in the appearance, the inner aspects were getting decayed. The nature of the true faith was getting fade because they focused on the form of religion and practice. The faith is the center of the heart toward God, but the faith in the Christendom’ period was placed on the practice and activity for them.

  11. Two things come to the forefront of my mind. The positive thing that comes to mind is the active role the church played in the development and support of the arts. Such great art came out of the church…art that is still studied and used today! The modern day church seems very disengaged from the arts and almost unwillingly to engage the artistic realm in any meaningful way. One of the negative aspects of this period is something that is evidenced even today. The early church fathers wanted the liturgy and worship to be perfect, so only the trained clergy participated…thus eliminating any congregation involvement. This trend (with a completely different style of music) is evident in many churches today. While we should pursue excellence, we as music ministers and worship leaders should never allow the pursuit of perfection in worship to isolate the very ones who are to worship.

  12. A result from Christendom that we should pay special attention to is the financial support of the church. When the church receive its finances through taxes, it does not need to be governed by popular opinion. Hence, this is a positive result for the church as it has the freedom to conduct its service in a manner that truly reflects the Bible and without the input of influential people (either in status or wealth).

    In today’s society, even though most churches receive their finances through tithes, I think the church could take advantage of the result from Christendom through careful selection of their priests, pastors, and lay-leaders, where there is confidence that none will carry a hidden agenda or exploit their authority (Titus 1:7-9). As well, the church should not be governed by popular opinion or trends in society but remain true to God’s word and be good stewards of the money they receive (1 Corinthians 4:1-5).

  13. This is an interesting topic! I believe that there are both positive and negative sides of Christendom. First, I think Christendom actually did a great job on evangelize the people: no matter they are believers or not, they lived in the Christian society, so at least they know the gospel and good news, which is the first step for unbelievers to think about Christianity. Second, Christendom helped the development of art and church played an active role in there.

  14. For positive results from Christendom, I would pay attention to the church’s liturgy. The liturgy of church during Christendom was “splendid, ceremonial, and ritualistic in part because it was considered to be the divinely revealed earthly counterpart of the worship of God in heaven.” I think it is a good point for people to think about the worship nowadays. Liturgy reflects what worship is. If the liturgy of a church is not based on biblical teaching or it is not complete (say confession is missed out), then the worshippers cannot experience the true worship. However, liturgy should not strive for the perfection without the heart for worship.

    As for negative results, I would pay attention to the lost of the “missionary impulse” of the church. For some churches, it is true that the Church buildings are “the central focus of church life”. They focus on more about attracting people to come rather than going to the community and reach the people.

  15. While observing the effects of Christendom we have all stated positive and negative effects of the time period. But I will say that one of the positives is most of the society in the world got to hear the Word of God and the story of Jesus. I know there were a lot of negatives that went with this but the face that the gospel was presented to such a great number of individuals and they got to at least get the opportunity to truely accept Christ in their hearts.

  16. Bradley, I also had the same thoughts about the arts that came out of the church from Christendom. There was such a reverence for God that every aspect of the music in worship had to be perfect. I think today, too many Christians (including myself) take worship lightly. We are to bring our best offering before the Lord. It is also important to note that during the Middle Ages, this pursuit of perfection led to an elevation of the clergy and no congregational participation. There has to be a line drawn between doing music with excellence, and yet still understanding your congregation when leading in worship.

  17. Kaitlyn that was a great post. I have never thought about it like that. You have made the gears in my head turn on. I have never really thought about how Hollywood portrays religious leaders. While reading this all I can think about is how Catholics are always portrayed as hard, mean people. Thanks for the insight. I guess Hollywood has already infected my view. Lol.

  18. I think positive thing of the Christendom period is that because of the adoption of Christianity as the official religion, Christianity could be spread to the whole city easily. Since all the people were in Christian culture and It made influenced to people to be evangelized without doubt. Also during this period musical philosophy was formed and the different form of arts were flourished in church. In my opinion it is a positive result but also a negative one. Because by development of arts in Church there were conflicts at applying them. They wanted to control it perfectly and became more conservative but I think when one tries hard to keep something, one can give misleading or inaccurate impression to others. The regulations and orthodoxy are helpful to adhere with the Christian belief however, there are so many things that we cannot measure and judge correctly. Sometimes Christianity was misused politically and to govern the state with human desires therefore, the corruption and degeneracy infiltrated into the church more and more.

  19. I agree that Christendom provides us positives and negatives. For example, in the past, Puritans was trying to justify themselves that they could do anything, because God is on their side. Of course, believing and trusting God implicitly is a good point to be learned from Puritans. However, historically, they need to apologize for the wrong they did such as genocide. In globalization era, Christians should be established the Christian view of the world.

  20. I do agree with Sze Wing Ho stated. Yes, we are still in the Christendom mind set which lead us to pride and humanistic center worship. We say God-centered worship but in our hearts not. Whether we build a big church or great theology, it is very easy to forget that Christ is living inside of us and we are dead on the cross.

  21. Throughout history, Christendom period has affected in both positive and negative ways. One of the great influences was the freedom of religion. Also, people decided Christianity as the official religion. As a result, most of people in that period were naturally exposed to the experience of Christianity.
    Over the Christendom era, people started developing the music philosophy. Starting from church, the music philosophy has been formed.
    On the other hand, human beings were to into the superficial side such as the decoration of church building, liturgy, elaborating ceremony and etc. As a result, Christianity has been distorted and faded itself as people seek for Christianity as an ostensible reason.

  22. There need to be a clear line between defining the doctrine and elaborating what we believe. Theologically, church needs to be educated to believe in the ways of the Lord rather than how one thinks about religion. There’s always pros and cons but it’s not about what people believe but its about knowing the truth.

  23. Attention to the negative aspect first. “The division of the globe into Christendom and heathendom and the waging of war in the name of Christ and the church” was a huge mistake. It is true that from the biblical point of view that there are only two kinds of people: believers in Christ and non-believers. However, we are not God, the ultimate Judge, who discerns the hearts and knows who truly believes in Him. Even today, Christians too quickly pass judgement or act against non-Christians (sometimes even against our fellow believers!) because of their immoral behavior, their different belief, or simply the disagreement between the two sides. And we do it “in the name of Christ.” We, as Christians, need to ask ourselves: do we, the imitators of Christ, really know Christ, and follow his teachings and his example of love when we do or say something in his name?

  24. One of the positive things that came out of Christendom is that the western culture was guaranteed to be introduced to the Gospel. However, one of the biggest down falls of this is the idea that the entire population was considered Christian. First of all, this destroys the drive to do mission work. Once the church was well established there was no apparent reason to continue spread the Gospel because it was assumed that all citizens were Christian.

  25. As echo to what Wendy Ku said, God is the ultimate Judge. In Addition, we have not right to determine who will be a believer of Christ.
    “The assumption that all citizens (except for Jews) were Christian by birth”
    Even God does not make us to believe in Him, who are we, a human who is created by God, to determine “you must be a follower of Christ.” God gives us the freedom to choose whether or not to believe Him and follow Him.
    Living in a Muslim country, I understand how important it is to have religious freedom. As Christendom period, all Malays in Malaysia must be a Muslim since the day they are born. They have no right to choose what to believe. If they believe in Jesus Christ and are caught, they will be put into prison. What if Jesus Christ is not a true God, (of course, this is absolutely NOT TRUE), then Christendom system will restrict us from believing in the one true God.

  26. As echo to what Wendy Ku said, God is the ultimate Judge. We have no right to determine who will be a follower of Christ. Even God does not make us to believe Him. He gives us freedom to choose whether or not to believe Him and accept Him as our personal savior.
    “The assumption that all citizens (except for Jews) were Christian by birth”
    Who are we, a human created by God, to determine “You must be a christian.”
    Living in a Muslim country, I understand how important it is to have religious freedom. As Christendom system, all Malays in Malaysia must believe in Allah since the day there are born. If they are caught believing in Jesus Christ, they will be pun into prison. What is Jesus Christ is not the One True God (of course this is absolutely NOT TRUE), then Christendom system will restrict us from believing in the one true god.

  27. Bradley and Brandon, I find it interesting how you both commented on pursing excellence in worship to God and it makes me wonder: what would you define as excellence?

    Even though Christendom encourages arts in the church, I would have to disagree with Bradley’s comment: “The early church fathers wanted the liturgy and worship to be perfect, so only the trained clergy participated…thus eliminating any congregation involvement. This trend (with a completely different style of music) is evident in many churches today.” I do not think this trend is evident in many churches today; in fact, I find more churches today with untrained musicians leading worship. I also find that people in the congregation do not shy away from participating in worship due to lack of musical training but more so from unfamiliarity with the song. I tried to research and find the percentage of worship leaders who are untrained but instead, I found this article, which I found it rather interesting.

  28. The trend of being perfect is evident in today churches might be true at certain type of churches, especially in big churches. Jess, I do agree with you.
    Let talk about churches in Texas only, there are many small churches that have untrained musicians (sometime it maybe only one trained musician in a church). For example, I used to served in a chinese church, I was the only musically trained but not theologically trained musician. All the worship leaders and backup singers were musically untrained. Many time the worship was not property prepared not only musically but also the heart as well. This really broke my heart.
    I have to confess, after taking worship class, I noticed even though I was trying my best to serve God in worship team, I still worshiped God wrongly. Hopefully, after learning what a true worship is, I will worship God in the way He intends us to worship.

  29. I really like what Kaitlyn has to say about the portrayal of the clergy of medieval times in media nowadays. Even in some of my favorite movies that portray this period, they are shown either as corrupt swindlers, drunken buffoons, or power-hungry dictators. Sure this may describe some of them, but I’m sure the majority of the clergy had genuine motives for serving God in their positions.

    Jess and Bradley, I see truth to both of your points. Most churches today have the appearance of congregational worship at the very least. Those that noticeably don’t have this usually lean more to the “liberal” liturgical side of things. However, I would venture to say that even though churches encourage people to sing along, the trained musicians really drive everything. As Bradley said, the style is completely different nowadays (as is the meaning of the word “trained”). Leaders are now trained in how to be a “rockstar” in appearance, charisma, and musically. This is not deep musical training, but it constitutes what many churches flaunt.

    The congregation, then, is simply a part of the atmosphere instead of actively participating in the worship. This could be called a concert mentality of sorts. Bradley, have I properly represented what you were conveying? Jess, did I make any sense as to your questions?

  30. Jess and Bradly I think you both have good points. Jess, I do think that you have a point when you say that many musicians in the church are untrained. This tends to be more evident in more contemporary churches because they are more likely to take a “rock star” approach to leading worship. I also agree with Bradley when he says many modern churches are disengaged from the artistic aspects of worship.

    I feel like both of these points are referring to the same problem. Untrained musicianship and congregational disconnectedness seem to be interconnected issues. I’m some cases, I think that being unfamiliar with the music is a reason the congregation doesn’t participate but more often I think it is likely to be a twofold problem of apathy of the congregation and the effects of the “rock star” philosophy.

    Until we educate our congregations that worship is supposed to be a participatory event and not a concert this will continue to be a problem. This education must start with our worship leaders. A sound worship philosophy and well-trained musicians is a must in order for this to happen.

  31. The comments that are being made about worship and congregational involvement are very interesting. I have enjoyed reading and rereading the points, and I am very appreciative of the discussion. I think that we might look at the situation from a slightly different angle. What if the untrained musicians connect with the congregation because they are untrained? I have seen this happen in a church where the congregation doesn’t want to feel belittled by the execution of the music. Some congregations might feel encouraged to know that the leaders are just “normal folks.” For this type of congregation, they might feel inadequate to take part in a worship led by a trained musician. On the flip side many congregations want to participate in well executed and polished worship service. I think that these views also need to be taken into account for some congregations.

  32. I find that one of the key negative things is Christendom makes people think that the entire country is Christian or “believers”, which actually is not true. Because of that, people lose the sense of evangelize and mission. I remembered some said:”if a church is not do mission, that church is actually the mission field.” It is actually quite sad. People do need to know God by themselves, God only has sons and daughters, not grandchildren.

  33. Great thoughts, Ai Chin. I really appreciated your comment: “I have to confess, after taking worship class, I noticed even though I was trying my best to serve God in worship team, I still worshiped God wrongly.” I have found myself in that same situation and it serves as a valuable reminder to me that I want to be humble toward the Lord when I seek to approach Him. The potential to presume that I am right when I may actually be walking according to the practices of this world (no matter how trained I become as a musician or worship leader) is a sobering thought to me. I definitely agree with your voiced desire and prayer to lead worship in spirit and truth.

    John, I also really appreciated your thoughts about the need for a worship leader to be able to understand the perspective of the congregation and laity which he seeks to serve. There’s incredible value in being able to meet the congregation at their level of education but I think it’s also very important to recognize that the worship leader’s job is to do just that. Lead. His or her goal is to teach and instruct the congregation how to worship the Lord corporately so they can apply that to their personal walk as well. I think there is immeasurable value in having an individual who has received training in the leadership over the people. I definitely agree, however, that there has to be an understanding and continuous relationship between the level of education that the leader has and the level that he wants to bring his congregation too. I think a mark of skill for worship leaders is to not only know more than the congregation, but to have discernment to see where their congregation is and to help educate them so they are encouraged in their worship relationship with the Lord.

  34. Now turn to the positive side. “Christianity permeated all of life, including all artistic endeavors.” Christendom contributed to a lifestyle and artworks that were based on the divine perspective. A culture of Christian worldview was thriving, and the foundation of Christian philosophy and theology in all arts was firmly established as well. All these efforts have come to be great sources for future education. And to this day, those artworks of great quality produced at that time still communicate God’s message to mankind and display the glory of God!

  35. Concerning trained musicians, doing music in excellence for worship, and pursuit of perfection, we have to keep in mind that not everyone is fortunate enough to go to seminary or church music school to become a well-trained church musician. I have been to a lot of churches in the villages that have ministers who have never gone to seminary, have encountered worship leaders who cant even sing a doxology in a right tune, worship bands that have instrumentalists who don’t even read music. However, they sincerely believe they are doing their best to bring the best offering to God in worship. And there’s an active congregation participation, too. Your ear just irritates when you hear the individuals in a small congregation singing “How Great Thou Art” in different keys while keyboard player is not with them, because you’re not used to that kind of chaos.

  36. Daniel made a good point that we should be thankful for receiving good theological and musical traning. I served in a big church as one of the worship pianists before. The experience made me realize the importance of worshipping God right in heart and mind. If a music minister who had good theological training but he/she does not care about the quality of music that presents in the worship because we should only try our best. Then I wonder what is “the best” and perfect gift that we offer to God. On the other hand, when most of the pianists and organists are musically well trained, but not theologically. They try their best to perform the music perfectly in worship, but at the same time, they somehow view the performance as an artistic performance rather than an offering to God. I think how we “try our best” to offer the perfect gift in worship is a dilemma somehow between the artistic and theological views.

  37. I agree with Daniel’s opinion because his point reminded me why I went to seminary to study church music. Church musicians and worship leaders can do our best in worship without academic christian education. The practical activity in worship will be better than learning theology and musical philosophy in seminary. Well-trained church musicians must appreciate their academic background. I came to seminary for not only my individual musical development but also outreaching the gospel through my musical ability. Also, I came to seminary for serving God and people not ignoring unbelievers. I came to seminary for training and disciplining church musicians not evaluating the musical ability of untrained-church musicians.

  38. Behind the splendor of fame…

    We can not deny,artistically and theologically, the fact what our forefathers did in the ‘Christendom’ period. It really permeated the Christianity through the Art works and music as well. However, that period was the tragic time for low wages and people who didn’t have any chances to read the bible. Also, the Christendom culture became not enough to embrace other cultures. Kings and queens became politically corrupted and including religious leaders.

    ‘Missio Dei’…
    It is not about what we have done, or what we have build in our own style.
    That kills other unbelievers and made them not to come to the Lord.
    Like what Jewish and Romans killed Jesus Christ on the Cross with religious reasons. God’s mission has not completed. We have to look back what we did and look ahead with the lens of Christ(word).

  39. Vaden, I think you bring up a really interesting point. We know that every time the Word of God goes out that it does not come back void. If the Word and gospel message was being proclaimed accurately, then many more got to hear the gospel. I think this is a positive that has often been neglected, but this also made it easy for a false gospel to be proclaimed. If a bishop taught a faulty gospel, then it could spread like wild fire. It is a positive that so many were able to hear the Word, but it is a negative that so many heard a false gospel.

  40. I Just want to add another negative result of Christendom here as Dr. Aniol stated above, “This had certain cultural and social benefits for the West, but with western civilization governed to a significant extent by Christianity, the church lost its missionary impulse. Church buildings became the central focus of church life; people came to the church, and therefore there was no need for the church to go to the people.” Christendom helped Christianity to have more power and growth in the whole city but at the same time Church lost its purpose of existence.

    The Scripture says many times about the unity of the church as one body of Christ that Christ became the head of the church. In Ephesians 2:19-22 says, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”

    James 5:14 says, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”

    The mission of the church is have the “oneness” and love one another. The communion practice makes our faith stronger and we actually can practice “to love” when we are in church. But Christendom movement just made the power stronger but it could not make the love of Christ to be emphasized in the church.

  41. Jessica, my comment was worded poorly. In the early church, worship eventually became all about perfection…only trained clergy would participate in the liturgy and eventually the congregation’s role was negated. In today’s society, the contemporary model is reminiscent of that. In many contemporary churches, the congregation may be actively involved in worship…but not actively involved in the music ministry aspect of the church. Here’s what I mean by that. In the contemporary model, the band dominates. These bands can be comprised of trained or untrained players (usually untrained in the sense that they don’t hold any formal music degree). While the congregation may be actively involved in the singing, the band is “closed off.” While I believe band members should be skilled in their playing, so they can effectively lead worship and not be a distraction, I don’t think the band needs to be an exclusive entity where only the few and exceptionally talented can participate. I cannot tell you how many church websites I look at and notice the absence of a music ministry. You can click on a drop down menu of all the ministries that people can become involved in…and music is not one of them. You are correct in that unfamiliarity can cause a drop in congregation involvement. But also having a select few in the band and treating worship like a concert can also have an effect on congregation worship. I hope this makes more sense that what I originally posted. For me excellence is closely tied to perfection, but perfection at all costs is not the end goal. When I use the term “excellence in worship,” I am pointing to being well prepared (practice, rehearsal, etc…) and presenting the best we have to God. For each individual, that level of excellence might be different (compare a beginner musician with a seasoned musician). Unfortunately, I think many music programs have a set level of excellence that must be met for individual involvement, thus eliminating people who may beginners/amateurs but still have something to offer.

  42. This discussion gave us the opportunity to expand our ideas.
    Jessie’s comment reminded me of my experience. After my church senior pastor changed, worship system was a little bit changed. I was a soloist at my church, and every soloist sang offering songs during offering time. At that time, most of the congregations were sitting and watching the soloist do their thing. The senior pastor, who was untrained music, emphasized that the whole congregation must be invited to open with full throats their hearts to God. Therefore, during the offering, soloists are not singing anymore; but all congregation sing together instead. At first many soloists are embarrassed about the new decision but they understood as time passed. Actually, I’m still confused about this. The pastor may be right about that issue, and I agree with him. However, sometimes soloists convey deep spiritual grace through their music. It’s confusing…

  43. Dr. Aniol mentioned, “Further, as a committed Baptist, I am a firm believer in the separation of church and state, and thus I do not condone the church/state union that took place during this period.” I would love to state about this at this term. In my opinion, religion (I do not believe that Christianity is a religion though) has to be separated from the state. Any of political force should be avoided by law to protect religion. However, it seemed that “Christendom” had ambiguous position between the freedom of religion and the political power. As a result, political system such as hierarchy or the use of political and military force to impose the Christian faith were imposed to Christianity. It was one of the worst things that had happened in human history. The separation of church and state is so important in any era with any reason.

  44. The Christendom affected to create the social culture like the life style and the values. The Christian life indicated the figure of the country. In other words, the Christendom naturally formed the culture. People who lived in the social involved to the Christian life, even they were a true Christian or not. All cultures in the Christendom like the sacred music, liturgy and architecture contributed to development of the region and the country. These culture recreated to the new culture like the secular culture.

  45. In relation to thread of discussion dealing with excellence, it is important to note the differnece between excellence and perfection.Being music ministers, we should strive for every service to be done with excellence, meaning our best offering to God. And especially because we are studying music, we are held to a higher standard of excellence than one who is not trained. Excellence is much different than perfection because perfection is not possible due to our human condition. Like others have posted, while we should strive for excellence, we should also seek to understand our congregation. This includes allowing the congregation to be actively involved in the service.

  46. In concern to the drawback of Christendom, I agree with Keji that Christendom might create a false impression–all people in the nation are genuine believer of Jesus Christ. As noted by Keji, it might affect the evangelical passions of the Christians. In the long run, it could also affect the development of theological thinking.

  47. A positive of Christendom was the creation of Christian academia. A negative would be the imposition of Christian faith and, thus, the attribution of holiness to very unholy people’s actions. The crusades are the church’s greatest black-mark – “Christ followers” taking up arms to imperially and violently expand the kingdom of God? Crosses on shields of war? Wild. Sadly, we are probably blind to similarly evil things in the church today . . . though today’s black-marks are probably more of what we are not doing than what we are doing.

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