Greetings from Faith Lutheran Church in Eldorado,
This last Sunday one of our Scripture readings was from Acts 4:1-12. The reading relates how the disciples were arrested for proclaiming Christ but persisted. This was the beginning of persecution of the Christian faith, which still continues today.
As many of you know, the persecution of Christians is greater today than it was in the past. We also know that we are privileged in this country not to be persecuted, though many foresee a time even in America when these privileges will be revoked or curtailed.
Possibly you have heard that we are at the end of the Christian age, but what does that mean? Many historians understand that the Christian age started with Emperor Constantine of the Roman Empire.
He put forth the Edict of Milan that legalized Christianity and then went further to favor it. The Church was no longer a persecuted group, or outsiders, but now gained inside status. There were blessings and curses with this status. This led to a church superior to the state, a kingdom of this world. This is at times called Constantinianism. The Roman Catholic Church still operates with an understanding that the church is superior to the state.
Then came the Enlightenment, which centered the world around "me, myself and I," but not God. This did not happen all at once but over time.
As the Enlightenment thinking took root it caused shifts in the Western world. Our American Revolution was highly influence by Enlightenment thinking. Jefferson, a Deist, believed the Church was nice, but the state was much more central to mankind's needs.
He talked of a "wall of separation," and felt that faith be keep more private and personal, counter to what Constantine had done. The Enlightenment marched on possibly finding its apex in Fredrick Nietzsche's "‹bermensch."
So, we have now come to the end of Christianity as seen through the eyes of Constantinian thinking.
Though Constantine's tax exemption is still with us and Christians can still pray at state events, these privileges may be removed as the whole basis of our government is not the Bible, the church, or even God, but "We the People." What "We the People" want becomes the law of the land. "
We the People" can amend the Constitution regardless if it falls in line with the Bible or not.
This is not the end of the Christian faith, only the Christian age. The disciples did not object to their treatment; they merely stood firm in the Faith. Our Good Shepherd will not let His flock die out.
He is faithful to His and His word will endure forever. The Church's calling is not to demand rights, but to be faithful. He has given His church all the tools needed to be faithful -- His word, the sacraments, the Holy Spirit, and Christ Himself. Fear not, oh little flock; the Lord is with us.
He is risen! He is Risen indeed, Alleluia.