Friday, 22 June 2012
Alban's confession and the post-Christendom Church
The words the Roman judge addressed to Alban, according to Bede, summarise the confrontation between the ecclesia and the imperium. Today's feast of Alban's martyrdom falls at a time when the relationship between the post-Christendom ecclesia and the postmodern imperium appears to be entering a phase of confrontation.
The Church of England's response to the Coalition Government's proposals on gay marriage was widely reported in the UK media as pointing to the biggest confrontation between Church and State in the UK for 500 years, fatally undermining the establishment of the CofE. In the States, Roman Catholics are observing the Fortnight for Freedom - a time of prayer, study, catechesis and public action on the nature of religious liberty, against the background of the Obama Administration's birth control mandate.
The Roman judge's description of the priest to whom Alban gave sanctuary - "sacrilegious rebel" - reflects something of how the postmodern polity regards the Church's witness in the public square. The Church's vision of the human person is seen to undermine the pluralism and tolerance of the polity. It is rebellious. It is a sacrilege. It destablises the social order.
The relationship between Church and State post-Christendom has the potential to take on characteristics of the pre-Christendom relationship. For churches whose approach to catechesis, ministry and evangelisation is still shaped by the modes of Christendom, this poses a deep threat in which collusion with and conformity to the postmodern polity result in decline and irrelevance. The opportunity, however, is for the Church to re-embrace a radical public confession of the Crucified and Risen One, in which discipleship offers an authentic alternative vision of human flourishing to that adhered to by the polity - Alban's confession, Alban's discipleship.
Posted by BC at 23:10