So, I realized that there was one other thing running through my mind from the introduction and first chapter. Hirsch begins to make a distinction between Christianity and Christendom. This is what he calls the difference between institution and organic growth.
The thing that caught my mind was the role of the institutional church. Doug and I were talking about this on Wednesday at the Bean and then reading Hirsch some thoughts began to crystallize. This idea of the institution is pretty powerful. Around 310ish is when the Church went from underground to large and in charge so to speak. Then something happened – an institution was born.
I run in some different parts of the Christian sub-culture and one in particular is a large parachurch organization. A favorite phrase is, “a movement becomes a monument overnight”. I think that there is some truth to this. Almost that fast the underground church became an institution. The faith that was demonstrated by a crucified and resurrected messiah became an empire.
I am beginning to think that this empire brought about many of the struggles that we are facing today because no matter how hard we try we are unable to throw off the shackles of this empire. Hirsch explores this in his story about his church in Melbourne, the most recent edition of Leadership Journal describes this in relation to The Next Level Church in Denver, it can be seen drastically in the Methodist church (could you imagine what Wesley would think of the current configuration?).