Threats Losses Struggles

Ironically - and in contrast to the modern reading of the development - it was exactly Christianity's rise to political power which partially but not completely obscured this nascent theological clarity about the inherent political nature of the church as a worshipping community. We must, of course, avoid the pitfall of presenting a narrative of decline from relatively healthy primitive Christian communities to the compromised church of the Christendom era. In each era, there were genuine threats and losses as well as struggle and reforming spirit. Any analysis will have to identify the shifting temptations and diverging threats as they came about for the church in different situations and times.

If the public nature of the liturgy was first threatened by the power of the private paradigm, it now had to face the threat of being absorbed by the claim of another public, the public of the state, which was becoming increasingly aware of the blessings of the church. Whereas the political character of the church was first confused with a household religion, now it was its role as a civil religion that was prone to causing confusion. This development (which was, in fact, a struggle) must be examined first internally and then externally.

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