[by] Raimon Panikkar
Is there Christ after Christendom and Christianity?
Sunrise would not be dawn if nothing preceded it, nor would sunset be twilight if it did not yield to something else. They mutually suppose each other but are not identical. It is in this sense that I speak not of the sunset of Christianity but of the dawn of Christianness. "Behold! I am making all things new!" (Rev. 21:5)The word "Christian" may be the adjective of Christendom (a civilization), of Christianity (a religion), or of Christianness (a personal -- not individualistic spirituality). During the period of so-called Christian culture in medieval Europe, it was almost impossible to be Christian without belonging to Christendom. And until quite recently it was very difficult to profess oneself a Christian without confessing the Christian creed (Christianity). Today, however, there are more and more people who consider the possibility of being Christian as a personal attitude, even without belonging to Christendom or totally adhering to doctrinal dogmas of Christianity, insofar as the former represents institutional structures and the latter a special doctrinal set-up. I am not speaking of an individualistic position but of a personal attitude, keeping in mind that "person" always implies community. Christian commitment is indeed ecclesial, but this word is not simply a synonym for an established organization. Ecclesia (church), strictly speaking, implies an organism, and an organism requires a soul, a life. An organization only requires an idea, a reason for its existence....
Christianness is a new but also an ancient form of Christic existence. It was known from the beginning to many mystics and contemplatives but was unable to take a sociological form -- that is, the ecclesial shape that is now becoming visible. It implies a state of awareness and life manifest in a twofold liberation. This means, first, liberation from a fixed and determined political order, which until recently was regarded as indispensable for the practice of "Christian values" (Christendom). It is also a liberation from identifying being Christian with the acceptance of a determined series of Christian doctrines (Christianity). In other words, this new Christic self-understanding does not find itself linked to any determined political order or with a fixed intellectual system. Christianness is neither a new political form nor a new intellectual creed; it is a commitment which, although it needs specific expressions and a concrete political order to manifest itself, does not identify itself with any of these things.