The Benedict Option?

I have not heard the term… but I have seen the attitude. I was raised in a Separatist, fundamentalist tradition. I don’t really have a problem with fundamentalism (Note I make a marked distinction between small “f” for fundamentalism and Fundamentalism. For me, the former says that certain matters are essential/fundamental and the rest are not. Big “F” likes to compile bigger and bigger lists of things that are essential). But I do think the Separatist tradition is a generally failed program. It has worked for the Amish and for some Middle Eastern Christian enclaves, but it has done so in exchange for cultural impact.

The Monastic movement in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions was pretty vital in the strengthening of these faiths. However, these were small and voluntary communities. Since procreation was forbidden within them, they were forced to interact with the larger church with its deep connections to the broader culture.

It seems like the commentary of some Christians in the United States is becoming more angry and alarmist at the culture around them. A lot of the social media seems to done to try to make Christians more and more angry… an unworthy goal. In actuality, the culture of the US is probably no worse (maybe better?) than Roman culture in the time of Christ. It seems as if many American Christians had bought into the propaganda that America is (or was) a Christian nation. Truthfully, it has been a government of people (both godly and godless) since its beginning. For those that have created an AmeroChristian amalgam, it is understandable that there would be anger. But the anger is misdirected. The anger of Christians should be righteously redirected back at ourselves for creating a false idol… a false national identity and coveting the power associated with it.

If some seek to separate themselves into unique communities… that may not be wrong… but they need to stay connected to the church and the church needs to stay connected to the community. To completely separate is to disconnect from Christ’s teachings on His present reign and our responsibility as His followers.


I heard about the Benedict Option for the first time today, and it’s only 7:15 am, which means I heard about it very recently indeed. So why am I writing about it when I hardly know what it is?

I suppose I’m writing about it because it gives me a strong sense of Déjà vu, the feeling that I’ve been here before.

A friend, Irving Hexham, posted a link on Facebook with this comment, “This article is a critique of the latest American evangelical fad, or should I say madness”: Serious, Non-Sarcastic Questions About the Benedict Option | The American Conservative:

I have great respect and affection for my colleague, Rod Dreher. But I have to admit, I am very frustrated by his latest obsession, because I don’t understand what it means.

I’m talking about the so-called “Benedict Option.” I know where the phrase comes from. It’s a…

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