As I continue to read the writings on the Benedict Option, and the debate it is raising, I have two concerns, although I am generally in support of it.
First, and more a matter of semantics, is that it should be more the Celtic option, or maybe the Columba / Patrick / another Celtic Saint’s name option. Based on the writings of Thomas Cahill in How the Irish Saved Civilization, George G. Hunter III’s work The Celtic Way of Evangelism, and Ian Bradley’s Colonies of Heaven: Celtic Models for Today’s Church, I think that the Celtic model may be an even better match than the Benedictine model. Certainly it involved community, evangelism, and, as Bradley’s book is titled, “Colonies of Heaven” here on earth.
But this leads me to my second concern, which is that all of this presupposes that Christians will be able to go on practicing in the open. As hostile as the culture is becoming, could it be that Christians will be driven underground Many will say this is alarmist, or ridiculous. They will compare it to the suffering of underground churches in China, or in Muslim countries. Others will ask for a single instance of a Christian in the United States being forced to recant. And finally, there are those that will say it is all to the good, that such hate thought should be banned.
Well, there is historical precedence. Certainly Russians in 1916 were not expecting what came in 1918. Jews is 1933 were in no way prepared for the events of Kristallnacht. If we Christians in America looked forward five years, who is to say what will happen, much less in 25 years. So I think that while we discuss the Benedict, or Dominican, or whatever option, we should also consider what will happen if we are driven underground. perhaps we should be looking at what our Chinese and Arab brothers and sisters are doing, in cultures that are currently more hostile than even ours is becoming.
Assuming we are not driven underground, though, I have some thoughts on what the Benedict Option would look like. I am drawing on the books above and others like them, as well as avowed atheist Dave pollard’s writings on intentional community. But this is getting long enough now, so I’ll save that for Part 2!