“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
“I have written the Benedict Option to wake up the church and to encourage it to act to strengthen itself, while there is still time. If we want to survive, we have to return to the roots of our faith, both in thought and practice. We are going to have to learn habits of the heart forgotten by believers in the West. We are going to have to change our lives, and our approach to life, in radical ways. In short, we are going to have to be the church, without compromise, no matter what it costs.”
– Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option
Recently I read one of the most talked about books in the Christian community of 2017, titled The Benedict Option, written by Rod Dreher. I will start by saying that I recommend this book highly to any and every Christian of any denomination who watches the news at night and is apalled and worried for the church. Dreher points out clearly that we are now living in a post-Christian world that is trying to drag Bible believing Christians down with it. As he says, don’t be fooled by the number of churches that you see. He provides much evidence showing that even in the Christian churches there are more and more people who know little about the teachings of the Bible, who go to church because they feel that they should, but somehow fail to live the kind of lives that our Lord and Savior and His apostles taught us to live. Dreher suggests that to preserve our faith intact we need to prepare ourselves to disengage with the mainstream of modern society and form our own tightly bonded communities of believers who can count on each other as we live in an increasingly hostile world.
Critics of Dreher have claimed that he is advocating a return to monasticism or something like it, citing his drawing on the inspiration from the Rule of Benedict, a monk who was very influential in defining what a religious community should be like. While Dreher does recommend insulating ourselves against the pervasive influences of consumerism, moral laxity in society, and the humanistic self-centeredness that has risen since the Enlightenment in the 1700s, he is not saying we should all become hermits or go to live in modern monasteries. What Dreher is saying is that as the world strays further and further from the ways of the Lord we have to pull ourselves back, to stand for our morals and beliefs in the face of severe opposition. We have to become a people separate, living in the world but not being of the world, firm in our commitment to stand for righteousness even in the face of highly motivated and determined opposition. We can no longer afford to live compromised lives.
Really the only aspect of The Benedict Option that I disagreed with was the implication that this age of moral and spiritual decay is a passing phase and that the world will one day want to turn back to the truth and need us to help them along. I think this may in part be because a widespread belief in Christianity is that we will keep going and convert the world. That is not what the Scriptures say. Our world is in a death spiral of rebellion against God and no amount of human effort will be able to correct it at this point. We are now in the last days and Bible believing Christians are in the minority, and that will not improve; look at all the churches that follow false doctrines and other gospels. It is imperative that we be aware and focused on our Lord and on the teachings of Jesus and the apostles as recorded in the Bible, for our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for those of us that he can devour.
My friends, we need to return to the kind of humble, loving but uncompromising faith that the early church had, the kind of faith that conquered the Roman Empire from within and spread over the face of the earth. We need to return to the kind of faith that enabled our spiritual forebears to enter the arena singing praises as they faced lions armed with only a prayer. We need to return to the kind of faith that will not compromise our principles in the name of career, that will rely on God and not politics, that will stand for good morals and Christian ethics even though they are no longer accepted in our society. It is time for us to make our stand against a rising evil that the world calls good, because if we don’t we are lost. We need to pray and study the Scriptures and help each other along and stand, and then, as Paul said in Ephesians 6:13, “after you have done everything, to stand”. The time for half-measures and going along to maintain acceptance is over.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.