Former Benedictine Monk Reflects Upon Rod Dreher’s “The Benedict Option”

Posted at Heart and Mouth:

[The following is a guest post by David Bancz, a Welshman and former Benedictine monk. The post, while quite self-explanatory, is primarily a reflection on Rod Dreher’s book The Benedict Option, but is also a beautiful contrast to the series of posts by Paul Liberati earlier this year, “Reformed Seminarian Converts to Roman Catholicism”. Lord willing, Paul will have his own forthcoming reflections on this wonderful example of God’s grace on behalf of His Children.]

What should repentance look like? In particular, what should repentance from a system of false belief look like? I ask because for roughly 20 years I was not only an enthusiastic Roman Catholic, but one who was convinced that he had a vocation in the Church. In 2006 I joined a Benedictine monastery in the UK and progressed through the various levels of formation and vows. Purely by the gracious action of God, I was liberated from the cloister in 2014 and was consequently freed from the Roman sacramental system. I currently worship in a church that is part of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of England and Wales.

So how do I repent of two decades of spiritual enthusiasm and a monastic vocation? I seem to recall the excellent Christian apologist Dr. James White once saying, with regard to leaving Catholicism, that if you escape across the Tiber you should break up your boat, make it into a pulpit, and preach to those still within the system. Strangely though, as I read The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher, I feel more inclined to warn Evangelicals rather than Catholics due to some of the rather dubious goods that Dreher is trying to sell them. He’s a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church, a fact which makes the success of his book among an Evangelical audience all the more surprising. Something else that I found surprising was that he appears to hold to a form of ‘mere Christianity’. He has no difficulty seeing Orthodox, Roman Catholics, mainline Protestants, and Fundamentalists as all being Christians despite the competing and necessarily contradictory truth claims of these groups. Indeed, the boundaries of Christian faith become so elastic that, in an unlikely addition to this spectrum of Churches, he seeks to draw inspiration even from Mormons. The consistent use of such a reductionist approach to Christian faith throughout the book risks leaving the term ‘Christian’ as a diminished adjective.