The Benedict Option?

The idea is that serious Christian conservatives could no longer live business-as-usual lives in America, that we have to develop creative, communal solutions to help us hold on to our faith and our values in a world growing ever more hostile to them. We would have to choose to make a decisive leap into a truly countercultural way of living Christianity, or we would doom our children and our children’s children to assimilation… 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.”

Are we talking panic button or preservation? I will let you be the judge, but we would be foolish to not consider more than a few of the thoughtful sentiments espoused by Rod Dreher, author of the modern day religious manifesto, “The Benedict Option.”

CT magazine recently showcased Dreher’s strategic vision,

In my 2006 book, Crunchy Cons, which explored a countercultural, traditionalist conservative sensibility, I brought up the work of philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, who said that Western civilization had lost its moorings. MacIntyre said that the time is coming when men and women of virtue will understand that continued full participation in mainstream society was not possible for those who want to live a life of traditional virtue. These people would find new ways to live in community, he said, just as St. Benedict, the sixth-century father of Western monasticism, responded to the collapse of Roman civilization by founding a monastic order.

I called the strategic withdrawal prophesied by MacIntyre ‘the Benedict Option.’”

In a time when ‘anti-Christian hostility infects powerful elite subculture,’ as studied and hypothesized by David Williamson and George Yancey in the book, “So Many Christians, So Few Lions: Is There Christianophobia in the United States?” the need to review and reassess our standing before God and man is due for a close evaluation. The proper starting point should come in the form of a reevaluation of doctrinal affirmation and ministerial domain. (In other words, we need to put first things first). It’s quite probable that our failings in these areas, and related distractions, is what got us into this mess in the first place. It’s time to get truly serious in our confirmation and expression of what we believe, what we denounce, and what we view as flawed and suspect. We should branch out, in terms of our understanding, in all popular areas of study, but we should maintain our order of analysis and prioritize accordingly: 1. What do we believe 2. What do we denounce 3. What do we perceive as faulty or suspect.

Woodrow Wilcox


This is vital because if future evangelism requires a watered down, sanitized, compromised gospel, what good is it?

Of what value is it to gain the world and lose the heart and soul of the gospel?


Dreher seems to have truly sincere and noble motives and his reasoning to make our own backyard the vital starting point is indisputable.

A spiritual resurgence cannot thrive in a world where faithful preaching is sold out to a new social order that seeks to redefine acceptable doctrine along secularized cultural and political  lines. A one world religion in which social justice and liberation theology meets naturalism, scientism and gnosticism cannot suffer Biblical, spirit filled, soul sustaining orthodoxy.

If we cannot coexist in the mainstream can we remain a sanctuary on the fringes of society? Can we be a city on a hill for the lost and hurting souls of the greater community? This is the vision Dreher has in mind. In many ways it plays into the secular agenda, but it may also be consistent with God’s sovereign plan.

I’m not here to endorse, only to contemplate. What shall it be?

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A.J. Castellitto is a freelance writer who resides in NJ with his wife and five children. He holds a B.S. in Counseling and Human Services from the University of Scranton and his writings have been published at The Center for Western Journalism, The Christian Post, Intellectual Conservative and Reformed Perspective Magazine.
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