The New Reformation
Rod Dreher provides some great advice and wise counsel to Western Christians reeling from the onslaught of secularist atheism throughout society. For far too long the Church has been fat and lazy in the West. By far the largest cohort of Western Christians has ignored the social and cultural aspects of the Kingdom of God. Christians have forgotten their lineage and the legacy of the “once-for-all-delivered-to-the-saints” faith [Jude 3] entrusted to them. They have assumed that the western world would always think and act within the boundaries and ethical instruction of the Ten Commandments. They have believed themselves entitled to a good time in this world whilst they focused upon life after death–a comfortable ride all around.
But, meanwhile, the Enemy has had other plans. Gradually the tsunami of secular atheism has been building, initially far out to sea, but latterly it has hit shore and is sweeping all before it.
(Or to change the metaphor, think of Sauron and the careful secret satanic preparation of the armies of Mordor, then unleased upon the remnant of the West.) Beliefs and practices once considered fixed forever as part of Western culture have been swept away. Christians are now (more often than not) pilloried as public enemy number one.
Dreher’s advice is that Christians should “come out from among them, and be separate”. We must regroup. We must re-establish Christian community, and live faithfully according to its disciplines and beliefs. We must marry in the Lord, bear children in the Lord, and raise them in the Lord–along with our Christian neighbours–all engaged in the same tasks. He calls us to get involved in the “antipolitical politics” of the Kingdom of God.
Secede culturally from the mainstream. Turn off the television. Put the smartphones away. Read books. Play games. Make music. Feast with your neighbours. It is not enough to avoid what is bad; you must also embrace what is good. Start a church, or join and strengthen one that exists. Plant a garden, and participate in a local farmer’s market. Teach kids how to play music, and start a band. Join the volunteer fire department. . . .
We faithful orthodox Christians didn’t ask for internal exile from a country we thought was our own, but that’s where we find ourselves. We are a minority now, so let’s be a creative one, offering warm, living, light-filled alternatives to a world growing cold, dead, and dark. We will be increasingly without influence, but let’s be guided by monastic wisdom and welcome this humbly as an opportunity sent by God for our purification and sanctification. Losing political power might just be the thing that saves the church’s soul. Ceasing to believe that the fate of the American Empire is in our hands frees us to put them to work for the Kingdom of God in our own little shires. [Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation (New York: Sentinel, 2017), p. 98, 99.]
Let’s also remember this caution: we must think, work, and labour for the long term. Our lives and ministries must be inter-generationally focused: we are to lay up a Christian heritage in the lives of our children and grand-children and beyond. Discipling all the nations is an intergenerational task, if it is anything. Instead of engaging in this duty in a “bull-at-a-gate” rush, a once-over-lightly brush, we must build into our children and grandchildren, and the Christian communities of which we are a part, at least out unto the third and fourth generations, if the Lord were to grant us us such length of days. He who believes, who has faith, will not be in a panicked hurry.
Even so, Maranatha–come quickly, O Lord, to strengthen us and bless us in these inter-generational tasks.
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