The Benedict Option and Christianity in a Post-Christian Culture

I had the pleasure of speaking at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture and Kingdom Diversity) along with Provost Bruce Ashford about the Benedict Option promoted by Rod Dreher.

In my talk, I spoke about various models of relating to a post-Christian society: the Religious Right, an exile mindset, “faithful presence,” and Dreher’s #BenOp. I critique those models before advocating my own, the Thessalonian Strategy (see my CT article).

There is a great summary of my talk and Bruce’s here, plus you can watch the whole thing here.

Rather than capitulate to civic totalism (in which the state holds supreme power and regulates as much of life as possible) or retreat from the public square, Bird calls Christians to “wage a counter insurgency armed with peace and pluralism.” Christians can turn the world upside down by acting as peaceful public nuisances who promote a community of love and freedom and “practice allegiance to Jesus rather than Democratic Caesars and Republican czars.” Christians should expose the hypocrisy, violence and predatory nature of progressivism as well as the political right, which uses Christianity for its own agenda. They have to get creative in their resistance to a culture that demands total surrender to tyranny disguised as tolerance. The goal is not a theocracy or Constantinian fusion of government and religion. Christians should work to create a society where all faiths and no faith can live together; everyone can pursue their own happiness without fear of reprisal.

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