DISCUSS: Bonhoeffer vs. the Benedict Option

DISCUSS: Bonhoeffer vs. the Benedict Option February 10, 2023

I am reviewing a book about the German resistance to the Nazis.  More on that later.  But it included a striking quotation from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor and theologian, who participated in a plot to kill Hitler and who is the subject of today’s other post:

“Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies.  The Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes.”

Now this quotation was taken from his book Life Together, which is about Christian community, based on his experiences with that while running a seminary for the underground Confessing Church, one in which the seminarians all lived together monastic style.

So it wouldn’t be a complete repudiation of the Benedict Option, and Bonhoeffer certainly believes that Christians should be set apart from the world and not conform to its sinful ways.  And yet he is opposing the notion that Christians should just separate themselves from the sinful world, as some Christians would like to do.

I believe his point is that Christian community, such as we can find in the church and as exemplified in his seminary, can support Christians as they live out their faith “in the thick of foes.”  I think Rod Dreher, the author of The Benedict Option, would not disagree.

What do you think about the Benedict Option in light of the Lutheran critique of monasticism, the Two Kingdoms, and the doctrine of vocation?


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