An open letter to Rod Dreher, Author, The Benedict Option
Thank you for writing your book The Benedict Option, to which I was introduced through your interview on Issues Etc. on March 31. Your book clearly lays out your observations about the state of our culture, its incompatibility with the historic Christian faith, how this came to be, and an approach that Christians can take as they seek to remain faithful to their faith and their Lord.
This letter isn’t so much a review of The Benedict Option as much as it is a response to it with some observations and reactions of my own. I would be honored if this is the beginning of a dialog between us, but hope in any case that this letter would be a blessing to all who read it. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
My background is that of a lifelong small-o orthodox Christian in the conservative (we prefer to say “confessional”) Lutheran tradition. We have many of the things that you value in the Eastern Orthodox church: we value the liturgy, we are sacramental, we study our faith in an ordered way, we study the church fathers, we understand our corporate confession and that we are surrounded the great cloud of witnesses of the saints in all times and in all places—that is to say, we understand that the Christian faith is not merely individualistic, but brings us into the Church, the bride of Christ.
At the same time, there are differences with the Orthodox church in at least our emphasis if not in our beliefs. I say this by way of disclaimer: I am not trying here to debate the merits of one tradition over the other, but will be writing here from the standpoint of a confessional Lutheran.
I have organized my thoughts into several categories.
Christians and the World
At the risk of being too much of a reductionist, your book shines a spotlight on the growing gulf between what is acceptable in the culture and God’s intended life for a Christian, and ponders what then we should do.
Arguably, this gulf has ALWAYS been there. Yes, I understand and appreciate the history of thought that you laid out: our culture has rejected the transcendent metaphysical, and is now myopically focused on bringing pleasure to the self. The shifting does require us to consider what it means to be in the world but not of the world in our present context. But this has ALWAYS been the case.
Jesus in John 15:19 makes it very clear: “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
In other words, I agree with your observations in The Benedict Option (TBO) that the culture hates Christians. I also agree that radical change is needed on the part of individual Christians and of the visible church. But from my perspective, the need for Christians to understand that the world hates us goes back to Jesus’ ministry…or really, back to Israel in Egypt, or even before that.
Don’t misunderstand me: I do agree that radical living in the face of a hostile culture is needed. But I would contend that such radical living has been needed continually throughout the history of God’s people. In current times, we may have now reached a tipping point that opens our eyes to the fact that Christianity is inherently counter-cultural. We may now have been blessed with clarity akin to that given by Balam’s donkey speaking to him in Numbers 22.
For far too long Christians in the west have passively trusted that living in the culture would keep them living in the Christian faith. I doubt that this was ever what God intended, but now it is becoming clear that this misguided approach to the sanctified life will not work.
May our response as Christians be that of Balaam: “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me.”
It is Sin that Separates
In TBO you point out that up until the Enlightenment the so-called medieval “Model” was embraced, which understands that all things are related and have meaning because they come from the Creator. You point out that modern western thought has now discarded this understanding, leading to a worldview fraught with preoccupation with gratification of self, while bringing about endemic loneliness as a result of our disconnected individualistic isolation.
I appreciated your sharing of the quote from Aquinas: “To know that someone is approaching is not the same thing as to know that Peter is approaching, even though it is Peter who is approaching”. That is, while the medieval “Model” might have better preconditioned people to be receptive to the Christian faith, the medieval “Model” was not synonymous with the orthodox Christian faith.
The orthodox Christian faith is this: God created a perfect world; man sinned; God redeemed the world through the incarnation of Jesus, through his perfect life, through his undeserved death, and through his glorious resurrection; through faith from the Holy Spirit and his working through means, we know that we too will live eternally—not because of our merit, but because of God’s grace in the atoning work of Christ.
My point is this: there was a gulf between pre-Enlightenment culture and the Christian faith. Yes, the context was different, the specific challenges were different, but there was a gulf just the same.
I would argue that this gulf between culture and Christian faith and life is the same gulf of sin that separates fallen creation from the perfect Almighty God. The reason that culture never has been and never will be synonymous with the Christian life is because earthly culture is always rooted in the fallen world, whereas through faith Christians are citizens of heaven. God has called us out of darkness into his light (1 Peter 2:9), but people love darkness because their deeds are evil (John 3:19)
Besides the details of our specific context, there is nothing new going on in today’s “post-Christian” culture. The only shock is that now that some Christians are beginning to see how they have been lulled into being lukewarm Laodiceans by embracing the former so-called “Christian” culture rather than boldly living a sanctified life in Christ.
Jesus Christ is the Victor
The gulf between culture and the Christian faith is really the gulf between darkness and light, between sinfulness and holiness. Paul speaks to this in Ephesians 6:12: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
And what is Paul’s instruction in this struggle? “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-11)
In other words, the present cultural hostility towards Christians is long-standing, is intrinsically part of the Christian faith, is the result of sin, is part of a spiritual battle…and most importantly, is therefore the battle that the Lord Jesus has fought and won over death through his crucifixion and resurrection.
Can the visible church do more in this present darkness? Is Christian community important to individuals tenaciously holding to the orthodox faith? Can something like the Benedict Option be a helpful approach? Yes, yes, and yes.
But this is a spiritual battle that manifests itself in the physical. Christ is the victor. Christ is our refuge and strength.
It is the work of the Holy Spirit to strengthen our faith. How does he do so? Through means: chiefly through the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper in which he gives supernatural gifts of faith and forgiveness of sins, and through the external Word—the Bible. The church is the steward of the mysteries of God (1 Corinthians 4:1)
But as redeemed children of God, he does not leave us alone. In addition to his presence and the work of the Holy Spirit, he does bless us with fellow humans with whom we are in fellowship and community. He knows it is not good for us to be alone (Genesis 2:18)
Spouse and children are divinely appointed. The church—both the church invisible and the church visible—is established by Christ. The sacraments are instituted by Christ, and scripture is inspired by God.
Other forms of Christian community are not expressly commanded or forbidden—though scripture teaches us of love, compassion, service of neighbor, and something of what the 1st century Christian community of the church looked like.
Are monastic orders helpful? Perhaps for some people, in some times and in some places. Are monastic orders required or normative? Not as far as we can see in scripture.
On the other hand, is Christian love required and normative? Yes, absolutely—scripture clearly, explicitly and repeatedly calls us to and demonstrates for us the love we are to have as Christians.
What I’m getting at is this: insofar as “the Benedict Option” is a strategy for Christians in a post-Christian nation, it is worthy of consideration and of discussion of pragmatic considerations and ways such an option could be manifested today.
But regardless of whether “the Benedict Option” or some other pragmatic option is embraced, orthodox Christians are bound by scripture which has a lot to say to us in a post-Christian nation. In fact, ALL of scripture is written to God’s redeemed who are living in a sinful world. Here are a few verses that come to mind:
Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; … Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. 1 Peter 2:9-12
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:12-13
If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. John 15:18
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6
…therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. …To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:4; 11
My point is that so-called “christians” or so-called churches that think that they can live morally compromised lives so as to be compatible with the culture while remaining Christian are gravely mistaken. Sad as it is to say, since much of the modern church in America has embraced precisely this compromise, faithful orthodox Christians should be willing to and are even commanded to call these wayward brothers and sisters to repentance, to true faith in Christ, and to holy living.
None of us seek to be divisive or schismatic, but to turn a blind eye to blatant disregard for God’s word, his law, his salvation, and his pattern for living is neither loving nor unifying. There are not different levels of being Christian any more than there are different levels of being pregnant: either you are, or you are not. To the churches and individuals who think they are “christian” but neither repent of their sins nor trust in Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins, orthodox Christians must be willing to prophetically say that these are not “Christian” based on the words of scripture.
The Main Thing
Whatever comes, Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins must remain central. We must continually receive God’s gifts through word and sacrament. It is the church to whom is given the pastoral office, the public proclamation of the Gospel, and the stewardship of the means of grace.
In other words, there can be no authentic Christian community without the church faithfully tending the sheep as Christ commanded Peter in John 21:17. No attempts to establish Christian community dare usurp the role of the church.
That said, the modern church has in many places shirked its responsibilities for the faithful proclamation of God’s word, for the administration of the sacraments, for pastoral care and discipline of the flock, and for the compassionate meeting of needs within the body of believers.
It seems then that two separate things are urgently needed: 1) Calling the modern church to repentance and renewal, to the faithful proclamation of the Gospel and right administration of the sacraments…and where this call is met with refusal, to call individual Christians to leave their so-called “churches” for congregations that are faithful to Christ’s commands, and 2) Finding ways in our present modern context for Christians to live out their lives in community at the foot of the cross, bearing in mind the example of the early church in Acts 2-8
What I am getting at is that a Benedictine (or other) Christian community cannot replace either the church, or the family—as these are both divinely instituted by God himself.
That said, there is a lot that can and must be done to strengthen the church, to strengthen and serve families, and to facilitate authentic Christian community at the foot of the cross.
We must be clear: the Benedict Option cannot be a replacement for either church or family, but must instead be a contextually sensitive way to support the daily life of the Christian church, the Christian family, and the Christian individual.
Turning the Home from Mere Shelter to Refuge
As you point out in TBO, the physical is not bad. Heathens and heretics of all stripes and degrees try to perpetuate this mistaken notion. God created the physical, explicitly declared that the physical was good, intervened in physical history, became physically human, triumphed over physical death, ascended physically, and promises us physical resurrection. What is more, it is in the physical that God interacts with us: through physical bread and wine, through physical water, and through physical words of human language.
God created us as physical beings, living in a creation based upon light and matter and a linear timeline. God does not expect us to transcend the physical and approach him through some metaphysical means. Rather, God meets us in the physical. He demands this: “No man comes to the father but by me.”, says the physical God-man Jesus. And he teaches us to pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, not “Let us transcend earth to do your will in heaven”.
Part of what orthodox Christians must do is to embrace the physical in their sanctified lives. You correctly point out that liturgy and sacraments are a central aspect of this. Physical space can be important too, both in corporate worship and in private life.
Christians should consecrate and set aside as holy their personal physical spaces, starting with their homes.
Every Christian head of household should pray a prayer like this:
Heavenly Father, you give us every good gift: chiefly salvation and new life in you, but also material provisions to sustain us and satisfy our desires. Even your Son, our Lord, Jesus did not have a place to lay his head, yet you have seen fit to entrust to us this home, a place of shelter and comfort.
We consecrate this home to you. Let it be for us who live here and all who enter a place of peace and safety, and a place in which you are honored in all things. In this place let faith be strengthened and wisdom gained that we may be equipped to serve you faithfully all our days.
In this home may we grow in love for you and love for one another. Let us who live here live as those called from darkness into light, and let the light of Christ shine from us that those around us would receive your blessings through us.
In this home let us continually live repentant lives and receive your forgiveness, and let us freely forgive all those in our lives—especially those that dwell in this home.
Strengthen and sustain us in the faith with every good gift. Keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Lead us to desire always to do your will, and grant us wisdom to know how to lovingly serve you in all things. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
Not only will God answer such a prayer, but praying it declares for the entire family that this house is set aside as consecrated. This house (or apartment, or dorm room, or whatever the space may be) may be in the midst of other similar houses that look the same from the outside—but inside those other houses may live those that serve not the Lord but rather live to gratify their own sinful flesh. This house is intentionally different. This house is intentionally placed under the lordship of Jesus Christ.
Those that live in this house will intentionally live differently—not as fearful, isolated, cloistered individuals hiding until the second coming of Christ, but rather as bold and vibrant followers of Jesus intentionally serving him and loving those within this house and outside it.
No longer is this house just a real estate asset with a mortgage or rent payment with square footage to be filled with consumer-satiating stuff, but this house is a refuge—a convent or abbey of sorts—in which the faithful live out the sanctified lives to which they have been called.
The individuals in this house live differently, not due to harsh legalism, but because they recognize that they are living in the family of God, in the presence of the great cloud of witnesses of the saints that have gone before.
Declaring this simple consecration provides a scriptural baseline for exhortation and encouragement for all who live and enter this house. No longer is correction based on an individualistic morality of “How would you like it if someone did that to you?”, but rather it is based on scripture: “This house is consecrated to the Lord, and he tells us this is how we are to live.”
Complaints of “He/she/you did or said X” can be met with “Jesus died for the forgiveness of sins, and in this house we strive to forgive one another as he forgave us.”
This simple consecration is not a detailed “rule” for a monastic order, but it does at least provide a scriptural foundation on which catechesis, prayer, exhortation, love, forgiveness, study, and service can flourish. In such a house the driving factor is not personal gratification, but rather understanding of God’s revealed will for our lives.
Establishing Order within the Refuge
Christian freedom provides a wide range of possible activities, responsibilities, commitments and the like. Scheduling and managing conflict between these can be challenging, and no rigid one-size-fits-all approach will work consistently.
Nonetheless, the Christian life should have a rhythm to it that in large part is framed by the church.
At a minimum, the Christian household should receive God’s gifts of faith, forgiveness, fellowship, and teaching each Sunday by attending worship (what we Lutherans prefer to call “divine service”, for in it God serves us by strengthening our faith and forgiving our sins through His Word and Sacraments). The point of orthodox Christian worship is not to be entertained, or even to be intellectually or emotionally stimulated. Rather, the point of orthodox Christian worship is to confess our sins, receive absolution, hear God’s word, receive his supernatural gifts of faith and forgiveness through the sacraments, and to rejoice in our risen Lord and Savior.
Liturgical worship helps ensure that these things happen. The liturgy is merely God’s word spoken, received and confessed. The liturgy keeps our eyes focused on Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins, and ties us into the great cloud of witnesses of all saints in all times and in all places.
Christian worship is for the body of believers, and is not primarily a “seeker-sensitive” opportunity to try to make the stumbling block of Christ attractive to the world that should hate us and the gospel we proclaim. To any Christian who attends a church in which Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins is not explicitly central every Sunday, or in which attracting the lost is placed above feeding the sheep, I would say, “Find a different church, for the one you are in is not an orthodox Christian church.”
Participation in weekly divine service (corporate worship) should be an imperative for every member of the household. This goes a long way to establishing an order or structure to the life of the household.
If the church offers a Sunday scriptural Bible study or Sunday School, the family should participate in these as well, assuming that they are scripturally Christ-focused.
Beyond that, orthodox Christian churches that retain the liturgy also live out the church year. This means that the seasons of the year, as well as even the appointed lectionary readings, provide a pattern for corporate worship that can be extended into the home. In-home reading and study of the appointed readings—either in advance of or subsequent to the Sunday on which they are read—can be a tremendous blessing. There could be multiple ways of doing this collectively as a family, or as individual family members.
The penitential seasons of Advent and Lent should provide additional opportunities for prayer together. Many orthodox churches will provide mid-week vesper services during these seasons. The household should strive to attend these if at all possible. If for some reason this is not possible, the household should at a minimum set aside a time during the week to pray the vespers and read a reading together.
Prayers at mealtime should be offered. This may be a time to offer other intercessory prayers, but at a minimum acknowledging that it is God who gives us our food and praying that it would strengthen us for service of him reinforces a right understanding of God as provider and us as receivers of his blessings.
It perhaps goes without saying (but in modern-day American Christianity perhaps not), each family member should be baptized as soon as is possible. Baptism is instituted as a means through which God works to impart faith and forgiveness of sins, and binds the baptized to the death and resurrection of Jesus. (Baptism is a supernatural work of God, and not primarily a public proclamation of an individual’s decision…or so says most of historical orthodox Christianity.)
As the church offers instruction and some sort of a rite of Confirmation, each family member that is of the appropriate age should undertake these.
Every Christian family should at a minimum follow this simple “order”.
Additional Opportunistic Elements of Order within the Refuge
Beyond that, there is much more that can be done throughout the week at the discretion of the family.
For example, nightly prayer—especially with young children before bed—is beneficial.
I have found in my experience as a father of two (now age 23 and 15) that it is challenging with older children to find a time and a manner in which to pray together. This is probably a failing on my part: I can envision that greater focus could lead to an ongoing shared time of devotion and prayer each day. Pragmatically, with diverse schedules of activities, homework, sleep schedules, and other commitments, I have not found it possible to adhere to such a regular time of shared devotion and prayer.
Parenting styles (and personalities and flaws) factor into some aspects of intentional prayer and devotion time. Adolescents are often withdrawn and reluctant to engage in verbal communication about even things that interest them. To force such adolescents to engage verbally in shared devotion and prayer can in my opinion lead to resentment and a trite “going through the motions”. I am one to want my children to do the right thing—not necessarily to do what I tell them because I said so. Forced awkward interactions, even if well-intentioned, seem to me to run the risk of doing more harm than good. That said, other parents may have better success in incorporating an intentional shared time of devotion and prayer into the daily life of the family.
Intentional service projects, Bible studies, Bible reading plans, and more can all be part of a Christian family’s life together. But pragmatically, sometimes these are not possible to engage in, for a variety of reasons. Do what is possible and helpful, and trust in the grace of God for what is not.
Even where group devotions, prayers, or activities are not possible within the family, individual family members can study and pray—and in so doing, model a healthy Christian life, and transparently share insights and concerns.
Even reading and sharing the daily news from a Christian perspective can lead to fruitful discussion and edification. If Christians are being persecuted, or morals are being disregarded, or wars or violence is under way—sharing these things with the family, praying for those affected, praying for peace and protection within this house are all good ways to form a Christian perspective on the darkness of the sinful world around us.
Answer questions honestly and thoughtfully—making the most of every teachable moment. Don’t worry so much about trying to awkwardly cram unasked for knowledge or teaching into the heads and hearts of family members.
Find ways to serve other individuals or the church—and involve family members as appropriate. Is someone in the community in financial need? Share as you are able—in view of the family members if possible, followed by prayer for the individual in need as possible. Can you do some undone task that you come across—perhaps as simple as retrieving trashcans from the street at church or for a neighbor? Pick up a piece of trash? Make an effort to do what needs to be done without being asked? Do so, and in so doing demonstrate generous and compassionate Christian living.
Commit it to the Lord
Speaking as an orthodox Christian father who has striven to lead his household well, I often (if not usually) feel that I have failed my family—that I should have done more, done better, said more, not said as much…or whatever other fault troubles my conscience.
Confess your failings to the Lord. Pray not only for your forgiveness, but pray that your failings would not impair the growth of faith and love in your children and spouse. Pray that the Lord would show his love, compassion, and providence through you despite your failings.
In the end, all good things come from the hand of God—and not from our effort. We must trust that this is true of even spiritual growth and formation in members of our family.
My daughter, now 23, lives several thousand miles away from me. As far as I know, she is living a godly life. But is her life ordered around the cross? Is Sunday worship a central part of her week? Does her lifestyle reflect the love and discipline that Christ would have her show? I don’t know. All I can do is remember her baptism, trust in the promises of God, and pray that the Spirit would continually work in her life to strengthen her faith and empower her to live a godly life.
I hope that her time living in my household has left a positive imprint on her life. But I can do no other than trust the Holy Spirit to care for her as one of his own.
Even with my high-school aged son who still lives at home, I must commit his life to the Lord. I remember his baptism. I bring him to Sunday worship and Bible Study regularly. I have him enrolled in a quality Christian school. I try to openly share things that are important to me and that have been important to our family for generations past. I try to manifest my love for him, and to let him see the way I love my wife and others in our life. Is there more that I could do or should have done? Probably so. But I trust God to work in him the faith and love that flows from his life as a baptized child of God.
I pray for the future spouses of my children—even if they are not yet known. I pray that God would work faith in them, that he would keep them in purity, and that one day he would unite them in marriage to my children in a lifelong bond of blessing.
For the health and life of my wife—I pray that God would keep her and preserve her, and lead her to serve and honor him in all things. I praise him for giving her to me, and pray that I would be a loving and faithful husband to her.
Do I make a big deal out of these prayers, or even share them with my family? No, I do not. There is value to praying together, and in modeling an active prayer life. But there is also value in praying in secret as our Lord commanded us.
In short, God is the one who provides for us faith and provision. At best I am but a means through which he does so. May God bless people, especially my family, through me, and may I not be a stumbling block to any. But I can do no other than rely on his grace and providence. As Luther wrote in his final written words, “We are beggars, this is true.”
Expanding the Community
Beyond the family there are numerous ways to intentionally broaden the Christian community—both in ways that build upon community within the local congregation, and in ways that embrace geography over church membership.
There are so many possibilities it is hard (and probably not necessary) to organize them and present them here.
But what is important is that all of these must firmly be rooted in Christ’s redemptive work, and must be inclusive of the family in some way.
The modern western Church is galloping towards ever greater fragmentation. I recently received a postcard (addressed to my young adult daughter) from a new church that is being planted by a local evangelical church. It says:
Summit is Launching. A new church service hosted by Crossline young adults. We’re a community of people in our 20’s and early 30’s seeking to follow Jesus. Summit is gathering to explore real questions and find real answers. Join us for authentic community, powerful worship and relevant teaching. Childcare provided from infant – 5 years old.
Somehow I don’t see how singling out people in their 20’s and early 30’s, and then taking their children away from them, results in “authentic community”. Actually, everything about this seems to me to decimate authentic community—it rails against the family as a unit, it rails against the church being for all people of all ages, it rails against the church’s lifelong relevance, and more.
Instead of ageist slicing and dicing of the body of believers based on demographic categories, real “authentic” community is built by common confession of sins and confession of faith at the foot of the cross.
The gospel is inherently relevant, as “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “Relevant teaching” that is not of Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins is at best irrelevant.
On the other hand, flowing from a common confession of sins and a common confession of faith, the church can engage in corporate prayer. These prayer requests can be prayed for in families, and by individuals. The Church, the family, and individuals can then intentionally seek out both structured and unstructured ways to be conduits of provision to those in need.
I may have failed, but what I have attempted to do here is to paint a picture of how Christ’s redemptive work is central to the living of the repentant sanctified life, how the Church’s Word and Sacrament ministry can remain central within a congregation, how the congregation’s Word and Sacrament ministry can be retained as central within the family, how the family can be a God-ordained Christian community, and how some very simple pragmatic steps can establish a framework for this family to grow into an even more vibrant Christian community.
I echo your concerns about the increasing hostility towards the Gospel in the culture, but temper this with a reminder that the world has always hated the church…even if the church has at times been too preoccupied or deluded to remember this.
I echo your call-to-arms for the living of authentically orthodox Christian lives even in the face of growing hostility, but want to take care that God-ordained church and family remain central to the Christian life.
I echo your desire for radical living of the Christian life, but think that there are some simple non-daunting steps that can be taken within the family to begin movement in that direction.
I echo your embrace of the liturgy and the sacraments, but I want to underscore that these are about Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins.
I echo your distress over the state of so-called “christianity” in the west, but I dare going so far as to suggest that if the so-called ”church” is not focused on proclamation of Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins through Word and Sacrament, that it is not really the orthodox Christian Church at all.
Thank you again for writing The Benedict Option, and for providing us with a call-to-arms and some specific points to ponder and discuss as we seek to live out lives in keeping with repentance even in the face of cultural degradation. May God’s love and grace keep us in the one true faith unto life everlasting.
Your brother in Christ,