“The New Monasticism Gets Older” by Greg Peters
Amen, brother! Amen! Amen! Amen!
If anyone would like to understand why the Protestant church needs monasticism – or why someone would even perceive the need – here it is. The only part I disagree with, is that monastic and married are antonyms. The root word of monastic is Greek for “alone” or “single.”
Why, why, why do Protestant monasteries simply not exist? It is a shame, an absolute shame. Luther and Calvin, the Reformed fathers, advocated monasticism. Their qualification for there being no life-long vows is one with which I fully agree.
I know it sounds unusual, especially to Protestant thinkers who simply dislike monasticism and the idea of it – And why? Where did that dislike come from? Certainly not from the fathers of the Reformation, not from the Bible, not from the Reformed tradition, not from any common sense, not from thinking about it, not from studying it, not from ecumenicism, not from interest, not from safety in the Gospel, not from theological support, not from love for monastic brothers, but from 1950’s American materialism, the idol of the nuclear family, the disinterest in Church tradition, the fear of Catholics, an insecurity about mystery, a discomfort with any sort of silence whatsoever (if you love God, you will sing loudly! Talk to him? Through work? Through silent prayer? Obscene!), the worry of strangers, the hatred of salvation-by-works (rightly so), the misunderstanding of asceticism, the mistakes of systematic theology, platonism, an obscure grasp of history, a subconscious distrust and enmity of single people and celibacy (single? must not be pure.), an inability to see a good amidst corruptions, a skewed view of how to worship God, a rejection of reformational thinking, an adoption of pagan cultural boundary lines, and a disregard for vocations that make you, not capitalist, but communist – but there is an aching need in the church for a reformed monasticism. Anyone who sees no good in monasticism needs to check their reasoning. They may not be enemies of the Church, they may love Christ, but they are the opposition of a branch of Christ’s body that desperately needs a chance to grow again. They are the opposition of an orchard of fruits, of a vocation that will do good for the Church, of a part of the body that will satisfy needs that a married person with kids in the system simply cannot satisfy, of a group of brothers.