The Benedict Option

A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation Hardcover

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“American Christians are going to have to come to terms with the brute fact that we live in a secular culture, one in which our beliefs make increasingly little sense. We speak a language that the world more and more either cannot hear or finds offensive to its ears.”

American Christianity is in decline. From the outside, churches are beset by challenges to religious liberty in a rapidly secularizing culture. From the inside, they are hollowed out by the departure of young people and an insipid pseudo-Christianity. Keeping Hillary Clinton out of the White House may have bought a brief reprieve from the state’s assault, but it will not stop the West’s slide into decadence and dissolution. Confused and frightened Christians wonder “What went wrong?” and “What’s next?”

Rod Dreher argues that the way forward is actually the way back—all the way to St. Benedict of Nursia. This sixth-century monk, horrified by the moral chaos following Rome’s fall, retreated to the forest and created a new way of life for Christians. He built enduring Christian communities based on principles of order, hospitality, stability, and prayer. His spiritual centers of hope were strongholds of light throughout the Dark Ages, and saved not just Christianity, but Western Civilization.

Today, a new, post-Christian barbarism reigns. Many believers are blind to it, and their churches are too weak to resist. Politics offers little help in this spiritual crisis. What is needed is the Benedict Option, a strategy that draws on the authority of Scripture and the wisdom of the ancient church. The goal: to embrace exile from mainstream culture and construct a resilient counterculture.

Benedict Option Christians must learn the art of resistance with faith and creativity. They draw on tried and true Christian traditions and practices to strengthen their families and communities, revitalize local churches, create new schools, build support networks, and cultivate hospitality. They learn not just to give a resolute “no” to the false gods of this world, but a joyful “yes” to eternal truths and life-giving customs rediscovered from our Christian past. As in the early church, they embrace a limited withdrawal from the world so they can more effectively show the love of God to it.

This book is both manifesto and rallying cry for Christians who, if they are not to be conquered, must learn how to fight on culture war battlefields like none the West has seen for 1,500 years. The Benedict Option is for all mere Christians – Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox – who can read the signs of the times. Neither false optimism nor fatalistic despair will do. Only faith, hope, and love, embodied in a renewed church and resilient culture, can sustain believers in the Dark Age that has overtaken us. These are the days for building strong arks for the long journey across a sea of night.

Praise

"I'm more missionary than monastery, but I think every Christian should read this book. Rod Dreher is brilliant, prophetic, and wise. Even if you don't agree with everything in this book, there are warnings here to heed, and habits here to practice.”
—Russell Moore, president, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
 
“A terrific book: provocative in its content, shrewd in its insights, vivid and engaging in its style.  The strength of The Benedict Option is not just its analysis of our culture’s developing problems but its outline of practical ways Christians can survive and thrive in a dramatically different America.  This is an invaluable tool for understanding our times and acting as faithful believers.”
—Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia
 
"This is the kind of book I am going to use to get the thoughtful people in my congregation reading and discussing. It is going to be helpful to the very people who have to live on the front line."
—Carl R. Trueman, Westminster [PA] Theological Seminary; writer for First Things
 
“An insightful and optimistic plan of action for Christians who are starting to realize just how hostile American culture is to their faith.”
—Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, senior editor, The Federalist
 
Deeply convicting and motivating. This book will be a grounding force for the Church in the decades ahead.”
—Gabe Lyons, author of Good Faith; president of Q Ideas

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