The Benedict Option, A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation by Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher believes that the culture war which began with the sexual revolution in the 1960s, has ended in defeat for Christian conservatives (pp. 3, 79) and there is no hope of being reversed (p. 89).  Ultimately all faith among European and North American Christians will disappear (pp. 8, 12, 46, 202) and the only hope for them is a strategic withdrawal from business-as-usual in America (p. 2).  In search for a model of survival Dreher turns to the sixth century monk St. Benedict.  During a time of similar societal corruption Benedict withdrew to a cave for three years, eventually emerging to found 12 monasteries (pp. 14-18) and create a Rule (The Benedictine Rule) which showed the monks (and now us, by extension) how to order one’s life to be receptive to God’s grace (pp. 15, 47, 50-54).  It was this monastic system, best exemplified by Benedict, that kept the…

Live Not by Lies, a Manual for Christian Dissidents by Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher, author of the popular The Benedict Option (see my review here:  https://tottministries.org/?s=The+Benedict+Option) has written Live Not By Lies as a warning about the soft totalitarianism he sees rapidly overtaking America.  The means of resisting the propaganda is, according to the author, to challenge its philosophy with truth.  Or, as the title suggests, to “live not by lies,” a line taken from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s final message to the Russian people (p. xiv).  What it means today to not live by lies is the issue this book explores “through interviews with and testaments left by Christians (and others) from throughout the Soviet Bloc who lived through totalitarianism” (p. xiv).  The author is convinced that “we cannot become the kind of Christians we need to be in preparation for persecution if we don’t know stories like this, and take them into our hearts” (p. 204). Dreher sees much overlap between the…

The Trinity, a Journal And Historic Creeds, a Journal by Kenneth Boa

Ken Boa, who received a master’s degree in Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, as well as doctoral degrees from New York University and the University of Oxford, is president of Reflections Ministries as well as Trinity House Publishers. He is the author of several books including four journals in the Reflections series, all published by NavPress. The two journals under review, along with the other two journals in the series, Sacred Readings and The Psalms, all attempt to do the same thing: take the reader on a meditative journal through the Scriptures or creeds via the use of “the ancient art of sacred reading,” better known as lectio divina. It is important to know that lectio is not found, promoted or prescribed anywhere in the Word of God. It is a technique invented by the “Eastern desert father John Cassian early in the fifth century” (all quotations come from…

Solitude and Silence

(August/September 2012 – Volume 18, Issue 4) In a world filled with noise, many of us long to “unplug” and find a quiet spot far from the hum of technology, the demands of work, the cries of children, the ubiquitous call of advertisement, the hype of politicians and the bombardment of world news.  To escape, even for a few minutes, and find rest for our souls is an almost universal longing in modern times, especially in the West. When this rest is accompanied with time alone with God, it provides the refreshment and strength that we need to face the pressures of everyday living in a fast paced age. For these reasons, when spiritual leaders start talking about silence and solitude, our ears perk up and we yearn to adopt the teachings and techniques they recommend.  For most of my lifetime I have heard people refer to their habit of…

The Trinity, a Journal & Historic Creeds, a Journal by Kenneth Boa

Ken Boa, who received a master’s degree in Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, as well as doctoral degrees from New York University and the University of Oxford, is president of Reflections Ministries as well as Trinity House Publishers.  He is the author of several books including four journals in the Reflections series, all published by NavPress.  The two journals under review, along with the other two journals in the series, Sacred Readings and The Psalms, all attempt to do the same thing: take the reader on a meditative journal through the Scriptures or creeds via the use of  “the ancient art of sacred reading,” better known as lectio divina.  It is important to know that lectio is not found, promoted or prescribed anywhere in the Word of God.  It is a technique invented by the “Eastern desert father John Cassian early in the fifth century” (all quotations come from…

Promise Keepers (an update) – Part 5

(June/July 1997 – Volume 3, Issue 5) The Teachings of Psychobabble Promise Keepers appears to have two primary goals: 1. To develop godly men — “Promise Keepers is a Christ-centered ministry dedicated to uniting men through vital relationships to become godly men who influence their world” (Men of Action, Fall 1993, p4). 2. To unify Christians and churches — “We believe that we have a God-given mission to unite men who are separated by race, geography, culture, denomination and economics” (Ibid). In an earlier study (Promise Keepers an update, Part II) we examined in detail the ecumenical nature of Promise Keepers and found its stance in this area to be unbiblical. It is the subject of developing godly men that we wish to address at this time. We applaud Promise Keepers’ stated desire in this area and we do not wish to question their motives. Our concern is with the “how-to.”…

Emergent Books

(May 2008 – Volume 14, Issue 5)  A note from Pastor Gilley: I have recently completed reading a number of books related to the emergent conversation. This month’s TOTT paper will be composed of my reviews of these books. Finding Our Way Again, the Return to the Ancient Practicesby Brian McLaren Brian McLaren, the most recognizable name in the emergent church movement, signals a shift, or at least a new emphasis within emergent, toward ancient practices of earlier periods of church history. As usual, McLaren believes the church has lost its way due to its refusal to follow God’s leading. The church has become “proud and unteachable” but fortunately a few “humble and teachable” people (guess who?) are pointing out the right path (pp. 150-151): “When the community of faith realizes it has lost its way, it begins looking forward by looking back…It looks to its ancient practices to help it…

Ancient-Future Faith Or Do All Roads Lead to Rome

(June 2008 – Volume 14, Issue 6)  Rumors are starting to circulate that the emergent church movement is running out of steam. After making the biggest splash and the most noise of anything in the Christian community for many years it appears to be approaching exhaustion. Some like Rob Bell and Erwin McManus who are clearly in the “emergent conversation” have denied their involvement. And people seem a bit tired of hearing about postmodernism, its rejection of universal truth and its promotion of relativism. After all, how long can people live questioning the obvious and denying reality? These things play out nicely in philosophy class and in college coffee shops, but have serious limitations in the real world. Maybe it is time for the emergent ship to leave the dock and make way for the next fad. But before we begin to make funeral arrangements for the emergent church it might…