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Bonhoeffer and the Benedict Option: The Mission of Monasticism in a Post-Christian World

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This article brings Bonhoeffer into conversation with the Benedict Option in order to analyse the inner logic of neo-monasticism. Both contend that missional faithfulness in a post-Christian context requires the church to abandon the pursuit of power, a task that lies at the heart of the neo-monastic posture. But Bonhoeffer does so while remaining alert to the great temptation of monasticism. The temptation is not merely that the church becomes sectarian. The more serious problem has to do with the way the church’s separation from culture is theologically construed. This article suggests that whereas the Benedict Option is grounded in a Christ-idea, Bonhoeffer’s neo-monasticism is grounded in Christ himself. The temptation, in other words, is that ideology becomes confused with Christology. Following Bonhoeffer, this article claims that confusion on this point risks embroiling the church in the very power games that neo-monasticism attempts to avoid. Whereas ideologically grounded neo-monasticism must confront the world in the mode of conflict, Christologically grounded neo-monasticism is free from the temptation of power, and from this posture authentic witness becomes possible.

Affiliations: 1: Hope College,


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