Social Justice as the “new monasticism?” NO!
For a while now I’ve kept this article from Christianity Today on file as an example of Christians engaged in the community development level of social justice (for better and for worse) and who exhibit the high discipleship required to live for justice. These Christian community development efforts are kin to the CCDA organization we have talked about.
However, this article also causes me great frustration as it is a prime example of what is fundamentally wrong with the mainstream church’s perception of such efforts. (Don’t even get me started on the insinuation that these noble causes are for the single, the radical, or the sexually confused).
While I am in the mood to express my aggravation with the author (Rob Moll) and CT I am no way trying to take away from the examples used in the article. Nor am I saying that Christians are called to “œcommunes.” Give the article a read and then consider these words of admonishment from Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
“…Thus monasticism became a living protest against the secularization of Christianity and the cheapening of grace. But the Church was wise enough to tolerate this protest, and to prevent it from developing to its logical conclusion. It thus succeeded in relativising it, even using it in order to justify the secularization of its own life. Monasticism was represented as an individual achievement which the mass of the laity could not be expected to emulate. By thus limiting the application of the commandments of Jesus to a restricted group of specialists, the Church evolved the fatal conception of the double standard — a maximum and a minimum standard of Christian obedience. Whenever the Church was accused of being too secularized, it could always point to monasticism as an opportunity of living a higher life within the fold, and thus justify the other possibility of a lower standard of life for others.”
I would like to write on this more in the future, but for now I’m content to let the great Dietrich Bonhoeffer speak for me. Really, is it any wonder why our first goal must be to place the ideals of justice back into the center of Christian life and practice where it belongs?
The new monastacicm? NO! Could you get it any more wrong? Let me know what you all think and tell me if I’m venting unreasonably.