I’m not sure I have a firm grip on Matthew Loftus’s response to my questions for critics of the Benedict Option. His chief criticism of my post seems to be that I have phrased the core ideas of the BenOp in ways that he’s not sure how to disagree with.
Well, you know, that was the point. As I tried to explain in a follow-up post, I’ve been trying to isolate the sources of disagreement. If you disagree with any of those three key premises, then we’ll have one kind of conversation, one largely about ends. But if you agree with the premises and the conclusion, then we’ll have a very different conversation, one that on the basis of shared ends debates the best means.
When Loftus writes, “the Benedict Option is destined to flounder if it does not deal with how the Great Commission or the Great Commandments shape our Christian lives and communities,” I think: Absolutely. But then I think: and that’s true about every single Christian endeavor without exception. And then I think: I understood that reanimating our commitment to the Great Commission and the twofold Great Commandment was pretty much the BenOp’s whole reason for being. I thought that forming Christians in such a way that we are properly equipped, in knowledge and virtue, to do what Jesus tells us to do was the only reason for there to be a BenOp.
So maybe I’m the one who doesn’t understand the BenOp. But if I do understand it then Loftus’s criticism seems peculiar.
As for the rest of his post: every concern he raises is extremely important and I affirm the whole tenor and substance. If there’s one thing that every single instantiation of the BenOp must avoid it’s the temptation to practice love of my neighbor by ensuring that my neighbors are people I find easy to love. But those warnings and concerns seem to me more “how to do the BenOp right” rather than “we don’t need to devote more energy and attention to our Christian institutions.”
There’s much more to say but I can’t do long posts on my phone and I won’t be able to write more while I’m traveling. So this is the best I can do for a while.