The Hezekiah Option: a strategy for Christians in a post-Christian nation

New Warhorn Media post by Tim Bayly:

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All the people you named have been so busy trying to keep their place at the table, never realizing that they are at the wrong table. I thank the LORD that he has never allowed me an ounce of influence, like those men have. I gladly take my place, out of the spotlight, at the LORD’s table.

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I think your assessment is as frightening as it is excellent. We are seeing Romans 1 happening in real-time. But I am worried that I too am taking the Hezekiah Option. At 61 years old I am repentant but uncertain as to what to do now.
As a pastor what do you advise us non-officer types to consider: separate to small radically orthodox reformed Churches and evangelize from the outside, stay in and engage (i.e. fight) the corruption, or stay in and resist but with a winsome heart? So far staying in and resisting is absolutely ineffective in our fairly orthodox PCA church. Sorry if this comes across weepy and limp-wristed. But I fear dishonoring Christ with my slash-and-burn polemical proclivities. But I also do not want to stand on the sidelines and do nothing unless that is clearly the proper Biblical course.

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Great article. Hezekiah’s attitude captures it completely. We who are 60ish need to think: sure, we’ll die before things hit rock-bottom---- but we’re old enough to be tough, financially comfortable, and much better able to handle a few punches than those who are younger. We don’t have as much fire, maybe, as the young guys, but we aren’t as bothered by what people think of us, and we have much less to lose.

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Better to be a Caleb, then, still full of joy in the fight at 85 years old!

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Thank you for this post!

Just to defend The Benedict Option… it’s been a few years since I’ve read it. I never got the impression that it was a call to withdraw from society (though that seems to be what everyone else thought). I thought it was a call to have strong Christian communities in order to improve the work of discipleship, reformation, and mission. And I think what you all are doing down in Bloomington is a fine example of what Mr. Dreher was advocating for.

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Maybe, but there is the matter of the name “Benedict.” As in The Rule of Benedict and Benedictine monasteries. The cloistered life.

Too, I haven’t notice Rod working to reclaim Scripture’s doctrines where they’re under attack. But thanks for the kind words. Love,

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I was preparing a comment to this tune, as well. Quibble what you will about what he called it, but Dreher’s “Benedict Option” would have been better-titled “Common Sense.” Live close together, live near your church, create networks of Christian businesses (tradesmen, physicians, accountants, etc.) that you and your church stick to using, take your kids out of public schools and put them in private Christian classical schools or homeschool.

I was talking with a men’s Christian group I meet with once a month (formed around Aaron Renn’s The Masculinist, initially), and we were talking about the great irony that Dreher’s personal prejudices kept him from writing about the single best case study in the Benedict Option in the US: Moscow, Idaho. Dreher hates Doug Wilson to the point where I’ve seen him ban/delete comments from folks who defend him or point out that Rachel Miller is, at best, disingenuous and at worst, a liar with an axe to grind - but what Doug and Christ Church have done in Moscow is the best argument for the Benedict Option I’ve ever seen/heard of/read about.

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The Benedict Option: right question, not the best answer?

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I think he gave a good answer but that he was foolish in what he chose to call it; because rather than people actually engaging in what he proposed, which I have indicated is just a common sense response to the prevailing culture and also probably something we should have been doing all along, he’s instead had to write a dozen or more blog posts defending the idea on the basis of people mischaracterizing it or dismissing it out of hand because they couldn’t get past the name of it.

You might be able to rightly argue that calling it what he did was, in fact, a savvy marketing move because two years after the fact we are still talking about a small book written by a conservative blogger, but Dreher is popular enough that I suspect if he’d written the same book and called it the “Ecclesia Option,” or something, we’d have a cultural touchstone that was regarded more for its substance than for its status as a giant misnomer.

If we could get this Ecclesia Option paired up with Pastor Tim’s Josiah Option (which, again, I’d like to point to Moscow for this), I think you’d have an American church poised to prevail against the gates of hell erected in Washington, D.C.

Pastor Tim has Dreher pegged. Really, Dreher’s glasses and scarf tell us everything we need to know about him.

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His sloppy take down of/blog screed about Doug Wilson was shameful. I think he lacks the backbone and the theological/pastoral aptitude to really get into the fray.

He reminds me of the assessment the Sound of Sanity gents had about Jordan Peterson: Christians should think JP is boring because the common sense he espouses should be part of basic discipleship in all of Christ’s church. Same with RD.

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This meme says it all.

I read multiple book reviews from Christians all characterizing it as “a call to withdraw.” I’m not sure how many of them had actually read the book.

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Don’t know quite how to say it. We live by faith when we confess our faith and suffer for it, not when we retreat into a ghetto. Even if it’s our ghetto. Even if it’s a larger ghetto than the other guy’s ghetto. Even if a lot of smart people live in our ghetto. How many times have I had to exhort men to stay in the fray, confess The Faith, and stay vulnerable to, and suffering, persecution? That’s where the sanctification and evangelism happen. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.

I don’t give a plug nickel for talking heads and if that’s what anyone thinks I am, they should stop reading. Talking heads can get followers and even, at times, create a ghetto, but they cannot evangelize and they cannot reform the church. Luther came close to martyrdom. So did Calvin when he stood at the Lord’s table and said “no” to the city fathers.

Ponder these things, brothers. What have you done to sanctify Christ’s church. NOT to create a new church or build a ghetto you like, but to reform the church. Reform your church where you live. Your church you attend. Reform and suffer the consequences. Which you will, for sure.

That’s the work no one’s willing to do and no one’s calling for. Church Reformed bears no resemblance to Dreher or Renn. Neither of them have given themselves to reforming the Church. The solution to the Hezekiah mess described on the OP is not a safe ghetto or the Trivium or a better grasp of manhood and the indignities it suffers today. The solution is the Church Reformed. Love,

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Perhaps we could learn something from Christians who have always lived and ministered in non-Christian cultures?

My takeaway from reading Benedict Option is that the significance of the original Benedict’s option is not merely that he became a monk but rather that he turned away from a life of wealth and status and a future of being a major player in Roman politics. Perhaps a modern-day equivalent would be if Sen. Ben Sasse said that the U.S. Government and the Republican Party were hopelessly corrupt and unfixable and that for the sake of his sanity and his soul, he was going to resign from the Senate and return to Nebraska to teach in a no-name college and minister in a small-town church because that was a more effective and important use of his time. (Note that I am not saying this is what Sen. Sasse ought to do, but merely constructing a hypothetical.) Accordingly, one of Dreher’s main messages is that it is going to be increasingly difficult for Christians to be players in mainstream culture and on the D.C. scene without hopelessly compromising themselves and abandoning historic Christian faith and morality (if that has not already started happening).

And when it comes to retreating into ghettos, keep in mind that real world ghettos were places that people were forced into, not what they retreated into. And when people lose jobs and businesses and are shut out of professions due to their Christian convictions, it is into the ghetto that they are being forced. Since this is the direction things are going, Dreher argues that Christians should strengthen their faith, their local churches, and their mutual support so that they will be better able to withstand the trials that are coming. The “retreat” of the Benedict Option is not for the purpose of escaping persecution but for the purpose of rebuilding the church and strengthening the spiritual life of believers.

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I simply don’t know how to point out more clearly what is so obvious to me. The problem is not that Christians will find it more difficult to be players in the mainstream, but that Christians have been players in the mainstream for decades now while consistently refusing to confess our faith there. So now our precious “players in the mainstream” is threatened and we cuddle up to one another and make like losing our mainstream playerhood is actually a choice we have made, some giving it the moniker “Two Kingdom” and others call the “Benedict Option.”

My point was different. I tried to point out that we’ve all taken the Hezekiah Option and we’re to blame for losing our mainstream playerhood—and this starting with pastors and elders. I laugh at the suggestion that our local churches will help us. We have created the problem. The pulpit leads the world but our pulpits are silent. This is the story of the past fifty years in North America.

In the sixties, pastors wouldn’t preach against fornication and contraception, nor would their elders discipline them. Still won’t.

In the seventies, pastors wouldn’t preach against adultery, unbiblical divorce, remarriage, or abortion (true), nor would their elders discipline them. Still won’t.

In the eighties, pastors wouldn’t preach against the idolatry of greed and feminism, nor would elders discipline them.

In the nineties, pastors wouldn’t preach against sodomy, now would elders discipline it. Instead pastors assured sinners AIDS was no judgment from God and elders were happy for such a sensitive and compassionate spokesperson for the church.

In the aughts, pastors wouldn’t preach against fornication, contraception, adultery, unbiblical divorce, remarriage, abortion, greed, feminism, and sodomy, nor would their elders discipline them.

In the teens, the tent is filling up with every form of sexual perversion and rebellion, some guy in metro NYC says we’re in danger and all the church’s Benedict Arnolds think he’s deep and want to yip and yap about the gathering clouds that might rain on us a little bit and force us to take shelter.

How pathetic. Anyhow, I tried to assign the true blame. Been trying for decades now, but we’ve only been losing ground.

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