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A growing number of evangelicals—younger evangelicals in particular—are maturing the movement in another way. They are taking their newfound love affair with Christian tradition and the early church beyond the realm of books and talk and into their churches and Christian lives. Covenant's Kenneth Stewart noted at the Wheaton conference that more and more traditionally evangelical congregations are now experimenting with advent candles, sampling practices associated with Lent, and marking Holy Week with special services like Tenebrae—an evening service featuring songs, readings, and the gradual extinguishing of lights to represent Christ's death.

This fascination with early liturgy has perhaps grown out of the recent trend toward what Richard Foster has called "the classic spiritual disciplines." In his 1993 book Devotional Classics, Foster argued that "pure modernity makes us parochial," so we need to return to practices "weaned from the fads of the marketplace" that will give us "perspective and balance."

One aspect of these disciplines that has captured the imaginations of evangelicals is monasticism. In The New Faithful (2004), Colleen Carroll Campbell believes the public love affair with things monastic surged with the 1996 publication of Benedictine oblate Kathleen Norris's The Cloister Walk. Among evangelicals, the trend has extended to retreats at Catholic monasteries, recovery of Celtic spirituality, and observance of the divine hours. Not surprisingly (given the biblical focus of evangelicals), the slow, meditative monastic prayer technique called the lectio divina has captivated many. They have taken up the practice guided by such books as the three-volume Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle, The Rhythm ...

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Monastic Evangelicals
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February 2008

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