This article was first published August 12, 1988
John R.W. Stott, the elder statesman of British evangelicalism, has stated recently that if he were young and beginning his Christian discipleship over, he would establish a kind of evangelical monastic order. Joining it would be men vowed to celibacy, poverty, and peaceableness.
Senate Chaplain Richard Halverson, speaking last April to the Anabaptist Hutterian Brethren, said something "cataclysmic" is in the air. Perhaps it is the return of Christ or, less dramatically, a "mighty visitation of God upon the Earth, upon the church." When it happens, "people in the evangelical community will have to move a lot more in the direction you [the Hutterians] are, more toward the simplicity, away from the materialism that I believe now has really infected badly the whole evangelical community."
Fuller Seminary philosopher Richard Mouw, speaking a few months back at Wheaton College, suggested that the church, and its evangelical sector in particular, would benefit from "remonasticization"the clear and radical witness of a smaller body within the church, calling the entire church to a clearer and more radical witness.
Talk of monasticism from three thoroughly Reformed Christians is striking, and perhaps only coincidental. But perhaps it is not so coincidental. North American evangelicals are now acutely awake to the fact that they live in a postChristian culture. There is much talk against violence, sensuality, and materialism. Yet even the most casual observer can see that the evangelical church is "infected badly" by all three.
The faint but (we hope) growing call for remonasticization is provoked by the recognition that our situation will not change merely with continuing talk. ...1
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