The Benedict Option Falls Short of Real Pluralism

The Benedict Option Falls Short of Real Pluralism

Christian witness includes public partnership with others.
The Benedict Option Falls Short of Real Pluralism

Christianity Todayasked four thoughtful voices in our movement to read our March cover story on The Benedict Option and answer the following question: “In a time of weakening institutions and in an increasingly pluralistic age, what is the best way for Christians to strengthen their local Christian community?”

I agree with much of Rod Dreher’s cultural diagnosis, though we differ in posture and tone. Like Dreher, I believe many of my neighbors hold wrong-headed views with real-world consequences. But I also see a lot of good in those neighbors and a lot that I can learn from them. Tim Keller and I have argued that our confidence in the gospel lets us find common ground with others even when we can’t agree on a common good. This confidence in our own beliefs and the institutions that sustain them is also what I’ve suggested allows Christians to pursue confident pluralism.

I share Dreher’s desire for partnership across faith traditions—but I would go further. Dreher references the 1990-era effort, Evangelicals and Catholics Together. Today we might think about something like Evangelicals and Muslims Together. I don’t mean that as a call for theological unity but for real friendships and public partnership. Evangelicals would benefit from these kinds of relationships with Muslims in pursuing charitable work on behalf of others, advocating the value of pluralism in this country, and defending the importance of religious liberty.

In calling for priorities and practices that make Christians look different from the rest of the world, Dreher joins a long line of thoughtful writers such as Stanley Hauerwas, James K. A. Smith, Tish Harrison Warren, and Brenda Salter McNeil. What he calls ...

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Read more from this special feature:

The Benedict Option’s False Dichotomy
The Benedict Option’s Blind Spots
The Benedict Option Isn’t an Evangelical Option
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