Thursday, September 30, 2004

Baptist Monk Manifesto

When I think of a Baptist monk, I think of several pivots points that I feel are worth thinking about. This is not long, but rather short and to the point.

A Baptist Monk is one who:

1.Values Silence - Silence is a key discipline in the development of one’s faith. A silence to take time to listen to God speak. To often we are caught in the web of “overdoing” to compensate.

2. Realizes that reading and study of the Bible is paramount. The key difference here is that lectio divina is not understood well in Baptist circles. But “something jumped out at me from the word” is a more common terminology. An understanding of lectio is an important element in this.

3. Believes in the power of prayer. The liturgy of the hours has taken on more meaning to me as the years go by. Perhaps Baptist use of the liturgy would be incorporated for those interested in “Baptist monkdom.”

4. Believes in the priesthood of the believers. In other words that God speaks directly to us and maybe even to our neighbor. One would need to be sensitive to God’s voice in such an environment.

5. Is one who believes God leads us. The key here is that a Baptist monk is one who “is not controlling but one being controlled by God.” To often power is seen as possession. Possession of the largest congregation, the greatest number in Sunday School, etc. Real power is in being controlled by God no matter the numbers. This is the big difference, “Baptist monks should seek only the power of God and not man.”

6. And finally (I am sure this is not the end, just what I have thought of at this time) a Baptist monk is one who reads the full development of Christian classics and literature. No, it is not a sin to read Thomas Merton or Henri Nouwen. Too often one can be sheltered to the point that one misses the true vision of God.

Please read
Jonathan’s Comments about this. It gives a more British perspective.

As to problems my friend Wayne Burns points out a few in some of his comments:

I had read Jonathan's comments about Baptist Monk.The term Baptist Monk is an oxymoron. As you know, Baptists are not into silence and solitude. And, most Baptists see praying the Psalms (the hours) as not good use of time.

As long as Baptists are committed to activities as being the rule for spirituality, I see little hope here. To set up a schedule for a Bapist Monk will be a challenge. However, if one studies monasticism, you soon discover how busy the monks are, and how much they are involved in activities throughout each day.....And, how noisy a monastery can be.

OK, any comments?


At 12:07 PM, Blogger c said...

great stuff dan. from a non-Baptist approach (i attend a church of Christ, but don't discredit me for that) i would have to add the discipline of generosity. i recently read writings from St. Benedict as well as the Anabaptist movements and the one thing that connected them was the idea of sharing. in their communities, they shared possessions, land, money, time, their pains and suffering. as in acts, if this community continues, then no one is in need. i think that simplicity is born from this, or maybe vice versa. instead of living life with clinched fists as henri nouwen would say, open your hands to receive and give freely.

At 12:42 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...


Great work. I've got something in draft form for later today for my blog, but you've covered, admirably, many of the points. But I'm sure we can bounce ideas of each other and comments made, pray about it so that what is now on paper (or displayed on a monitor) can be more substantial and take 'tangible' form in the weeks and months ahead.

I'm pleased you mentioned the need for, and the power of prayer, of study and that a Baptist Monk would be God-centred.

Wayne is correct - the notion is an oxymoron (for now), but the term is meant to say 'hey, look at me - this is odd, different, new, exciting' and encourage folk to get involved in something that is not 'run of the mill', and it fits in well with emergent church idea of blending two traditions into something new.

Over the next few weeks, I'd like to use the website to run with this, and so would value your interaction.


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