Highlights from the week online

Is US Christianity in a state of emergency?

Christian bloggers are currently debating a new book from the Orthodox writer Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option: a Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation.

In The Week, Damon Linker summarises the book’s argument as follows: “Christian conservatives need to practise ‘a new kind of Christian politics’ – or an ‘antipolitical politics’ – that follows the example of the religious order that St Benedict of Nursia founded in the 6th century to preserve and foster Christian civilisation as the Roman Empire decayed and crumbled around it.”

But Linker wonders if Dreher paints too rosy a picture of the past. “American Christianity has always been imperfect, morally flawed, doctrinally heretical,” says Linker. “Is it really different in kind and significantly debased in comparison to the quality of faith one would have found among a random sample of Americans during the 1850s?”

There is one vital difference, Linker concedes: contemporary society’s attitude towards sex. “Christianity in all of its manifold forms and expressions isn’t about to disappear, but comprehensive Christianity – a holistic vision of God and humanity, sexuality and sin, marriage and procreation – has been dethroned,” Linker writes.

The alternative to the Benedict Option

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