Neo-Monasticism in Evangelicalism

John Pless on the tendency of modern evangelicals to adopt a Catholic view of vocation, ie. a strict sacred/secular distinction, my emphasis added:

Henriette Browne Mutter Kind“Medieval Roman Catholicism presupposed a dichotomy between life in the religious orders and life in ordinary callings. It was assumed that the monastic life guided by the evangelical counsels (i.e., the Sermon on the Mount) provided a more certain path to salvation than secular life regulated by the decalog. American Evangelicalism has spawned what may be referred to as “neo-monasticism.” Like its medieval counterpart, neo-monasticism gives the impression that religious work is more God-pleasing than other tasks and duties associated with life in the world. According to this mindset, the believer who makes an evangelism call, serves on a congregational committee, or reads a lesson in the church service is performing more spiritually significant work than the Christian mother who tends to her children or the Christian who works with integrity in a factory. For the believer, all work is holy because he or she is holy and righteous through faith in Christ.

Similar to neo-monasticism is the neo-clericalism that lurks behind the slogan, “Everyone a minister.” This phrase implies that work is worthwhile only insofar as it resembles the work done by pastors. Lay readers are called “Assisting Ministers” and this practice is advocated on the grounds that it will involve others in the church as though the faithful reception of Christ’s gifts was insufficient. It is no longer enough to think of your daily life and work as your vocation, now it must be called “your ministry.”” [“Liturgy and Vocation.”]

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