“Solitude is choosing to be alone and to dwell on our experience of isolation from other human beings. Solitude frees us actually.” – Dr. Dallas Willard, Spirit of the Disciplines, p160
Willard soundly renounces and condemns monasticism. He says that it misunderstands and misrepresents what it looks like to imitate Christ. He lists many examples of early abuses and just plain ‘strangenesses’ of the desert fathers… letting worms eat you, sitting on three foot square platforms sixty feet in the air for years… picturing St. Benedict with switches and so forth.
Abuses happen for sure. But I also think Willard doesn’t understand vocational prayer. He presents a classic Evangelical assessment of monasticism.
Willards then attacks Protestantism stating “Here is where the Protestant reaction against asceticism comes in: it was a reaction against any essential role of spiritual disciplines in the process of redemption.” p144 Willard says that not only Lutherans but Baptists and Pentecostals fell into the anti-Catholic “disciplines” that left little to do but “think” and go to church. “Protestantism made the mistake of simply rejecting the disciplines as essential to the new life in Christ.” p147
How do we proceed forward with the spiritual life, with spiritual disciplines? More on this next time.