Shown below is an introduction to New Day Monks. Scattered throughout this introduction are various terms and phrases from Evangelical Protestant circles and from ancient Monastic Catholic circles. We have not defined or explained these terms in this short introduction. The reader who does not have a religious background in these areas can follow any highlighted term to links in the Monkipedia section of the New Day Monk site for a brief description of the term.
INTRODUCTION TO NEW DAY MONKS
Several years ago a small group of evangelical protestant men from different churches in St. Louis began meeting to discuss their journey through the Christian church world. Some of us are from entirely protestant backgrounds while others have a Catholic background. We all share one trait though: we felt we were missing something in our walk with God and we had been drawn to the ancient ways of the monastic orders of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. Our individual pathways to this common interest were different. One of us had started a successful church plant in St. Louis but eventually suffered "burn out". He is now rising from the ashes. One of us is currently a full time pastor. Several of us are seminary trained. All of us have extensive experience and background in Evangelical Christianity. None of us want to leave the church we are attending and none of us think we can do better by starting another church. But we have found some answers.
First, although we completely agree that the Protestant Reformation did well in pointing people back to justification by faith, salvation by grace and to adult conversion it contained the seeds to its own limitations. For one thing, by making a message from the pulpit the main feature of its church service the Protestant church began a relentless slide to a mental (thought based) form of Christianity. Propositional Christianity eventually replaced relational Christianity. Even though repeated revival movements in the past 500 years have stressed a new birth experience and a Spirit led life only a few protestant groups, such as the Quakers and other quietist sects, actually paid sufficient attention to the inner life to move their people to a heart relationship with Jesus.
Likewise, an appeal to "scripture alone" was a welcome return to New Testament Christianity. Ever since the first century of Christianity, and especially since Constantine allowed Christianity to become the Roman state religion, tradition had in many places substituted man made law for the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. Here too though, a distrust of individual revelation led to a "bible based" approach that promoted mental and propositional Christianity. Unfortunately this often results in a system where what we think we believe is often more important than who we are. Who we are shows us what we really believe. Here the adage holds: "What you are doing speaks so loudly I can't hear what you are saying." Without a God who "searches us and shows us if there be any wicked way in us" we can end up knowing a lot about God but not really knowing Him intimately.
Second, by stressing learning, understanding and Bible teaching, evangelical protestants tend to relate to God with words. Obviously this has value. We learn from God by listening to His word, and if we listen to the Bible we will hear God. If we obey His word we will be blessed. Likewise if we pray with words we will do good, since He tells us to make our requests known to Him. He wants intercessory prayer. However, to hear only words and to speak only words tends to limit our relationship with God. Can He speak to us in our spirit? Can we pray without words? We have learned that He does indeed speak to us deeply in our spirit. It may be difficult to describe what we are hearing since we use words to describe events, but the improvement in our character, our ability to be freed from sin, to be humble, to be loving and to be fruitful in the kingdom speaks for us. To learn to pray in silence and solitude, to sense His presence and to be transformed by His touch have improved our walk with Him and we testify to this change.
We realize the danger in experiential Christianity. We understand that proper doctrine is necessary and we realize that inward experience must conform to scripture or be rejected. We are orthodox. However, we have discovered that limiting our experience with God to Bible study and vocal prayer had given us a shallow relationship with Jesus. The danger of being luke warm is real too and the lack of zeal in Evangelical Christianity, especially in the men, should be a wake up call to the church and a motive to investigate our claim of a missing element in Evangelical Christianity. Of course, you should ask our wives if they agree with our self assessment.
Third, we have learned that the Church is not our main problem....we are the main problem. Each of us has come to see that our own self will, ambition, competition, insecurity and carnality is our biggest problem. It is difficult to see ourselves. Even though we applaud human efforts to practice discipleship, transparency and confession we have come to see that we cannot be trusted to really know ourselves. Only God really sees us, and when He reveals what He sees it makes us naked before Him. Facing pain, limitations, lack of gifting, and hidden sin is one of the main benefits to the monastic disciplines and to contemplative prayer. Only if we stop long enough to hear God can we know ourselves; it is difficult to hear and talk at the same time. Each of us is coming to see ourselves. As we respond to what we see and allow God to touch us and change us, we experience real transformation.
Performance and gifting has been moved to the side and character and surrender to God has replaced it. This has made for a great improvement in our lives. By practicing detachment, recollection in prayer, acceptance of His will and surrender to His will we are beginning to experience a "peace that passes understanding" and a "joy unspeakable". We only ask you be opened minded, to investigate our testimony for yourself and to learn those parts of Christianity that you don't already know.