I have never met a Protestant theologian--evangelical or mainline--who speaks about monastics with as much competence and ease as Greg Peters. This book presents a well-documented, interesting, and enjoyable summary of the Christian monastic way of life and also describes the personal journey of a young Baptist-turned-Anglican minister seeking God's face through contemplative prayer and by following Christ's footsteps back to the apostolic church. This journey leads 'from Benedict to Bernard,' from the Benedictine Rule to the Cistercian movement that emanated from the mystical theology of Bernard of Clairvaux, a favorite author of Aquinas also cherished by Luther and Calvin. The Story of Monasticism says much about contemporary monasticism, including American Benedictines, Trappists, and the impact of Thomas Merton. It is an exceptional book and will be an eye-opener for both Protestants and Catholics, laity and clergy alike. Greg Peters is like a man who found treasure hidden in a field, and in his joy sold all he had in order to buy that field. Many would be happy to make a similar investment.
-Fr. Abbot Denis Farkasfalvy,
research scholar in theology, University of Dallas; abbot emeritus of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Dallas
This book accomplishes what it promises: to narrate the history of monasticism for those who are new to the topic and for those who already know something about it. Greg's writing is succinct without compromising thoroughness in a well-researched text that will be as useful for the classroom as it will be for the interested individual. What makes this historical introduction unique is that Greg does not leave the reader in the past; in the spirit of ressourcement, the story he traces (from the Old Testament to Thomas Merton) becomes spiritually edifying along the way.
author of Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins: Learning from the Psychology of Ancient Monks
Greg Peters sets out to convince his readers that the church has always had and has always needed a monastic witness. He begins by making the case that Christians have long seen the monastery--in all its various forms--as an essential element of our life, ministry, and witness. He then gently asks where this necessary countercultural witness is in our world today. Carefully researched, balanced, and irenic, this book seeks to affect the way we do church by uncovering resources from those who lived in intentional Christian communities.
Scripture Press Professor of Christian Formation and Ministry, Wheaton College
Greg Peters has provided the evangelical community an invaluable service by laying before us a banquet of insight into the monastic impulse--the love for God, the desire for community, the draw toward a rule of life. Regardless of one's judgment of the value of various monastic movements and individuals, the reader cannot help but appreciate and learn from God's sovereign grace and movement among these believers throughout the history of the church who have sought to live out a life dedicated to the gospel.
director, Institute for Spiritual Formation, professor of spiritual theology and philosophy, Talbot School of Theology and Rosemead School of Psychology