Where did monasticism come from? Protestants seem to simply assume (wrongly) that the Roman Catholic church made it up. But this is totally wrong. Monasticism pre-existed Roman Catholicism. This is provable by how Pelagian it was in the earliest centuries, especially in Britain and the Celtic isles. Catholicism didn’t make it to Britain until the 5th century. Sometimes Catholics will even credit Palladius, Augustine (not Hippo, the later one), and of course St. Patrick, with Christianizing the region. But Christianity was there before. It was largely a Pelagian-type monastic Christianity, though, one so clearly pre-Catholic that Catholicism has to deny it even existed and pretend that these lands were Pagan prior to THEIR missions. But the truth on this is still available. For instance, there is a book called Christ in Celtic Christianity that I found interesting on this subject. (BTW, pre-Catholic tradition asserts that Joseph of Arimathea established the first church in Britain. Official Catholicism denies it in their attempt to claim Christianity didn’t make it to England until they brought their brand.)
The real question, though, is still WHEN exactly did monasticism develop. S o its pre-Catholic, and originally Pelagian in the theology (before Pelagius even lived, he learned his theology from them, not the other way around). But still, WHEN did it develop?
Or did it develop? Was monasticism there at the beginning? Is that possible? Did Jesus himself establish monasticism?
Protestants will most likely be resistant even to the question itself!
Why? Because “monasticism is Catholic.” Hahaha! No it isn’t.
Its interesting that in Tertullian’s day (when he was active writing, circa 200-210) he was upset with how Catholicism was so sexually immoral, and how divorce and remarriage was rampant. Yet, we know Catholicism as banning divorce, as esteeming celibacy, etc. How did that happen?
Monasticism was its own church; it was a rival denomination, essentially, when Catholicism began to develop in earnest. In order to conquer this rival, it was necessary to merge it into Catholicism. So from the time of Augustine of Hippo forward, Catholicism was AT WAR with monasticism. It couldn’t destroy it, not from outside, so it subsumed it. And by doing so, Catholicism changed monasticism, but monasticism also changed it.
Catholicism changed monasticism, first by replacing its Pelagian theology with semi-Pelagian, then later with Augustinian. Secondly, by bringing Mary worship into monasticism, but this didn’t succeed until the 8th century at least.
But monasticism changed Catholicism. The price of subjugating the monasteries to the Catholic system was subjugating the Catholic system to the monastic ideal: celibacy. Celibate priesthood was a rule imposed by the merger of monasticism with Catholicism, which for a long time gave monastics an advantage in the Catholicism. But recently, the Vatican Two Popes have been gutting and destroying monasticism, finally achieving what the original objective of the RCC was with respect to monasticism: to destroy it. And once its fully destroyed, Catholicism will get back on track with what it really is: sexual profligacy. We see already, Pope Francis is trying to allow divorce (and gay marriage) in Catholicism (i.e. the recent Synods on the Family). Its a proof that monasticism is essentially dead.
But all this is beside the point. The point is this….where did monasticism come from?
Did Jesus teach monasticism? Did he establish a monastic church?
TURN THE OTHER CHEEK.
Can a father or mother do that? Get killed and let their children starve? Get beat up so bad all their money goes to healing their injuries? They have dependents. They can’t do that. Only the monk can.
IF ANYONE SUES YOU FOR YOUR OUTER-ROBE, LET HIM HAVE YOUR INNER-ROBE ALSO.
Can a householder forego fighting a lawsuit and just pay the once suing them double the amount? No. Children will starve, etc. But a monk — the only person who would ever be sued merely for a robe — can.
There is a clear monastic stream in the Sermon on the Mount, isn’t there?
And what about this one? (i.e. Luke 14:26)
IF ANY MAN COME TO ME, AND HATE NOT HIS FATHER, AND MOTHER, WIFE, AND CHILDREN, AND BRETHREN, AND SISTERS, YEA, AND HIS OWN LIFE ALSO, HE CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLE.
I’ve seen pastors try to explain this many times, and it basically come out like “If your family member is Catholic, but you know the Baptist church is the truth, don’t let those evil Catholic family members influence you” and vice versa. But the monastic interpretation, which can be found in monastic writings from the 4th century, as well as in Augustine’s treatise Against Faustus (in a quotation from his opponent, Faustus), make a lot more sense.
To hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even one’s own life, means to become a monk. By rejecting the domestic life that mother and father desire for you, you hate father and mother. By not taking a wife and having children by her, you hate wife and children. By not providing nieces and nephews for your brothers and sisters, you hate brothers and sisters. By not engaging in the domestic life you could have had, you hate your own life also.
Does this interpretation not make more sense?
So it seems highly likely that Jesus HIMSELF actually established monasticism. The Catholic Bible hides it well, at least until you ask the question, because once you ask the question, you can begin to see it there. It seems Jesus really was interested in establishing a monastic religion. Paul seems to be the founder of secular (non-monastic) Christianity.
After all, and isn’t this interesting, NONE of the apostles was married. Where are their wives mentioned in the gospels? They aren’t. Not even Peter’s.
I know what you’re thinking. “Wait a minute, what about Peter’s wife’s mother?” Exactly, Peter’s wife’s mother, not his wife. Why would Jesus and friends enter Peter’s house, find his mother-in-law sick, Jesus heals her, and SHE, the mother-in-law, serves them food…..alone…..why, if Peter’s wife is still alive would she not join her mother in serving them? Its obvious Peter is a widower when he meets Jesus. So all Jesus’ disciples were single. Also, Lazarus was not married, nor were his sisters. A man living with his two sisters. Hmmm. We’re dealing with monasticism people.