Yesterday, Michael Spencer, the "Internet Monk", was received into Paradise. I read the news at about 12:30 A.M. this morning. I am deeply saddened by this. He was truly a man of God. He articulated things in a way that no one else could, and he was crticial not only of the Church, but of himself. He knew that he was a sinner, and that Jesus came to save sinners. His quest to find a Jesus-shaped spirituality has come to end- for he is now with Jesus.
I first encountered Michael's site, Internet Monk, what?- maybe two, three years ago. From the moment I started reading, I was hooked. I even went back and read all the archived essays- some more than once! He asked questions that many would dare not ask. He proposed ideas that were (and are) unpopular. He was open and brutally honest- to the point that it almost became uncomfortable. Yet, throughout it all, he remained humble. He was also noted for bringing in a diverse crowd of people, and managed to have very much civil discussions on these topics. Above all, he really drove home and kept center 3 things:
1) Jesus came to save sinners
2) We are sinners
3) The Gospel is the power to save and transform us
For him, Jesus was the center of everything. Not just Christianity, church, or one's "personal relationship". He was the center of EVERYTHING. Creation vs. Evolution?- Jesus is the center. The Scriptures, and what they teach and mean?- Jesus is the center. How to deal with those openly living in sin, but have been so hurt by Christians that they won't step near a church?- Jesus is right there, smack dab in the center of all the murk.
Michael feared for American Evangelicalism. Not just them- that would be an understatement. He feared for the Church in North America. What it had become, and where it seemed to be going. He looked at the Church, and saw that it had (and was) letting go of it's Anchor. That it had become a club of "decision making", empty moralism, social justice, and all that jazz. What he proposed is something not that new. And yet, whenever it is suggested, people are shocked, and things are usually shook up. He proposed returning to our roots. He proposed that we get over ourselves, and look into history and the wider tradition(s) of Christianity as found in the Creeds, the Fathers, etc. Most all of- and most importantly- he suggested this: Jesus. That we need to regain a Jesus-shaped spirituality. This is what permeated him, and all the work he did. Jesus was everywhere, and was the center of it all.
I will sorely miss Michael. He was someone unique. He was a mentor. He challenged me to look beyond the horizon. He made me realize that the boat we call "Church" is bigger than I could've imagined. He taught me how to hold civil theological discourse with those whom I consider to be in the right, in the wrong, or somewhere in the gray. Most of all- and most importantly- he pointed me to Jesus. To be a Christian is to be a "little Christ" or a "Christ-person". In order for that to happen, we have to be Jesus-centered and Jesus-shaped. That was the most important thing he taught me. That the love of God found in Christ is the greatest (and most frightening) thing this world has ever encountered; that it knows no bounds and no limits.
Michael, though I never met you, I consider you a friend and brother. I cannot wait until we meet someday in our Father's house. God used you to teach me, as well as countless others. May you rest in peace, and may Light perpetual shine upon you! Now, you are truly Jesus-shaped. I pray that we here in the Church Militant may too become Jesus-shaped.
Kyrie, eleison! Christe, eleison! Kyrie, eleison!
God of grace and glory,
we remember before you this day our brother Michael.
We thank you for giving him to us to know and to love
as a companion on our earthly pilgrimage.
In your boundless compassion, console us who mourn.
Give us faith to see in death the gate of eternal life,
so that in quiet confidence we may continue our course on earth,
until, by your call,
we are reunited with those who have gone before.
Into your hands,
O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Michael.
We humbly ask you to look on him as a sheep of your own fold,
a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming.
Receive him into the arms of your mercy,
into the blessed rest of everlasting peace,
and into the glorious company of the saints in light.
Please continue to pray for Michael's wife, children, and all others in contact with him as they go through this tough time.
Here are a couple of my favorite iMonk (as Michael was fondly referred to) articles (I encourage to read the whole site, really):
Also, I'd encourage everybody who likes his work to pre-order his book. You can find it here: