"Let unity, the greatest good of all goods, be your preoccupation." - St. Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to St. Polycarp)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Michael Spencer (1956-2010) R.I.P.

Michael Spencer
I learned last night that Michael Spencer (aka IMonk) has passed from this life into the next. He began suffering symptoms less than a month after our interview in November, and was diagnosed with cancer right before Christmas.

I didn't know Michael well. Over the past two years, he occasionally commended or criticized things I wrote, and from time to time I did the same to some of the things he wrote. But, it was clear to both of us, I think, that under the disagreements, there always remained a mutual respect, and a mutual recognition of a shared faith in Christ. My experience with him through the interview only confirmed that. He was a gracious gentleman to me. From my point of view, Michael was a kind of visionary. He saw the problems in Evangelicalism that few inside seem to see, and he had the courage to look for solutions outside of what he called the "evangelical wilderness." What I said about him at the time of the interview is this:

Especially over the last year or so Michael has been doing things that no other prominent Evangelicals (that I know of) are doing. It might be called an honest and transparent self-examination of Evangelicalism, seeking to determine its strengths and its weaknesses, its identity and its future. He's not doing it to be critical, but to save it. The fascinating part of this endeavor, from my point of view, is that in seeking to understand and preserve Evangelicalism, Michael, in a sense, has flung open the doors to receive insight from other Christian traditions. And that has begun an ecumenical conversation. Such conversations can easily devolve into ugliness, especially on the internet. But Michael runs a tight ship, and so has fostered a safe context in which these discussions can take place. The result is often that Baptists and Lutherans and Calvinists and Catholics and Pentecostals and Orthodox and Anglicans are all talking to each other in a friendly, respectful way, about their theology and practice. In this respect, what Michael is doing ecumenically is pioneering. So I'm grateful for his invitation to contribute to the discussion.

Michael, thank you for all you did. You will be missed.

Requiem aeternam dona ei Domine; et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. In nomine Patris et fillii et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm very grateful for your analysis of the iMonk. Great job. I, too, have been blessed and have had my eyes opened by his writings (as well as yours). Yes, I greatly appreciate his efforts to educate and reduce the ignorance and prejudice through his evaluations of the similarities and differences of our faiths. I am pleased to see such respect presented here; thank you.