Ode to Michael Spencer


This article of mine originally appeared on Internet Monk last week.

It was the summer of 2008. I was winding down my ministry work in the U.S., all in preparation for our move to Brussels, Belgium, to pastor a small, international church. It was also at this point that I took up the practice of blogging. I’ve always wanted to be a writer of some sort, and blogging seemed to be the thing for the 21st century. So I started my own meager blog and, subsequently, went looking for other blogs that I could enjoy and with which I could interact.

Not too long into my exploration of the blogosphere, I came across the site of this preacher guy known as the Internet Monk. His name was Michael Spencer and his contributions began to pique my interest. At the time, I was somewhat of a reformed-Calvinist, charismatic who viewed the arena of systematics as the highest level of theological engagement. And while some of the other blogs I frequented fell into the precise and tidy parameters of Grudem-esque systematic theology (especially that of the reformed-Calvinist camp), this Internet Monk guy was a bit different. He wasn’t so nice and orderly. He was like John the Baptist making that well-known call of: Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. I also began noting the sub-heading of his blog: Dispatches from the Post-Evangelical Wilderness.

Intriguing, to say the least. But I was regularly drawn in.

You see, Michael Spencer wasn’t too greatly taken by normal, American evangelicalism. He wanted something a bit deeper, a bit more historic, a bit more authentic. Michael’s call was that we continually reconsider the status quo of evangelicalism. I found myself longing for very similar things as well. And, of course, who could forget the legendary series posted in early 2009: The Coming Evangelical Collapse. This, no doubt, left the evangelical blogging-world reeling.

This was the Michael Spencer I came to know – unsatisfied with many of our expressions regarding Jesus, the kingdom, the church and much more. Again, his plea was that we reconsider our most fundamental ideas, especially regarding Jesus.

And, so, having been asked to assist in the editing and collation of decades of Michael’s teachings, writings and articles on Jesus as presented in the Gospel of Mark, I knew this would be a worthy project to participate in. Not only for the Internet Monk community that has continued since Michael’s passing in April 2010, but for others that might one day have the opportunity to engage with his stirring call to Reconsider Jesus.

If God had never graced us with the gift of Michael Spencer, there would have been some kind of hole within the American evangelical world. There are others that carry a similar heart to the Internet Monk, but not the exact same. His was always unique, carrying the heart of a prophet, shepherd and evangelist. And even 3+ years after his passing, his voice is still heard crying like that of John the Baptist: Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.

There is still need of preparation. Even more, our paths require straightening. But Michael has played his part, and continues to play his part, until our Lord does come to fully and finally restore all things.


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