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Quotes about monasticism from throughout Christian History.
You can read more about what I call the fall of the Church. I get a lot of flack for writing from that perspective because most people believe that Jesus' promise in Matthew 16:18—that the gates of hell won't prevail against the church—means that the massive hierarchy that the church became under Constantine can't reach a fallen state. I do not.
I am convinced that almost every reference to and promise to the church in the Scriptures involves the practical reality of the local church. Only the local church can love each other, be at peace with one another, and, in short, obey all the commands of the New Testament given to members of the church. It is the local church that is to be militantly overthrowing the powers of darkness, and as it does so, the gates of hell will be cast down.
Surely it is obvious that the gates of Hades are a defense, not an offensive weapon. If the local churches will be militant in obedience to Jesus, they will tear open or throw down those gates and rescue those who are still in captivity to the powers of hell, to "spiritual wickedness in high places."
Thus, Jesus' promise in Matthew 16:18 has nothing whatsoever to do with the worldly church described in the quotes above. It has to do with you and me, bound together in service to Jesus, loving and learning from him together. As we do so, the gates of Hades will not be superior in strength to us.