Thinking Out Loud

April 6, 2010

Tributes to Michael Spencer, the Internet Monk

  • Michael wasn’t the anybody of the blogosphere. He was the Internet Monk of the blogosphere. There is now the post-iMonk Christian blogosphere. A few weeks ago I said on Twitter that none of us are gonna get to heaven and hear Jesus say, “Great blog, dude.” I take that back. Michael made so many people, from so many different places and traditions and perspectives and experiences, feel like they weren’t alone — many times through sharing his own sense of exile — and he did it by stubbornly insisting a fixation on Jesus. ~ Notes from a Small Place blog
  • Michael Spencer’s online writings have affected me deeply from the first day I discovered them.  They’ve always pointed me toward the gospel of Jesus Christ. ~ Meg’s blog
  • Coming back to the Church and life in Christ after a long absence, I found myself in need of this sense of perspective, of finding, for lack of a better word, those spiritual guides, who offered true guidance and direction to those of us with many, many, many questions.  Michael Spencer, aka the Internet Monk, was one of those guides for me over the past few years.    ~Wandering Tree blog
  • I felt like I came to know Michael and his quest through the “post-evangelical wilderness” over the past few years. He will be missed… ~Green Leaf blog
  • Michael Spencer has graduated.  He has left this world for bigger and better things.  The sum total of all our years will seem like a moment in the span of eternity.  The time until we met again will pass like vapor in the wind.  We can mourn and comfort each other in the void he leaves behind, and at the same time rejoice as he rejoices on the streets of glory.  His desire each day was to more clearly see the face of our Lord; and now that joy is complete. ~ The Master’s Table blog
  • Michael was a good friend of mine, even though I never met him in real life. I found his blog back in the 1990s sometime – I don’t even recall what I was looking for – and was hooked. Through reading his stuff there and through participating in the Boar’s Head Tavern collaborative site, I got to know how he thought. At the time he was a Calvinist, and I disagreed with him; but through engaging with him, I learned a great deal about what I believed and why I believed it. Michael’s thinking shaped mine in many ways; his well-thought writings required that I also think well. ~ Cogita Est Ora blog
  • I feel like I lost: a friend, a brother, a guide, and a safety-net for my own inadequacies. The irony in this is that I have never met Michael in person.  We exchanged one or two emails, but that was the extent of our personal contact. Meeting him in person was on my list of things to do before I died.  It looks like that goal will have to wait now. What Michael provided in my life was the sanity check that I so desperately needed as I was drowning in deep despair in Evangelicalism.  The constant questioning of the feeling that I didn’t belong and that I sensed that something was wrong, were all answered by Michael’s writings.  He helped me to become who I am today and how I view things in the church. The Lord used him to take away the bitterness and resentment that I had built up towards Evangelicalism. ~ Peaceful Walk With Jesus blog
  • Michael’s prodigious output as a blogger, both at Internet Monk and at the Boars Head Tavern that he started, relentlessly directed readers to the person of Jesus. His wide-ranging reading interests incurred the ire of some, but many readers like me found provocation of the best kind, inspiration and encouragement. Michael was captivated by radical grace, and now that Grace has captured him. Though he died, yet does he live. ~ Common Ground Online
  • Michael was Jesus’ man – on a life-long journey to center his thoughts, emotions, actions and character around Jesus and to genuinely know Jesus.  That quest was not simple for Michael.  It was often quite complicated, full of questions and doubt and darkness.  But it was also marked by unique clarity, certainty and the light of heaven’s smile. ~ Ponder Anew blog
  • Michael Spencer, the graceful writer behind Internet Monk, died yesterday surrounded by his family. What a wonderful writer. What a wonderful man.  ~Dating Jesus blog.
  • A wonderful writer who influenced my decision to move to a more liturgical church. Thank you Michael.  ~Becoming Episcopalian blog

These are just some of the tributes from everyday Internet Monk readers such as you and I.   You can also read tributes from Frank ViolaSteve McCoy at Reformissionary, and Andrew Jones at Tall Skinny Kiwi.

If all of these leaves you scratching your head going, “Who?,” then I’m sorry that you missed out on Internet Monk.    Hopefully the back catalog of posts will remain online for a long, long time; so you can still catch up.   He was a unique voice among bloggers.

This outpouring of love and sympathy online also proves the value of Christian online community.    In many respects we may come to know each other with a depth not always achieved in face-to-face communication.   And we come to grieve the loss of someone we knew in this manner every bit as deeply as those with whom we have what some think more direct contact.   One post at Boar’s Head Tavern reads:

I hate weeping alone at my keyboard when I should be weeping in the same room with you guys.

There are many, many other tributes posted there, and as of this writing, over 200 posts in the past 24 hours on Google.

It would not be surprising if Michael Spencer reached his widest audience with the publication of his book Mere Churchianity, due September 7th from Waterbrook Press.   I wonder if some of his online writings might also be preserved in print form for those who heretofore didn’t know him.   It would be a daunting project, but there is much worth publishing.

Finally, I want to end by referring back to the post on this blog just a few hours ago.   I concluded by asking the question, “What do you want your life to be remembered for?”

Michael Spencer’s life will be well-remembered.


  1. Paul – Thanks for the link! To be clear though, I was quoting Jared Wilson (of Gospel-Driven Church fame) at the Boar’s Head Tavern in the section you have quoted above.

    Comment by Jake Meador — April 6, 2010 @ 7:32 pm

    • For that section, I left out everybody’s name anyway. I wanted it to be about Michael.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 6, 2010 @ 7:42 pm

  2. Thanks for posting a sampling of tributes, Paul. I believe Michael would lay all those tributes at the feet of Jesus.

    I never met Michael, never even emailed him. I found his blog one day when I was googling Larry Norman, and I was hooked. Michael’s writings have been instrumental in waking me up to the grace of God.

    Comment by Meg Moseley — April 6, 2010 @ 7:43 pm

  3. I found Internet Monk when I was ready to walk away from all organized religion.Once I entered the walls of that blog I returned many times. Micheal wrote to me a couple of times encouraging me to continue to use my gifts as a writer to explore and wade through that season of my Christian walk.I appreciated his time and his commitment to all things Jesus!

    Comment by Cynthia — April 6, 2010 @ 8:25 pm

  4. I knew the Internet would be lit up with Christian bloggers writing on the Internet Monk, but had not taken the time to actually do the research. Thank you Paul for this compilation. Some of the blogs you mention (Tall Skinny Kiwi, wow)are ones that he himself was a fan of.

    Comment by Clark Bunch — April 6, 2010 @ 8:40 pm

    • Truth is, Clark, that I wasn’t planning to do this at all. After supper tonight I went on Alltop and was disappointed in the number of posts and just wanted to do something, anything.

      A lot of these are from WordPress blogs, and then as I finished compiling, I became aware of the vast number of things on Google.

      You have no idea how doing a simple “cut and paste” post like this can affect you as you’re working on it. I was glad I did.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 6, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

  5. I am a student of Mr. Spencer and I too wrote a tribute for him. You miss be eternally missed until I meet you again.

    Comment by dell90wattac — April 6, 2010 @ 9:04 pm

  6. […] reflections and tributes to Michael Spencer, aka Internet Monk.   We posted a few of these here yesterday.    For the Christian Church, the Internet is the most powerful tool we’ve been handed […]

    Pingback by Wednesday Link List « Thinking Out Loud — April 7, 2010 @ 10:36 am

  7. […] blogging as The Internet Monk.   During that time he gained a huge online following, and when he passed away just a few short weeks ago, there was a huge outpouring of sympathy and love […]

    Pingback by Michael Spencer aka The Internet Monk: First and Only Book Releases Posthumously « Christian Book Shop Talk — May 25, 2010 @ 8:34 am

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