Celtic Christianity Yesterday, Today and for the Future: Gleaning Wisdom from the Primitive Protestants

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Virtualbookworm Publishing, 2002 - Body, Mind & Spirit - 128 pages
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FROM THE AUTHOROn the surface the recent interest in things Celtic by modern Christians might be seen as following another fleeting, fashion rehash. It certainly seems contemporary culture is grabbing the Celtic Tiger by the tail; Celtic anything is in. The strides of this economic tiger in the late 20th Century Ireland astounded international onlookers almost as much as the deft steppers of Riverdance, Lord of the Dance, etc., so one can expect all manner of strange causes to jump onto the Celtic bandwagon. That accusation might well be leveled at the theme of this book, Celtic Christianity Yesterday, Today, and for the Future: Gleaning Wisdom from the Primitive Protestants. Some may understandably query, What in the world has Celtic Christianity to do with Protestantism? My unabashed answer to this is simply, In relating to the world everything. After studying the history of the faith one could even go so far as to claim that the ancient Celtic church was quite Protestant to its core, as I intend to show.Thomas Cahills widely successful, How the Irish Saved Civilization (Doubleday, N.Y. 1995), did much to raise popular consciousness about the contributions of the Irish. That tome was valuable; it covers the period from the fall of Rome to the rise of Medieval Europe, but I do not intend to limit my scope to that period alone, nor to the role of just the Irish, important as they were to Celtic Christianity. Though it is mentioned nowhere in Cahills title, let us make no mistake that it was the Celtic Church of the British Isles and Ireland, and not a secular culture, that deserves credit for, as he puts it, saving civilization. Might there be anything we moderns can glean from such an ancient approach to the faith and the world as that held by the Celtic saints? It is not only getting later on the prophetic clock; this could also be our last, best chance for renewal before a new Dark Age issues in The Beast or the Man of Lawlessness. The Gospel must go forth worldwide first, which involves us all. 1 John 2:18 begins, Little children, it is the last time; and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come so diligence and vigilance are essential. We have much to gain by studying both the milestones and reverses experienced by our primitive Protestant Celtic brethren. The church today, as it is, seems ill prepared to meet the threats and challenges of the 21st Century.Be warned that the writer has not excised occasional, strong, (yet eschatologically and Biblically sound) metaphors like adultery and harlotry in reference to aspects of the church, be they Protestant or Catholic. Touching on sensitive religious and historical ground, we wish to affirm our love for sincere people who happen to be of these persuasions. Many may be friends or family. It is not they, but their church hierarchies that have much to answer for, especially when those churches are hyper-hierarchical. We also admire those who question the anti-Biblical practices in their denominations. After all, who would not respect St. Francis (a protester with a budding Celtic-lifestyle if ever there was one). It is my hope that Roman Catholic (western papal) people become more catholic (small c) and less Roman. For that matter, it wouldnt be a bad idea if Greek Orthodox (eastern patriarchal catholic) Christians took scripture above tradition as the yardstick of true orthodoxy. The Irish especially, as they discover the facts, might even reclaim their native ecclesiastic heritage that latecomer-Rome usurped. Perhaps then all sides in Patricks adoptive land might assist centuries of hate to abate.The subject of Celtic Church history and spirituality, therefore, is more than just antiquarian whimsy or speculation. It has everything to do with the future vitality of evangelism. To put it in epic Churchillian language, our last, best hope for renewal as we enter what looks like, a new Dark Age, made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. If we do not heed the lessons of the Celtic path and Church history, we run the risk of becoming as socially relevant and spiritually potent as Shakerism, which has become anachronistic, if not extinct. We will never be taken seriously if we are not shaken out of our lethargy and start to live lives worthy of the glorious Gospel we espouse. Celtic Christianity might be the means through which a latter-day Reformation may blossom, a magnetic force to be reckoned with into the New Millennium. As with any mixture so potent as Celtic Christianity and Evangelicalism, there is potential for great dynamic revival, and misuse. It is precisely because of these real opportunities and pitfalls that I believe a specialized book on this subject, mainly with Protestants in mind, is essential at this time. Trends sadly indicate that the god of this World has been very successful in subverting Christians and converting them to his way of life.The first section of this book gives us an overview of the early rise of the Celtic Church from what may appear at times to be just misty speculation. This should come as no surprise though, when one considers the millennia that have passed. Many great oral and written records, extensive and reliable, (referred to in extant sources, and thus known at one time to exist) have been lost. Often it was sad misfortune, but sometimes it was through the calumnious mischief of parties whose later claims of primacy would be totally destabilized if those records were allowed to survive! Enough exists or is now coming to light, however, from which we can form a true picture of probable events and persons. The writer is prepared to find that he has exposed himself to the charge of deficiency in literary precision, but considers that to be a matter of relatively small importance. He offers his entire work of compilation and comment simply, commending it to the kind judgment of the reader.The second section offers a critique of our modern culture and our predicament as Christians in bondage to it. If one intends to deal with a serious affliction, one must first identify it as precisely as possible through its symptoms, and seek appropriate treatment. May the diagnosis appear thorough enough without sounding like a digression or worse still, a diatribe. Surely, God considers our sickness to be quite serious; may His Spirit convict us of our chronic condition. The Celtic way can offer a potent Christian antidote.In final sections I reveal more Celtic Christianity history and practice that is certain to inspire and challenge us. These vital history lessons can greatly profit us today that their loss might be our gain that the same mistakes be not repeated by our modern church on into the 21st Century.Some treasures of the Celtic Way of Christianity are detailed and put into clearer perspective. Not all that the Celts did would be sensible or even advisable to us today, but we can still employ much and gain inspiration from their example. While remaining on our guard against Pantheism, we can benefit from the Celtic Christian philosophical perspective, for example. There is great potential for misunderstanding when speaking of joining creation in worshipping God. Celtic Christians were not at one with the creation worshipping it as if it were the Creator. They were ardent Trinitarian Monotheists who sang with creation in declaring Gods handiwork. They werent afraid of it, or abusers of it, or disconnected from it in the way many of us tend to be. Why are we so alarmed at the thought of feeling at one with the earth (Gods created system) and forget what Jesus warned us about, which was being at one with the world (mans created system). This worldly oneness is something we are hardly aware of, yet a growing sense of spiritual poverty in the midst of material abundance is keenly felt. We moderns are desperately in need of the help of our ancient brothers for a deepening of

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