Following ‘The Celtic Way Of Evangelism’
We have Saint Patrick’s hundred-year-old quest to thank for so much of our Kingdom heritage, and so many of the fantastic God-honoring stories we enjoy. This comes from The Celtic Way of Evangelism author George Hunter, quoted by David Mathis at Desiring God:
The fact that Patrick understood the people and their language, their issues, and their ways, serves as the most strategically significant single insight that was to drive the wider expansion of Celtic Christianity, and stands as perhaps our greatest single learning from this movement. There is no shortcut to understanding the people. When you understand the people, you will often know what to say and do, and how. When the people know that the Christians understand them, they infer that maybe the High God understands them too.
[…] Their belief that Ultimate Reality is complex, and their fascination with rhetorical triads and the number three opened them to Christianity’s Triune God. Christianity’s contrasting features of idealism and practicality engaged identical traits in the Irish character. No other religion could have engaged the Irish people’s love for heroism, stories, and legends like Christianity. Some of Christianity’s values and virtues essentially matched, or fulfilled, ideals in Irish piety and folklore. Irish Christianity was able to deeply affirm, and fulfill, the Irish love for nature and their belief in the closeness of the divine.1
- The Mission of Saint Patrick, David Mathis, DesiringGod.org on March 16. Boldface emphasis added. ↩
Did you know…
There’s an old story about Patrick. That when he had converted the island, he followed in the Church’s tradition of the time: gather all the old literature–books, scrolls, pictures, anything they could find–and burn it. This approach had been used in every culture the Church encountered. As Patrick raised a torch to the pagan stories, the angel Gabriel came down and stopped him, saying, “No, Patrick, knowledge is good.” Thus saving the ancient tales of their people.
Fact or fiction? Nyeh, we’re talking the Irish. Sometimes that’s not strictly relevant. But what is fact about the Irish is that after conversion they had a national literacy rate of over 85% by the end of the fifth century. They fought hard to keep the knowledge of the gospel Patrick brought with him. Being human, they reverted to flagrant paganism in the sixth century, but then there was a glorious revival in the seventh century of great piety and study. Followed by another falling away. Back and forth, by generations.
What I learn from Patrick, yet again, is that God adopts us as heirs, not grandchildren. Our faith should be relevant in our lives and shared with the next generation, but that next generation has to make God “LORD” on their own.
Somehow I doubt this legend, mainly because the angel Gabriel only shows up in rare circumstances in the Bible. Yet I certainly appreciate the truth behind it!
… A tradition that has no basis in Scripture. The only possible precedent is in Acts 19:19. But here we find genuine converts who themselves are voluntarily burning their own instruments that they used for real evil practice. This does not mean that: