Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West...Again

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Celtic Christianity—the form of Christian faith that flourished among the people of Ireland during the Middle Ages—has gained a great deal of attention lately. George G. Hunter III points out that, while the attention paid to the Celtic Christians is well deserved, much of it fails to recognize the true genius of this ancient form of Christianity. What many contemporary Christians do not realize is that Celtic Christianity was one of the most successfully evangelistic branches of the church in history. The Celtic...
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Overview

Celtic Christianity—the form of Christian faith that flourished among the people of Ireland during the Middle Ages—has gained a great deal of attention lately. George G. Hunter III points out that, while the attention paid to the Celtic Christians is well deserved, much of it fails to recognize the true genius of this ancient form of Christianity. What many contemporary Christians do not realize is that Celtic Christianity was one of the most successfully evangelistic branches of the church in history. The Celtic church converted Ireland from paganism to Christianity in a remarkably short period, and then proceeded to send missionaries throughout Europe.North America is today in the same situation as the environment in which the early Celtic preachers found their mission fields: unfamiliar with the Christian message, yet spiritually seeking, and open to a vibrant new faith. If we are to spread the gospel in this culture of secular seekers, we would do well to learn from the Celts. Their ability to work with the beliefs of those they evangelized, to adapt worship and church life to the indigenous patterns they encountered, remains unparalleled in Christian history. If we are to succeed in “reaching the West . . . again,” then we must begin by learning from these powerful witnesses to the saving love of Jesus Christ.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780687085859
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2000
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 5.58 (w) x 8.62 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface 9
Chapter 1 The Gospel to the Irish 13
Chapter 2 A New Kind of Community, a New Kind of Life 26
Chapter 3 To the Picts, the Anglo-Saxons, and Other "Barbarians" 36
Chapter 4 The Celtic Christian Community in Formation and Mission 47
Chapter 5 How Celtic Christianity Communicated the Gospel 56
Chapter 6 The Missionary Perspective of Celtic Christianity 76
Chapter 7 The "Celtic" Future of the Christian Movement in the West 95
Notes 122
Selected Bibliography on Celtic Christianity 138
Index 141
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  • Posted January 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A new old way of Evangelism

    Celtic Christians adopted the principle of indigenous Christianity from St Patrick and even extended it. They learned about 'monasteries' from Eastern Christianity, perhaps through visits to Gaul and the Eastern Church. Then they radically adapted the idea of the monastery to their own context. The resulting community was so different from the eastern monasteries that they needed a distinct term monastic communities.

    These communities produced an unusual approach to the living out of Christianity, that had a sharp contrast to the Roman forms and rituals.

    First, the monastic communities produced a less individualistic and more community-oriented approach to the Christian life. Their Christian faith and community addressed life as a whole and as interdependant. Celtic Christians especially engaged barbarian imaginations through storytelling, poetry, music, and visual arts.

    Secondly,The Celtic Christian movement proceeded to multiply mission-sending monastic communities, which continued to send teams into settlements to multiply churches and start people in community-based life and full devotion to the Triune God.

    The strategy of these monastic communities varied from one context to another, and yet all looked simular to each other. They multiplied then sent apostolic teams from the community to reach settlements within the region. These teams would engage the local culture, establish relationships, and form a new community which would then send out apostolic teams from the new community to reach other settlements within the region.

    The Roman model for evangelism consisted of presenting the Christian message, inviting people to decide to believe in Christ, and welcoming them into the church and its fellowship if they decided positively, similar to the Western church in the modern era.

    The Celtic model for evangelism, on the other hand, took this in pretty much the opposite order, allowing them to belong before they believed. In other words, the first step was to establish community or bring them into the fellowship of the community of faith. Then, within the fellowship, the next step was to engage in conversation, ministry, prayer and worship. Finally, in time, as they discovered that they now believed, they were invited to commit themselves.

    The relevance of the Celtic Christian story to much of what Western Christianity faces in the twenty-first century should be aparent. First, a host of new Barbarians populate the our world once again indeed, they are all around us. Second, these "barbarians" are increasingly similar to the "barbarians" that the movements of Celtic Christianity reached. Third, most churches think (though it is seldom verbalized) that these new "barbarians" are unreachable, because they are not 'civilized' enough to become 'real' Christians."

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2006

    All that Glitters isn't Gold

    I have an appreciation for what I've read regarding Celtic spirituality. I'm especially comfortable with what I perceive to be a less aggressive spirituality than what I sometimes see in evangelical fellowships. When I ordered The Celtic Way of Evangelism I was hoping to find an alternative to a style of evangelism that is distasteful to me. I was disappointed. The author of The Celtic Way of Evangelism seems to have an ax to grind. To me, he seemed overly critical of what he called IFE (Imported From Europe) churches as he contrasted them with MIA (Made In America) Churches. The author's observations about how Celtic Christianity spread is filled with conjectury. Repeatedly, when talking about how Christianity spread across Ireleand, Scotland, Wales and parts of Europe he uses the words like, 'possibly,' 'perhaps,' 'they may have.' When I read this, my first suspicion was that the author had an agenda. I believe my suspicions proved true when he came down so hard on the IFE verses the MIA churches. Personally, I believe God's kingdom is very big and includes both the IFE and the MIA churches. My final thought has to do with the way the book ends. The last chapter was a real disappointment. The author praises what I would call, for lack of a better phrase, 'fringe churches' like 'biker churches' and '12-Step churches.' I don't want to leave the wrong impression. I see nothing wrong with these churches but to praise these while criticizing IFE chruches doesn't sit well with me. Also, on the last two pages he boils evangelism down to 2 or 3 questions. He says you engage people with a question like 'Are you a Christian?' If they respond with a 'Yes' then you ask, 'Well, how could you be a better one?' Now, I don't know about you but if someone said that to me, I'd turn the tables and ask, 'Well, first tell how YOU could be a better one.' That possible scenario is very distasteful and seems somewhat infantile, to me. So, all said, you might pick up a few points here and there in the book as it's not all bad, but if you're looking for an approach to evangelism that's less aggressive than what you often see I don't think you'll find it here.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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