Mar 13, 2006

The Celtic Way of Evangelism by George G. Hunter, III

Blogger Randy guessed right! (See his comment under the previous post.) I was influenced by readying this little book. The subtitle sums it up: How Christianity Can Reach the West...Again. Now, before you size me up as being overly romantic about our Celtic past you should know that I'm reading (and have read) other perspectives as well. What's valuable about this book is what we can learn about how the ancient Irish monks were so successful at spreading their faith.

Here are a few lines from some of the book's reviewers on Amazon. If you've read the book, let me know if you agree or disagree. We'll see where the discussion goes from there.

"This book is a wake up call to The Church to go back to its roots and find a bibilical way to do church."

"The basic issue/problem with this book and probably more specifically, its author, is that it ignores the most important of all facts concerning the Celtic church: it was Orthodox... Mr. Hunter appears to isolate minute detail and parade it through his pages as "facts" that "support" his theory. The only trouble is: Mr. Hunter's religion is only about 500 years old, bearing no resemblance whatsoever to that of St. Padraig, and Celtic Christianity dates to at least the third century, possibly the second. (Depending on which history you lean toward and whether or not you accept the Coptic Connection theory. )"

"...this is not a "how to" book. It is a lesson from history that requires the reader to think and decide how to apply its message in our present world. My experience has been that too many Christians' eyes glaze over when asked to read history and too many would rather have clear steps (1.2.3. etc.) laid out for them."

"...the gist of the book can be summed up in a little summmary table that Hunter gives contrasting what he believes is the Celtic Way vs. the Roman Way. The Roman way said that a person has to believe before they can belong. The Celtic way said that a person must belong in order to believe. "

"He also accuses the "Roman" wing of the church imposing her liturgy on the Celtic churches around the 5th Century. Sure, the tonsure and dating of Easter were brought in but this was quite a while before a standard liturgy was imposed throughout Europe. Check out the Gallican Liturgy and Stowe Missal. I get the impression that the author drew examples from some stories about St. Patrick and ideas of modern authors to back up his own ideas of evangelism. I appreciate his understanding of theories and theology of evangelis, I just don't see how it is based on solid study of the Celtic church."

____There are many more interesting reviews of Hunter's book on Amazon. I'd love to hear what you think. Were you one of the reviewers? Let us know.

1 comment:

  1. Just a quick comment on the first review quote, "This book is a wake up call to The Church to go back to its roots and find a bibilical way to do church." I cringe every time I hear those little words, "a biblical way to do church." They are usually spoken, it seems, but someone who either believes that the New Testament (and the Book of Acts in particular) prescribes a particular methodology for "doing church", or that we can actually replicate in the 21st century what was true in the 1st...or some combination of both. Neither, I think, is accurate. And neither does Hunter suggest (at least in the 50 pages I've read so far) that we ought to emulate precisely the methods of Patrick or his successors.

    We can learn from the historical Celtic church practices, from the 1st century church(-es) in Asia Minor, and from the church down the street. What we likely will never be able to do - nor should try - is to imitate precisely each methodology. As Patrick did, we need to know the culture in which we live (and which we are trying to penetrate with the gospel) and adapt methods that will allow us to successfully impact the lost world around us.