Mar 26, 2006

What made the Celts different?

In the discussion of whether or not Hunter in his THE CELTIC WAY OF EVANGELISM correctly explained the early Celtic form of Christianity we should consider who the Celts were, and why they were successful in spreading Christianity across Europe.

The Celts were a group of people who, by the time of Saint Patrick, were concentrated in Ireland. However, they also had presence in Britain, Wales, and Scotland. They had a great respect for the natural world and believed that men are never far removed from the "other world". Spiritual aspects were seen in all areas of life. Consider the famous prayer, Saint Patrick's Breastplate, which in part reads:

"Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right,
Christ on my left, Christ in breadth, Christ in length,
Christ in height, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me."

Read the whole prayer here:

With the Celts' natural bent to see spiritual aspects in all of life, it wasn't too much of a stretch to accept the concept of the Creator. Moving from that to accepting only ONE God took time, however.

What do you think? Could this in part explain why the Celts, and the Irish in particular, accepted Christianity without bloodshed (unusual for the history of the spread of Christianity.) Let me hear your thoughts.


  1. Hello,

    I think that there were many reasons why the Celts transitioned to Christianity very quickly.

    I definatly agree that the awareness of the Spiritual was always a part of the Celtic spirit.

    Two worlds lying very close together that interacted all the time.

    I don't know that it took a great deal of time for the Irish to switch from their old gods to the new Christian God.

    I think one thing the first Evangelizers did was they tried to incorporate things within the Celts culture. Patrick did not try to make them be "Christians" in a french or roman Christian way. They kept their culture and changed their religion. Yes there were conflicts between the Druids and the new Christians but often the Pagans were absorbed by the new Faith.


    Some other Celt stuff you might want to look at is the Northumbria Community's Celtic Daily Prayer Book. It is a great devotional and a wonderful sorce of Celtic info.

    also check out my fried's blog


    He's a great Celt-O-Phile

  2. Cindy:

    Don't know if you check this blog very often, but just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that it caught my eye. I found it from a comment you made at "The Writing Life".

    Earlier today, as I was driving through some little hamlet near Delaware, Ohio, I noticed a sign advertising Celtic worship. I thought that I really should learn something about this branch of the Christian family tree. I am a committed Christian, who is Scotch-Irish and one eighth Cherokee. Hence, I’ve always had a strong sense of connectedness to creation as I seek to serve the Creator.

    Well, that’s enough about me. I would like to encourage you to continue posting about Celtic Spirituality. I’m interested in learning more.

    grace and peace to you,

  3. Hey, Bill! Thanks for commenting. I have been wrapped up lately with writing assignments, but I do intend to get back to this blog. Sorry it's been silent.

    We have a lot in common heritage-wise. And I know exactly where Delaware is.

    Stay tuned. And feel free to comment on any of the other topics here.