Celtic Christianity?

To continue our discussion on different expressions of church that people are exploring today, what about Celtic Christianity? Many “post evangelical” Christians are experimenting with various elements of Celtic spirituality. I know a Baptist whose church, she says, uses a “Celtic liturgy.” I don’t know many specifics. Could someone explain what Celtic spirituality entails?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I don’t know much about contemporary Celticism, but I believe it tends to New Ageism–lots of veneration of nature. Some people like to see the old Celtic Church as a proto-Protestant movement (Stephen Lawhead is guilty of this in some of his novels), but although you can make some kind of case, it’s also true that the Celtic Church was extremely–excessively–devoted to venerataion of the saints.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I don’t know much about contemporary Celticism, but I believe it tends to New Ageism–lots of veneration of nature. Some people like to see the old Celtic Church as a proto-Protestant movement (Stephen Lawhead is guilty of this in some of his novels), but although you can make some kind of case, it’s also true that the Celtic Church was extremely–excessively–devoted to venerataion of the saints.

  • http://spurgeon.wordpress.com/ Tony R

    Love your blog (a reader for over a year now). I don’t know much, but this article by Carl Trueman is provocative on the attraction to Celtic spirituality in Britain.

    Tony

    “… The second response is, on the surface at least, almost the exactly the opposite. This response is that of recovering earlier Christian tradition as a means of rediscovering a more authentic spirituality than the church in the West has generally offered. The most influential example of this in Britain is the so-called rediscovery over the last two decades of Celtic Christianity and the spirituality of the Celtic churches in the early Middle Ages. In a veritable cornucopia of books, the Celtic way has been promoted in church circles as the recovery of a previous lost dimension of church tradition. The Celtic way is promoted as more in tune with nature, as less obsessed with the theme of sin, as offering a spirituality which appeals to the whole person, and as being more rooted in images than in words. All of this is seen as giving it a superior value to that of sin-obsessed Western Augustinianism, particularly as this found its ultimate expression in the word-centred, cerebral religion of the Reformation. The Reformation, as the birthing-room of modernity and Enlightenment, of imperialism, of individualism (whatever that means), and ultimately industrialisation is seen as the ultimate theological disaster and the source of many of the modern world’s ills.

    Yet this ‘Celtic revival’, while superficially appearing to represent a return to history and tradition, is on the whole simply a theological manifestation of the same phenomenon we see in society around us. It is an eclectic and nostalgic appropriation of a pseudo-history which supplies the church with a specious historical authenticity. To apply the categories of Hobsbawm, the church, having lost sight of its real historical roots, has invented traditions for the purpose of socialization and legitimation in the present. Within the mythology of the Celtic Christianity movement, the ideal of the Celt functions for today’s adherent of Celtic Christianity in a manner similar to that in which the ideal of the ‘noble savage’ did for the generation of Rousseau.

    As to the historical integrity of the movement, this has been exposed as a complete sham in a book by Donald Meek, Professor of Celtic, at Aberdeen University.6 He points out that none of the high-profile advocates of Celtic spirituality know any of the Celtic languages, and so have no direct access to the sources. He analyses the cultural history of the movement, with its highly selective approach to Celtic matters and exposes it as a historical con-trick. Indeed, his work is embarrassing in the way that a badly-matched boxing fight is embarrassing. In the end, one almost feels sorry for his opponents because they have taken such a merciless and effective beating from a man who actually reads the sources and knows the history. …

    More here …

    http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/article_past_trueman.html

  • http://spurgeon.wordpress.com/ Tony R

    Love your blog (a reader for over a year now). I don’t know much, but this article by Carl Trueman is provocative on the attraction to Celtic spirituality in Britain.

    Tony

    “… The second response is, on the surface at least, almost the exactly the opposite. This response is that of recovering earlier Christian tradition as a means of rediscovering a more authentic spirituality than the church in the West has generally offered. The most influential example of this in Britain is the so-called rediscovery over the last two decades of Celtic Christianity and the spirituality of the Celtic churches in the early Middle Ages. In a veritable cornucopia of books, the Celtic way has been promoted in church circles as the recovery of a previous lost dimension of church tradition. The Celtic way is promoted as more in tune with nature, as less obsessed with the theme of sin, as offering a spirituality which appeals to the whole person, and as being more rooted in images than in words. All of this is seen as giving it a superior value to that of sin-obsessed Western Augustinianism, particularly as this found its ultimate expression in the word-centred, cerebral religion of the Reformation. The Reformation, as the birthing-room of modernity and Enlightenment, of imperialism, of individualism (whatever that means), and ultimately industrialisation is seen as the ultimate theological disaster and the source of many of the modern world’s ills.

    Yet this ‘Celtic revival’, while superficially appearing to represent a return to history and tradition, is on the whole simply a theological manifestation of the same phenomenon we see in society around us. It is an eclectic and nostalgic appropriation of a pseudo-history which supplies the church with a specious historical authenticity. To apply the categories of Hobsbawm, the church, having lost sight of its real historical roots, has invented traditions for the purpose of socialization and legitimation in the present. Within the mythology of the Celtic Christianity movement, the ideal of the Celt functions for today’s adherent of Celtic Christianity in a manner similar to that in which the ideal of the ‘noble savage’ did for the generation of Rousseau.

    As to the historical integrity of the movement, this has been exposed as a complete sham in a book by Donald Meek, Professor of Celtic, at Aberdeen University.6 He points out that none of the high-profile advocates of Celtic spirituality know any of the Celtic languages, and so have no direct access to the sources. He analyses the cultural history of the movement, with its highly selective approach to Celtic matters and exposes it as a historical con-trick. Indeed, his work is embarrassing in the way that a badly-matched boxing fight is embarrassing. In the end, one almost feels sorry for his opponents because they have taken such a merciless and effective beating from a man who actually reads the sources and knows the history. …

    More here …

    http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/article_past_trueman.html

  • http://www.scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com The Scylding

    I did not know about the book Tony mentioned, but my gut-feel was about the same. There was a pre-Roman “Celtic” church, that eventually got taken over by Rome. The little evidence I’ve seen is that it was a bit closer to what we call Orthodoxy today. But the modern obsession often skims the surface – like fans dressing in character suits.

  • http://www.scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com The Scylding

    I did not know about the book Tony mentioned, but my gut-feel was about the same. There was a pre-Roman “Celtic” church, that eventually got taken over by Rome. The little evidence I’ve seen is that it was a bit closer to what we call Orthodoxy today. But the modern obsession often skims the surface – like fans dressing in character suits.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    To say quickly what others are hinting at/saying; do we know enough about what the early church in Ireland was like to re-institute a “Celtic” Christianity?

    And if we do know enough, why would we want to follow this example when we have a Biblical example? Yes, we might do well to learn some things from the Celts, but if they indeed had a wonderful form of Biblical Christianity, would they not encourage us to follow not their example, but rather that of Christ?

    My conclusion; many of those trying to follow a “Celtic” model are using it as an excuse to follow a Biblical model.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    To say quickly what others are hinting at/saying; do we know enough about what the early church in Ireland was like to re-institute a “Celtic” Christianity?

    And if we do know enough, why would we want to follow this example when we have a Biblical example? Yes, we might do well to learn some things from the Celts, but if they indeed had a wonderful form of Biblical Christianity, would they not encourage us to follow not their example, but rather that of Christ?

    My conclusion; many of those trying to follow a “Celtic” model are using it as an excuse to follow a Biblical model.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    (as an excuse NOT to follow a Biblical model….oops!)

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    (as an excuse NOT to follow a Biblical model….oops!)

  • http://www.saintcynic.blogspot.com Christopher

    I wonder what the influence of Pelagianism is on Celtic worship practices? As I understand it, Pelagius took refuge in the Celtic isles; I could have my facts mixed up, however.

  • http://www.saintcynic.blogspot.com Christopher

    I wonder what the influence of Pelagianism is on Celtic worship practices? As I understand it, Pelagius took refuge in the Celtic isles; I could have my facts mixed up, however.

  • http://www.xanga.com/PastorTomS Tom S.

    Celtic Christianity is a spirituality which is focused on the Trinity and on God’s presence in creation. George G. Hunter III in his book “The Celtic Way of Evangelism” writes, “This movement, compared to the Roman wing of the One Church was more imaginative and less cerebral, closer to nature and its creatures, and emphasized the “immanence” and “providence” of the Triune God more than his “transcendence” (p. 26). The Celtic Christian movement was also characterized by being less individualistic and more community-oriented with Saint Patrick forming lay-oriented monastic communities which sought “to penetrate the pagan world and to extend the church” (p. 28).

    Professor Calvin Miller has recently written a book on prayer: The Path of Celtic Prayer: An Ancient Way to Everyday Joy. The website rejesus has a series of articles on the subject: http://www.rejesus.co.uk/spirituality /celtic_spirituality/index.html, and the Northumbria Community is seeking to live out Celtic spirituality as a monastic community and provides an online Daily Office of Celtic prayers: http://www.northumbriacommunity.org.

  • http://www.xanga.com/PastorTomS Tom S.

    Celtic Christianity is a spirituality which is focused on the Trinity and on God’s presence in creation. George G. Hunter III in his book “The Celtic Way of Evangelism” writes, “This movement, compared to the Roman wing of the One Church was more imaginative and less cerebral, closer to nature and its creatures, and emphasized the “immanence” and “providence” of the Triune God more than his “transcendence” (p. 26). The Celtic Christian movement was also characterized by being less individualistic and more community-oriented with Saint Patrick forming lay-oriented monastic communities which sought “to penetrate the pagan world and to extend the church” (p. 28).

    Professor Calvin Miller has recently written a book on prayer: The Path of Celtic Prayer: An Ancient Way to Everyday Joy. The website rejesus has a series of articles on the subject: http://www.rejesus.co.uk/spirituality /celtic_spirituality/index.html, and the Northumbria Community is seeking to live out Celtic spirituality as a monastic community and provides an online Daily Office of Celtic prayers: http://www.northumbriacommunity.org.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    Which boils down, it seems to me, to saying that Celtic Christianity is not Christocentric.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    Which boils down, it seems to me, to saying that Celtic Christianity is not Christocentric.

  • http://www.xanga.com/PastorTomS Tom S.

    I agree, Lars, that focusing on Christ in worship counterbalances the extremes of focusing too much on either God’s immanence which can lead, as you mentioned, to a certain form of New Ageism, or God’s transcendence which leaves God unknowable or unavailable. A focus on the Trinity doesn’t seem like a bad thing, though, given the prominence of the Trinity in the Apostles and Nicene Creeds.

  • http://www.xanga.com/PastorTomS Tom S.

    I agree, Lars, that focusing on Christ in worship counterbalances the extremes of focusing too much on either God’s immanence which can lead, as you mentioned, to a certain form of New Ageism, or God’s transcendence which leaves God unknowable or unavailable. A focus on the Trinity doesn’t seem like a bad thing, though, given the prominence of the Trinity in the Apostles and Nicene Creeds.

  • FullTime

    My gut feeling on first reading was that this is more a cultural reaction than a religious one.

    I can’t speak to great Britain, of course. In the United States I can imagine caucasians drawn to Celtic christianity as a reaction to other cultures here being more able to identify with their heritage. Whether it is African, Asian, or hispanic, other cultures are encouraged to explore where they came from and celebrate it. To be white is in many ways to be bland and baseless. How does one celebrate generic European-ness?

    When one can trace family roots to the British Isles (and most can) then, if aching for connectedness to the past, why not explore your own religion in a past manifestation with a cultural flavor? They get to keep Christ and feel less generic culturally.

    Also, Celticism is very popular in the modern mishmash that is neo-paganism. Younger Christians who don’t feel comfortable trading the Cross for a Tree of Life can at least make it a cross decorated by knotwork and feel cooler around their pagan friends.

    I totally realize that these musings about this movement make it seem shallow. I haven’t done much research and cannot answer to any deeper philosophical truths or fallacies that Celtic Christianity may present.

  • FullTime

    My gut feeling on first reading was that this is more a cultural reaction than a religious one.

    I can’t speak to great Britain, of course. In the United States I can imagine caucasians drawn to Celtic christianity as a reaction to other cultures here being more able to identify with their heritage. Whether it is African, Asian, or hispanic, other cultures are encouraged to explore where they came from and celebrate it. To be white is in many ways to be bland and baseless. How does one celebrate generic European-ness?

    When one can trace family roots to the British Isles (and most can) then, if aching for connectedness to the past, why not explore your own religion in a past manifestation with a cultural flavor? They get to keep Christ and feel less generic culturally.

    Also, Celticism is very popular in the modern mishmash that is neo-paganism. Younger Christians who don’t feel comfortable trading the Cross for a Tree of Life can at least make it a cross decorated by knotwork and feel cooler around their pagan friends.

    I totally realize that these musings about this movement make it seem shallow. I haven’t done much research and cannot answer to any deeper philosophical truths or fallacies that Celtic Christianity may present.

  • Anon

    Pretty much what people are saying here, plus good music in 6/8 time. :-)

    The real Celtic Christians were generically orthodox, though they became increasingly Romanized after the Synod of Whitby. They were Word-centered and preserved much learning, bringing it back to northern Europe, and evangelizing the Heptarchy of England (Rome’s St. Augustine sent to the Centingas was late on the scene)

    They were monastic, and the abbots would even ride to war against other Irish princes. The monasticism did allow for married people in their orders and communities. They were very ascetic. They -rejected- the paganism of the druids.

    I think that the term also serves as an excuse for Evangelicals to reclaim some of the liturgy of the Church and yet avoid accusations of moving towards Rome.

    The four or five Roman provinces of Britain were *very* Romanized by the 4th century. Both they and the Angle and Yute invaders thought of them as Romans or ‘waelas”. Brittanicus Pelagius was from Britiain (as were several of the later emperors of the West).

    The British were very anti-Pelagian, to a fault, even moving towards a hyper-augustinianism, which may be why it took the Irish to convert the Angles and the Jutes, if like southeron slave owners, they didn’t consider these outsiders ‘elect’.

    The chief divide among Christians in Britain before the fall of the Romano-British east of the Severn was between the more Romanized hierarchs who tended to side with the civil government, and the monastics, who tended to side with the poor. This can be seen in some of the surviving written materials, including the condemnations of Artorius by Bede and others, for taxing the monasteries in pursuit of funds to fight the invaders. (Presumably the mysterious, semi-mythological Artorius that the 6th and 7th century Arthurs in what is now Wales and Cumbria were named after). the point being that the conflict was over the relationship with the civil government, and not over Pelagianism versus Augustinianism.

  • Anon

    Pretty much what people are saying here, plus good music in 6/8 time. :-)

    The real Celtic Christians were generically orthodox, though they became increasingly Romanized after the Synod of Whitby. They were Word-centered and preserved much learning, bringing it back to northern Europe, and evangelizing the Heptarchy of England (Rome’s St. Augustine sent to the Centingas was late on the scene)

    They were monastic, and the abbots would even ride to war against other Irish princes. The monasticism did allow for married people in their orders and communities. They were very ascetic. They -rejected- the paganism of the druids.

    I think that the term also serves as an excuse for Evangelicals to reclaim some of the liturgy of the Church and yet avoid accusations of moving towards Rome.

    The four or five Roman provinces of Britain were *very* Romanized by the 4th century. Both they and the Angle and Yute invaders thought of them as Romans or ‘waelas”. Brittanicus Pelagius was from Britiain (as were several of the later emperors of the West).

    The British were very anti-Pelagian, to a fault, even moving towards a hyper-augustinianism, which may be why it took the Irish to convert the Angles and the Jutes, if like southeron slave owners, they didn’t consider these outsiders ‘elect’.

    The chief divide among Christians in Britain before the fall of the Romano-British east of the Severn was between the more Romanized hierarchs who tended to side with the civil government, and the monastics, who tended to side with the poor. This can be seen in some of the surviving written materials, including the condemnations of Artorius by Bede and others, for taxing the monasteries in pursuit of funds to fight the invaders. (Presumably the mysterious, semi-mythological Artorius that the 6th and 7th century Arthurs in what is now Wales and Cumbria were named after). the point being that the conflict was over the relationship with the civil government, and not over Pelagianism versus Augustinianism.

  • Rose

    This is an interesting post. I have a somewhat off-topic story. In Ireland, I offered nativity sets to the St Vincent de Paul Society, to be given to the poor at Christmas. The Society declined them, saying they wouldn’t want to offend their nonChristian recipients. There’s a good article in yesterday’s WSJ “There is no right not to be offended.”

  • Rose

    This is an interesting post. I have a somewhat off-topic story. In Ireland, I offered nativity sets to the St Vincent de Paul Society, to be given to the poor at Christmas. The Society declined them, saying they wouldn’t want to offend their nonChristian recipients. There’s a good article in yesterday’s WSJ “There is no right not to be offended.”

  • http://StevenAdkins.blogspot.com Steven

    Bieng about 29 years of age and living in America, I am a product of my culture. That is, I enjoy a great bit in the ability to pick and choose bits and pieces from huge swath of history, arts, products, even fashion, and personalize this bits and pieces and create for myself what I like.

    This is mostly harmless, and in fact can be great fun, considering all the resources and information and products that are available to me in my endeavors.

    But I find myself unconsciously tempted to do this with non disposable items. I think it’s a great temptation for a great many to do this with the way they perceive the Church..at least in my culture. So, we must be careful…and I admit that the sinful cynic in me is tempted to believe that “celtic Christianity” is perhaps an attempt by well meaning but searching individuals to find meaning in Christ.

    Because……sometimes Christ isn’t enough. We need something more.

    It would make more sense if this was an Irish or Irish American movement, but something tells me that this is probably a middle class movement drawing lots of young people tired of their parents church.

    My only question: Is communion done in Gaelic? That would be interesting.

  • http://StevenAdkins.blogspot.com Steven

    Bieng about 29 years of age and living in America, I am a product of my culture. That is, I enjoy a great bit in the ability to pick and choose bits and pieces from huge swath of history, arts, products, even fashion, and personalize this bits and pieces and create for myself what I like.

    This is mostly harmless, and in fact can be great fun, considering all the resources and information and products that are available to me in my endeavors.

    But I find myself unconsciously tempted to do this with non disposable items. I think it’s a great temptation for a great many to do this with the way they perceive the Church..at least in my culture. So, we must be careful…and I admit that the sinful cynic in me is tempted to believe that “celtic Christianity” is perhaps an attempt by well meaning but searching individuals to find meaning in Christ.

    Because……sometimes Christ isn’t enough. We need something more.

    It would make more sense if this was an Irish or Irish American movement, but something tells me that this is probably a middle class movement drawing lots of young people tired of their parents church.

    My only question: Is communion done in Gaelic? That would be interesting.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    So does anyone know what a “Celtic liturgy” is like? Responsive prayers put to today’s Celtic folk music in 6/8 time? Or is there a traditional structure of confession, introit, readings, etc., with set pieces such as the Kyrie?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    So does anyone know what a “Celtic liturgy” is like? Responsive prayers put to today’s Celtic folk music in 6/8 time? Or is there a traditional structure of confession, introit, readings, etc., with set pieces such as the Kyrie?

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    As I recall, the things that really offended Bede about the Celtic Church were a) their idiosyncratic tonsures (shaving the head forward of a line drawn ear to ear) and b) their insistence on calculating the date of Easter in their own way.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    As I recall, the things that really offended Bede about the Celtic Church were a) their idiosyncratic tonsures (shaving the head forward of a line drawn ear to ear) and b) their insistence on calculating the date of Easter in their own way.

  • Manxman

    You can get some very interesting insights on “Celtic Christianity” at the time of St. Patrick, and how it differed from the Roman-distorted Christianity of the rest of Europe in Thomas Cahill’s book “How the Irish Saved Civilization.” He makes some very good points about how pagan Rome altered and influenced Christianity instead of vice versa.

  • Manxman

    You can get some very interesting insights on “Celtic Christianity” at the time of St. Patrick, and how it differed from the Roman-distorted Christianity of the rest of Europe in Thomas Cahill’s book “How the Irish Saved Civilization.” He makes some very good points about how pagan Rome altered and influenced Christianity instead of vice versa.

  • http://www.scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com The Scylding

    From my brief readings on the matter, I would add the following: Liturgical differences between the pre-Romanised Celtic Church and the Roman church centred on the calculation of Easter, penance, confession, monastic tonsure and some other matters. The final demise of the Celtic Church followed the synod of Whitby in the 7th Century, where it was decided that all Churches in the British Isles would be subject to Rome. I have also come accross some accounts of subsequent persecutions of those who did not want to comply.

    The modern, “evangelical” attempt at resurrecting a “Celtic Spirituality” seems to have little in common with the ancient, Celtic church – it almost looks like a Disneyfication thereof. But the problem does not lie with the Celtic Church, but with modern superficiality. It actually dovetails nicely with a recent online discussion I had, where I described the “rich biblical imagery” added by some denominations in an attempt to recapture historical Christianity as “symbols with knobs on” – quite upsetting some. But ’tis true – if you do not believe, then don’t indulge in the liturgical practice indicated by that belief. Don’t colour in that which your theology declares to be monochrome. Don’t spice-up the fast food – switch to real food.

  • http://www.scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com The Scylding

    From my brief readings on the matter, I would add the following: Liturgical differences between the pre-Romanised Celtic Church and the Roman church centred on the calculation of Easter, penance, confession, monastic tonsure and some other matters. The final demise of the Celtic Church followed the synod of Whitby in the 7th Century, where it was decided that all Churches in the British Isles would be subject to Rome. I have also come accross some accounts of subsequent persecutions of those who did not want to comply.

    The modern, “evangelical” attempt at resurrecting a “Celtic Spirituality” seems to have little in common with the ancient, Celtic church – it almost looks like a Disneyfication thereof. But the problem does not lie with the Celtic Church, but with modern superficiality. It actually dovetails nicely with a recent online discussion I had, where I described the “rich biblical imagery” added by some denominations in an attempt to recapture historical Christianity as “symbols with knobs on” – quite upsetting some. But ’tis true – if you do not believe, then don’t indulge in the liturgical practice indicated by that belief. Don’t colour in that which your theology declares to be monochrome. Don’t spice-up the fast food – switch to real food.

  • http://www.homesteadblogger.com/gonorthyoungpack Jenn W

    >>Could someone explain what Celtic spirituality entails?>>

    Um, if you go back far enough didn’t they worship trees? Druids and all that? So, perhaps it entails each parishioner bearing his own cross, you know, tree hugging. Running away and hiding now! ;)

  • http://www.homesteadblogger.com/gonorthyoungpack Jenn W

    >>Could someone explain what Celtic spirituality entails?>>

    Um, if you go back far enough didn’t they worship trees? Druids and all that? So, perhaps it entails each parishioner bearing his own cross, you know, tree hugging. Running away and hiding now! ;)

  • http://poor-brother.blogspot.com/ The Poor Blogger

    To say, “Celtic Christianity is a sham,” shows that Weeks lacks as much rigor as the “Celtic Christians” he seeks to discredit. Those who are interested in “Celtic Christianity” are every bit as varied and hard to pin down as “Celtic Christianity” itself. There are Orthodox Christians looking for the Orthodoxy of the early Christians in the modern UK. There are Roman Catholic Christians who just like St. Patrick and St. Bride. There are former neopagans looking for something a little less like the institutional, Westernized churches that are hard NOT to find in the US. There are rebellious non-conformists looking for the smallest, furthest away from the mainstream Christianity that’s still Christianity. And probably others.

    Defining “Celtic Christianity,” as I said, is just as hard. Are we speaking of the Irish brand associated with St. Patrick? The Anglo-Saxon brand? The Welsh? The Scottish? The St. Colman brand, which will not submit to Roman authority at Whitby, or the St. Cuthbert brand, which was every bit as Irish as St. Patrick in ethos, but enthusiastically Roman in practice? Is it the monastic, Iona brand we like, or the diocesional Canterbury brand?

    You have to be specific about what you mean regarding “Celtic Christianity.” That said, I think there are some common elements which “most” people think it means.
    - Reverential of nature rather than dismissive. That is, it sees us as stewards, not dominators.
    - Values tribe and family over city and country.
    - Greater respect for saints than is found in most Protestant churches
    - A very wide sense of sacramentality which extends beyond the Eucharist into the world at large (ie. pan-en-theism)
    - A tradition which springs from below rather than above

    I’m sure there are other things. It is true that the modern Celtic movement is not very historically rigorous. And it is also true that it is less of an embracing of anything historically verifiable and more a rejection of modernity (or what is defined as modernity). A search for something meaningful.

    What I LOVE is how, because it is popular, and because it is more a desperate attempt to find something with life and love rather than something based on historical fact, everyone craps on it. Instead of pointing out everything wrong with it, why not look at why it’s so popular; what it is about it that is so attractive to so many, and see what need it seems to be fulfilling. Then, instead of spitting on those who decide to practice it, do what Christ does. He didn’t rain down holy scorn on his people, but humbled Himself into flesh, onto a cross, unto death; for those He loved.

    Peace,
    Christopher

  • http://poor-brother.blogspot.com/ The Poor Blogger

    To say, “Celtic Christianity is a sham,” shows that Weeks lacks as much rigor as the “Celtic Christians” he seeks to discredit. Those who are interested in “Celtic Christianity” are every bit as varied and hard to pin down as “Celtic Christianity” itself. There are Orthodox Christians looking for the Orthodoxy of the early Christians in the modern UK. There are Roman Catholic Christians who just like St. Patrick and St. Bride. There are former neopagans looking for something a little less like the institutional, Westernized churches that are hard NOT to find in the US. There are rebellious non-conformists looking for the smallest, furthest away from the mainstream Christianity that’s still Christianity. And probably others.

    Defining “Celtic Christianity,” as I said, is just as hard. Are we speaking of the Irish brand associated with St. Patrick? The Anglo-Saxon brand? The Welsh? The Scottish? The St. Colman brand, which will not submit to Roman authority at Whitby, or the St. Cuthbert brand, which was every bit as Irish as St. Patrick in ethos, but enthusiastically Roman in practice? Is it the monastic, Iona brand we like, or the diocesional Canterbury brand?

    You have to be specific about what you mean regarding “Celtic Christianity.” That said, I think there are some common elements which “most” people think it means.
    - Reverential of nature rather than dismissive. That is, it sees us as stewards, not dominators.
    - Values tribe and family over city and country.
    - Greater respect for saints than is found in most Protestant churches
    - A very wide sense of sacramentality which extends beyond the Eucharist into the world at large (ie. pan-en-theism)
    - A tradition which springs from below rather than above

    I’m sure there are other things. It is true that the modern Celtic movement is not very historically rigorous. And it is also true that it is less of an embracing of anything historically verifiable and more a rejection of modernity (or what is defined as modernity). A search for something meaningful.

    What I LOVE is how, because it is popular, and because it is more a desperate attempt to find something with life and love rather than something based on historical fact, everyone craps on it. Instead of pointing out everything wrong with it, why not look at why it’s so popular; what it is about it that is so attractive to so many, and see what need it seems to be fulfilling. Then, instead of spitting on those who decide to practice it, do what Christ does. He didn’t rain down holy scorn on his people, but humbled Himself into flesh, onto a cross, unto death; for those He loved.

    Peace,
    Christopher

  • chytraeus

    From this Web page http://celticchristianity.org/ there is a link to this pdf http://celticchristianity.org/library/stowe.pdf which they claim is an early Celtic liturgy. It’s in English.

  • chytraeus

    From this Web page http://celticchristianity.org/ there is a link to this pdf http://celticchristianity.org/library/stowe.pdf which they claim is an early Celtic liturgy. It’s in English.

  • http://www.bravelass.blogspot.com Kamilla

    Other than a misleading comment about the dating of Arthur/Artorius, Anon in post #11 has given a good survey. Arthur is most probably dated to the turn of the 6th century – I had to read his comment about the dating of Arthurs in Wales three times before I realized he was dating the “naming afters” rather than Artorius/Arthur himself.

    Kamilla

  • http://www.bravelass.blogspot.com Kamilla

    Other than a misleading comment about the dating of Arthur/Artorius, Anon in post #11 has given a good survey. Arthur is most probably dated to the turn of the 6th century – I had to read his comment about the dating of Arthurs in Wales three times before I realized he was dating the “naming afters” rather than Artorius/Arthur himself.

    Kamilla

  • Matt

    Christopher,

    I consider myself a sacrementalist, not just with respect to the Eucharist, but to the world (although I would never use the term panentheism for it). I firmly believe that all of creation was made to reflect God in some way; that nature and the material world is meaningful because of what God invested in it from the beginning. I think there is a union, not a serparation between the material and the spiritual (i.e. the sun means God’s glory; a rock means God’s strength, etc).

    From what you describe, however, this is not the case in Celtic Christianity. If verifiable history is generally so unimportant in such circles, then there is a still a false dichotomy being made. After all, if there is meaning in nature, then there ought to be meaning in verifiable history (a description of nature over time.) If history is unimportant, then nature is also unimportant. To be frank, it sounds like a lot of the movement is running so hard from the modern error of materialism, that its embracing the ancient error of gnosticism instead.

    If I may say so, while I agree that we ought to be seriously asking what need the movement is fullfilling, I think your rhetoric seems very much like “raining down holy scorn.” I’m reminded of a comment about a speck of dust and a plank.

  • Matt

    Christopher,

    I consider myself a sacrementalist, not just with respect to the Eucharist, but to the world (although I would never use the term panentheism for it). I firmly believe that all of creation was made to reflect God in some way; that nature and the material world is meaningful because of what God invested in it from the beginning. I think there is a union, not a serparation between the material and the spiritual (i.e. the sun means God’s glory; a rock means God’s strength, etc).

    From what you describe, however, this is not the case in Celtic Christianity. If verifiable history is generally so unimportant in such circles, then there is a still a false dichotomy being made. After all, if there is meaning in nature, then there ought to be meaning in verifiable history (a description of nature over time.) If history is unimportant, then nature is also unimportant. To be frank, it sounds like a lot of the movement is running so hard from the modern error of materialism, that its embracing the ancient error of gnosticism instead.

    If I may say so, while I agree that we ought to be seriously asking what need the movement is fullfilling, I think your rhetoric seems very much like “raining down holy scorn.” I’m reminded of a comment about a speck of dust and a plank.

  • Anon

    Kamilla,
    You might know more on this than I, but from my writing, there seems to have been an organized Romano-British resistance, with two main parties, those of the Ambrosians (same clan as St. Ambrose), and the other party associated with “Wyrtgeorn” which just means “high king.”

    Some of the Arthurian stories come from the earlier campaign against Irish invaders by Bishop Germanus. Like many bishops, he was a retired Roman general. Others are probably attributable to Ambrosius Aurellianus (or did I get the nomen and cognomen mixed up?)

    These were almost certainly 5th century and maybe early 6th. The other ‘Arthurs’ Arthwys, ect., appear as sons of local magistrates ranging from north ‘Wales’ to the family of the Dux of the Wall; Coelestius of nursery rhyme fame.

    Some tales might be expansions on their activities. They were after the Yellow Plague which hit the Romano-British -hard-, but left the Angles and Jutes alone. This was also the time of a major volcanic or impact event, and there were no proper summers in northern Europe for 20 or more years. This is the ‘wasteland’ of legend. The Romano-Britons were dependant upon agriculture, the Angles were also quite happy to do a lot of hunting. The Romano-British tendency to hyper-Augustinianism in reaction to Brittanicus Pelagius may have led them, like Southern slave-owners in the Old South, to deny them the Gospel, considering them not elect to salvation. It took the Irish to bring the Gospel to the Old English. Archaeological evidence from grave sites and grave goods is consistant with this.

    Of course there was the much earlier Lucius Artorius Castus along the Wall with an ala of Sarmatian mercenaries or hostages, renowned for certain victories.

    Somehow all of this, and even one of Old King Coel’s “fiddler’s three” – Myrddin – turned into the Matter of Britain.

    That someone possibly named or nicknamed Arthur existed and led the home-grown Romano-British legions against the Angles is likely enough, and around him collected many other tales, some true, some wildly mythical.

    If I could write. . ..

  • Anon

    Kamilla,
    You might know more on this than I, but from my writing, there seems to have been an organized Romano-British resistance, with two main parties, those of the Ambrosians (same clan as St. Ambrose), and the other party associated with “Wyrtgeorn” which just means “high king.”

    Some of the Arthurian stories come from the earlier campaign against Irish invaders by Bishop Germanus. Like many bishops, he was a retired Roman general. Others are probably attributable to Ambrosius Aurellianus (or did I get the nomen and cognomen mixed up?)

    These were almost certainly 5th century and maybe early 6th. The other ‘Arthurs’ Arthwys, ect., appear as sons of local magistrates ranging from north ‘Wales’ to the family of the Dux of the Wall; Coelestius of nursery rhyme fame.

    Some tales might be expansions on their activities. They were after the Yellow Plague which hit the Romano-British -hard-, but left the Angles and Jutes alone. This was also the time of a major volcanic or impact event, and there were no proper summers in northern Europe for 20 or more years. This is the ‘wasteland’ of legend. The Romano-Britons were dependant upon agriculture, the Angles were also quite happy to do a lot of hunting. The Romano-British tendency to hyper-Augustinianism in reaction to Brittanicus Pelagius may have led them, like Southern slave-owners in the Old South, to deny them the Gospel, considering them not elect to salvation. It took the Irish to bring the Gospel to the Old English. Archaeological evidence from grave sites and grave goods is consistant with this.

    Of course there was the much earlier Lucius Artorius Castus along the Wall with an ala of Sarmatian mercenaries or hostages, renowned for certain victories.

    Somehow all of this, and even one of Old King Coel’s “fiddler’s three” – Myrddin – turned into the Matter of Britain.

    That someone possibly named or nicknamed Arthur existed and led the home-grown Romano-British legions against the Angles is likely enough, and around him collected many other tales, some true, some wildly mythical.

    If I could write. . ..

  • Anon

    Aiee. I don’t know what else I wrote down wrong, but at the very beginning “from my writing” should be “from my reading”!!!

  • Anon

    Aiee. I don’t know what else I wrote down wrong, but at the very beginning “from my writing” should be “from my reading”!!!

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