Thought I'd draw everyone's attention to two great Celtic oriented resources.
"How the Irish Saved Civilization" by Thomas Cahill documents the power of the gospel in a heathenish people, to transform.
"The Celtic way of Evangelism", inspired by the above, is an analysis of the wave of evangelism resulting from Patrick's work among the Irish. (I don't have it handy for author, but it is a unique title..)
Both are available at amazon.
Laurie Ann Murphy O'Brien McGriff MacEnchroe Powell (give or take an Irish name or two)
PS: The first has some pretty racy bits (the Irish haven't changed much) and the second draws what I consider the wrong conclusion - "inside the box" solutions. But the history is well worth reading!
I had the great honor to travel to Ireland in 1993 to help rebuild part of a fortification that had been constructed during the potato famine. It was used to keep the food they were growing from being stolen, and the place had four foot thick rock walls.
We took 27 teens over there for a summer of hard work, and except for one "cow tipping" incident (no joke, they really suck out and tried to tip cows) we really had a great summer!
Can you tell me a little of what you learned from your readings? As I said, we were way out in the country and only went into the city one time. The Irish seem not unlike Americans in many ways. There was an open market type area where we mostly hung out and talked to the people. They were very Gospel hardened, and the only person we saw come to Christ the whole summer was one young person the teens lead to The Lord while on the ferry back to England.
Now the Philippines, that was another story altogether!
Oh, one more thing. We also got to see the Blarney stone. It's really quite unspectacular. Which reminds me of the story I heard about Bill Clinton going to visit the stone. It is said that the Blarney stone kissed him.
Hi, Matthew, I would love to take the house church gospel into a Catholic nation and see if they wouldn't be very quick to embrace a pure gospel as an "insider movement". I'm jealous of both the opportunities you have had for ministry, for different reasons
The summary of the Celtic story: Patrick did a great job of communicating the gospel to the Irish in such a way that they completely enculturated it into Celtic ways. It was sort of a "guerrilla movement" of gospel workers. There is some similarity to the current move among the Filipinos: they were a strong family culture, but very flexible and mobile, so they just packed up their Bibles and spread the word.
They got the Gospel, then they got Literacy. Being the enthusiastic, whole-hearted barbarians that they were, they started copying every piece of literature they could get. It was a passion for them.
They also formed believing communities that would be similar to monasteries, but they did not close people out, it was like every day was an open-to-the-public retreat center. Perhaps somewhat like the L'Abri community in Switzerland. When the tribe moved, the monastery moved, settling on the outskirts and near high-traffic areas, such as the sea.
As the rest of Western Civilization collapsed, libraries burned, educated people became fewer, but out at the edges, the Irish were furiously copying the Bible, Plato and Silly Poetry. They also spread out across the Empire, sharing the gospel and spreading literacy and literature. They also reculturated areas to the Gospel of Peace.
It is speculated that if it had not been for the Irish, most of what is left of Western Lit would have been lost.
Sadly enough, over time the Roman Church took over this Celtic movement and quashed its distinctives until, now, the Irish nation is perhaps the most Romanized land, other than Spain, in the world.
This is my uneducated, off the top of my head summary of two works well worth reading in their entirety. But there you have it FWIW!
So that's what happened. There were a lot of Catholics there. I think that was why we had a pretty hard time getting anywhere with evangelism. As far as house fellowship goes, that's a very interesting statement. I wonder how that would work too. Oh if I only knew then what I know now!
In the Philippines they had what they called "Catholic Faith Defenders." I never ran into one personally, but their duty, we were told, was to refute any attempt to evangelize by anyone other than Catholics. We were just told to be nice to them, but to refuse to debate with them.
We had it easy there. We were treated with great respect just because we were Americans (this was more true on the outlying island we lived on for the summer, than in Manila). If it were not for the drinking water, that is the one place I'd love to live ...besides here in America.