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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George G. Hunter III is Distinguished Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. A sought-after speaker and workshop leader, he is one of the country's foremost experts on evangelism and church growth.Review:
Do you agree that Christianity is more effective as a movement than as an institution in evangelizing non-believers? This book explains why that always has been true. Are you engaged in designing a church growth strategy? Rather than reinvent the wheel, learn from others. Study this account of an exceptionally coherent and effective strategy that won the west. --Lyle E. Schaller, Author
George Hunter III imaginatively applies what he takes to be the major themes of the Celtic Christianity practiced in the British Isles between the fifth and tenth centuries to the situation facing churches in the secularised western world today. --Ian Bradley, University of St Andrews
Dr. Hunter has written a rare manuscript in that it is both informative and interesting reading. Those of us who take the Great Commission seriously will learn from this scholarly effort why the old methods of evangelizing no longer work. --William H. Hinson, First United Methodist Church, Houston, Texas
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