What does it mean to be a Celtic Evangelical?

As Celtic Evangelicals, we are Christians from Evangelical, Bible-based backgrounds who hold the Celtic Christian worldview, a distinct mindset held by both ancient and post-modern Celtic Christians.  This worldview is inclusive and can be embraced by Christians from any background.

Some distinctives of Celtic Christianity are:

Hope

Hope looks for the good in everything first, rather than the evil.

“And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.”–Genesis 1:31

“And now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” –I Corinthians 13:13

Equality (Non-hierarchal)

Every person is equal before God. No one can claim authority over anyone else.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” –Galatians 3:28

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” –Matthew 20:25-28

Mystery

The Infinite God can’t be fully explained or comprehended by finite Man.

“…who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.”–I Timothy 6:16 NIV

“Don’t imagine us leaders to be something we aren’t. We are servants of Christ, not his masters. We are guides into God’s most sublime secrets, not security guards posted to protect them.” –I Corinthians 4:1 MSG

“Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out.

Is there anyone around who can explain God?
Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do?
Anyone who has done him such a huge favor
that God has to ask his advice?
Everything comes from him;
Everything happens through him;
Everything ends up in him.
Always glory! Always praise!
Yes. Yes. Yes.” –Romans 11:33-36 MSG

Environment

Humans are both part of  God’s creation and its caretakers.

“Then the LORD God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” –Genesis 2:15

“You made [humans] rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.”–Psalm 8:6-8 NIV

“Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.” –I Corinthians 4:2 ESV

Anamnesis

Anamnesis is a Greek word meaning the conscious, prayerful remembrance of God, the continuing sense of God’s presence throughout the day as we work, pray, eat, talk and rest. It is the awareness of the sacred in all times and places and the refusal to compartmentalise life.

We develop this awareness through spiritual practices such as meditation, particularly Lectio Divina, a meditative reading of Scripture begun by the Desert Fathers.

“‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’” —Acts 17:28

“And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart: And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.” –Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Immanence

We acknowledge God’s immediate presence with His Creation.

“For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be the glory for ever.  Amen.” –Romans 11:36

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.” –Acts 17:24

Simplicity

We emphasise basic essential doctrines such as the traditional creeds of Christianity.

“But I fear, lest by any means…your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” –II Corinthians 11:3

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third dayaccording to the Scriptures…” –I Corinthians 15:3-4 NIV

“You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you to let you in on God’s master stroke, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified.” –I Corinthians 2:1-2 MSG

Anam Chara

As we study ancient Celtic Christian life, we find another unique feature: the Anam Chara or ‘soul friend’. Having a soul friend is a practice followed by those both inside and outside the Celtic monastic life.

All monks were assigned to a more mature monk in the community to learn from.  The scope for such a relationship could vary, but a large part of it was listening, having loving concern, and giving spiritual direction to help us avoid or get out of spiritual pitfalls.

This is a tradition we would like to see revived in Christian practice.  It seems an organic and loving method of discipleship, foundational to grounding new believers in their walk with Jesus.

The idea is for each of us to have someone who cares deeply and specifically for us, and in whom we can confide. It’s a little like a non-authoritative confessor, or counsellor, or just a spiritually mature “good listener”.  From our understanding, an Anam Chara does not tell you what you must do; the Anam Chara listens and asks questions to  help you hear the Holy Spirit tell you what to do.

Adapted from a work of  The Prayer Foundation.