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Celtic Christianity: What is it? - Part One

Through the centuries, the Celts have instinctively resisted the Imperial model for Christianity. They have tended to be exuberant worshippers, free-thinkers, and dissenters. They are intensely loyal to beloved leaders and not to systems or institutions. For that reason, mainline churches have viewed Celtic Christians with suspicion and, sometimes, outright hostility. Celtic expressions of the faith have been persecuted throughout history but is now enjoying a renewal of faith and interest.

Specifically, Celtic Christianity refers to the branch of Christianity which was unique to the peoples of the Britannia, Scotland & Ireland.

Originally, during the first generations of Christianity, all local churches were independent and there was no central governing organization. These local communities were ministered to by what we would today call Bishops and Deacons. The rank of Priest only began to emerge and be differentiated from that of Bishop later, during the mid-second century, as the Church expanded from the cities to the rural areas.

Beginning in the second Century, with the spread of Christianity into the rural areas outside of the cities, and particularly after the devolution of the presbyter (i.e. priest) from the Order of Bishop, local churches began to be grouped together to permit better organization and supervision of orthodoxy. Parishes began to be led by priests. Bishops became heads of regions called diocese and bishops of cities, called a Metropolitan. An Archbishop supervised, but did not rule over or govern the nearby rural diocese. Diocesan Bishops were completely autonomous in their own diocese as long as they remained true to the Faith.

Although there is some debate over exactly when and how Christianity got to the British Isles, Whether it was 37 Ad or 67 Ad, there is no doubt that it was firmly established by the 2nd Century, because Ireneaus, the Bishop of Lyon, had significant interaction with them. 

The first, great Celtic son was Morien, also known as Pelagius. Pelagius was a spokesman for Celtic theology. Pelagius has been labeled as a heretic by traditional theologians because The Roman system favored a Latin version of Christianity. Pelagius' opponent, Augustine, succeeded in expelling the Pelagians out of the Roman Empire during the 5th Century. Augustine became the father of Latin Christianity.

Celtic Christianity holds to a balanced view of the Biblical doctrines of free-will and predestination. Ostensibly, these doctrines were the focus of controversy between Augustine and Pelagius. Through the centuries, Pelagian Celts have emphasized the individual's responsibility to obey God's moral law. Latin Christianity has tended to rely upon the strong arm of the state. 

Celtic Christianity does not have much interest in the grand worship of state religion. Celtic Christians are fond of the small group and a liturgy which is an expression of personal faith. From ancient times, they have had great interest in spiritual gifts, manifestations of the Divine presence, religious revivals, and world evangelism.

Celts love mysteries, story-telling, poetry, folk-music and dancing. They are not impressed by great cities and the arts which are abstract and separate from life.
Celtic theology does not agree with Augustine's view of Original Sin.
Find out more about our related ministries at www.celticcommunion.org
Quoted through Cildara Ministries

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