Who is St. Patrick & why is he important?

 

As the story goes, St. Patrick was captured as a slave and lived among the Celts for many of his teen years.  He escaped and was able to make it to Rome, where he studied to become a Priest and eventually a missionary to the Celts of Ireland.  The reason he is famous is because he did what the Roman Catholic Church was unable to do, convert the Irish.

The Roman Way failed: The Roman Way of ministry was to go into a culture and completely transform the culture to become like the Roman culture.  The reason the Romans were unsuccessful in converting the Irish to Christianity is because they thought of the Celts as barbarians, pagans that needed to be civilized before they could learn the gospel of Jesus.  And so Roman missionaries focused on teaching the Celts how to read, how to dress, and how to act before they were willing to share the good news that Jesus saves.  And the Celts flat rejected the Roman Way.

The Celtic Way succeeded: George Hunter III writes about Saint Patrick’s missional community methodology in The Celtic Way of Evangelism, How Christianity Can Reach the West…AGAIN.  Patrick and his followers successfully reached the people of Ireland with the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ by not trying to change the Irish culture, but by embracing the best the Celts had to offer and communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ in a way the Irish could understand.  The Irish were an imaginative people, who love song, drama, and dance.  They were very passionate, relational, down-to-earth, and fun.  So Saint Patrick and his traveling apostolic band of “…a dozen or so people, including priests, seminarians, laymen, and laywomen”[1] ministered in ways that would meet the Irish where they were at, letting go of any cultural baggage to concentrate on getting the best of the gospel across to the Irish.  This ministering team would move near to a tribe in Ireland, ask permission of the tribal king to share the message with the people, and then the Christians would live alongside the people serving and interacting with them in everyday life.  The Christians would regularly engage the Celts in conversation looking for receptive people and opportunities to pray for the sick, counsel people, and mediate conflicts.[2]

An Attractional Community: As Timmis and Chester would put it, Saint Patrick and his band were an everyday church with a message and a lifestyle that was unlike that of the culture-at-large, and so they became to the Irish an attractional community.[3]

How can we do what St. Patrick did? Part of becoming an attractional community is learning to speak the language of the people, which includes adopting the common metaphors and colloquialisms of the culture often unique to their environment. Michael Green, in Evangelism in the Early Church, calls this the work of translation, taking biblical concepts (foreign to the hearer), and looking for ways to communicate in the local everyday common language.[4]  Chester and Timmis would argue Christians in the West need to learn new methods of communication and new ways of doing church that is culturally relevant in order to reach the unchurched who would never otherwise step foot into a church building.[5]  Saint Patrick was a master at the Art of Translation of the gospel to the Celtic people.  He knew that the reason the Romans were unsuccessful in converting the Irish was because they were unbending in their approach; they had not done the work of translation and therefore wrote off the Celtic people as barbarians uninterested in the gospel and unconvertible.[6]  Patrick, however, knew how the Irish thought, he knew they had “remarkable imaginations” and so he knew that creative forms of communication such as stories, drama, song, poetry, and visual arts would be a more effective way to convey the gospel message.  And this way of ministry was effective in reaching the Celts.  After weeks and months of living beside and ministering to a particular tribe, a local congregation would emerge that “…would have been astonishingly indigenous.”[7]  Patrick’s band and the new Christians would then build a small chapel intended to serve multiple congregations.  Once a chapel was established, one of Patrick’s apprentices would remain as the priest and one or two of the settlement’s young and promising disciples would join Patrick’s band in training for ministry, and then the process would begin again as they would go on to the next tribe.  Patrick continued this style of ministry until his death in 460 AD and thus within his lifetime his mission planted about seven hundred churches, ordained about a thousand priests, and  influenced around 30 to 40 of Ireland’s 150 tribes to become Christian.[8]

Focus on people in Christian community, not buildings: Patrick did not set out to build a chapel and wait for people to come through the doors. Rather, these apostolic bands went out to the people, loved them, served them, lived alongside them, and soon the Celts were attracted to these communities, joining them, and then they would find themselves becoming Christian.[9]  Similarly, John Wesley who ministered more than a millennium later believed, “…it is the duty of the Church to go to the people.”[10]  And so he preached in the open-air and helped unbelievers form communities in which they could continue to grow in Christ.  He developed mixed gender small groups with about eleven Christians living in close proximity to one another.[11]  He also developed accountability groups of men, of women, that were smaller and that were designed to go deep into confession of sin, and the testimony of Christian experiences.[12]

The Celtic and Methodist Way, Today: The modern language is “cell-group” or “missional community” (MC) church.  Scripture teaches there are two basic regular gatherings of the local church, in homes and as large groups (e.g., Acts 2:42-47; 5:42; and 20:20). Both meetings were necessary for the spiritual and physical growth of the early church as an everyday community.  As Christians devoted themselves to the four emphases of Acts 2:42 as an everyday church, the LORD blessed them and added to their number (Acts 2:43-47).

Large Gathering: In the early church, teaching and preaching was primarily conducted during the large group gathering by the Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, and Pastor-Teachers, which had a two-fold purpose: (1) the equipping and edification of believers to do ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16); and (2) the evangelism of seekers (Acts 19:8-10). Therefore, the purposes of Sunday gatherings is: worship, preaching, teaching, evangelism, communion, and prayer.

Small Gathering: This is a small group  (whatever you wanna call them) that meets regularly for the purpose of mutual edification and the application of Scripture to be lived out as an everyday community (Acts 2:42-47; Eph. 4:11-16). The group functions as a mini-church with the leader shepherding the group to become a family of servant missionaries who make disciples that make disciples and multiply (Matt. 18:19-20; 1 Peter 2:9).

The above is the Celtic Way, the Methodist Way, St. Paul’s Way, Jesus’ Way of ministry.

GODSPEED

[1] George G. Hunter III. The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West…AGAIN (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 2010), 9.

[2] George G. Hunter III. The Celtic Way of Evangelism, 9.

[3] Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, Everyday Church, 49-50, 56, 127.

[4] Michael Green, Evangelism in the Early Church, Revised Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003),165-168.

[5] Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, Everyday Church, 157.

[6] George Hunter III, The Celtic Way of Evangelism, 5 & 7.

[7] George Hunter III, The Celtic Way of Evangelism, 10.

[8] George Hunter III, The Celtic Way of Evangelism, 10-11.

[9] George Hunter III, The Celtic Way of Evangelism, 44-45.

[10] James Burns, Revival: Their Laws And Leaders (London, UK: Kessinger), 302.

[11] James Burns, Revival: Their Laws And Leaders, 296.

[12] Robert Coleman, Nothing To Do But To Save Souls (Nappanee, India: Evangel, 1990), 35.

[13] James Burns, Revival: Their Laws And Leaders, 295-296.

[14] Andrew Purves, Pastoral Theology in the Classical Tradition (Louisville, KY: Westminster, 2001), 112.

[15] James Burns, Revival: Their Laws And Leaders, 296-298.

[16] Robert Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism, 79-109.

[17] James Burns, Revival: Their Laws And Leaders, 296.

[18] Joel Comiskey, 2000 Years of Small Groups, 168.

[19] Robert Coleman, Nothing To Do But To Save Souls, 34.

 

As a Christian, who should I vote for, 2016?

Who should we vote for?

In one sense, the answer is very complicated.  In another sense, the answer is straightforward.  I will begin with the straightforward answer and then get into the weeds if you choose to indulge.

The Straightforward Answer:

As Theologian Wayne Grudem has pointed out when both candidates are corrupt and morally reprehensible, then one needs to vote for the party platform he or she believes in.  Since ideas have consequences, and since the ideas of the left are largely not in agreement with Biblical Christianity, and since the ideas of the right and largely compatible with Biblical Christianity, then a Christian should vote for the party platform and candidate on the right (especially when justices are given so much power in this country to change the course of history).

The following is Wayne Grudem’s assessment:

“Once I put the choice in those stark terms, there is a good way to make a decision. Since I find both candidates morally objectionable, I am back to the old-fashioned basis on which I have usually decided how to vote for my entire life: Whose policies are better? Do I agree more with Trump’s policies or with Clinton’s?

“It isn’t even close. I overwhelmingly support Trump’s policies and believe that Clinton’s policies will seriously damage the nation, perhaps forever. On the Supreme Court, abortion, religious liberty, sexual orientation regulations, taxes, economic growth, the minimum wage, school choice, Obamacare, protection from terrorists, immigration, the military, energy, and safety in our cities, I think Trump is far better than Clinton (see below for details).” – Wayne Grudem 

Keep in mind, like Grudem I despise Trump.  I believe he is one of the worst candidates the Repiblicans have ever put forward.  But the Republican platform is one of th  best in decades.  I do not fully trust Trump, he has made racist remarks and has degraded women.  Does this mean he’s a racist? A chauvinist? From the heart the mouth speaks.  Can he be forgiven? Is he pliable? Sure.  Has he asked for forgiveness, not completely.  He asks forgiveness halfway or not at all and makes his supporters defend the indefensible.  Hence the #neverTrump movement.

Does he believe the things he has said?  Or is he simply a fool without self-control of the tongue? This is where we begin to get into the weeds and realize the answer is not straightforward for the Christian voter.  Not to mention Hillary will actually undermine the constitution and our nation will spin further from the vision of our founders.  
The Weeds:

I have watched, read, and listened to everything I can get my hands on in the past year from CNN to Real Clear Politics, to Ben Shapiro and Michael Medved to Fareed Zakaria, to National Public Radio and the BBC.  And here is my conclusion: to vote for Clinton is to vote for someone who is likely a legitimate criminal.  

Here is the case against her:

She either made intentional decisions to put a server in her basement to hide correspondence with officials to sell secrets to communicate under the radar in a way so as to conspire and hide information from her political opponents and the American public; or she is plain stupid, ignorant, incompetent; or she could be both.  

Based on what FBI director Comey said in early July 2016, at minimum she was careless/reckless and should not be trusted with national secrets (based on that alone she should have had charges made against her).

Now, the evidence seems to suggest there was intent, on her part, to be deceptive and that there was a cover up involving more than Clinton, potentially POTUS (at minimum the DOJ). Why would she have her aides “wipe” 30,000 emails unless she had something to hide? Why did she claim to have 1 maybe 2 devices that she used in relation to her private server, and later it was discovered there were 13 devices, most of which she destroyed? (She lied) This points to intent.  Not to mention the new revelation of 650,000 email communications on Weiner’s laptop, a laptop that belonged to Hillary’s top aide, Huma Abedin.  Were they all from Hillary or about Hillary? No. But appetently FBI director Comey saw something of significance to cause him to write a letter to congress to inform them that he was re-opening the case concerning her emails (and as of today, update – sounds like July decision is upheld: careless but no evidence of intent – except “bleach bit” – look it up).

This is a big deal, even though not indicted.  Why? Because the evidence points in the direction that she should be.

From Ben Shapiro’s perspective, the election is the opportunity for American voters to play the role of holding authority accountable.  If we elect Clinton into office, there is a real chance that she could be pardoned by Obama or even pardon herself once she became president.  Read that line again.  It came from a prosecutor interviewed on Fox News yesterday.  (Listen to Shaperio here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-ben-shapiro-show/id1047335260?mt=2&i=377470182 ).

Why do you think the White House and Democrats are putting pressure on the resignation of FBI director Comey? Could it be Obama is included in these emails? I had a personal conversation with a close friend who worked in the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s office.  I asked him 18 months ago about the emails.  He almost had a canned response, “Everyone in D.C.’s doing it.  If she goes down, 1/3 of D.C. Politicians could go down with her.” Interesting.  So curruption is widespread and condoned privately in D.C.? This doesn’t mean we should ignore what she did.  Instead, clean up Washington.

I have read that Obama wrote Hillary several emails under a pseudonym according to Wikileaks.  So the President seems to have a vested interest (as does Loretta Lynch, who just happened to have a 37 minute private meeting with Bill Clinton in July just a day or so before Comey dismissed the email charges in early July – Lynch’s meeting with Bill was on a private plane, indicating he went out of his was to intercept her at the airport.  Oh, he just happened to land at the same airport Lynch was at.  It just happened to happen.  Like they bumped into each other in the hall).  So the President and DOJ have a vested interest in making sure the email investigation gets buried.  What are they hiding?

This is not an America influenced by Judeo-Christian values.  If Obama or Clinton claim to be Christian, they have obviously not read the New Testament.  Or at least they don’t understand it.

What about Trump:

I don’t like how bombastic he is.  He definitely seems to not know the Bible either.  I dislike his rhetoric about minorities and women, especially the Hispanic community.  But I had a conversation with three of my Hispanic friends in the past 36 hours.  They are for Trump.  One said, “I like the party platform and I think Trump is pliable.”  The other said, “His speech about people from Mexico coming over to America is mostly true.  Trump is just telling it like it is.  As a Mexican American, I don’t want to offend people, but hey, Trump is telling the truth.”  The third is an independent who realizes how bad a Clinton presidency would be and wrote about the dangers of Clinton taking office:

This causes me to pause.  I don’t want my half-brother thinking I’m a racist for voting for Trump.  But I also don’t want a corrupt criminal in office who literally will forever change America away from Judeo-Christian values, which in the long run will take away my freedoms as a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Based on the above, especially considering my Hispanic friends’ perspective, there is a case you can be for Trump and not support his rhetoric and not yourself be considered a racist. 

Ideas have consequences.  Progressivism is destroying our country.  It is time to conserve the principles our nation was founded on. 

I would vote third party, but realistically that is a vote for Clinton and progressivism. 

What to do!?! 

Pray, hold my breath, and vote for the Repiblican Party Platform? It is a risk either way, but a Clinton presidency will continue to drift us from Judeo-Christian values into progressive relativism and the social ills that follow.  As Ben Shapiro put it you, the voter, can play a role to hold the DOJ and justice system accountable by your vote.  For me, I will vote for the RNC party platform as much as my conscience will allow.  Regarding Trump, I still need to pray on it. 

GODSPEED