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who is in charge then?

May 30, 2013

if the Celtic Christians were organised relationally, if they owed no allegiance to the Roman empire, if they were communities of those who chose to commit themselves to following a faith rather than those who had an official religion imposed on them, then who were the leaders of the congregations.

We need to remember that the Celtic Christians organised around monasteries, which were essentially preaching stations and training camps: so the equivalent is not exactly to a local church congregation today, nonetheless the principle seems to be clear – the Celtic churches were formed around the task of spreading the message further, they were clearly in mission mode rather than maintenance mode. Unfortunately few of the buildings or structures exist, after all it was Bede who wrote the history of the community at Lindersfarne – (History is written by the winners!)

But we do know that the form and structure of the Roman church, after Constantine deliberately mimicked the pagan temples that existed before Constantine. They were formed with the altar centrally placed, although Christians had  long recognised that the altar was obsolete, the central worship – the Euracharist was changed from a meal together (a love feast) into a symbolic meal presided over by a priest (even the name was taken from the pagan temples!) These priests were full time and paid (with support of the state) – all this was a far cry from the locally appointed, volunteer Elders, who were always appointed in plural, as teams.

No wonder the Irish monks on Lindersfarne were so dismayed at the result of the synod of Whitby. The question for us is which type of Christianity is found in our church communities today – and which is the authentic faith?

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2 Comments
  1. May 30, 2013 4:36 pm

    David, You need to define “authentic faith”. If you are a follower of one or the other you would say yours was authentic. However for me community if far more authentic than a centralised homogenised state funded solution

    • May 30, 2013 6:14 pm

      Good point Rob. Yes I acknowledge my own bias, the significant point is that the Celtic faith predates the changes that came with Constantine.

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