Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Theology in Verse

Theology in Verse

June/Training for Mission

1 June 2010

The exalted Creator, Ancient of Days, and Unbegotten One was without a first beginning, or a foundation; He is, and He will be for unending ages. His only-begotten Christ, and the Holy Spirit, are coeternal with Him in the everlasting glory of Godhead. We do not assert that there are three gods, but speak of one God, retaining our faith in the three most glorious Persons.

- Columcille, Altus Prosator (Irish, 6th century)

...and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

- 2 Timothy 2.2

This month we'll be looking at Columcille, the first of the great Irish missionary/monks, founder of the monastery on Iona, off the northwest coast of Scotland. Exiled there for reasons that are still something of a mystery, Columcille became a great evangelist, pastor, and trainer of missionaries.

His core beliefs are captured in the poem, Altus Prosator. It's a powerful poem, set in perfect meter and rhyme (I'm not reproducing that, obviously), and it concisely summarizes the whole of the divine economy and the Christian worldview. Altus Prosator means "Exalted First-Sower," and as God sowed His Word to the world, so would thousands of faithful Celtic missionaries do all over Europe, from training centers such as Iona, Bangor, Clonfert, and Lindisfarne.

But why poetry? Why not a book of theology or a handbook on how to do missions? Columcille knew - as God does - that poetry is much more pleasant to learn (you can reproduce the meter and rhyme scheme of Altus by singing the hymn, "Children of the Heavenly Father). Further, it reaches, transforms, and moves the affections more powefully than narrative. And it can be easily remembered and, so, easily passed along.

We're not much into poetry these days - our loss, alas. The Celtic Christians knew how powerfully poetry can affect us, and they, following the example of Columcille, used it with far-ranging and far-reaching results. In the "Every Thought Captive" column on our website, I'm using heroic couplets to tell the story of Satan's downfall at the hand of Christ (this week's installment: Portent).

We'll be considering several of Columcille's poems this month. I'm putting them together into a little book which will be available at the end of the month. For now, why not email this edition of Crosfigell to a friend, and begin the study together of Altus Prosator? As you can see from this first stanza, Columcille was as solid as the Church Fathers or any Reformer when it comes to the doctrine of the Trinity. Can you see the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds in this first stanza, cited above?

Today in ReVision: Better Railings - The Law of God is written on the hearts of all people, as we shall see.

This Week's Download: Faithfulness in Ministry - Pastor, here's a free tool to use in assessing your ministry - if you dare.

Have you read Fault Lines yet? Here are lively poems which carry sound instruction. Visit our book store for your copy. And don't forget to read the "Kingdom Civics" column - Desiring the Kingdom - while you're there.

T. M. Moore, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore

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