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Bound by the Word

Scholarship, spiritual growth and community, witness and mission, service and culture: these were the keys to the power of the Celtic revival.

But if men are permitted to add anything of themselves to the divine appointment, I question whether it may not perhaps seem contrary to that judgement of Deuteronomy: Behold, it says, the word which I command thee, thou shalt neither add to it, nor diminish from it.

- Columbanus, Letter 1 to Pope Gregory (Irish, 7th century)

"Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it."

- Deuteronomy 12.32

Shortly after his arrival in Gaul from the monastery at Bangor, Ireland, Columbanus began to observe that the priests and bishops serving the Church in Gaul were an unreliable contingent. So he decided to write to their boss.

The point of contention in the letter quoted above relates to when to celebrate Easter, a matter Celtic Christians differed from Roman Catholics over for about three centuries. Columbanus was a missionary among settled clerics. But he argued his perspective from Scripture and the Fathers of the Church.

Celtic Christian leaders were not original thinkers. They didn't come up with any new contributions to orthodox theology or practice. But they were thorough scholars, grounded in Scripture and the writings of the ancient Fathers of the Church. They did not believe in innovation; they held fast to the Word of God and the teachings of their forebears. And they worked hard to make scholars out of all those who followed in their footsteps.

Need I add that they enjoyed a season of revival, renewal, and awakening that Christianity had not seen since the second century and would not see again until the Reformation and after?

Scholarship, spiritual growth and community, witness and mission, service and culture: these were the keys to the power of the Celtic revival. These days, when Church history is largely ignored by pastors and church leaders, and when the treatment of Scripture is not as rigorous or faithful as we might expect, we have much to learn from the likes of Columbanus.

Today, will your walk with the Lord be up to the standards of Scripture?

Today in ReVision:In the beginning - - Is physics catching up the the Apostles?

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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 the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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