The books of Solomon, he followed them. Seasons and calculations he set in motion. He separated the elements according to figures among the books of the Law. He read mysteries and distributed the Scriptures among the schools, and he put together the harmony concerning the course of the moon, the course which it ran with the rayed sun, and the course of the sea. He could number the stars of heaven, the one who could tell all the rest which we have heard from Colum Cille.
- Dallan Forgaill, Amra Cholumb Chille (Irish, 6th century)
I turned my heart to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the scheme of things...
- Ecclesiastes 7.25
It was true of many of the leaders of the Celtic Christian movement that they tried to understand the "scheme of things" from the perspective of the divine economy. They took the Scriptures seriously when it came to how believers should live in this world. They built their communities on the foundation of God's Law, pursued their mission with a Gospel fervor unmatched in any generation of believers, before or since, and sought to understand the world around them with the mind of Christ and for the glory of God.
They created culture and communities to reflect their Biblical and Christian worldview, and they worked hard to inculcate their sense of the scheme of things in the generations that would succeed them. Columba - or, Colum Cille - was one of the first great Irish missionary/scholars. He founded the community on Iona, which remains a spiritual enclave to this day.
Columba (fl. late 6th century) loved books. In fact, it was his love of books that found him exiled to Iona. As a student he had surreptitiously copied a gospel book, in order to have his own copy. This was contrary to the rule of his monastic community, and when he was forced to hand over his copy, he left the monastery and raised an army to punish the king who had ruled against him. Shamed by the violence he had caused, he submitted to the discipline of his order and was exiled to find another place of service for the Lord.
Iona was the result, a community where saints and scholars united in seeking the Lord and His Kingdom. Iona became a launching pad for Celtic missions to Scotland, the Low Countries, and beyond. Columba's legacy of striving to know and to search out the divine scheme of things lasted for many generations beyond him and helped to sustain a revival that continued for centuries.
Where are the pastors with this kind of hunger for understanding the divine economy? The followers of Christ will live more expansive and transformative lives in the Kingdom when those who lead them pursue the kind of learning and vision Columba did. Pray for your pastor, that he may become a true seeker of the Kingdom of God.
Today's ReVision offers "A Modest Proposal" for how the Church in America might begin to assert more spiritual and moral influence. This week's Kingdom Civics column explains The Chalcedon Definition and its place in helping to define the doctrine of God. And here's an excellent suggestion for around your Thanksgiving table: Get a copy of The Ailbe Psalter from our bookstore, and sing the great songs of David, Asaph, and the sons of Korah to the familiar hymn tunes you've always loved. You will grow to love the psalms more if you will.
Write me with your questions about Celtic Christianity, the Kingdom of God, or the Christian worldview. We'll be selecting from them and creating videos on the website after the first of the year.