The Celtic Revival: Celtic Christian Culture (3)
For every material and every element and every nature which is seen in the world, they were all brought together in the body in which Christ rose again – that is, in the body of every human.
- Anonymous, In Tenga Bithnua, Irish, perhaps 9th century
And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile to Himself all things, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace by the blood of His cross.
- Colossians 1.17-20
People are unique among the creatures of the world because the human body contains the image of God, stamped on the soul. And, as Paul Johnson explained in his book, The Creators, our being made in the image of the Creator means we are creators, too. We have the ability, unique among all creatures to make things to improve and extend our embodiment in ways no other creatures can.
For Christians, in whom the image of God is being renewed, this means that everything we do in the way of cultural activities will find its truest and most complete expression as it is referred and submitted to our risen and reigning Lord. The Celtic Christian sense of dependence on Christ was absolute and total. “Let us all love Jesus,” wrote Oengus mac Oengoban, late in the period of the Celtic Revival, “for this is the highest thing.”
We see this devotion to Jesus throughout the source material from this period (ca. 430-800 AD). Poets, preachers, and wandering missionary/scholars lived for the vision of Christ in glory. In testimonies, sermons, and poems, on massive carved crosses, in illuminated manuscripts, and in liturgical vessels and everyday ornaments, Jesus is portrayed as exalted in glory, whether overtly or symbolically. He is praised as the consummation of every great Biblical story and theological truth, the One Who rules over all peoples and all creation, exalted above the planets and brighter than the sun.
The Easter sermon, The Ever-New Tongue (In Tenga Bithnua), was ascribed to Philip the evangelist, and may derive from very early roots in the Christian movement. Its teaching is consistent with orthodox Christology, and its purpose was to remind believers of the enormous significance of the resurrection, exaltation, and reign of Jesus Christ. Every element in our bodies and everything in creation depend for their existence on Jesus’ steadfast love and faithfulness, and His good pleasure and power. We are in every part sustained and supported by grace alone, as indeed, is all the vast cosmos.
This view of the cosmos as created, sustained, and cared for by our almighty Savior, anchors a worldview of hope, purpose, self-denial, and mission, which contrasts starkly with the cold, impersonal, purposeless view of the universe hawked by naturalist thinkers in our day. And it fostered a culture of lasting significance and beauty, unlike the throwaway pop culture of our day or the high culture which most people prefer simply to ignore.
It is no wonder that the vision of Christ exalted, seated on His glorious throne, His scepter of uprightness in hand, held such a prominent place in the everyday faith of Celtic Christians.
We and all we possess, together with the whole vast creation, find our orientation, purpose, and goals in Christ. We are His Body on earth and are called to live in a manner consistent with His purposes and peace in all the details of our lives.
The Celtic Christian vision of Christ presents a truly Christ-centered worldview which, if we could recover it in practice in our everyday lives, might give us a greater sense of unity with one another and with the glory-speaking creation of God.
And it might lead us to believe that our King Jesus will not leave His creation to wither, His Church to languish, or His promises to remain unfulfilled. His Kingdom has come, His rule on earth has begun, and it will increase in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit until He returns (Is. 9.6, 7).
Jesus is Lord! Tell the world! Tell the people in your Personal Mission Field! And let every aspect of your cultural life reflect your devotion to Him Who is beautiful, good, and true above all things.
1. What does it mean to you that all your cultural activities can glorify Jesus?
2. What are the keys to having your culture serve the Lord in this way?
Psalm 104.24-30 (Creation: Exalt the Lord, His Praise Proclaim)
How many are Your works, O Lord, which You have created by Your Word!
The earth and sea with creatures teem – they look to You to care and feed.
You give to them, they gather all; You hide Your face, they fail and fall.
You take their breath, they gasp and die; You send Your Spirit, they revive.
Lord, You made me a creature of culture, so that by my culture I might glorify You. Help me today as I…
About the Celtic Revival
Want to learn more about the Celtic Revival? Go to our new web page on this important topic by clicking here. Listen to our newest podcast, Celtic Legacy, by clicking here.
Thanks so much to those of you who faithfully support the work of The Fellowship of Ailbe. God uses your gifts and prayers to reach thousands of people every day in over 160 countries. We praise the Lord for His having moved and enabled you to share with us in this ministry.
If you’re not a supporter of this ministry, won’t you please prayerfully consider making a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe? Only God can move you to do this, and we believe He intends to support this ministry from within the ranks of those who are served by it. If this includes you, please seek the Lord in this matter. You can click here to give with your credit card or through Anedot or PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
T. M. Moore, Principal
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Carey, p. 79.