Light from Dark Ages?
The Celtic fan club
LIGHT FROM DARK AGES?
An evangelical critique of Celtic spirituality
By Marion Raikes
The Latimer Trust. 59 pages. £4.99 (Amazon)
ISBN 978 1 906 327 057
There is no doubt we are experiencing a revival in ‘Celtic’ spirituality. It’s not hard to find shops with Celtic craft and jewellery, books of Celtic prayers, CDs of Celtic music. Each year thousands of people go on ‘pilgrimages’ to Celtic places like Iona. But to what extent does contemporary Celtic spirituality reflect historical Celtic spirituality (approximately the fourth to the tenth centuries AD)? And to what extent does either reflect biblical spirituality?
Marion Raikes, Dean of Women and Pastoral Studies at Oak Hill Theological College, seeks to answer those questions in this short book on an era of our Christian history we may know very little about. She surveys the history and distinctive features of Celtic theology and spirituality and, while admitting the considerable diversity of good and not so good (including the presence of a heretic like Pelagius), concludes that ‘early Celtic theology was generally biblically orthodox’. She also highlights much we can learn from their spirituality, particularly their prayerfulness and the missionary zeal of at least some.
Raikes’ assessment of contemporary ‘Celtic’ spirituality is that it is neither a true reflection of early Celtic spirituality nor an expression of biblical theology. She shows why so many, even Christians, find it attractive, but ultimately why it leads away from the Bible and away from Christ.
This brief introduction to Celtic spirituality is not only informative but heart-warming, showing the light of the gospel shining in every age. We should be challenged by the genuine spirituality and devotion of our forebears in the faith.
co-pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Mold