Tomorrow night James and I will share some teaching on Church history. We will attempt to do the impossible, and the unenviable task of teaching the big picture - 2,000 years in an hour and a half.
I will cover two short items: Celtic Christianity, and post-reformation Christianity. In post-reformation Christianity I will basically cover the movements of missions, and revivalistic Christianity through Pentecostalism, and the Charismatic Renewal. My favorite part of church history is the little known times o the Celticc Church. Here is my brief outline of the 300 year period known as the Dark Ages in most European culture, but known as the Age of the Saints in Wales and Ireland.
The Age of the Saints and Celtic Christianity:
By the year 200 Tertullian mentions the presence of Christians in Britain.
First known Martyrs in Britain: St. Albans c.287, the first known Welsh saints (St. Julius and St. Arvan) were martyred at Caerleon in 305.
In 314 three British Bishops were present at the council of Arles, where the controversy of the Donatists was being decided.
After the fall of Rome as Continental Europe moved into the Dark Ages Christianity was spreading, and higher learning was expanding in Ireland and Wales. In Eastern Britain Christianity would be driven back by the Saxon invasion in the 6th and 7th century. Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and Cornwall would remain unconquered by the Saxons as would its Christianity.
The Pelagian doctrines of freewill would remain strong throughout much of the Celtic Church, and for this reason it took a number of centuries for the Celtic Church to join with the Roman Church, with the Welsh and Cornish to be the last to come to agreement. Pelagius himself was a 4th century Briton, probably from Wales.
For further reading on early Celtic Christianity see "How the Irish Saved Civilization."
Celtic Nations, and the Spread of the Gospel:
The Celtic peoples are primarily defined by languages, more so than by nations. The primary language groups are six: Welsh, Breton, Cornish, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx.
The Spread of the Gospel is difficult to follow through the lands of these language groups, but it is evident that development of Celtic Christianity spread from the influence of the Irish and the Welsh saints.
Ireland: There was a Bishop present in Ireland by the time Patrick arrived in 432, but his arrival marks the beginning of the growth of the Celtic Church in Ireland. We know that through his ministry many were baptized, and many ministers ordained.
The Patron Saints of Ireland are Patrick, Brigid, and Columba.
Patrick was most likely born in West Wales to a Christian family. In his confession he states that his father was a deacon. He was taken as a slave to Ireland at the age of sixteen, and escaped 6 years later, only to return as a missionary to Ireland after he studied for the priesthood in France.
Brigid was born during the ministry of Patrick was converted under his preaching, and established communities of "nuns" all over Ireland in the 5th century.
Columba's work would take him to Scotland to evangelize the Picts.
Scotland: The first apostle to Scotland was the native born Ninian who died c.432. By the time Columba was to arrive churches had already been established all over Scotland.
Columba lived from 521 to 593. He became a monk and later a priest. Tradition tells that he exiled himself from Ireland in 563 after a dispute over a psalter he had copied and meant to keep. The dispute lead to a battle and many deaths. His exile was to work to convert as many souls in Scotland as had been lost in the battle. Columba established his ministry at the now famous pilgrimage center at the isle of Iona, which became launching spot for his mission to the Picts. Stories of miracles, and of the development of a learning center at Iona surround him.
Wales: A hundred years before Patrick Christianity was apparently well established in Britain. Wales' first known saints were martyred in 305.
The Patron Saint of Wales is Dewi Sant (Saint David) c.500-589. Monasticism was established strongly in Celtic Christianity by the year 420, and David is noted for establishing monasteries throughout Wales, Cornwall, and Brittany. The monastic tradition in Wales began with St. Dyfrig, and St. Illtud in the 5th century and David being taught under this order, evangelized the Celtic peoples in this manner.
Britanny: This western part of France still has a notable population speaking Breton today. There are seven notable founding saints of Brittany: St. Malo. St. Brieuc, St. Samson of Dol, St, Patern, St. Tugdual, St Pol Aurelian, and St. Corentin. Only St. Corentin is Cornish, and the the others are Welsh. This shows the movement, and the influence of Celtic Christianity. Although Christianity came to Britain from the East, the Celtic church turned and exerted its Gospel influence back East into Brittany.
Cornwall (Southwest England): During the 5th and 6th centuries Celtic missionaries arrived in numbers from Wales and Ireland. Their names are evident in names of over 200 churches still identifiable today, and numerous cities as well.
The Isle of Man: The isolated location of the Isle of Man makes the tracing of its Christian development difficult, but there are stories of a visit from St. Patrick, and from St. Germanus who traveled from Auxerre to refute Pelagian doctrine in the British Isles.