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I reviewed George G. Hunter’s The Celtic Way of Evangelism several years ago, but I have erased that review upon rereading the book. When I first read Hunter’s work, I was entranced by the resurgence of interest in Celtic Christianity and missed the entire point of the book in favor of learning more about this unique historical expression of Christianity.
Now, five years later, time and experience have dramatically driven home the importance of making the Gospel of Christ relevant to the present culture without sacrificing the meaning of the message which is the real point of Hunter’s book.
Hunter does spend a great deal of time analyzing and exploring the history of how Christianity spread in the British Isles, but only to demonstrate how the Celtic Christian evangelists spread the message of Christ. Hunter’s point is that the evangelists communicated Christianity’s timeless truths in a way that the ancient Celts could understand it through the grid of their own culture without sacrificing the integrity of the message of the Gospel.
Today, in the post-Christian world of the West, the church mostly finds its message ignored, not because of the lack of power in the gospel, but because we refuse to speak to today’s culture in language that can be understood. Most churches, trapped in the world of the perceived Golden Age of 1950’s Christianity, are unaware they have made the truths of the Gospel irrelevant and incomprehensible.
Hunter’s encouragement is that the western churches can still evangelize a world of civilized pagans if we would only discern the difference between the unchanging message of Christ and the constantly changing culture of the world around us; that the former is sacred and the latter can too easily become a golden cow that makes a stumbling block to the unconverted.
Hunter does give practical and workable ways in which to evangelize using the ancient Celtic Christians as a model. Also, this specific reviewer found Chapter 7’s description on how the Church can respond to a culture that is becoming increasingly addicted to self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors worth the price of the book.