We’ve been home now for a few days, and I am trying to get back into the work mindset.
I’m dealing with personnel problems in my law firm, reading through hundreds of emails that came in while I was gone, and trying to organize all that is ahead of me and needs to be done over the next thirty days.
Thoughts of the pagan Picts, Columba and St. Patrick, and marauding Vikings, which were front and center a week ago have been pushed to the background, crowded out by the ever present concerns of life.
What I love about our GSB tours, including the one we just finished, is the opportunity to study Kingdom history and its players to learn how we should live as Kingdom citizens today.
If, as Shakespeare wrote 500 years ago, the past is prologue, we have much to learn.
One of the key insights from this GSB tour was recognizing the ebb and flow of the kingdom of God in Britain, Ireland, and the surrounding isles over the last fifteen hundred years.
Christianity came to Britain while the Romans occupied Britain, but when the Romans left in 420 A.D., the Christians there were left to fend for themselves. The Romans had never been able to conquer the Picts and built walls to try to keep them out of Britain. When the Romans left, the Britains faced invasion from the Angles and Saxons. Paganism began to spread again.
Christians living around 450 A.D. in Britain probably thought the end was near. The Gospel had been preached to the ends of the earth just as Jesus had predicted. Christianity was on the decline. Sign Tim LaHaye to another book contract.
But then came St. Patrick, followed by Columba, and Cuthbert, none of whom came up with a new grand strategy but instead went back to the first: “Go and make disciples.”
Slowly the pagan Celts in Ireland were converted, followed by the pagan Picts in Scotland. When Pope Gregory (“the Great”) also decided to go back to Jesus’ original commandment and send Augustine of Rome to England in 575 A.D., the Christianization of England began anew. Like two armies, Augustine’s disciples evangelized advancing from the south and Cuthbert’s from the north. They finally met in Northumbria. They then had to settle the differences in religious practice that had developed during their separation.
When Bede wrote in 731 A.D. that peace had settled over the land and the kingdom of God had prevailed, could he have imagined the great reversal that would follow? Perhaps Bede could. He had warned of what happens when God’s people neglect His command to make disciples.
Sure enough, in 793 A.D. the pagan Vikings, whom Christians had never evangelized, arrived at their shores and began murdering and marauding. Christians living at that time surely thought again it was the end of the world. The Vikings’ pagan domination of Britain, the surrounding islands, and parts of Ireland would go on for nearly 250 years until the Vikings were evangelized.
Over the last 250 years Europe has become increasingly secularized. Christians today fret over the loss of Europe. Churches have become museums or, in Edinburgh, a theatre. “Europe is lost,” people say, “it’s a sign of the end-times.” Will we ever learn?
No earthly ground is claimed for the kingdom of God once and for all in perpetuity; It must be won again and again by each generation by resorting to the original strategy given by the King, “Go and make disciples.” GS