St Patrick the (almost) Protestant Missionary

I am a servant of Christ to a foreign nation for the unspeakable glory of life everlasting which is in Jesus Christ our Lord. – Patrick

Would you believe the original St Patrick was British, not Irish?! Patty was also a bit of a maverick when it came to methodology and practice – according to Mark Driscoll. I wonder how those that have a slightly pietistic view of St Patrick would receive his like today?

Saint Patrick is not even a saint, as he was never canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. Additionally, Patrick was not even Irish. Rather, he was a Roman-Britain who spoke Latin and a bit of Welsh.

Patrick’s unorthodox ministry methods, which had brought so much fruit among the Irish, also brought much opposition from the Roman Catholic Church. Because Patrick was so far removed from Roman civilization and church polity he was seen by some as an instigator of unwelcome changes. This led to great conflicts between the Roman and Celtic Christians. The Celtic Christians had their own calendar and celebrated Easter a week earlier than their Roman counterparts. Additionally, the Roman monks shaved only the hair on the top of their head, whereas the Celtic monks shaved all of their hair except their long locks which began around the bottom of their head as a funky monk mullet. The Romans considered these and other variations by the Celtic Christian leaders to be acts of insubordination. In the end, the Roman Church should have learned from Patrick, who is one of the greatest missionaries who has ever lived. Though Patrick’s pastors and churches looked different in method, they were very orthodox in their theology and radically committed to such things as Scripture and the Trinity.

Thanks to The Resurgence team for putting together this post and others in their Vintage Saints series.

NB: This does say Patrick is a Protestant. I use this term in it’s purest sense, not in the sense that he was a child of the Protestant Reformation. He was, rather orthodox, bible & gospel focused in his message, methods and ministry – which for all intended purposes makes him more “protestant” than many today who are not part of Roman Catholicism.

I had originally titled the post as “St Patrick the Protestant Missionary” – while Patrick was a proto-type of the later protestants, to call him such is anachronistic and, technically wrong. Nevertheless, we could use more of his kind today. Happy St Patrick’s Day!

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