The Old English Way of Evangelism
Copyright 2004, by Arthur W. Collins
When I was a seminary student many years ago, I did a readings course in the evangelization of Northern Europe during the 5th-10th Centuries. I have always maintained that the second half-millennium of the Church's history (more or less) was its most productive in reaching new populations for Christ -- at least, until recent times. I was particularly interested in both the Irish and Anglo-Saxon Churches' achievements.
Thus it was with great anticipation that I began to read George Hunter's The Celtic Way of Evangelism. Dr. Hunter is one of the foremost missiologists and church growth gurus teaching and writing today.
Anticipation turned to disappointment, however, as I read the work. While his appreciation of the ancient Celtic Church is perceptive and his analysis of their technique is interesting, the book is marred by an incredibly sloppy approach to facts and a tendency to misread the record of the past in terms of present polemics.
Most distressing to me, though, was his dismissal of the Old English Church as a body with its own native genius and an evangelistic record of which it could be proud. This essay is offered to set the record straight and to show what we could learn today from the saints of that long-ago Church.