The following extract is taken from Patrick of Ireland: His Life and Impact by Michael A. G. Haykin. Part of the Early Church Fathers Series from Christian Focus Publications.
An Evangelical Reflects on Patrick
E.A. Thompson has rightly noted that Patrick’s ‘character is complex and of the utmost fascination’. My own fascination with Patrick began quite early in my studies of the ancient church. Initially, I suspect I was drawn to him because of my Irish ancestry. But in time, his rich Trinitarianism and zeal for missions, his biblicism and dependence on the Spirit exercised their own pull on my heart and mind. Since 1989 I have written a number of pieces on Patrick. In this book-length essay, however, I have not only sought to bring together the various strands of all that I have written about Patrick, but I have also expanded this material considerably so that readers today might see the implications of his life and thought for contemporary Evangelicalism.
It would be both wrong and anachronistic to describe Patrick as an Evangelical. His encouragement of monasticism, for example, hardly squares with Evangelical piety. His devotion to the Trinity, however, has much to teach Evangelicals, far too many of whom seem to have forgotten the absolute necessity of being Trinitarian in teaching and worship. His zeal for missions and the salvation of the lost is not only inspiring, but deeply convicting. Also, he is into missions for all of the right reasons: the glory of God; his love for the lost, in this case, the Irish, and his concern for their salvation; the duty he owes to God’s call on his own life; and obedience of the Scriptural mandate to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Then, there is his bibliocentrism: whether he had read many other books or not, he leaves us with the overwhelming impression that only one book supremely matters, and that is the Bible. He is not afraid to find truth in other sources – all truth is God’s truth – but in the final analysis, it is Scripture that guides him. Finally, I love his dependence on the Spirit. While his thought and expression are indeed shaped by God’s infallible Word, he sought in all integrity to listen to the Spirit in his daily life and so find that much-needed balance of Word and Spirit that we all require in our day. Most importantly in this regard, because of his own weaknesses, Patrick knew that the Spirit’s work in us is a humbling work, showing us that all in the Christian life is of pure grace: a truly Evangelical note — ‘if I have achieved or shown any small success according to God’s pleasure, … it was the gift of God.’
“Michael Haykin paints a compelling portrait of this bibliocentric bishop and earnest evangelist. The dedicated missionary and thoughtful theologian that emerges belongs to the Gospel-loving global church and not just the Emerald Isle.”
Paul Hartog, Adjunct Faculty, Biblical Studies, Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary, Ankeny, Iowa
“A fine balance between a biography of an extraordinary servant of Jesus Christ and an explanation of the beliefs that sustained Patrick.”
Michael Ovey, (1958-2017) Principal, Oak Hill Theological College, London
About the Author:
Michael A. G. Haykin is Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
Where to Buy:
Patrick of Ireland: His Life and Impact is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below: