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An Evangelical reflects on Patrick of Ireland (Michael A.G. Haykin )

We are pleased to announce the release of a new book by one of the main contributors to Credo Magazine, Michael A.G. Haykin. Haykin has been writing and teaching for years on the historical figure (as opposed to the myth) of St. Patrick. Finally, his book on Patrick is out and is called, Patrick of Ireland: His Life and Impact.

Here is what others have said about Haykin’s work:

A fine balance between a biography of an extraordinary servant of Jesus Christ and an explanation of the beliefs that sustained Patrick.

Michael Ovey ~ Principal, Oak Hill Theological College, London

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

To read this account is to fill us with thankfulness for the Lord’s work in history and with hopefulness for… another era of lost-ness.

Edward Donnelly ~ Principal, Reformed Theological College, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Judicious… knowledgeable…insightful… Readers will be impressed.

D. H. Williams ~ Professor of Patristics and Historical Theology, Baylor University, Waco, Texas

Beautifully detailed portrait in miniature… all Christians will benefit from learning more about this mighty figure in the great cloud of witnesses.

Lewis Ayres ~ Professor of Historical Theology, Durham University, Durham, England

The book is part of the series, edited by Haykin, titled, “Early Church Fathers.” Today we would like to give you a little taste for what the book is like by providing an excerpt from the book, which Haykin has called, “An Evangelical reflects on Patrick of Ireland.” But first, a little about Haykin. He is Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His most recent book is Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church (Crossway, 2011). Haykin is the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies.

Patrick-Cover-193x300An Evangelical reflects on Patrick of Ireland

E.A. Thompson has rightly noted that Patrick’s “character is complex and of the utmost fascination.”[1] 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.

It would be both wrong and anachronistic to describe Patrick as an Evangelical. His encouragement of monasticism, for example, hardly squares with Evangelical piety.[2] 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. And 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, and 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 need in our day.[3] And 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.”[4]

[1] “Reviews”, Britannia, 11 (1980), 440.

[2] See Confession 41–42, 49; Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus 12. Christine Mohrmann [The Latin of Saint Patrick (Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1961), 26] is not convinced that “the Irish church of his [i.e. Patrick’s] time was characterized by monasticism.”

[3] See especially the helpful essay on this topic by Christopher Bennett, “The Puritans and the Direct Operations of Holy Spirit” in Building on A Sure Foundation. Papers read at the 1994 Westminster Conference ([London]: The Westminster Conference, 1994), 108–122.

[4] Confession 62, trans. R.P.C. Hanson, The Life and Writings of the Historical Saint Patrick (New York, NY: The Seabury Press, 1983), 124.

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