Born-again, Celtic, Franciscan:

 By Monk Preston                                                   (Co-Founder & President, The Prayer Foundation


Image: The Prayer Foundation logo (with white Celtic cross on a green shield).

Image: "Fresco of St. Francis of Assisi" by Cimabue.

 

Photo: Celtic cross.

Image: portion of illuminated manuscript page from "The Book of Kells."

Image: "Gallarus Oratory",  (or Gallerus) located on the Dingle Peninsula, in western Ireland.     Gallarus Oratory, Ireland

   What do we mean when we say that we are: Born-again, Celtic, Franciscan?

We of The Prayer Foundation and the Knights of Prayer Monastic Order, often say that we are Born-again (Christians).  Also that we are Celtic (monks), and "Franciscan in spirit").  But what do we mean exactly, when we use these terms?

We Are Born-again Christians (Protestant Evangelicals)

"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides forever."  -I Peter 1:23

Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.  Nicodemus said to him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?  Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Marvel not that I said to you, You must be born again." -Gospel of John, 3:3-7

     When we use the term born-again, we mean the individual has had a "conversion" experience (the new birth)  where you repent of your sins (be sorry for and turn from) and receive Christ as your Lord and Saviour.  When you receive Christ you receive Salvation, for He is Salvation.  You are reconciled to God through the forgiveness of your sins by Christ's complete Atonement: Christ's death on the Cross, Resurrection from the dead, Ascension into Heaven, and the offering of his precious shed Blood before the Father (for a more in-depth explanation of these teachings, along with the applicable Bible Verses from which they are taken, see our pages: Plan of Salvation, and Statement of Faith).

Born Again Protestant Monastics 

     We like the term Born-Again Christians as a defining term of what we believe.  Another accurately descriptive term for us is the term Evangelicals.

     We are Christian because, doctrinally, we hold to the basic and historic teachings of the Christian Faith as revealed in Holy Scripture.  These truths have also been accepted by general councils of the entire Church in the Apostle's Creed and Nicene Creed.  These include belief in the Trinity, Deity of Christ, Salvation available Only through Christ, Bodily Resurrection of Christ, Atonement, Second coming of Christ, and Final Judgement (for an official statement of what we believe, along with the Bible Verses from which we derive these beliefs, again see our pages: Plan of Salvation, and Statement of Faith). 

     We are Protestant because we hold to the historic truths of Scripture as stated during the Protestant Reformation.  These include Sola Scriptura: Scripture Alone as our Final Authority in matters of Faith and Doctrine (teaching); Sola Fide: Faith Alone as sufficient for salvation, apart from any works ("For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast."  -Ephesians 2:8,9); and the universal Priesthood of All Believers: that every Christian has direct access to God, his forgiveness, and grace, through Jesus Christ our only intermediary ("For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;" -I Timothy 2:5). Two other of the "Solas" are Sola Gratia (by "grace alone" -Ephesians 2:8,9) and Sola Deo Gloria (all "glory to God alone"). 

We Are Inspired by Certain Aspects of Early Celtic Monasticism As Subjected to the Light of Scripture

     Before I and Monk Linda co-founded The Prayer Foundationin 1998 (legally incorporated on July 19, 1999), we traveled to Ireland and visited many of the places where the ancient (Irish) Celtic monks lived.  We stood  in the ruins of ancient (ca. 400-1100 A.D.) Celtic monasteries, saw the bee-hive huts on the very edge of the Atlantic Ocean in which the "Hermit" Monks had lived, and prayed in the Gallerus Oratory, a dry-stone (built without mortar) Church big enough for only about ten monks, built about 1,400 years ago and almost perfectly preserved (see photo at the top of this page).  

     We felt called to begin a ministry to encourage prayer among the Body of Christ.  A ministry that would be a part of fulfilling Christ's Great Commission of preaching the Gospel, and hold to sound, historic and orthodox Evangelical doctrinal teaching.  A ministry of Born-again Monks that would revive what was best about early Celtic monasticism by putting it through the lens of the New Testament.  A ministry that would review all things Monastic through the lens of the Protestant Reformation, as the entire Church and its teaching was reviewed.  Unfortunately, Monasticism was not put through this process during the Reformation, because it was instead totally rejected outright.  

     Ethnically, both Monk Linda and I are of Celtic (as well as other) descent, but this has never been a requirement for those who feel led to participate in any capacity in this ministry.

     Strengths of the early Celtic Church (Celtic Christianity) include:

  • A Missionary-mindedness to help fulfill the Great Commission by preaching the Gospel everywhere.

  • Correct understanding of the Nature of God as revealed in Holy Scripture as what we call the Trinity: One God in nature or essence, Three in Person; and these three are eternally distinct God the Father, God The Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

  • Appreciation of and respect for nature; indeed, all of God's creation and its beauty.

  • Use of and respect for women in ministry.

  • Monks were allowed to be married (as were all of the Clergy).

  • A Monastic oriented organizational structure with emphasis on the spiritual, especially prayer and the Word of God, (practiced with equality and humility) rather than Diocesan based (with emphasis on hierarchical structure and political concerns, human organization and effort, and the attendant problems of inequality and pride).

  Errors of the early Celtic Church that we reject on the basis of the teaching of Holy Scripture: 

  • The doctrine of "penance" (the idea that we can in any way partially atone for our own sins: Christ's Atonement for our sins was complete and final, once and for all time) ("And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." -I John 2:2.  Also: Hebrews 10:10-18; Romans 5:11)  

  • The cult of "relics" and of praying to Saints ("For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;" -I Timothy 2:5).

We Are Franciscan In Spirit

     On the same trip on which we visited Ireland, we also traveled to Assisi in Italy.  We walked where St. Francis walked in the town where he had lived all of his life, and where he was converted, began his ministry, and followed God.  We saw the same Italian hill towns and countryside that he saw.  We visited the place where his earthly remains are laid to rest.  We saw the actual, preserved, last tunic (Habit, or Monk Robe) that he wore.  

     Like the Celtic Monks, his was a life that balanced prayer, the Word of God, and the preaching of the Gospel.  His whole life was dedicated to these things: to following Jesus as his example; to remaining in communion with Christ and God the Father through the Holy Spirit, moment by moment, for life, and to fulfilling Christ's "Great Commission".

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