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Friday, 27 July 2012

Christianity in England and other historical arguments

The Venerable Bede's  (673 -735 AD) five volume work entitled An Ecclesiastical History of the English Peoples is often quoted as 'proof' that Christianity never gained a foothold in Britain during the period of the Roman occupation (55 BC - 410AD). Two things, in my view, suggest that this may be a false conclusion. The first is that Bede himself was a Benedictine Monk and Priest and a "Roman Catholic"in the sense that he was the child of parents converted to Christianity by disciples of Augustine of Canterbury. If you look closely, almost all his sources are from there. Despite having encountered an Abbot from Iona - who sparked his interest in the so-called Easter controversy - and his Life of St Cuthbert (634 - 687 AD and a 'child of Iona,' not Canterbury), those who 'quote' him as the source of their proof fail to acknowledge that he does not actually say there were no Christians in the land when Augustine arrived.

In fact he says Augustine converted the Anglo-Saxons who then occupied the South East of England and the Eastern seaboard up to Northumbria. Bede covers the debate at the Synod of Whitby very thoroughly, again giving proof that a Christian church was flourishing in Britain which did not owe allegiance, or give subservience, to Rome, but this too is discarded. Usually on the grounds it was "only in Ireland and the Western Isles." That, in itself, ignores other evidence which suggests that the mission of Augustine did no more than bring the ruling families of the Anglo-Saxon clans under the banner of Rome. In a sense, Bede is Augustine's publicist. He is perpetuating what he has been taught and may well be ignoring evidence which supports the claim of the Celtic Church to having a large following all through England. As they say, history is what the victors dictate it to be.

In modern times it seems to suit the intelligentsia of the UK to claim that Bede 'proves' Christiantity had vanished from Britain. They point to the 'lack of archaeological evidence' as in 'there are no early Christian churches prior to Augustine (597 AD Archbishop of Canterbury).' That ignores the fact that there are many very ancient churches built on sites the modernists claim were 'pagan' temples. Since they can't actually excavate them (it would involve a fair bit of demolition which, while Dawkins and his ilk might like that, English Heritage won't allow it), they base all their assumptions on the sketchiest of 'evidence' from the surrounding graveyards and other ruins.

They acknowledge that in Ireland, but dismiss it in England, the fact that for the first few hundred years most Christian worship sites were wattle and daub and many were little more than a group meeting whenever a priest visited in someone's home. No, they apparently expect to find stone structures, decorated presumably with crosses and a sign saying "Parish of St Blah. Service times in the porch." The cross itself was not widely used until 340 AD and even after that it wasn't that widely used to decorate a building until around 800AD. There are a number of other symbols used by Christians in Britain, but these are frequently dismissed as 'ambiguous' or 'probably, by its proximity to XYZ, Mythraic." Anything but Christian, since that wouldn't suit the current political and intellectual anti-faith narrative.

It also ignores surviving records in Europe that speak of communication with bishops in England, of bishops and priests from there visiting communities in France and even attending synods.

One of the things which has emerged in more recent years, though I note there is still an apparent reluctance to discuss it, is a systematic programme of genocide carried out by the Angles and Saxons from 500 AD to around 600 AD. Indigent Britons were first enslaved, and the women forced to 'marry' the invaders. When this failed to clear the land quickly, the British men were slaughtered and the women given no options but to become the bedfellows of the murderers. This extermination of the native British population is the subject of some heated arguments, but the genes don't lie - and nor do the mass graves containing male remains. It would seem to point to Christianity having had to either go underground, certainly in the eastern half of Britain, or having been driven out in a deliberate purge.

We often hear the mantra that "Christianity suppressed and destroyed the writings of antiquity." Bede's own catalogue of over 60 books he wrote gives that the lie. He wrote drawing on Aristotle, Sophocles and Pliny among many others and freely quotes his sources. He not only had access to these works, he copied them. The monastic libraries of England, Ireland and most of Europe were extensive and very broadly based, not at all the narrow and restrictive catalogue we are so often told of.

The real destroyers of these and other libraries were the pagan Vikings. That was the catastrophe that swept in off the sea in the period 850 - 1000 AD, though some survived and even now many books originally in English monastic libraries, turn up in remote places in Northern and Eastern Europe.

Despite the modern anti-faith 'narrative' in academic circles, I believe the evidence does point to Christianity having survived in Britain from its early roots under the Romans. It may not have been the faith everyone followed, but it had somewhat more of a presence than I believe current teaching wants to admit. I suspect that, though the present state of Christian Faith in the UK may be weak, it has the strength to survive even in the face of those who wish to see it expunged from the nation altogether.

4 comments:

  1. A well researched piece. I agree with most of your article and to supplement with the fact that the Celtic Church in Scotland was still active in the 14th century. Even the RC Archbishops defied The Pope to back Robert 1 during the Wars of Independence.Because of this, the Whole


    whole Country were

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  2. Continued. The whole Nation of Scotland was excommunicated. Lots of souls burning in hell but worth it for the continued freedom of our Country.

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  3. Rome's problem has always been that they base the entire claim of exclusive authority on one passage in the gospel of Mark and one description in the Acts of the 'Synod of Jerusalem.' Their problem is that there is no evidence that Peter's successor was either appointed and or consecrated by him, or whether any of the then several living Apostles ever acknowledged his authority over them.

    Despite the claims Rome has made since the 11th Century, St Patrick was not sent by Rome, but most likely by Germanus of Auxerre or Lupus of Tours. As late as the 15th Century some Diocese and Archdiocese were happily 'doing their own thing' and ignoring the succession of Italian 'Popes.' The Old Catholic Church is a direct result of Rome attempting to usurp ancient rights to elect and appoint their own bishops in several northern diocese, most notably Utrecht.

    I doubt any Scottish souls have or will burn in Hell as a result of the Papal disapproval of the actions taken by their Archbishops.

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  4. Hey there! Do you somehow test if your personal content is exclusive in the blogosphere and no one is it without making sure you are aware of it?

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