St. Patrick not 'a closet Baptist'

"Patrick was not, in fact, a nascent Baptist, but those who sought to claim him as one rightly noted the error of associating him with the modern Roman Catholic Church." BPNews

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Bert Perry's picture

Boy, couldn't we make all kinds  of jokes on things we'd expect if he'd been a Baptist.....for starters, he's not wearing a suit, not using the KJV.....

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Adam Blumer's picture

Of course he wasn't Baptist, but the article is a little confusing. It says he wasn't Roman Catholic, but then it quotes someone who says...

"There were bishops," Patterson continued, "and I think he probably, as far as we can tell, would have supported the idea of bishops. But Catholicism in his age was very different. ... He was Catholic, but in the context of his own times." the context of his own times. What does that mean? So he was Catholic or not? He believed in salvation by grace through faith without works, or he didn't?

Rob Fall's picture

Celtic Orthodox a western cousin of the Eastern Orthodox.  So, he was "Catholic" just not Roman Catholic.

Adam Blumer wrote:

SNIP the context of his own times. What does that mean? So he was Catholic or not? He believed in salvation by grace through faith without works, or he didn't?

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

J. Baillet's picture

St. Patrick (c. 389-461 A.D.), although never officially canonized by the Roman Catholic Church, was most likely “a loyal servant of Rome.” (James Edward McGoldrick, Baptist Successionism: A Crucial Question in Baptist History (The Scarecrow Press, Inc.: Lanham, Maryland 1994, 2000), at 27). According to Dr. McGoldrick, a former Professor of History at Cedarville University and current Professor of Church History at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, “Roman Bishop Leo I (440-461) approved Patrick’s episcopate when the saint refused to submit to the jurisdiction of British bishops who had claimed authority over churches in Ireland. It is clear that Patrick both sought and received Roman support for his ministry and that he helped to establish a hierarchical pattern of church government under the primacy of the bishopric of Armagh.” Id., at 29. In responding to the claim on St. Patrick made by some Baptist successionists such as W. A. Jarrel and William Cathcart, Dr. McGoldrick concludes: “When the available evidence, sparse as it is, is subjected to careful scrutiny, no reason is found to regard Patrick as a Baptist.” Id.

We must always remember that history is a foreign country. The Roman Church of the 4th and 5th Centuries was not nearly the same as the Roman Church of today. “[T]he conversion of [Roman Emperor] Constantine (fourth century) and his use of imperial power to influence the emergence of an imperial Church structure were significant catalysts in the formation of the authoritarian episcopal form of government.” (Norman L. Geisler and Joshua M. Betancourt, Is Rome the True Church? A Consideration of the Roman Catholic Claim (Crossway Books: Wheaton, Illinois 2008), at 11). By the time of Patrick, the Roman Empire was no more and the Roman Church was left to provide structure to a social order that was crumbling. During this time, the episcopal form of church government continued to develop. “It took many centuries for the Catholic authoritarian episcopal (bishop dominated) form of government to emerge from the simple, self-governing, independent New Testament churches to the authoritarian papal hierarchical structure of the Roman Catholic Church.” Id., at 10)(note that I do not fully agree with the authors’ view of New Testament-era church government).

Were there those in the Roman Church at that time who believed in salvation by grace alone through faith alone? Sure, take for instance Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.). Did Patrick? “It is highly probable, but not absolutely certain, that he held to the Augustinian teaching of salvation sola gratia." (McGoldrick, Baptist Successionism, at 27).