St. Patrick – Worthy of Protestant Attention

Today, March 17, is the traditional St. Patrick’s Day, which as we know, the world has turned into another day of mindless and God-less revelry. And we may know what the Roman Catholic Church has done with this Christian character, turning him into another occasion for her ecclesiastical promotion.

But, as many Protestants have been advancing of late, we need to reclaim St. Patrick and rescue him from the worldly and the Romish uses of him. So let’s do that today by doing some healthy reading about the man and his mission.

Allow me to point you to a couple of good resources today. First of all, I show you my little display of items from the PRC Seminary library that I set out this morning. It includes a couple of articles I will link you to below. We have more books on St. Patrick in this library, but these are representative. And they are available for our readers.

Second, Ligonier Ministries has published on their website a fine introduction to St. Patrick by Steve Lawson. You may find “Who Was St. Patrick and Should Christians Celebrate St. Parick’s Day” here. Lawson opens this way:

When it comes to Saint Patrick, the true story is even more exciting than the legend and the myth. The facts are far better than the fable. This day that belongs to St. Patrick has become about leprechauns, shamrocks, pots of gold, and green—green everywhere. Famously, the City of Chicago dumps forty pounds of its top-secret dye into the river. A green racing stripe courses through the city. But long before there was the St. Patrick of myth, there was the Patrick of history. Who was Patrick?

And third, just this morning Log College Press published a post about St. Patrick that is worth reading. “What to Think About St. Patrick?” may be found here. I include an excerpt to encourage you to read the rest:

Every year as Spring is about to commence, the world seems to turn green as celebrations of St. Patrick of Ireland take place (in some Protestant locales, such as Ulster, orange is the preferred color). But what are we to make of St. Patrick himself, a man who is venerated by the Roman Catholic Church but also greatly admired by Protestant historians too? Was he in fact, as Sheldon Jackson claimed in the Moderator’s Opening Sermon at the 1892 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, “Saint Patrick, Father of Presbyterianism in Ireland”? It may be challenging to discern, but in the words of George Macloskie, Princeton professor of biology and Presbyterian minister, “The St. Patrick of legend and superstition is not attractive, but the historical Patrick is a beautiful personage, whose memory should be revered by all Irishmen and by all Christians” (The Presbyterian and Reformed Review, Vol. 8, No. 8 (Apr. 1897), p. 330). A few of our Log College Press authors chime in with these further thoughts.

William D. Howard, A History of the Origin of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church (1872):

I would like to speak of Patrick, who was not, as many suppose, a Roman Catholic saint, but an earnest evangelical missionary, and his successful labors among the Druids of Ireland; and of his successors—Columba, Columbanus, and Gallus — who, long before Gregory the Great had, whilst yet an humble priest, seen the fair-faced Angles in the slave mart at Rome and, of course, long before as Pope he had sent Augustine as a missionary to Britain, had conveyed the Gospel to Scotland and England, Gaul and Germany, Switzerland and Lombardy.

Published in: on March 17, 2023 at 10:42 AM  Leave a Comment