Jesus the Game Changer | TBN

Jesus the Game Changer

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October 17, 2019
26:56

Episode 6 | Europe

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Jesus the Game Changer

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  • Well, every time a group of people becomes Christian, and then they have the scriptures
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  • and they feel on fire for Jesus Christ, they feel called to go to new places.
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  • This is Lindisfarne. It was set up in the 7th century and it represents the influence of the monastic movement.
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  • Over the years, in my ignorance, I've actually believed that monks
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  • were those who wanted to isolate themselves from the world.
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  • And yet what these buildings represent is something completely different.
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  • When St. Patrick went to Ireland, he started to speak about the message of Jesus,
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  • and he set up monastic communities to influence Ireland.
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  • From there, they went to Iona in the west part of Scotland, and then from Iona,
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  • St. Aidan was invited to this area and was given this land to set up a monastery.
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  • St Aidan, and those who followed him, influenced northern England with the message of Jesus.
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  • Later on, St. Columbanus from Ireland went to France, Germany,
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  • Switzerland and even into northern Italy, again with the Christian message.
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  • In fact, it's been said that Europe was won to Christ through monks
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  • and monasteries as they took the message of Jesus to the ends of the earth.
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  • You have to remember, historically, we sort of jump from the Roman Empire and then the Reformation.
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  • And there's really nothing that happens between there.
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  • But there's substantial things that between there, including the fall of the Roman Empire.
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  • When Constantine becomes a Christian and establishes a line of emperors
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  • who like him are Christian, a deep rooted Roman assumption that civilization is
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  • coterminus with Roman rule is Christianized.
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  • So the missionary impulse that had sent Paul, for instance, crossing the Mediterranean kind of atrophies.
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  • And the Romans tend to assume that the Christian world is the Roman world
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  • and that therefore the destiny of Christianity is linked with
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  • the health and prosperity of the Roman Empire.
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  • This is why the sack of Rome in 410, is such a, it comes as such a shock to the system,
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  • because it prompts people to say, 'What have we done wrong?'
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  • What happened, though, is that these tribal peoples from mainly Asia, they sort of sweep over.
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  • We know some their names because their names are preserved for us in history.
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  • The Vandals, for example, is one of them and the name kind of gives it away.
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  • But ultimately, they come in, Rome, the Roman Empire falls, Rome itself falls.
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  • And then what happens is, is that Europe is re-paganzied.
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  • And so now there is a moment when Christians who were off the continent,
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  • didn't experience the full-on sacking of Rome and the Roman Empire,
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  • they had to ask the question, 'What now shall we do?'
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  • Well, again, there had already been a vibrant movement that had been taking place
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  • and when we go back to some of the legends of like Patrick, who we call St. Patrick
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  • though no major religion actually names him as a saint, so these traditions arise.
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  • But they have already evangelized what is Ireland, my ancestral people.
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  • But what happens is, is they see, they look afresh again at the words of Jesus,
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  • He says, 'As the Father has sent Me, so send I you'.
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  • So, they say, 'OK, well, the mission field has come back to our front door.
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  • Christendom has fallen.
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  • The message of Christ needs to be shared again'.
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  • Celtic Christianity didn't just stay in Ireland, did it?
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  • It ended up in England and Europe. What happened there?
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  • The meaning of the word mission is sending.
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  • In the New Testament those words for sending are used 206 times.
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  • So, over and over, if you read your Bible, you get a sense of God
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  • calling you or sending you to go elsewhere, and wherever you go in
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  • migration people who follow Jesus Christ want to share that good news with others.
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  • Celtic Christianity, in some sense, like what would come later
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  • in the 16th and 17th century with Jesuit Roman Catholic Christianity.
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  • Truly effective missionary work being done on the strength of the appeal of the message
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  • and the integrity of the messengers, not on the reliance on the political background
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  • of the powers that were able to supply armies, navies, troops, taxation system.
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  • Christianity in Ireland took on a form that was different to anywhere else in Europe.
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  • About a hundred years after St. Patrick, the first bunch went and set up
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  • a monastery in Iona off the west coast of Scotland.
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  • And that was the leading place for education and the spread of Christianity through Scotland and the north of England.
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  • St. Columba, who was one of the great leaders of the Irish Monastic Church,
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  • established many, many monasteries throughout Ireland and of course, the most famous monastery
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  • on the Isle of Iona in Scotland, which is how the Irish tradition, the Irish monastic tradition,
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  • was carried from Ireland to mainland Britain to Scotland.
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  • And not just to Scotland, but down to Lindisfarne in northeast England
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  • and even further south down to Glastonbury in southwest England.
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  • There was an Irish church there as well.
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  • And you've got to remember, that was whilst the Roman church was still trying to recover from the barbarian invasions.
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  • And their motivation for going to Iona, that was a mission, ends of the earth concept wasn't it?
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  • Yes, they saw themselves as pilgrims for Jesus.
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  • And so, they travelled up the west coast of Scotland to Iona.
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  • And this monastery was set up there as a centre of education,
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  • a centre of the spread of the gospel for a couple of hundred years.
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  • Now the king of Northumbria, the king of this part of England, Oswald, he grew up in Scotland.
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  • And he got to know the monks from Iona.
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  • And when he came back into his kingdom, when he became king,
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  • he sent to Iona and asked them to send missionaries, to send monks
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  • to come down to this part of the world to preach the gospel.
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  • And Aidan came down again with 12 of his companions, they travelled in groups of 13 because Jesus had 12 apostles.
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  • They came down and they were given this land, given this island, to set up a monastery.
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  • The monks believed that these places which were sort of half land, half sea, gave a glimpse into heaven.
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  • St. Aidan, when he went into this area and the monks with him,
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  • were they successful, for want of a better word, for sharing the message of Jesus in this area?
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  • The whole of Northumberland, Northumbria as it was called then, became a Christian kingdom.
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  • And stayed so on and off, being interrupted occasionally by the Vikings.
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  • Some of the stories are pretty wild about Irish monks getting into a boat, sailing out into the sea.
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  • 'What are they taking with them? Nothing, the Lord will provide.
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  • What's going to happen when you get there? We don't know the Lord will provide'.
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  • That's not a Roman way of approaching things.
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  • And it probably wasn't all that effective much of the time.
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  • But some of the time it really, really was effective.
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  • Now, they didn't just stay here though.
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  • There were others that went from here. Where did they go?
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  • Monks from here and from Iona went off right across Europe.
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  • So the monk who formed Iona was called Columba.
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  • And a generation later, there was another Columba, or sometimes called Columbanus,
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  • who went down into the Netherlands, Germany as far as Switzerland
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  • and northern Italy, again in a group of thirteen, preaching the gospel as they went.
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  • Columbanus was a monk in Bangor in Northern Ireland, not far from where we're standing here
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  • in Saul Church, just about an hour's drive north of us.
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  • There's a wonderful little harbor town called Bangor, and it had an Irish monastery
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  • which was famous throughout the world. They called it the Valley of the Angels.
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  • And one of their most famous monks was St. Columbanus.
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  • He left Bangor Abbey and monastery in around 595.
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  • And he sailed from Ireland to Brittany, in France again, and he landed at a little village
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  • called Saint-Coulomb in French, which means St. Columbanus, they named the village after him.
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  • And from there, Columbanus went into France and he founded a
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  • monastery at Luxeuil, at Bobbio in Italy, and many other places.
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  • They were remarkably successful.
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  • Areas where there were very few Christians, they saw lots of converts.
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  • They annoyed the local Christian authorities because they
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  • didn't see themselves as being under the authority of the local bishops.
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  • They just went anywhere they wanted and preached.
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  • But large parts of western Europe became Christian through the influence of monks from Lindisfarne and from Iona.
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  • From there comes these missionary endeavors that actually go up the rivers
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  • in continental Europe, and preach the gospel, plant churches,
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  • sometimes re-establish congregations that had been lost.
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  • And to the point where, keeping in mind, we have this thriving church by the time the Reformation comes.
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  • We think it's in need of reformation.
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  • But let's not forget, it's still a thriving church because, and let's not miss this, because of the Irish.
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  • Just don't forget the Irish is the key point in all of history.
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  • And so the two most famous Irish monks, Columba and Columbanus,
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  • both of which means the same, it means a dove, so they are emblems
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  • of the spirit rushing abroad, taking the fire of God, in the case of St. Columba,
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  • to across the seas to what will become Scotland, to the island of Iona and to
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  • the pagan picks in the north of Britain and the Anglo Saxons in Northumbria.
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  • And Columbanus who has an even more seismic impact, who crosses to Gaul, the land of the Franks.
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  • And there he establishes a model of monasticism
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  • that will be of huge, huge influence on the future course of European history.
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  • Give us some pictures of how that became an influence.
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  • When Columbanus arrives in the courts, the various courts of the Frankish kings and queens,
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  • he impresses them with his evident sanctity.
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  • And then what impresses them even more is that he goes out into the wilderness
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  • and he uses the fragments of toppled pagan temples and he builds monasteries.
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  • And these monasteries become endowed with a sense of a kind of sacral power.
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  • What Columbanus does, in a kind of astonishing way,
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  • is to lay down as a marker an idea that the sacred can be manifest on earth,
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  • and that therefore this sacrality can become a source of power.
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  • Irish Christianity had a clan structure, so you would have perhaps a monastery that represented an extended family.
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  • It was decentralized, it was rural, it was not urban.
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  • Christianity in the Roman Empire grew in cities.
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  • Whereas this, a monastery, becomes a place of organization, of spirituality.
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  • And it's also where people hid their valuable possessions, which is why
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  • when the Vikings came down and started attacking Scotland and Ireland and such,
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  • they looted all the monasteries.
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  • Well, it was destroyed by the Vikings in the 8th century.
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  • Again, next stop going that way is Norway.
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  • And the Vikings came down, they saw rich pickings in the monastery, and attacked it numerous times.
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  • Give us a picture of what the Vikings were like.
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  • The Vikings is a shorthand that we give to the Scandinavian pirates, raiders, settlers.
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  • Viking is actually, it's a noun that means the process of going on a kind of maritime raiding expedition.
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  • They were brutal because they were not Christian.
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  • And so, this awesome power that, to Christians, seemed to hedge about monasteries
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  • and made them worthy recipients of immense treasures,
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  • to Vikings it meant that they were kind of sitting ducks.
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  • And the Vikings, over the course of several centuries, brought carnage to the Christian kingdoms of Britain,
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  • of Ireland, of what was going to become France.
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  • And the process by which the Vikings were tamed ultimately
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  • became a process by which they were Christianized.
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  • So what happened in 750 that caused them to be raiders?
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  • It's a good question, and there's no real agreement on that.
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  • There are various pressures that have been suggested.
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  • But whatever the pressures behind it, what happens in the period that follows
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  • is that they go out from Scandinavia and they start raiding,
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  • hence putting that label on the whole of the people and the whole of the culture,
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  • even though it probably only represents a small percentage of the population.
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  • How far did they go?
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  • They went further than anyone else in the history of the world up to that point.
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  • So, they're the first people in the history of the world
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  • to have contacts on four continents, because they went down as far south as Africa.
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  • They went west across the Atlantic as far as North America.
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  • And they went east first across the Baltic Sea, but then through the river systems
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  • to what's now Russia and Ukraine to the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea.
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  • So, they got as far as Central Asia. So, Asia, Africa, America and Europe.
  • 00:15:57.260 --> 00:16:02.010
  • So, their raids on places like Lindisfarne actually put them in contact with Christianity, didn't it?
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  • It did. They're sailing up and down those coasts, trading and getting familiar
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  • with what's there and realizing actually these people are foolish enough to
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  • store huge amounts of wealth in these monasteries, which are deliberately placed in remote places on the coast.
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  • And they think let's take advantage of that.
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  • and England, famous for failing to stop the waves, he is murderously brutal.
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  • But over the course of time, he marries a Christian queen, he becomes a
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  • patron of Christian churches, his advisers are archbishops.
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  • And he ends up going on a pilgrimage to Rome.
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  • And it becomes clear that the donations that he's making to various monasteries and nunneries,
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  • his willingness to go to Rome, these are clearly not being just put on for show.
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  • In some way, he has become properly Christian.
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  • Well, these coins here are all produced by the Vikings in England.
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  • They settle in the 870s, and these are all produced between around 900 and the middle of the next century.
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  • This first one here, you can see that the design in the middle there is a cross.
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  • That's pretty uncomplicated as Christian symbolism.
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  • But to make it even more pointed, it's got the name of the ruler, Cnut Rex, around it.
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  • But it doesn't just put it around the edge like that, he makes the sign of the cross with his name.
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  • C, N, U, T.
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  • And then does it again with Rex and a cross.
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  • So, he's being almost more Christian than the Christians, in the symbolism on the coin.
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  • And on the other side, again there's just a little cross as the image in the center,
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  • but the inscription around it in Latin is, 'mirabilia fecit',
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  • 'He has done marvellous things', it's a biblical quotation.
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  • So again, it's being more Christian than the Christians to really hammer home that point.
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  • So, here is this demonstration of a more Christianized culture,
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  • what difference did that make to the way they behaved as a nation?
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  • Well, it means that attacks on churches, for example, become less common.
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  • It means that there's more widespread access to literacy.
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  • It also means that the church becomes gradually more powerful,
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  • first in the Viking lands overseas, and then gradually, over a period of time
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  • in the Viking homelands, in Scandinavia.
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  • That then affects things like law codes and general society, the general Christian customs become more and more important.
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  • There's a widespread trend across Christian Europe to reduce the amount of warring on Christian neighbors.
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  • And as the Vikings buy into Christian ideas, Christian mentalities, then that sort of thing has an effect as well.
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  • When we were in Lindisfarne, we focused on the Celtic monastic movement
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  • and how they influenced Ireland, then Scotland and England, and also how Columbanus
  • 00:19:55.070 --> 00:20:00.050
  • came all the way here to Germany to influence Germany with the Christian message.
  • 00:20:02.110 --> 00:20:05.170
  • What we need to remember is there were many more monastic movements that influenced Europe.
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  • This is a statue of St. Boniface. He came here in the 8th century.
  • 00:20:12.130 --> 00:20:16.050
  • St. Boniface is a really interesting character.
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  • He was actually born in England and lived in south west England.
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  • He was part of a Benedictine monastery, and then he felt called at 40 to come here to Germany.
  • 00:20:23.120 --> 00:20:28.050
  • He was renamed Boniface by Pope Gregory the second.
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  • When he came here, he organized the church, he challenged pagan faith, he challenged heretics in the area.
  • 00:20:35.040 --> 00:20:39.260
  • He was a strong, dynamic character.
  • 00:20:41.230 --> 00:20:44.020
  • Sadly, at the age of 80, he was set upon with his group by a bunch of thugs and was killed.
  • 00:20:44.040 --> 00:20:48.290
  • What's important to remember here is that Boniface came here as a Christian minister.
  • 00:20:51.070 --> 00:20:56.020
  • He came here as a missionary to bring the message of Jesus to Europe.
  • 00:20:58.010 --> 00:21:01.110
  • Tell us a little about Boniface.
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  • He comes from Devon, which is the south west of England.
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  • And for about 20 years, he was in a monastery in Winchester, just not far from London.
  • 00:21:13.020 --> 00:21:17.260
  • And actually at about the age of 40, he went off into Europe.
  • 00:21:22.060 --> 00:21:27.020
  • And he joined, there was a local guy, a guy from around here, called Willibord,
  • 00:21:29.060 --> 00:21:32.040
  • who was a missionary into what is now the Netherlands.
  • 00:21:32.060 --> 00:21:36.000
  • And Boniface joined him, and they worked together five or six years.
  • 00:21:36.020 --> 00:21:40.080
  • And then Boniface was called down to Rome.
  • 00:21:40.100 --> 00:21:44.040
  • The story of St. Boniface is really intriguing in the evangelization of northern Europe.
  • 00:21:44.060 --> 00:21:48.280
  • Boniface travels across the waters to northern Europe and lives in what are
  • 00:21:51.020 --> 00:21:55.210
  • primitive frontier monasteries, is an effective, confrontational voice for Christian faith.
  • 00:21:57.220 --> 00:22:02.070
  • Not without, he doesn't want, he's not like Charlemagne later who is going
  • 00:22:05.020 --> 00:22:09.180
  • to take the armies to make people converts, he's going to preach and practice,
  • 00:22:09.200 --> 00:22:14.000
  • and through the disciplines of the monasteries are going to show pagans
  • 00:22:14.020 --> 00:22:18.290
  • in northern Europe that the way of Christ offers a better way. And he's effective.
  • 00:22:19.010 --> 00:22:23.210
  • I think it was Christopher Dawson, the great Christian historian and interpreter of western culture,
  • 00:22:23.230 --> 00:22:28.150
  • who said that Boniface's missionary work in northern Europe probably affected the future of Europe,
  • 00:22:31.060 --> 00:22:34.030
  • the history of Europe, more than any single person in human history.
  • 00:22:36.170 --> 00:22:40.140
  • I mean, Boniface too, wasn't this quiet figure.
  • 00:22:45.190 --> 00:22:47.280
  • Boniface goes into the middle of town and cuts down the sacred oak of Thor,
  • 00:22:48.000 --> 00:22:51.220
  • which you really shouldn't cut down the sacred oak of Thor
  • 00:22:51.240 --> 00:22:54.070
  • unless you're going to make Thor mad. He wasn't so worried about Thor.
  • 00:22:54.090 --> 00:22:57.240
  • You know, we think of Thor as a comic book character, or a movie screen character.
  • 00:22:57.260 --> 00:23:02.050
  • But Thor was the defining god.
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  • He cuts down the sacred oak of Thor in this power encounter and says
  • 00:23:04.290 --> 00:23:07.260
  • 'No, there's a true God of the whole world, He doesn't need a tree, He rules everything'.
  • 00:23:07.280 --> 00:23:12.120
  • He was a dedicated evangelist; he was an evangelist to his bootstraps.
  • 00:23:12.140 --> 00:23:16.090
  • But he was also an amazing administrator.
  • 00:23:16.110 --> 00:23:19.160
  • The church in Germany and sort of eastern France was desperately corrupt at that point.
  • 00:23:19.180 --> 00:23:24.100
  • And he spent a long time reforming the church.
  • 00:23:25.190 --> 00:23:29.140
  • But then at the age of 60, he obviously got fed up with doing all the administration
  • 00:23:29.160 --> 00:23:34.110
  • and went back to his first love of evangelism, and went back up into northern Germany
  • 00:23:36.150 --> 00:23:39.290
  • and across into the Netherlands, into Frisia as they called it then, and preached.
  • 00:23:41.250 --> 00:23:45.290
  • And he was then baptizing a group of 50 people in a river, at a point where, as he was baptizing them,
  • 00:23:46.010 --> 00:23:50.230
  • a group of pagans descended on them and killed everyone who was being baptized.
  • 00:23:56.050 --> 00:24:01.010
  • And Boniface died, apparently calling for non-violence.
  • 00:24:03.140 --> 00:24:07.210
  • The missionary strategy was to plant communities of dedicated people,
  • 00:24:15.010 --> 00:24:19.280
  • monasteries, occasionally nunneries, convents for women religious,
  • 00:24:20.000 --> 00:24:24.250
  • and to show a local community, by teaching, integrity of life,
  • 00:24:26.070 --> 00:24:30.220
  • and example of living, what the Christian faith should mean.
  • 00:24:32.030 --> 00:24:35.040
  • So, at their best, the monasteries were not just declarations of the Christian faith,
  • 00:24:35.060 --> 00:24:39.290
  • but exemplifications of the Christian faith. And in that respect, had a major impact.
  • 00:24:42.060 --> 00:24:45.260
  • The idea that founding monastic communities in unevangelized reaches of the world, that strategy worked.
  • 00:24:48.180 --> 00:24:51.290
  • And for probably five hundred years that was the effective missionary strategy, at least in the European part of the world.
  • 00:24:56.070 --> 00:25:01.040