Believing is not something you can decide to do as a matter of policy. At least, it is not something I can decide to do as an act of will. I can decide to go to church and I can decide to recite the Nicene Creed, and I can decide to swear on a stack of bibles that I believe every word inside them. But none of that can make me actually believe if I don’t. Pascal’s Wager could only ever be an argument for feigning belief in God. And the God that you claim to believe in had better not be of the omniscient kind or he’d see through the deception.
-Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (2006)
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Hunter’s book is a perfect example of the disconnect between professional and amateur Celtic studies. In his defense, the author is up front about his lack of expertise in most things Celtic, but this is not an encouraging bit of honesty when it comes to the practical application of his book. Similar to saying “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV,” to a patient right before the anaesthesia kicks in.
The application of Bible scholar-style hermeneutics to material from hagiography to history is far from satisfying to one whose interest is primarily historical, and rather than reinforcing an interest in “Celtic Christianity,” tends to support the protestations of many scholars that no such entity ever really existed. In other words, it is a fabulous flight of fancy, and as a missiological text it contains a good deal of insight. But that is a far stretch from claiming for Hunter’s theories any but the most tenuous of connections with the Celtic past.