Patrick of Ireland: his life and impact
Michael A. G. Haykin
Christian Focus Publications, 112 pages, £7.99
Star rating : 4
Michael A.G. Haykin’s Patrick of Ireland: his life and impact is a brief but insightful biography of this Church Father.
While other biographies canonise and romanticise Patrick, celebrating the myths surrounding his life and mission, Haykin avoids speculation and attempts to unravel some of the mystery, outlining Patrick’s stance on the Trinity, the Bible and missions.
In the first chapter, Haykin gives a fair biographical account of Patrick and the time in which he lived — from the late fourth century to the mid-fifth century.
He was born into Roman-British society and was abducted by Irish pirates when he was 16. He came to a saving knowledge of Christ while there and escaped back to Britain. Nearly 20 years later, he returned to Ireland as a missionary and the Lord saved thousands through his ministry.
The second chapter is an explanation of Patrick’s trinitarian beliefs. He firmly believed in this doctrine as expressed in Scripture and defined by the Nicene Creed. The gospel he preached to the Irish was saturated in his knowledge of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, and the relevance of the three to salvation.
In the third chapter, Haykin elaborates on Patrick’s mission in Ireland. Haykin draws parallels between Patrick’s life and that of William Carey, since both were missionary pioneers in their day. Patrick’s work was very successful in Ireland and his legacy endures in the Irish church and her missionaries.
The fourth chapter highlights Patrick’s devotion to prayer and the Word of God. Patrick quoted nothing but Scripture and spent hours in prayer, often exposed to inclement weather. He was also a humble man, who felt his own inadequacies in his ministry and personal life.
Finally, Haykin deals briefly with Patrick in a way that evangelicals can understand better his life and impact. He highlights certain errors in his views (especially regarding monasticism), but encourages readers to emulate his views on mission and the Trinity.
This biography is readable and well-balanced, and includes interesting historical details that are pertinent to Patrick’s life and impact. I highly recommend it.