So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
- 1 Corinthians 5:16-21
Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.”
- Acts 17:22-23
“Luke has shown us how the gospel matches up against two major opponents: the zealous Jews in synagogues around Turkey and now in northern Greece, and the economic and political forces of the Roman Empire. But there is an entire world of thought which we haven’t yet had on stage. This is the hugely important sphere of the prevailing ancient philosophies. They conditioned how thousands of ordinary people saw the world, what they thought of as reasonable and unreasonable, what they thought about the gods, what they thought human life was for and how best you should live it. Millions who had never studied philosophy, who maybe could not even read or write, were nevertheless deeply influenced by the major currents of thought that were debated in the schools, just as plenty of people today who have never studied philosophy or economics are massively influenced by popular media presentations of large and complex ideas.
“How would you describe the prevailing philosophy of the people around you? Or in the larger society?”
- N. T. Wright, Acts – 24 Studies for Individuals and Groups
A few weeks ago, our Sunday school class was about to start our study of Acts 17. I read the paragraph quoted from N. T. Wright above and then the “Open” or ice-breaker question. For an hour, that is all we discussed. We never read Acts 17:1 or any verses that followed.
Everyone in the class had conflict in their lives that clashed between their worldview and the secular worldview. For over a year, I have filled in for our Sunday school teacher, who passed away during the COVID lockdown. When things in the Sunday school lesson (the minor prophets and then the book of Acts) would relate to current events, worldwide events, I would bring them up. Rarely did anyone comment, only making a rare aside comment.
But on this occasion, the floodgates opened. There was both sharing and cleansing as everyone said how BLM, CRT, Gender Identity, Cancel Culture, Abortion, etc. had affected their family. They wanted to place a face on this evil. They wanted revival in the church, in the community, in the country, in the world. They had nowhere to turn other than Scripture.
On 6 July 2020, I started writing Tuesday morning posts about philosophy, long before I read the N. T. Wright quote. The first article was A Missed High School Reunion. How does that relate to Philosophy, you may ask? Heraclitus stated that everything is change and you can never go back home or even step out of a river and then replace your foot into the exact point in the river again. The river idea is that the water would flow downstream but the local stays the same, except for the mud that kicks up. Thus, since I could not make it to the high school reunion, did I really miss anything, that is, since I could never return to the same place that I left?
In the year plus of philosophy articles since then, I often wrote about a philosopher who came close to finding Jesus, only that he was born so many hundreds of years before Jesus was on earth. I still contend that the rapid growth of Christianity was partially due to these knowledge seekers in Greece that found what they had been searching for hundreds of years in the person of Jesus Christ. The Greeks initially established a common business language. The Romans built a road system and expanded the “empire”, but the Greek philosophers lit the fire for knowledge and truth (that was always there inside each of us anyway).
And the Apostle Paul, with the Holy Spirit guiding him, shifted the focus of his sermons to meet the needs of the audience. Read the sermons of Paul that are peppered throughout the book of Acts and you can easily detect the transition from Jewish traditional thought and Jesus being the promised Messiah to a God who controls the rain and wind so that the crops grow in abundance to Jesus being the unknown God that you already have a statue for in Athens. Paul was smart and well educated, but he was even smarter, in that he followed the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Although many deny that inner voice, we all have that voice telling us to search for Truth. Too many find “truth” in false trappings of this world, and they drown out the voice that says that they have not found Truth. They will never find Truth until they let go of this world and seek Jesus.
We must share the Gospel, but we must know that the Holy Spirit does the heavy lifting that will open the doors so that they will be receptive to the real Truth.
If you like these Tuesday morning essays about philosophy and other “heavy topics,” but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Tuesday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.