On February 6-7 I will be the speaker at Emmaus Bible College’s “Christian MInistry Seminars.” My theme, “Anti-Intellectualism Isn’t Spirituality,” will pursue several topics, among them is Paul’s use of his mind in Acts 17. As we look at Acts 17:19-34 we see how the Apostle Paul reaches a diverse audience with the gospel. “Greatly distressed” to see the city “full of idols,” he uses reasoning to debate with those five groups.
He tells them that he has taken the time to look carefully at their objects of worship (v. 23). He read every inscription. He became culturally-aware of his audience and what had captured their attention.
He then moves from the known to the unknown. The Athenians covered all their bases (or so they thought) by even having an altar with the inscription “to an unknown god.” Paul uses that anonymous object of worship as a contact point to transition to “that is what I am going to proclaim to you” (v. 23).
There is a time for PROCLAMATION in the presentation of the gospel, isn’t there? But sometimes we bring in PROCLAMATION too early. What has preceded Paul’s proclaiming of this “unknown god”? (1) He has taken the time to become culturally-aware of their religious habits. (2) He has extended a compliment to them as he begins to speak about the true religion. RESPECT and KINDNESS precede PROCLAMATION.
In our next post we will notice how Paul unpacks the truths about this “unknown god” who has made Himself known to those who will seek Him! Paul inspires their curiosity in the next part of his speech. Question: How do we get people in our culture to become curious about the Christian God?