Sunday, January 20, 2008

No, Let's Don't Build A Bridge

Russell Moore of Southern Baptist Seminary raises a critical point about Paul's sermon to the Athenians on Mars Hill -- what Paul was not doing was building a bridge to their culture:
Paul did not start speaking in Athens with a “common ground” idea of a generic god, and then reason along to Jesus. He started with the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth, proclaiming among the Gentile philosophers exactly what he had proclaimed among the Jewish rabbis: that God had raised him from the dead. Where Paul starts is also where he ends: with the guarantee that God will bring about judgment found in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (17:31).

Yes, Paul takes note of the altar to the unknown god, and yes, he quotes pagan poets. But in neither case is he “building a bridge,” at least not in the way the “engagers” wish to do. He is not saying, “You see part of the truth already, so let me show you what you already partly believe.”

... Paul’s discourse on the Areopagus is strikingly different from many Christians’ attempts to be relevant to popular culture. He points to the Athenians’ culture not so much to bring out what they know as what they deny.

An excellent article on the need to understand popular culture but not to be imitators of it. Some things to wince at but good to consider (or re-consider).

(HT: Stephen Gambill, The Reformed Pastor )

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