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Stories of Faith: Facing the Unknown Acts 17 Scott Raley Summit View Church Sept. 9, 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "Stories of Faith: Facing the Unknown Acts 17 Scott Raley Summit View Church Sept. 9, 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 Stories of Faith: Facing the Unknown Acts 17 Scott Raley Summit View Church Sept. 9, 2012

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5 The Background and Setting of of Acts 17

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9 Paul wasn’t speaking to the Jews here, as he often was in other situations in his letters... there is no mention of Abraham or Moses, no mention of Messianic prophecy, no mention of the covenant, no mention of sacrifice, etc. Instead, he addressed their own struggle— ” TO AN UNKNOWN GOD ” The Epicureans The Stoics The Cynics

10 The Epicureans (polytheistic, did not believe in life after death) Epicurus, their founder, believed that pleasure is the greatest good. But the way to attain pleasure was to live modestly and to gain knowledge of the workings of the world and the limits of one's desires. This led one to attain a state of tranquility and freedom from fear, as well as absence of bodily pain. The combination of these two states is supposed to constitute happiness in its highest form.

11 The Stoics (pantheistic, and focused on reason) Founded by Zeno of Citium in the early 3rd century BC, the Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of "moral and intellectual perfection," would not suffer such emotions.

12 (The Stoics, continued) Stoics were concerned with the active relationship between cosmic determinism and human freedom, and the belief that it is virtuous to maintain a will that is in accord with nature. Because of this, the Stoics presented their philosophy as a way of life, and they thought that the best indication of an individual's philosophy was not what a person said but how he behaved. Later Stoics emphasized that because "virtue is sufficient for happiness," a sage was immune to misfortune.

13 The Cynics... believed the purpose of life was to live a life of virtue in agreement with nature, which appears to be similar to the Stoics. However, to the Cynics, this meant rejecting all conventional desires for wealth, power, sex, and fame, and by living a simple life free from all possessions. As reasoning creatures, people could gain happiness by rigorous training and by living in a way which was “natural” for humans.

14 (The Cynics, continued) They believed that the world belonged equally to everyone, and that suffering was caused by false judgments of what was valuable and by the worthless customs and conventions which surrounded society.

15 Paul presented a: “Theodicy” “By "theodicy" I mean the argument that God's providential relationship to the world entails a just judgment of mortals, especially a judgment which takes place after death where rewards and punishments are allotted.” (Jerome H. Neyrey, University of Notre Dame) --that is, God is In Charge, not mankind

16 So, onward to the scriptures... Acts 17:16 and following... Let’s hear what Paul had to say:

17 16 While Paul was waiting for them [i.e. Silas and Timothy] in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. (Acts 17:16-17, NIV)

18 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. (Acts 17:18, NIV)

19 19 Then they took him [NOTE: this means “arrested” him—he was on trial] and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” Then they took him [NOTE: this means “arrested” him—he was on trial] and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.) (Acts 17:19-21, NIV)

20 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. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: 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. 23 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, NIV)

21 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ (Acts 17:24-28, NIV)

22 As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:28-31, NIV)

23 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others. (Acts 17:32-34, NIV)

24 The main points which which Paul presented:

25 1. God is the Author of Creation: Paul said: The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. (vv )

26 2. God is the Author of Life: Paul said: Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. (v. 25)

27 3. God is the Author of Time: Paul said: From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. (v. 26)

28 4. God is the Author of Relational Faith: Paul said: God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. (v. 27)

29 5. God is the Author of Existence/Being: Paul said: Paul said: ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ (v. 28)

30 So, what kind of God do you have? Is He the Author of your creation? Is He the Author of your life? Is He the Author of your time? Is He the Author of your relational faith? Is He the Author of your very existence?


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