The intellectuals in ancient Athens were much like intellectuals today—a newshungry lot, bent upon modernity, interested only in the up-to-date. It is said of the Athenians that they “spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21). The market place was their daily beat, and there they scooped up morsels of current gossip. They had a news flash complex even about God and the spiritual world. They prattled about spiritual things as if the ways of God were as changing and contrary as the ways of men.
Consequently, the Greek philosophers expected from the Apostle Paul only another tidbit for the day’s debate. They welcomed him as “a setter forth of strange gods” who brought “new teaching” to their ears. If Saul of Tarsus had a word for them, that was sufficient for today. Somebody else would be tomorrow’s guest reporter. Certainly they never expected from Paul a mind and heart transforming Gospel, a message of eternal significance.
How wrong they were! When God speaks through his chosen prophets and apostles the changing news bulletins are pushed aside. The Gospels displace the gazettes. Jesus Christ becomes the permanent center of human interest and destiny. Paul pointed the philosophers beyond Athens to Bethlehem and to Jerusalem, to the Incarnation and to the Atonement. “He preached unto them Jesus and the resurrection” (Acts 17:18). As in Athens in the A.D. 50s, so in America in the 1950s, Paul would exalt Jesus and his resurrection.
The United States, young and virile, has come to world prestige and power. The stripes flutter in our flag blood-red and cloud-white. No star has ever yet tottered from that field. Our eyes are in future focus. On the threshold of the atomic age, on ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more