The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas: Paul’s Mars Hill Experience for Our Pluralistic World by Paul Copan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“Given the instability and unreliability of emotions, believers should all the more carve out a place for serious thinking about life and cultivate habits of the mind to do so. Rather than letting our culture press us into its mold, we are to reflect on what is our ‘reasonable [logikos] service’ of worship in light of God’s mercies (Rom. 12:1-2 NET). True disciples of Christ are to be characterized by ‘discernment,’ ‘wisdom’ and ‘understanding’ (Phil 1:9; Col 1:9). We are to discipline our minds to take proper action (1 Pet 1:13), to think Christianly about our faith and how to live out kingdom-centered priorities.”
In this day and age we live in, it is important to be able to defend our faith articulately and in a manner that our culture understands. This book dissects the speech that Paul gives in Acts 17 to the Athenians as an example for how to meet our culture where they are at and take biblical principles to lead them to the truth. Paul knew the worldview of those he was talking to and was able to intellectually discuss with them where their worldview was wrong. He knew the customs of the day and what form would give him credibility with his audience. He did not directly quote Scripture, as those he spoke to in Acts 17 would not have found that to be a basis for what they believed. Rather, he used some of their own philosophers and poets and drew out the biblical truth from those writings to point them to the truth of God. Examples in the book were also given of other speeches by Paul (and Peter) in the book of Acts and how those speeches were different and catered to the particular audience at those places.
Really enjoyed the breakdown of what the Athens culture would have been like at that time and how we need to know the culture of our own modern Athens. This book gives tools for how to use someone’s own worldview in order to reach them for Christ. In this day and age, most people will not accept an approach that quotes Scripture to them. Rather, we need to start with where they are at, yet still be biblical in our approach. By the end of Paul’s speech in Acts 17, he was talking about truth that his audience would not have agreed with. Yet by “speaking their language” to get to that point, he gained the respect of being heard though not all would have agreed with his conclusions.
This is a great book on apologetics in modern culture and using the example of Acts for how to reach our current audience, those living in a postmodern and relativistic age.
“In our therapeutic age, Westerners commonly view God as a divine therapist rather than as the cosmic authority who commands our obedience and allegiance. To those who trust in him, God gives the Holy Spirit, not the Happy Spirit. God is more interested in our being good and doing good than our feeling good; he is more interested in character transformation than self-authentication.”
“If we don’t know what we believe or the meaning of what we believe, how can we ask others to believe it?”
*I received a copy of this book free from the author/publisher.