Thursday, August 07, 2014

Read Along: Chapter One—Welcome to Athens

Today we begin our with Chapter One in the Read Along with Apologetics 315 project. This is a chapter-by-chapter study through the book The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas: Paul's Mars Hill Experience for Our Pluralistic World by Paul Copan and Kenneth D. Litwak. (Hear the introductory interview about the book here.) Below you will find an audio intro for Chapter One, a brief summary of the chapter, a PDF workbook with questions for the chapter, and some notable quotes. You're also encouraged to share your comments and feedback for each chapter in the comment section below. Feel free to interact on the Christian Apologetics Alliance Facebook page here.

[Audio Intro] - Paul Copan introduces this chapter.
[Chapter 1 Study Questions] (with kindle locations) - PDF study guide.
[Podcast Feed RSS | Podcast in iTunes] - Click to subscribe to the audio.

Chapter One: Welcome to Athens
[pages 11-18]

Chapter 1 explores the similarities between the Athens of Paul's day with our present culture and time. The authors lay out some of the ground work for how the book will address the problem of translating the Gospel into a message that can be understood by today's listener. The chapter includes an excerpt from Acts 17:16-34, which should be studied before reading further.

Notable quotes:
If you walk up to someone randomly on a university campus or at the local coffee bar and attempt to reach that person by quoting Bible verses, and the person you are addressing neither knows what’s in the Bible nor really cares, or has a faulty image— a caricature —of God that is unpalatable, you will not get any further than someone who speaks only German talking to someone who speaks only Chinese. (p.14; Kindle 120-123)
We can no longer rely (if we ever could rely) upon other people understanding our “Christianese,” or believing anything other than caricatures of what committed, orthodox Christians believe. We cannot expect unbelievers to learn our ideas first so that they can understand us. We need to go to them, learn what they think and find ways to present them with the truths of the gospel in ways that will be meaningful to them. (p. 16; Kindle 154-157).
  1. What are some of the similarities between Paul's Athens and our world today?
  2. In what ways does Paul's speech at Athens connect with your present situation?
  3. What do you hope to gain from reading this book?
Next Week: Chapter 2—Was Paul's Speech at Athens a Mistake?


GrayDave said...

I'm in this time. I just finished chapter 1.

Maryann Spikes said...

Initial thoughts:

This "context" topic has come up recently in my own circle of apologetics buddies, in terms of the tension between speaking German ("Christianese") to someone who speaks Chinese on one extreme, and whispering sweet nothings to tickle the ears of the seeker on the other extreme. How do we communicate the Gospel in a meaningful way without a) coming across as a resounding gong or clanging cymbal, or b) watering it down? This book zeroes in on Paul's Mars Hill address in Athens, recorded in Acts--and I'm predicting that I've read something similar in Don Richardson's "Eternity in their Hearts"--but Richardson covered many different cultures. I'm looking forward to a more in-depth treatment.

On today's multiculturalism: Interesting things are going on as ISIS gains ground (even in Gaza according to some reports), out to destroy both Jews and Christians. There is no denying that a) how the media covers, b) how the politicians address, and c) how you feel about what's going on--all are influenced by each person's worldview.

Will this book motivate us to become more familiar with the teachings of Islam, non-Messianic Judaism, and other religious beliefs held by our neighbors, foreign & domestic, so that if our spirits are provoked within us, we are ready to communicate the Gospel in a way that is meaningful to them? Who else would benefit from our listening to and learning from their language and how it is culturally situated, *before* attempting to communicate? How many of us even dare to make the attempt? How multicultural are we *really*--or don't we just flock with birds of our own feather?

I'm praying for the Alliance as we study through this book--for fear to be lifted, love for others unlike us to be kindled, and hearts to be open to the Spirit's provoking.

May God use us to do some pre-evangelistic table-clearing <3

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