Inquisitive Child to World-class Philosopher

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Scripture Resource Passage: Acts 17:16-34 

                  God uses scientific, philosophical and spiritual education in establishing pathways of communication. Perhaps, long ago and once upon two times it happened, just like this… 

                  Ara was a child prodigy. He was always talking about the stars. Many nights his family would find him sketching stars onto a smoothed section of soil. Family members who were up at the start of day, would find small stones as companions to the stick-drawn stars. Footprints left no doubt that Ara had been constructing the heavens, again. His mother told a neighbor, “Ara has a regular voice but he also has his star-voice. He almost sings when he starts talking about them.”

                  Another child, we would probably think him a nerd, was Epi. Epi was fond of word games and from an early age enjoyed the twisting of words into puzzles. As an adult, all those on the Island of Crete (his home town), loved to recite Epi’s most famous puzzle: “All Cretans are liars.” Do you see the puzzle? Simple and clever: If all Cretans are liars, then Epi—full name Epimenides, cannot be trusted to tell you that all Cretans are liars. Lovely.

                  After their childhood days were long past, both Epimenides and Ara—actually Aratus, became Greek philosophers whose followers often gathered in the geographical center of Athens. They assembled, with other philosophers who liked word games (it was known as sophistry), at a place named the Areopagus. Our brother Paul (yes, the Apostle) walked into this place of public debate to present the good news of Jesus Christ. 

                  Acts 17 records Paul’s presentation as he begins speaking of an apparently new male god (Jesus—a name masculine in grammatical form) and a new female god (resurrection—a name female in grammatical form). Pointing toward a statue Paul gathers attention when he refers to the idol of the unknown god saying, ‘I am going to speak to you about the unknown.’ 

                  Later, Paul—God’s wisdom permeating his speech—demonstrates awareness adding to his presentations, quotations. Have you guessed? His quotes are from two child prodigies who had become sophisticated philosophers—Aratus and Epimenides.

                  Paul speaks to the nations—the ethnos—in the Areopagus, to those who consider Aratus and Epimenides brilliant. Paul speaks, fulfilling in part, a long ago prophecy found in Isaiah 42:6. Check it out for a greater perspective on God’s strategy for providing the whole earth with Messiah’s voice.

                  If God used the training of the Apostle in the long ago, and carefully set out the record of how Paul’s training worked out in real life (Acts 17), it might be possible that God makes use of carefully trained messengers in 21stcentury. Is there a need for messengers?

  •  Perhaps it happens just like this:
    • check out a podcast from The Reluctant Theologian, Dr. R.T. Mullins for a contemporary plunge into deep waters and lofty heavens—available on many podcast platforms.                   
    • Former editor of Christianity Today, Mark Galli has Well worth your time—online subscription is free.

Life Application Question—what is the task of churches in joining God’s desire to proclaim Christ as Light for the nations?

Published by Andrew Simkins

Dr. Andrew Simkins provides spiritual direction for individuals and small groups through the regular blog posts found on this site. He resides in northwest Indiana with his beloved, along with nearby children and grandchildren who are the adornment of his life.

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