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To Believe or Not to Believe

            First and foremost, when we analyze these apologetic speeches in Acts, it is clear that Paul seeks to be all things to all men for the sake of the Gospel, for throughout these encounters with various forms of unbelief, he repeatedly finds common ground with his audience. Common ground is important because it shows a genuinely humble effort to discover truth. Christianity may indeed contain all religions truth, but it does not follow that other religions possess none. Common ground also affirms our respect for the opponent despite any difference. This is what the Apostle Paul did with his pagan Greek audience. With those with whom he held the Old Testament in common (Jews and God-fearing Gentiles), he appeals to fulfilled prophecy by setting the Old Testament expectation side by side with the facts of the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For the common ground that Paul does find is in every case necessarily based in God's self-disclosure. Throughout Paul's encounters with unbelief, it is the non-Christian (Jew, God-fearer, or pagan Gentile) who is confronted with the consequences of knowing God through this self-disclosure both in general and special revelation, but who instead suppresses that knowledge in unrighteousness. Thus Paul not only demonstrates his desire to be all things to all men by finding common ground with his hearers.
             Paul was powerfully stirred, angered by what he saw. In previous cities, it was those who reacted against the gospel who were stirred by deep emotions. He was the evangelist-apologist exemplar. He did not view apologetics simply as intellectual warfare, but spiritual warfare. 2 Cor. 10:3-5). Paul's experience in Athens illustrates how contextualizing the gospel so as not to compromise its fundamental truths while, at the same time, demonstrating its relevance to all people everywhere is the most effective way of reaching other world religions.

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