sexta-feira, 30 de outubro de 2015


For as I walked around and looked carefully
at your objects of worship,
I even found an altar with this inscription:
So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship
—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

Acts 17:23 (read 17:22-31) - NIV

Paul lost a great opportunity to condemn the idolaters. The city of Athens was full of idols and it bothered him a lot. But Paul resisted the temptation to "really tell off" those who prostrated themselves before human made idols. He had the clarity to see beyond the mere act of prostrating before human made objects. He saw that the worshipers were seeking the divine which lies beyond the images. They were looking for the true meaning of life as they knew how.

With wisdom, Paul recognized their sincerity and took the opportunity to share his own way of experiencing the divine. He spoke of the UNKNOWN GOD who is Creator and above any object made of gold or stone by human hands. This God who created all things is "not far from any one of us." He added that "in him we live and move and have our being", and that "we are his offspring."

It was an inspirational message in which Paul testified of his own discovery of God by not speaking ill of them or criticizing their way of seeking. In witnessing to his understanding of his Jesus centered perception of God he did not speak ill of them in their seeking. His message spoke for itself without running others down. Some people believed him and gathered around him.

Religious impulses are part of human reality and produce many different religious systems and philosophies, whether they are theistic or atheistic. All of them (including Christian) are limited manifestations of human understanding of the infinite unknown. It seems that Paul understood this, and instead of condemning people for worshiping other gods, he used their initiative to point to his understanding of his Christian God. Paul could see the sincerity of the search of the men of Athens and built on the spiritual understanding that they already had. He recognized their action to be divine even though it was in ways that he himself rejected.

One of the great mistakes of many groups who call themselves Christian is to see all other religions, including other styles of Christianity as demonic. Instead of proclaiming Jesus as the way, the truth and the life, they attack others and condemn them for not having found Christ in the way that they understand. The biblical preaching in the New Testament respects the religion of others and at the same time, points to Jesus as the answer of human aspirations.


Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

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