Thursday, January 7, 2010

"The heavens are telling..."

It is always difficult to try and corral an entire theology into only one "statement of faith" which is what I must do in order to graduate from seminary this June. As i am piecing together my thoughts on revelation (general and specific) I ran across an interesting paragraph in Daniel Migliore's "Faith Seeking Understanding," specifically, the reference to Acts 17:22ff). He writes,

"There can be little doubt that the Bible teaches and experience confirms a revelation of God in the created order, in the human conscience, and in religions other than Christianity. "The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork," writes the Psalmist (19:1). The Apostle Paul contends that God's eternal power and deity have been clearly shown in the things that have been created (Rom. 1:20). When Paul speaks to the Athenians on the Aeropagus, he proclaims to them the identity of the unknown God that they have been worshiping (Acts 17:22ff)."

As inter-religious dialogue has become a passion of mine in-the-making I find the Acts passage intriguing. I do believe that God is active in other religions and other communities and I am working to find out exactly how this is true. I read Paul's comments towards Aeropagus where he begins by showing affirmation of their religious worship and then explains that what they worship is the "unknown god" but he has come into contact with the known god and wants to share his findings with them. It seems as if Paul is accepting their "religiousness" as it is only a partial image of the one God. Paul shares that ultimately God is not found in earthly materials (gold and silver), all children (humanity) are the offspring of God, and God's purpose is justice in the world. It doesn't sound like Paul is condemning the Athenians but merely revealing the backdrop of their veneration, i.e., disclosing his idea of the full "story."

I think this passage calls for we who are Christians to be more open in regards to other forms and styles of worship in the sense of dialogue and a specific "type" of acceptance while continuing to affirm the interconnection of life, general and specific. There is a thread of similarity that runs through the global Christian Church and at the same time a thread of similarity connecting all of humanity. What is this global "thread?" Does Paul give credit to this global thread in the Acts passage?

Maybe you read the Acts 17 passage differently. If so, how?

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