Summary: This is a evangelistic message for our post modern world which touches on religous syncretism
Acts 17:13-32. THE UNKNOWN GOD.
One hundred years ago, the German philosopher and self-styled anti-Christ Friedrich Nietzsche famously quoted "God is dead." Sadly it’s Friedrich Nietzsche who is dead because GOD is still very much alive, He’s risen! But how can we find God that is the deep penertrating question today?
As we look into the 21st century there is a growing search for the transcendent with the huge paradigm shift from modernity to post modernity with it has come a growing quest for spirituality a connectedness to the transcendent.
All the major religions of the world testify to humanities need for God: with the monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam but also in the thousands of other subsidiary religions like Hinduism - Buddisim - Zoroastrianism - Sikhism. Even the modern day cults from Kaballa to Scientology to the Mormons to the JWS and the rise of New age belief systems and re invented - paganism: Rather than these belief systems being in decline they are growing in the 21st century, they are on the increase.
This means I believe at the epicentre of every human being is an insatiable spiritual appetite for the transcendent.
The historian Fisher said “There is a cry in the soul, to which no response comes from the world.” Thomas Aquinas exclaimed, “The soul’s restless thirst (is) for happiness but will only find rest in God alone.”
We see in our own country UK/AMERICA an emerging spirituality a blurring of spiritual truth even amongst professing Christians within the emergent church, they will will hold to a whole sway of contradicting beliefs and morals - No longer sharing doctrine especially once held dogma like penal substitution and moral beliefs everything becomes subjective and lose, people become driven by their experience and emotions – they have adopted the post modern mindset of the world around them with a syncretised view to spirituality with no absoulutes.It has become very fashionable in the quest for a god which will accept all, its simply liberalism in another guise.
• Pick and mix mentality. Reincarnation – astrology – mother earth - Gurus – Jesus - meditation - crystals and so on even some so called Christians even mix and match.
Setting : Paul finds himself in Athens this of course was the seat of learning - 4 centuries earlier but still had its vestiges of greatness are seen in its architecture, the centre of Greek culture a melting pot of spirituality, philosophy and education with a plethora of Greek gods like Zeus and Hermes with a school of philosophical thought, with the epicureans who believed that seeking happiness or pleasure was the goal to life (world view today in the west). And the Stoics who placed thinking above feeling and tried to live in harmony with nature and reason, these were there directives.
Two millennia on it is very much a similar setting in our world we havent advanced at all, we still find ourselves with a diversity of religions,cults,pagan practices and personal philosophies.Just go down into our major city centres you will find a host of books on alternative spirituality, spiritual experiences on offer. Just listen to a few celebrity quotes on religious spirituality:
D. Becham said “I want to baptize my son Brooklyn but I don’t know which religion as yet!”
Kylie Minogue said ‘The soul is the endlessness of our beings. The soul is infinite and were just passing through . I have lived before but I’m not very advanced in my series of lives. I’m not even in double figures.’
Drew Barrymore said ‘Either I am the reincarnation of my grandfather or he is in spiritual limbo and won’t pass on till he knows I’m okay.’
Angelina Jolie, said “There doesn’t need to be a God for me. There’s something in people that’s spiritual, that’s god like. I don’t feel like doing things just because people say things, but I also don’t really know if it’s better to just not believe in anything, either."
Madonna “The thought of eternal life appeals to me." “I hope by the time it’s my moment to leave this world physically, I’ll have gotten my head around the idea that life is an endless cycle.”
Britney Spears who grew up a Baptist said, "I read the Kabbalah books and I meditate on them ... They are all in Hebrew. I don’t understand everything. But it’s kind of OK that you don’t. ... Kevin isn’t into it as intensely as I am. For some reason I’m thirsting for it."
William Hague wrote about the Prime minister. “ Here is a professing Anglican who attends Roman Catholic services, but carries a copy of the Koran. The Prime Minister may be clear about himself, but he has managed to confuse the rest of us about the countries Identity. Daily Telegraph Article p 22 May 8th.