From Giertz, Then Fell the Lord's Fire.
"Paul does not always connect to folk religion. From Athens he goes to Corinth Here he says himself that he will know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified, just that which folk religion doesn't know about. It has been suggested that this was because of the experience in Athens, and that from this one can determine that the chief lesson we should learn from this is not to attempt to find any connection in natural revelation before preaching the Gospel.
This lesson will hardly to. Acts does not put forward Paul's preaching at the Aeropagus as an example of what not to do. It is an example of when it is right to make such a connection. But one shall then do as Paul. One goes into the human situation and lets them recognize themselves in his example in his searching, but at the same time draws up lines between what is right and what is false in the folk religion's conventional and imaginary solution to then bring forward the full weight and determination of the message from the Unknown, the Gospel of Jesus Christ." (p. 205)
Knowing only Christ crucified vs. knowing also the local folk religion, or situation, or politics, or philosophy, or needs... There is not really a contradiction here, as Giertz is trying to show.
Someone told me recently "Know Thy Enemy". I did not understand it at the time. I don't view people as enemies, but I have had several now that I am getting older. But basically, I am very naive, I don't view people as enemies, nor discussions as one-up-man-ship, or empathize with the psychology of what they call "pissing-contests", call it what you will. Maybe it's the female, maybe I am deceiving myself, maybe it's true, or maybe some of all of that...
But the local folk religion, the pervailing politics and philosophy, our own sinful flesh, death and the devil... they are our enemies. We need to know them. Know thyself. Know that the devil is prowling around seeing whom he may devour. Just like I need to keep a weary eye on my on daily foibles and check them the best I can, we need to keep an eye on the culture, on what seems intuitive but isn't true, on my "inner light" which might actually be darkness. All of these can be our enemies. We need to know them if we want to bring something new to them.
If we want to know only Christ crucified, we need to know why we need a Christ crucified and how he is different from other gods and the idols of self-seeking and our own insatiable desires. The theology of the cross is not the theology of glory which we like by nature and are drawn to by nature. We need something that contradicts this natural drawing to self-satisfaction. The Gospel will not be "relevant" if the problem is not understood. Natural religion tells us thing about ourselves and our world which are true to some extent but it also leaves us in the dark.
See also today's post about the conscience here.
Mark Twain, Sagebrush, a Camel, and Miracles
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