Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Commentary on Paul's Areopagus Address Part 2

Obese Disclaimer: This is a commentary by a roughly 2 1/2 year old Christian. Keep that in mind. I think of this blog as my online container of thoughts. I am open for correction as my "About" page explains. I'm not a professional theologian or philosopher, I'm a student. Having said that, please enjoy this post

23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you
24  The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,

In verse 23 we get the idea that Paul actually took his time to walk around the place, become familiar with it showing an actual interest in the Greeks and their culture. He didn't simply barge in the place and have an intellectual throwdown with them. It seems, from a reading of the text, that Paul took his time and observed things because he was interested, not to try and show intellectual authority. 

In verse 24 Paul began with natural theology. What is natural theology? Natural theology is a theology built from reason and ordinary experience or what I've heard others call "minimalist Christianity;" it's theology that is crafted from reason and ordinary experience instead of theology crafted from God's special revelation, i.e., the Bible. Paul began with God. The God who made the world and everything in it is Paul's starting point. Who created man? Who created the world? Who created the universe? Paul gave this title of "creator" to God. Paul is implying everything that begins to exist has a cause and said that cause is God. From this statement we learn that God is the Creator. 

Did Paul say that God is an aloof creator who created then left the universe to run its course built on the mechanisms he instituted? No not at all. Let's read on. Being Lord of heaven and earth implies, to me, that this creator is personal. He rules over His creation. He is the Sovereign of His creation. He didn't create it, build in laws for it to run by then leave it to go on to bigger and better things or whatever else interested Him. No. He is Lord of heaven and earth. He is involved with His creation. He is personal. If God was not personal He would not be the Lord of His creation.

Where does this God stay? Where is His throne if He is indeed Lord of heaven and earth? Paul said that God does not live in temples made by man. Paul is getting at what theologians and philosophers call the "incorporeality of God" which is to say that God is not a material being or object. Some say, which I agree, that God is of the order of mind, but I don't mean a brain which is a physical object; what I mean by mind is a self-conscious mental entity, not physical. I think that is what Paul was getting at also. God is omnipresent. If God was a physical being sitting on a physical throne then He could not be omnipresent. I don't think God's omnipresence is like what some theologians have described as a ether spreading through the universe, instead I think God's omnipresence is parallel to his omniscience or his "all-knowing" things. He knows precisely what is going on at all times in all of His creation.

So far, in Paul's address we have learned that God is the creator of all things, sovereign over all things and that He is omnipresent. 

Part 1 of the commentary here

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