So, far we have looked at the Mars Hill debate as Paul's attempt to help people who believe in a (set of) god(s) to believe in The (One, True) God, with a view to helping these same (influential) persons come to make The God their God. The progression is from a to The to my.
We said Paul's presentation is confrontational, apologetic and evangelistic. He is purposeful in presentation and intends to come to a saving end.
There are one or two more things we ought to say before we leave Mars Hill. In order, we ought o say:
- Even in the matter of redemption, one ought not to leave the work of God as Creator, Acts 17:24. One could spend a lifetime considering creation, either as a myth or scientific fact. In short, creation means: God intends man, so man is not coincidental; God has a purpose for man, so life (even brief life) has meaning; in creation, death is temporary and life is durable, so God's creation gives life hope. On Mars Hill, Paul is speaking to persons who do not share his Jewish world view. When he speaks it is to give essentials. No one laughs at him when he talks about creation, as they do when he gets to resurrection life. Man consistently inspects his life, to see if he has meaning or not in his existence. Man can be approached at this point.
- Even in redemption, one can speak about the unity of man, such as it is, Acts 17:26,27. While human experience mitigates against the notion of brotherhood, there are some ways all men are alike. All of us live on this planet and so have a stake in the continued existence of man. All of us treasure our children's future in some way, to some extent. All of us have a sin problem. All of us need God.
- Even in redemption, we might be able to point to an end time, an eschaton, Acts 17:31. There are numerous schools of thought about the end time; all agree on its inevitability. In addition, all agree on a settlement of accounts, a final reward for good and punishment of evil, a lasting veneration of the Christ as His earthly ministry is validated in a heavenly context before men on earth. People like to know the end from the beginning and can be approached from this viewpoint.
IN redemption, we can present a God who is creator, unifier and final finisher of faith. The religious answer to life's important questions is at least as valid as any other. We ought to present it with equal force.