Check your posture
18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers … took [Paul] and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.”
- from Acts 17:18-20
The Epicurean and Stoic philosophers found Paul fascinating. His beliefs were so different from theirs. They wanted to hear what he had to say.
Paul had been talking about the resurrection of Jesus and the gospel salvation that Jesus brings. This sounded completely foreign to the ears of these philosophers. Epicureans believed intensely in both materialism (the idea that the physical world is all that exists) and that the purpose of life was to experience pleasure. The Stoics would have challenged their Epicurean friends, claiming that living a life of virtue in harmony with Nature mattered more than anything else.
Paul’s claims about Jesus challenged the materialism of the Epicureans and the “salvation” narrative of the Stoics. But they wanted to hear more.
All too often our conversations across religious divides devolve into petty arguments. We stop listening. We stop learning. We stop loving. The engaged posture of these pagan philosophers puts hope in our hearts that true connections can be made across religious lines. Wouldn’t that be beautiful?
What is your posture toward other religions and spiritualties? What steps can you take to learn, to listen, and to love?
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