The Acts Chapter 17 mindset

The New Testament book of Acts, chapter 2, records St Peter preaching the first sermon in Christian church history. His Jerusalem audience understood him and many conversions resulted. But, in a way, Peter was “preaching to the choir;” his audience understood the Biblical meanings associated with his words.

But, not so when St Paul later spoke in Athens, Greece on Mars Hill. His audience was a mix of pagans and philosophers – the “intelligentsia of their day.” The interaction is recorded in Acts chapter 17. They could not (or would not) understand St Paul; they called him a “babbler.”

What survives to this day of the “Acts 17 audience mindset” is called rationalism. Rational derives from “ratio-maker;” they were calculators; mathematical determinists. If something could not be reduced to mathematics, then it was incalculable or irrational, not real! In this, they went far beyond “being reasonable.”

Greek thinkers had begun their search for truth by seeking “human-only” based knowledge, but rose above it when they encountered mathematics. This was superior to human-only knowledge, so mathematics and rationalism’s allure was their supposed status as unaided “human-independent” knowledge. As someone once said, “1 + 1 = 2 and the sum of the angles of a triangle always equals 180 degrees – and neither man nor ‘gods’ could change these.” And Plato said, “Should we not settle things by calculation, and so come to an agreement quickly.” This was an appeal to “human-independent” knowledge!

This reduced theism and polytheism to mythology; rationalism and atheism were the key to finding objective truth.

So, in the following several articles we examine the validity of unaided “human-independent” knowledge. Do rationalism and atheism falter at Romans 1:20: For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen …

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