Thursday, May 10, 2012

Gearing the message to the audience

Last night was the last unit of the Apologetics course. We looked at Acts 17 to see how the apostle Paul geared his message to his audience. There is quite a contrast to the approach he used with Jews in the synagogue in Thessalonica and the Greeks in the Aeropagus in Athens.

The course notes (by Andrew Reid) suggested some principles for an engaging presentation of the Gospel:
  • Develop an intimate knowledge of the thought world of the hearer
  • Utilise appropriate points of contact
  • Anticipate and speak to possible objections to the Gospel
  • Proclaim what God has done in Christ
  • Challenge the world view of the hearers
  • Explain what is involved in becoming a Christian
For example, in Thessalonica Paul's starting point was the Scriptures and his focus was showing that Jesus was the Messiah of the Old Testament. In contrast, in Athens Paul started with the local religious culture, did not make direct use of the Scriptures, and emphasized that God could be known, there is a Creator, and there is judgement.
It was also interesting to see the different responses to Paul's message, particularly in Thessalonica. Although he tried to reason with people the response of some was jealousy, mis-representation, violence, and legal action! Truth, reason, and dialogue is not everyones over-riding value!

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