Weekend Extra – Agnostic No More!

August 15, 2011 at 5:15 am Leave a comment


Agnostoi Theoi.  This was the inscription that graced one of a countless number of altars in the city of Athens in the first century.  It means, “To an unknown god.”  Theoi means “to god” and we get our word “agnostic” from the word agnostoi.  Though the Athenians of the first century built many altars to the gods they knew – Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Helios and, of course, Athena, the patron goddess of Athens – the Athenians wanted to leave no god un-worshipped.  And so they built an altar to a god they might have missed.

The Athenians were agnostic – at least when it came to the god for whom they had built this altar.  But the apostle Paul refuses to leave the Athenians content in their agnosticism.  He says:

What you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent. For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:23-24, 30-31)

“Your agnosticism,” Paul says, “is not acceptable.  The God you call ‘unknown’ is not unknown at all!  He has a name – Jesus Christ!”

Importantly, Paul also says this God has “made the world and everything in it” and “is the Lord of heaven and earth.”  Zeus was the god of the sky.  Poseidon was the god of the sea.  Hades was the god of the underworld.  Helios was the god of the sun.  Athena was the goddess of Athens.  Jesus is the God of…everything.  This makes Jesus far greater than any of these other gods.  Indeed, finally, all of these other gods are not only lesser, they are not even truly gods!  Paul says to the Athenians, “Men of Athens!  I see that in every way you are very religious” (Acts 17:22).  The Greek word for “very religious” is deisidaimon.  This word can have either a positive connotation, meaning “devotion,” or a negative connotation, meaning “superstition.”  Though Paul is probably appealing to the positive sense of the word out of courtesy, finally, the Greek pantheon of gods is nothing more than superstition – and a dangerous superstition at that.  The word deisidaimon contains the word daimon, the Greek word for “demon.”  Scripturally speaking, because there is only one true God (cf. Deuteronomy 6:4), all other gods are not gods at all, but demons.  It will not suffice, then, to be merely “religious,” worshipping whatever god may suit your fancy.  For there is only one true God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Every other god is a delusion of Satan.

This past weekend in worship Pastor Tucker spoke about the mission trip a group of seventy-seven Concordians took to Crownpoint, New Mexico, a Navajo Indian community nestled in the high hills of the desert Southwest.  On the bus ride there, one of our college studnets spent a good deal of time in conversation with one of our bus drivers who was very spiritually confused.  He spoke about everyone from Mohammed to Jesus as if they were all essentially the same.  The god he worshipped was not specific or defined, but unknown.  Blessedly, our student made known to him the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  He followed the lead of the apostle Paul.

How about you?  Will you follow the apostle’s example?  Our world is full of far too much agnosticism.  But people can be transformed from ambiguous agnostics to defined disciples of Christ by the gospel.  Make the gospel known to someone who needs to hear it!

Want to learn more? Go to
www.ConcordiaLutheranChurch.com
and check out audio and video from Pastor Tucker’s
message!

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