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From Areopagus to Corinth (Acts 17:22–31; I Cor 2:1–5) A Study on the Transition from the Power of Knowledge to the Power of the Spirit

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How are we to understand Christian mission in our time? Is it the obedient response to the commission of his disciples by Jesus after his resurrection (Mt 28:18–20)? What should be the motivating power behind the mission of the church? Is it patterned on the conquest expeditions of the people of Israel narrated in the Old Testament? The long history of the mission of the church, especially as organized by the West, would give us such an impression. This approach has more the nature of exercising power over the other, the power of knowledge and the power of self to win over the other. From the time of the Roman Emperor, Constantine, this had been the pattern in the history of the western church. But times have changed and there is a real shift in the understanding of Christian mission in the context of religious pluralism. The Bible itself seems to support and substantiate this change of perspective of understanding mission as the operation of the power of the Spirit of God. Taking two New Testament writings, the Acts of the Apostles and the first Letter to the Corinthians as paradigms, the author tries to see how Paul first of all attempted to preach the gospel in Athens with the eloquence and wisdom of the Greeks and then changed his approach in Corinth to give centrality to the power of the Spirit of God. Although we may not argue for a historical sequence for this change of attitude in the case of Paul, applying new developments in biblical interpretation, we can still propose it as a trans-textual approach with a message for our time. The Word of God has within itself a dynamism to take on new meanings and new horizons of ideas through its encounter with new contexts in a pluralistic world.


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