Paul Answers the Five Most Basic Worldview Questions in Athens (Acts 17)

If you are unfamiliar with what worldview is…it is the underlying assumptions that we have formed that drive what we believe about the world. Some have called worldview the glasses we see the world through. Another way to look at it is our meta-narrative…the story that runs under all the other stories that we tell ourselves about who we are and what this life is all about. At the basis of worldview is understanding of what we can know about the most important questions of life. The five basic worldview questions that all world religions have answers for are:

  1. Where are we and what is this place like?
  2. Who are we and where are we going?
  3. What is the problem and what is right and wrong?
  4. What is the solution?
  5. How do we know?

These questions are so basic to human existence that Paul very naturally addresses them in his sermon to the Athenians in Acts 17:

  1. Where are we and what is this place like?
    1. 17:24 – God made the world and everything in it
  2. Who are we and where are we going?
    1. 17:26-28 – from one man made all nations…so we would seek him…in him we have life
  3. What is the problem and what is right and wrong?
    1. 17:29-31 – idolatry and sin in the world that God will no longer overlook. God will ultimately judge
  4. What is the solution?
    1. 17:30 – repent/turn and seek God, 17:31 – resurrection
  5. How do we know?
    1. 17:31 – “he has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead”

How would you answer those five questions?

4 Responses to Paul Answers the Five Most Basic Worldview Questions in Athens (Acts 17)

  1. I would add a question:
    6. Why are we here?
    a.17:27 – “that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.”

  2. Mark says:

    It is interesting that you bring this up. I know it I might seem overly simple, but things like this were never discussed in Sunday school or from the pulpit. As you said, all world religions have answers to these questions. Christianity did not want to discuss their answers.

  3. Jack Rivers says:

    I think that your comment is valid, and I believe that it highlights a problem that exists in some church groups. I believe that Christians need to do a better job of articulating in a clear manner their answers to the major questions that all religions seek to answer and explaining why they believe their answers to be the best.

    Perhaps one reason why some do not explain the key tenets of the Christian worldview on a regular basis in the church is because they assume that those in the church already understand them. Therefore, they might worry that doing so will seem redundant. However, I don’t think that this is the case. I think that the church is best served by frequent discussions of its worldview, and these discussions should be coupled with scripture-based examinations of the individual positions that the church holds. Also, I think that all members of the church should assume the responsibility not only to know these positions but also to be able to communicate in order to teach and defend the faith.

    With this being said, I realize that such teaching and expression of the Christian worldview isn’t always stressed in the church. I think that Christians, especially in the United States, have taken for granted that a certain degree of respect would be automatically given to the church for so long that many have gotten lazy and are lacking in their ability to explain the faith to others. I believe that we, as Christians, should strive to become better advocates, and I also believe that those who are seeking answers from the church should have the boldness to ask questions and to ask for better answers when the church’s responses are lacking.

  4. Mark says:

    Jack. Your last sentence about asking questions and for better answers leaves out the dislike of answering questions which is present in the church. Some of us got in trouble at home for asking questions at church because it was taken as disrespectful.

    Not many in the church these days understand the Christian worldview. Also, teaching and defending the faith is totally lacking. Most ministers don’t want to have to have to do this. Some of us wondered if seminaries even taught this to ministers. Why? Look, when I was in Sunday school, the minister taught the adult class out of a book which anyone could have done . He could have gone in to the class of high school students and taught them the faith, but it would have had to be approved by the management.

    I only saw one minister go in and teach the university class which had a lot of PhD candidates in it. That was actually good. He learned from us and we learned from him.

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