Volume 19, Issue 1, 2019
Missiological Dimensions of Philosophy
St Paul, the Greek Philosophers and contact-point making (Acts 17:16-34)
This study demonstrates how and with what aim philosophy is received into the missionary activities of the apostles Paul and Luke as regards the Areopagitica in Acts 17. By an ingenious utilization of Greco-Roman learning and paideia, generally, and philosophy, particularly, Lukan Paul offers a context oriented cross-cultural model of preaching the kerygmatic word as of evangelization. A model for the inculturation of the power and meanings of the Gospel message is offered. In this a significant function is allocated to disciplined mindful reasoning, viz. philosophy. The author demonstrates the special ways in which contact-points are made, and common ground established, between the apostle Paul and Athenian philosophers. This allows him to observe that philosophy is endorsed by the primordial Church: both (a) as a dialectical (critical analytical) and rhetorical (persuasive oratorical) science-skill of addressing significant intellectual others and (b) as a faith-friendly mode of the Christian’s practice of philosophy. The author infers a number of conclusions regarding the substantial role that philosophy acquires within the early Church. Moreover, the Christian endorsement of philosophy as a missionary tool has its grounding in the apostolic Church and, consequentially, it has its grounding in the New Testament. In this way philosophy, utilized and re-functionalized by the apostles Paul and Luke themselves, in its special way, participates in the “authoritative establishment of tradition by means of apostolic origin”. The missionary model laid-out in Acts 17:16-34 has lasting value and needs to be continuously re-actualized: the same follows suit for a faith-conducive practice of philosophy.