As stated in the first post of this series, the apostles employed a wide variety of approaches as they proclaimed the gospel, and these approaches were both deeply personal and deeply informed. In this post, I want to address Paul’s gospel message in Acts 17:16-34. In doing so, I’m going to recommend a practice that John Piper generally recommends against.
Before continuing further, I want to state my respect for John Piper and for his clear desire for God’s glory to spread across the world. Desiring God transformed the way I approach the Father, and Don’t Waste Your Life is one of the forces God used in pushing us towards service abroad. At the same time, I disagree with Pastor Piper on his choice to avoid contemporary art forms (particularly film and television) in proclaiming God’s good news. For instance, in a recent posting, John Piper wrote:
I think relevance in preaching hangs very little on watching movies, and I think that much exposure to sensuality, banality, and God-absent entertainment does more to deaden our capacities for joy in Jesus than it does to make us spiritually powerful in the lives of the living dead. (“Why I Don’t Have a Television and Rarely Go to Movies”)
I want to say that I completely agree with him on the first point–relevance in preaching indeed hangs very little on watching movies. In fact, it hangs much more on studying movies. Unfortunately, Piper presents a popular false dilemma and a more popular straw man. I hope to show that Paul’s evangelism in Acts 17:16-34 proves these to be incorrect.