In Acts Chapter 17, Paul went to speak to the counsel of philosophers in Athens. He said in verses 22 and 23, “People of Athens, I can see you are very religious in all things. As I was going through your city, I saw the objects you worship. I found an altar that had these words written on it: TO A GOD WHO IS NOT KNOWN. You worship a god that you don’t know, and this is the God I am telling you about.” In verses 27 and 28, Paul says, “God wanted them to look for him and perhaps search all around for him, though he is not far from any of us. By his power we live and move and exist. Some of your own poets have said: ‘For we are his children’. NCV Paul went on and continued to preach the Gospel of a resurrected Savior. At the conclusion of their discussion, some laughed at his assertion that a dead man can be resurrected, and others wanted to continue the discussion, while some actually joined him and became believers.
Paul is offering us a model for how we can have a dialogue with Hollywood. Paul did not go to Athens to condemn the counsel of philosophers. Paul’s purpose was to have a dialogue. What can we learn from Paul’s teaching? First, it serves nobody’s interest to condemn Hollywood, no matter what we think they have done or what they actually have done. Second, Paul traveled to Athens. Third, he started a dialogue with the counsel by saying, “Men of Athens, I notice you are very religious.” He acknowledged their unknown god. Fourth, he found common ground by stating that their unknown god was Paul’s God, the one true God, creator of heaven and earth. He quoted one of Athen’s poets, “we are his offspring”, and agreed that what they had written was true. Finally, Paul preached the Gospel. He pointed out that they had failed to acknowledge the unknown god as the one true God because they were continuing to worship idols, which were false gods.
It would be easy to overlook these verses as another Bible story. They offer profound implications on how we should interact with the entertainment and media industry. As with Athens, God is actively at work in Hollywood. All God requires is for the Body of Christ to be active participants. The men of Athens responded to Paul’s teaching. God’s presence was already working in the lives of the members of the counsel of philosophers. All that was needed was for someone to go to them and start a discussion. God’s plan has not changed nor has his strategy. Paul offers us a model that still works. He acknowledged their truths and their untruths and used both to fulfill God’s will. Just like Athens, God is at work in the lives of those in Hollywood. They are creating art that reflects both truth and untruth. God’s heart is to use both to fulfill his will and draw men to him.