Athens: Recommended Reading

On Sunday I spoke at ChristChurch London about how Paul communicated the gospel in the city of Athens in Acts 17. The talk contained a whirlwind overview of Greek Philosophy and culture, an analysis of Paul’s masterclass in contextualised communication, and what someone told me was their favourite ever bit of sermon application: watch more TV! (It was a bit deeper than that!)

If you fancy thinking further about any of the themes, here are a few books that I would recommend, which I have found helpful over the past year or so.

Luc Ferry’s Learning to Live is a good and relatively short introduction to the history of Philosophy. The chapters on the Greek Miracle and the Victory of Christianity over the Greeks were particularly helpful. You can check out my full review here.

Of if you’re after something a bit more in depth, Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy is a great resource that I regularly refer back to, but have never read through cover to cover.

J.K.A. Smith’s How (Not) to be Secular is a brilliant commentary on Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age. It is short, accessible, punchy and full of brilliant insights, which will help you understand the nature of secularism, and the role faith has to play in our secular age. Smith also demonstrates brilliantly how the arts express a longing for God in this haunted world, and he happens to quote a bunch of my favourite authors in the process!

If you want to get better at learning how to read culture, and in particular the longings expressed through film and TV, then Mike Cosper’s The Stories We Tell is a great book to check out. I read it about a year ago and have been meaning to write a review ever since… maybe I’ll get round to doing that at some point. But in short, it’s well worth a read!

And one final suggestion (an off-cut that I dropped from the sermon at the last minute due to lack of time!) Michel Faber’s novel, The Book of Strange New Things, for all its flaws, offered some interesting insights into the ‘incarnational’ approach to sharing the gospel. In many ways, it mirrored Paul’s own example in Athens in Acts 17 and is worth a read. You can check out my review here.


Image: Keeper of the Word by Fr Lawrence Lew O.P., used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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