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"These Times of Ignorance"

Acts 17:16ff finds the apostle Paul encountering some of the most brilliant people of his day in ancient Athens- the intellectual center of the world at that time. Acts 17:21 informs us that the learned men and women of Athens were information junkies who "spent there time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing." But in spite of the impressive accumulation of human brain power and philosophical ingenuity in Athens there was one subject on which they were woefully ignorant- God. Verse 23 informs us that Paul found an altar with the inscription- "TO THE UNKNOWN GOD." After commenting on their vain efforts to know and worship God through idols of gold, silver, stone and things "shaped by art and man's devising" (verse 29), Paul stated tersely, "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent." In a striking phrase Paul describes the brilliant people of his and earlier days who did not know God as "these times of ignorance."

Could the phrase "these times of ignorance" describe our own times? Will Rogers once noted, "Everyone is ignorant, only on different subjects." How many brilliant men and women are ignorant of God? Some have bought into the notion that a brain stuffed full of scientific facts and empirical data is automatically educated. But the apostle Paul says in Romans 1:22 about people in the first century: "Professing to be wise, they became fools." He doesn't mean they suddenly forgot everything science and research and education had taught them. He means that in spite of all their vaunted advances in thinking and education, they chose to be ignorant of God. In each generation some of the most brilliant people on earth are also some of the most ignorant of God. In college classrooms, brilliant but atheistic professors use eight and nine syllable words trying to explain the origin of man in purely materialistic terms without reference to God. Others who have brains stuffed full of empirical facts and data use their bodies in immoral ways that deny and dishonor God. Human history testifies with one voice- societies that don't know God will soon find themselves valuing things more than God or people, and also find their moral and spiritual values deteriorating. Theodore Roosevelt once said, "To educate a person in the mind but not the morals is to educate a menace to society." Many things are menacing our society these days. Almost all of them can be traced to minds ignorant of God. Do you really know God?

by Dan Gulley
Smithville Church of Christ