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Marketplace of Ideas

Areopostica & Mars Hill
Kerby Andersonnever miss viewpoints

When the Apostle Paul made it to Athens, he was able to present the Gospel to the Greek philosophers in a place known as the Areopagus. The Romans referred to it as “Mars Hill.” It was a place where various perspectives and ideas could be expressed. Today we call it the marketplace of ideas.

When I was in Athens, I was struck by the fact that you could see the Parthenon from this adjacent hill where Paul spoke to these philosophers about “the unknown God.” In fact, there is a plaque affixed to the hill that actually contains Paul’s message in Greek for all to read and consider.

Centuries later John Milton gave a famous speech known as the Areopagitica in which he defended the right of freedom of speech and expression. Those principles formed the basis for the modern justifications for free speech and a marketplace where various views and ideas can be expressed. The name of his speech was derived from the place where the Apostle Paul preached as recorded in Acts 17.

Following Milton were philosophers like John Locke and John Stuart Mill who expressed the idea of a marketplace of ideas. They understood that truth could only be discovered if all views and opinions were considered. They rejected the idea of censoring viewpoints and banning topics and perspectives from an open, robust discussion.

Why the brief history lesson? I do so to remind us of the long and valuable tradition of a marketplace of ideas. That is not what you find on very many college campuses today. That is not what you find in some social media platforms. The academic elite and the media elite are quick to censor divergent views (especially Christian views). I think it is time for them to go back and learn the history of providing a marketplace of ideas.

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Marketplace of Ideas

 
 
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