The Areopagus: “A Conversation about Faith in the Public Square”

In the coming months, Trinity will sponsor a new series of public presentations intended to foster discussion about the nature of faith in the contemporary world and the exercise of faith in today’s culture. This series takes its name from the place where Paul proclaimed the gospel in Athens, and thus reminds us of our need to find new ways of proclaiming the gospel to those among whom we live and work.

In the books of Acts, the apostle Paul engages in debate in the synagogues, in the marketplace, and in the schools of the city. At the invitation of the assembled citizens, Paul presents his message. He takes his stand before the crowd and calls out, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way! For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you!” When the crowd had heard Paul’s message, “some scoffed,” but others said, “We will hear you again about this,” and still others “became believers” (Acts 17.16-34).

The location where Paul is said to have delivered his speech is the Areopagus, also known as “Mars Hill” (after the Greek phrase “Areios Pagos,” or “rock of Ares”). Paul’s speech at the Areopagus has for centuries provided a model for the church as to how to proclaim the gospel in the midst of a people for whom the gospel is foreign or unknown.

The Areopagus series at the Cathedral will likewise provide members of Trinity and the wider community with opportunities to reflect on issues having to do with civic society and the common good, the maintenance of a flourishing culture, and the public exercise of religious faith.

The spring season of the Areopagus series will include five presentations, one each month. The theme for the spring season is “virtue.” The schedule for these presentations will be as follows:

January 27 - What is Virtue?
Jennifer Frey
Assistant Professor of Philosophy at USC

February 24 - The Sources of Virtue
Erin Roberts
Associate Professor of Religion at USC

March 24 - Sacred and Secular Virtue
Jonathan Reibsamen
Assistant Professor of Philosophy at CIU

April 28 - Violence in the Name of Virtue
Andrew Grosso
Canon to the Dean at Trinity Cathedral

May 19 - Retrieving Virtue
Christopher Tollefsen
Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at USC

Schedule of Events (all events are in Satterlee Hall):

5:00 pm: Welcome Reception
5:10 pm: Presentation
5:40 pm: Small-group Discussion
5:50 pm: Debriefing and conclusion

All are welcome to attend Choral Evensong before the presentation at 4:00 pm and/or Holy Eucharist after the presentation at 6:00 pm.