Fools

DuncecapThe fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.
—Psalms 14:1 ESV

The English Standard Version translation shows 202 verses in the Bible that contain some variation of the root word fool. Reading those verses makes it evident that the world is filled with fools and folly.

Indeed, we are all fools in wisdom and knowledge when compared against God.

But some don’t get this. And they don’t comprehend it because they have no humility. If anything, they exult in their foolishness:

Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
—Proverbs 28:26 ESV

Claiming to be wise, they became fools…
—Romans 1:22 ESV

I’m tired of foolish talk. Sadly, we live in an age when the people babbling on like fools are most likely viewed as wise by most of the world. I see a lot of scientists who get face time in the media prattling on with foolish and desperate theories about this and that, and it’s clear after a while that the one thing you can say most assuredly about their views is that they desperately want God to vanish. Fact is, God doesn’t care what they think because such people are fools, no matter how many letters and titles they stack before and after their names.

The really sad part about that is almost all of Western science is based on the ideas of scientists who were Christians, or at least who ascribed to a Christian worldview. In fact, because the Christian faith is one of the only ones that contends that God is both knowable and understandable and the creator of an ordered world that reflects His knowability and understandability, science is even made possible. What would be the point of examining a capricious world built on the whims of an unknowable God or on the ruthlessness of a random world? No, that science exists at all is because God Is, God Was, and God Will Ever Be.

But then, the fool can’t begin to comprehend that truth. Somehow, the fool thinks that faith and science can’t co-exist or that science alone can answer all the questions of life. Which forces us to ask, in the end, who then is the truly close-minded?

I listen to a lot of discussions between atheists and theists, and the one thing that never fails to strike me is that for all their learning, the atheists never seem to know all that much. Their arguments are remarkably simpleminded, and when people of faith bring up the slightest aspect of what it means to live by faith, the atheist seems baffled by such reasoning.

But then, atheists are just people who are unable to admit they are sinners and that their thoughts are futile and packed with one sinful idea after another, and isn’t it easier to justify all that mental futility and wickedness by erasing God? For intellectual cowards, yes, that may be true, but not for sober people who look at life with any seriousness.

I’m not surprised that people try to erase God as a means to justify their immoral lifestyles, though. A recent scientific study shows that many people are unable to morally reason from the perspective of someone whose beliefs differ from theirs. In most cases it is people who hold more “liberal” attitudes about life who cannot grasp the thinking of more conservative people, though the reverse is demonstrably not the case.  While this is not intended as a political statement, it nonetheless shows that an incapacity to grasp some moral truths does exist in people, especially those who proclaim their “enlightenment.” In that same way, the Bible says that issues of faith are foolishness to many. Things of the Spirit are incomprehensible to them:

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
—1 Corinthians 2:12-14 ESV

We live in an age when spiritual discernment is at an all-time low. Our leaders talk all sorts of lofty ideas, but they cannot bring themselves to talk about God or anything related to Him because they don’t know Him. In the end, their wisdom is actually foolishness, and that foolishness is blasted out for everyone to see and hear and receive as “wisdom” when it is anything but.

Sadly, some who self-identify as faithful are just as foolish. Many people who parade themselves as Christians are peddling fear instead of faith. That’s foolishness, too, and yet those hucksters are able to gather around them a sycophantic horde and sell millions of books that do nothing but stir the pot of fear.

In the midst of all these fools, what does God ask of us? It’s pretty simple actually:

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
—Micah 6:8 ESV

Fools can do none of those things. Only the wise can acknowledge that, without Jesus Christ, we are all fools.

by Dan EdelenComments (0)

The Evangelical Burying of Good Friday

'The Crucifixion' by Matthias Grünewald (detail of the Isenheim Alterpiece)With Holy Week now concluded, I was pondering what appears to be the demise of the local Good Friday service in my community. It used to be that the local churches near my little town would combine to host a Good Friday service, but I heard nothing about it this year. The large (for our area) Pentecostal church of which I am a member does not hold its own Good Friday service, but we did host the traveling community service now and then.

Having grown up in the Lutheran Church, which firmly places Good Friday among the most “holy” dates of the year, the day retains great meaning for me. Since leaving that denomination, I’ve wandered through more traditionally evangelical churches. Almost universally, those evangelical churches have had an indifferent relationship with Good Friday. Scant few held their own Good Friday meeting, and if they did, it always felt more haphazard than those I was used to in the Lutheran Church.

Over the years, even those evangelical churches that DID have a Good Friday meeting seem to have let it slide into oblivion.

I talked with a Roman Catholic last Good Friday evening and we tried to come up with some reason for the evangelical burying of Good Friday, but we came to no good conclusions.

As much as some evangelicals talk about the cross, Good Friday for them is a curious nonevent. And I have no idea why.

Do you have an answer as to why Good Friday has gone missing? What are your thoughts on the downgrade of Good Friday among evangelicals? Have you noticed the date sliding into oblivion in your church or community? Why do think this may be happening (or not happening, depending on your local situation)?

I miss celebrating Good Friday together with other believers. Though I no longer consider myself an evangelical, the majority of my Christian life has been spent in evangelical churches, and I don’t see that changing. I hope someone in evangelicalism starts working to place Good Friday in its proper context for the 21st century.

by Dan EdelenComments (17)

When Everything Sad Becomes Untrue

Toward the finale of The Return of the King, after Frodo and Samwise have cast the evil ring into the molten core of Mount Doom, an exhausted Sam, recovering from his ordeal, awakes to the face of Gandalf.

“Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?”

A great Shadow has departed,” said Gandalf, and then he laughed and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days upon days without count.”

Everything sad is going to come untrueYesterday, I attended the visitation of an old neighbor from an old neighborhood, the one in which I experienced some of the sweetest days of my life. Joe had suffered through dementia for years, and the family of six boys with whom we played football in our backyards felt a sense of relief for their dad. Shirley, his wife, did too. She said it was a blessing that all this happened during Holy Week. Even in that sad time, there remained hope that everything sad is going to come untrue.

The passion of Jesus marks the high, holy days of the Christian Church. And they are holy because they mark the beginning of the answer asked by a beloved fictional character.

In the cross of Jesus, everything sad begins its journey toward untruth. The lie of who we were in sin is replaced by the truth of who we are in Christ. The great shadow over us has been removed.

In the resurrection of Jesus, sadness takes a further step toward being untrue. Death no longer holds the victory. Christ triumphed over it. When we are in Christ, so will we be victorious. And there will be no second death.

In the ascension of Jesus, sadness declines yet again, as the promise is of Christ’s return. In that return, we understand that sadness will be swallowed up in truth, and that tear-filled eyes will no longer be so, that no one will want for anything, and that all our crushed dreams will live again.

And sadness will be untrue forever.

In this week of recalling Jesus’ betrayal, death, and resurrection, we understand that the world has changed, because Jesus made it so.

Jesus can change your world, if you lay aside your life and let Him give you His. All you have to do is ask Him.

by Dan EdelenComments (1)

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