John A. Braun
Psalm 14 begins, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ ” The atheist is a fool? God thinks so. The evaluation is repeated in Psalm 53.
Such judgmental pronouncements, however, are not welcome in our world. And from the perspective of atheists, of course, it’s not true. They would think of Christians as fools. For the atheist, nothing exists but what can be proven, observed, and documented. Science is the standard of what is and what is not. Believing in God and especially trusting in a crucified and resurrected Savior make Christians fools. The message of the cross is just so much foolishness to the world’s wise and intelligent (1 Corinthians 1:23).
If you do any reading of atheistic thought, it doesn’t take very long to hear the utter disdain for religious people who accept the concept of God. Their view of God may be that he is a cruel jerk who promises a boring existence in heaven. I’ve read that assessment by one atheist. He discards all ideas of such a god. But the god he rejects was created according to his own intellectual assumptions. Of course, he would object to my critique. To his way of thinking, I am a fool and accept foolish things.
Reading some of their literature means reading claims of their superior intellect and a belittling of anyone who thinks differently. Those who accept the concept of God are naïve, superstitious, and deluded. Some have even concluded that the “religious” are social misfits who need a crutch to get through life. It’s a kind of arrogance and superiority that borders on intellectual bullying. In effect it comes across as, “You are not as smart as I am because I don’t believe in God.”
What makes this so frustrating is that the human mind is an amazing organ. The contributions of great minds over the course of human history is long and impressive. Beginning with the simple wheel down to the latest discoveries in all scientific fields, the list is nothing short of amazing. Who knows how much more there is yet to come? I confess to meeting and talking with men and women who surpass my intellectual gifts.
While I marvel at those accomplishments, I do not measure things by human standards that are limited and changeable only to deny that God does not exist. One silent and relentless witness to the limitations of human thinking is that every one of us grows old and deteriorates. Atheists too. Intelligent. Poor. Cognitively limited. I wonder if that’s one of the reasons “The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them” (Psalm 2:4).
“Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20). God’s thoughts and God’s ways are higher than mine or any of the greatest minds the world has ever seen or will ever see. Our human standards are too small to judge him, our human thought too limited to contain his thoughts. Profound humility in the face of God is an appropriate response and cancels any arrogant bravado.
Who would have ever imagined that God would send his Son to endure crucifixion for those who could not even grasp his greatness? That’s foolish to atheists and most of the intellectual world around us. But “the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength” (1 Corinthians 1:25).
Lent beckons us again. Be bold in trusting God’s foolishness in Christ crucified. Remember God’s critique of those without God, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ ”
John Braun is executive editor of Forward in Christ magazine.
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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 104, Number 3
Issue: March 2017
Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2017
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