I promise to not regularly use this new blog to name-drop my other projects, but some topics keep popping up that beg questions worth asking. As I continue to reflect on a popular mantras found within modern Christian culture and the ancient words of the Apostle Paul from “One” Corinthians (as certain presidential candidates might refer), this particular conversation has proven to be one of the trickiest to tackle in our latest book
In fact, just choosing how to illustrate this concept proved to be problematic. Do we illustrate the boy to encompass a sort of prideful willing ignorance that seems to be directly in line in the “Fool For Christ” bumper stickers, memes, and t-shirts? Or, do we show the sad truth as the pursuit of discovery, knowledge, and wisdom being squashed from another generation to make room for… Jesus?
As an “outsider” (apostate, heretic) there’s really no good way to address the issue of anti-intellectualism that seems pervasive within certain subgroups of Christian culture today. It’s a “momma’s cooking” sort of thing. That is to say, while many Christians proudly preach, write, sing, brag and high-five each other about being “fools for Christ,” the moment a secular person questions such a tenet of their faith, cries of persecution and attacks on religious freedom ring out.
For the record, I’m not only referring to scientific “wisdom” like particle physics, climate change, and evolution – I’m also talking about Christians startling lack of general knowledge of their own religion (one of the main reasons we began the Awkward Bible project in the first place).
I guess the big question is simply, why? Why would a god need to use trickery to obfuscate wisdom from the masses? Or, worse yet – why would a god require the acceptance of “foolishness” from their followers as a sign of faith and devotion? Is that really how an omnipotent god would choose his “team” for the big game? Even in my days of active full-time ministry, this notion of willful foolishness from the Apostle Paul rubbed me the wrong way and seemed quite counterproductive to the case for Christianity’s long-term survival [cognitive dissonance event: #1,837].
Today, as I read these passages from Paul, the forefather of the Christian church, I don’t think of grown men high-fiving each other at a church camping retreat, I think of what is being taught to their children in churches around the world today.
If you hear something often enough, you’ll start to believe it. Believe it long enough, you’ll start to act like it – a self-fulfilling prophecy. There should be no pride in willful ignorance and no child should be taught to proudly play the fool. (Ultimately, it was this realization that helped choose the boy’s emotion for the illustration for the book.)
What exactly must a Christian do in order to prove their foolishness to their master – walk down the street wearing a provocative smock – or – not wear any clothes at all? Or, as the Apostle Paul put it, is it enough to simply believe the “foolishness” of the message to begin with? Or, was Paul already at odds with Jesus’ own (contradictory) teaching on the matter of “fools?”
“Whosoever shall call another a fool shall be in danger of hell fire.” – Jesus (Matthew 5:22)
SPOILER: Of course, Jesus called lots of people “fools,” including his own disciples and pretty much anyone who didn’t agree with him. A few examples for your review: Matthew 23:17, Luke 11:40, Luke 24:25.
I’ll be saving my actual commentary on this subject for the next book (coming Easter 2016), but for now… I’d love to hear your thoughts and have a little conversation below.
[WARNING – Shameless self promotion ahead: In the mean time, our first two bestselling books are available! Just remember, don’t blame me – it’s in the Bible!]