Posts Tagged ‘Fools’

I am a great and sublime fool. But then I am God’s fool, and all His works must be contemplated with respect.” ― Mark Twain ―

Aristotle was an ancient Greek philosopher and scientist who lived from 384 – 322 BC. He studied for 20 years at the legendary Academy in Athens under its celebrated founder, Plato. After Plato’s death around 348 BC, Aristotle left the Academy and returned to his native Macedonia where he would later tutor the young Alexander the Great. In 335 BC he traveled once again to Athens, establishing his own school at the Lyceum. Like Socrates and Plato, Aristotle is considered one of the great intellectuals of Western history. I am neither fan nor follower of ancient Greek philosophers, but I did come across a quote from Aristotle which I found intriguing,

“The best form of philosophy is the contemplation of the universe of nature; it is for this purpose that God made human beings and gave them a godlike intellect. All else—strength, beauty, power, and honor—is worthless.” – Aristotle

Aristotle was a monotheist. He believed in the existence of one God who is eternal, and separate from the natural world (his creation). Aristotle also believed that we should all contemplate God. He supposed this to be the purpose for which God (the creator) made human beings and gave them a godly intellect. To Aristotle, contemplation of the creator and the universe of nature (His creation) was the supreme objective. To focus on the creature is insignificant by comparison. It seems that Aristotle believed that man was best served in this life through contemplating the thoughts of God. That’s quite an observation for a pagan.

So, if God is the creator of all things and nature (creation) is His reflection, why does humanity struggle with acceptance of the Almighty?

The New Testament writer Paul said,

18-21Now the holy anger of God is disclosed from Heaven against the godlessness and evil of those men who render truth dumb and inoperative by their wickedness. It is not that they do not know the truth about God; indeed he has made it quite plain to them. For since the beginning of the world the invisible attributes of God, e.g. his eternal power and divinity, have been plainly discernible through things which he has made and which are commonly seen and known, thus leaving these men without a rag of excuse. They knew all the time that there is a God, yet they refused to acknowledge him as such, or to thank him for what he is or does. Thus they became fatuous in their argumentation, and plunged their silly minds still further into the dark. (Romans 1:18-21 – J.B. Phillips New Testament)

Interesting. Paul argues that mankind has always known that there is a God but simply refuses to acknowledge him as such.  He points to the natural world as proof of the Gods’ eternal power and divinity. So, it appears that ol’ Aristotle had a point; contemplating the universe of nature is indeed wise. It will lead you to God. The humanistic pursuits of mankind (strength, beauty, power, honor, and everything else) are of little worth by comparison. Paul went on to further accuse the God deniers,

25-26a These men deliberately forfeited the truth of God and accepted a lie, paying homage and giving service to the creature instead of to the Creator, who alone is worthy to be worshiped for ever and ever, amen. God therefore handed them over to disgraceful passions… (Romans 1:25-26a – J.B. Phillips New Testament)

Instead of believing what they knew was the truth about God, the deniers deliberately chose to believe lies. They became worshipers of the creature (humanists) rather than the creator (GOD) who made all things.

Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” ― Plato

The ancient Greeks had a word that I believe is perfect for describing this extreme pride or self-confidence which would lead a person to forfeit the truth of God. The word is hubris.

The meaning of this word has changed somewhat over time. Today hubris can be defined as overconfidence, pride and arrogance. While often associated with a lack of humility, hubris does not presuppose a lack of knowledge. Hubris is presumption that leads to a disregard of the divinely fixed parameters for mankind.

Simply refusing to acknowledge the existence of God (Atheists) has no effect whatsoever on reality. God exists. If you don’t like it, then you can go to hell. (I mean, Hell is where you will spend eternity if you refuse to believe.) Modern philosophies and the opinions of those blinded by hubris are meaningless since God has allowed their silly minds to plunge still further into the dark. Let’s cut to the chase—the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall ― Proverbs 16:18

Hubris also gives birth to genuine fools who are defined in the Book of Psalms:

14 “That man is a fool who says to himself, “There is no God!” Anyone who talks like that is warped and evil and cannot really be a good person at all.” (Psalm 14:1 TLB)

Well, that about sums it up. You don’t believe in God? You are a fool.

“Oh my, he is so rude.  So intolerant.  He said people who don’t believe in God are fools. I am offended. This is a hate crime. How dare you! I don’t like this at all. You Christians are the fools. You have no right to say these things. I demand you apologize immediately.”

Sorry. No can do. And besides, I didn’t say it anyway. I quoted a verse from the scriptures. It is not my opinion. It is a statement of Biblical fact. If you do not like it, well, that’s between you and God. Don’t shoot the messenger.

The heart of a fool is in his mouth, but the mouth of a wise man is in his heart.” ― Benjamin Franklin

Listen to what Paul wrote in his letter to the Christians who lived in the ancient city-state of Corinth (then located on the isthmus of Corinth, roughly halfway between Athens and Sparta.)

18”I know very well how foolish it sounds to those who are lost, when they hear that Jesus died to save them. But we who are saved recognize this message as the very power of God. 19 For God says, ‘I will destroy all human plans of salvation no matter how wise they seem to be, and ignore the best ideas of men, even the most brilliant of them.’

20 So what about these wise men, these scholars, these brilliant debaters of this world’s great affairs? God has made them all look foolish and shown their wisdom to be useless nonsense. 21 For God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never find God through human brilliance, and then he stepped in and saved all those who believed his message, which the world calls foolish and silly. 22 It seems foolish to the Jews because they want a sign from heaven as proof that what is preached is true; and it is foolish to the Gentiles because they believe only what agrees with their philosophy and seems wise to them. 23 So when we preach about Christ dying to save them, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it is all nonsense.

24 But God has opened the eyes of those called to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, to see that Christ is the mighty power of God to save them; Christ himself is the center of God’s wise plan for their salvation. 25 This so-called ‘foolish’ plan of God is far wiser than the wisest plan of the wisest man, and God in his weakness—Christ dying on the cross—is far stronger than any man.” (1 Corinthians 1:25 – J.B. Phillips New Testament)

Perhaps I seem like a fool to you. Ignorant. Narrow-minded. An intolerant bigot. I have heard these and a hundred more pejoratives a thousand times before. For the record, I love all people.  If it’s legal, I don’t care what you do.  I am not your judge.  But, I will concede – I am a Fool. And the great Apostle Paul – the biggest fool of all. He said so, listen,

9-13”I sometimes think that God means us, the messengers, to appear last in the procession of mankind, like the men who are to die in the arena. For indeed we are made a public spectacle before the angels of Heaven and the eyes of men. We are looked upon as fools, for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in the Christian faith. We are considered weak, but you have become strong: you have found honor, we little but contempt. Up to this very hour we are hungry and thirsty, ill-clad, knocked about and practically homeless. We still have to work for our living by manual labor. Men curse us, but we return a blessing: they make our lives miserable but we take it patiently. They ruin our reputations but we go on trying to win them for God. We are the world’s rubbish, the scum of the earth, yes, up to this very day.”  (1 Corinthians 4:9-13 – J.B. Phillips New Testament)

Yes, I am proudly a fool for the sake of the liberator Jesus. I make no apologies for his message to mankind. I will broker no denial of the core message of Christianity: Jesus is the only way to reconcile with the creator of all things (God).

Foolish? Perhaps to you it is.

But again, I am a fool for Jesus Christ.

The real question is, whose fool are you?

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.

I was sitting in a restaurant having lunch in mixed company when someone asked, “What is your candid opinion of our current president.” I paused for a moment and then replied, “He is smart and very persuasive, but he is also a fool”. Reaction was swift. “Don’t you think that is rather harsh? How disrespectful. You must be tea party or a right wing conservative republican.” Honestly, my response to the question was not politically motivated. Observant scrutiny over an extended period of time has shaped my view. The President and for that matter many of the political and social elite of our day behave foolishly. I did try to clarify my position. But when things went from bad to worse, I politely changed the subject.

Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something. Plato

Let me explain. I read the Bible. In its pages I have discovered many things. I encountered the real Jesus by reading the scriptures (not the one so often presented by structured religion). He is a remarkable teacher. Through Him, I found the path to a genuine life – now and forever. Over many years of study, I also came to understand the true meaning of the word fool.

In the Old Testament Book of Jeremiah, the prophet laments over the condition of his people and the great nation that he loved. Through tears he said,

19”My heart, my heart—I writhe in pain! My heart pounds within me! I cannot be still. For I have heard the blast of enemy trumpets and the roar of their battle cries. 20 Waves of destruction roll over the land, until it lies in complete desolation. Suddenly my tents are destroyed; in a moment my shelters are crushed. 21 How long must I see the battle flags and hear the trumpets of war? (Jeremiah 4:19-21 TLB)

Jeremiah recognized the negative spiritual and social changes of his day and the destructive consequences those changes were bringing down upon the land. And so he asks of God,

21”How long must I see the battle flags and hear the trumpets of war?”

The Lord gives no direct answer to his question. Instead God states the cause of Judah’s calamity,

22 “My people are foolish and do not know me,” says the Lord. “They are stupid children who have no understanding. They are clever enough at doing wrong, but they have no idea how to do right!” (Jeremiah 4:22 – TLB)

The people of Jeremiah’s times had effectively become deniers of the one true God. They had sown wind and now they were reaping the whirlwind. But here’s the troubling part, this rejection of God and His ways is happening in our time too – right now – all over the world. If you don’t believe me, just look with discernment at modern politics, entertainment and popular culture. They are swarming with fools who do not know God. And even those who profess to “believe in God” often act like “stupid children who have no understanding. …no idea how to do right!”

31”It is a fearful (formidable and terrible) thing to incur the divine penalties and be cast into the hands of the living God!” Hebrews 10:31

Decades of ignoring God has accelerated our societal downward spiral. As human acts of wickedness, deception and defiance accumulate, the truth is hidden or distorted. Even so, whenever sincere men and women open their eyes and look around, they can find God. There is this God imprint on every human soul and each atom of creation reflects His reality. Hence, no human being has a legitimate excuse for denying God. The New Testament Apostolic writer Paul expressed it this way,

18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, evil men who push the truth away from themselves. 19 For the truth about God is known to them instinctively; God has put this knowledge in their hearts. 20 Since earliest times men have seen the earth and sky and all God made, and have known of his existence and great eternal power. So they will have no excuse when they stand before God at Judgment Day. 21 Yes, they knew about him all right, but they wouldn’t admit it or worship him or even thank him for all his daily care. And after a while they began to think up silly ideas of what God was like and what he wanted them to do. The result was that their foolish minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming themselves to be wise without God, they became utter fools instead. (Romans 1:18-22 – TLB)

Foolish minds filled with darkness? Men and women who think up silly ideas of what God is like and what he wants them to do? Yes, that is what Paul said. “Claiming to be wise without God, they became utter fools instead.” No wonder the Psalmist declared,

53 Only a fool would say to himself, “There is no God.” And why does he say it? Because of his wicked heart, his dark and evil deeds. His life is corroded with sin.” (Psalm 53:1 – TLB)

You’ll find these fools among politicians, universities professors, Hollywood superstars, even friends and family. Because of a conscience corroded by sin, they cannot separate right from wrong. Some may feign Spirituality, and even speak of God with platitudes, but their foolish hearts are far from Him. Consequently, by their actions they proclaim “I do not know God”. Thus, they are fools. I was once that kind of fool. But God, in His amazing Grace, opened my foolish eyes and let me see the wretched man that I am without Him. And even though I still may act foolishly on occasion, I am not a fool. I know God. I know the liberator Jesus Christ. I know that His absolute truth trumps all of the wisdom of mankind. Of course, it’s your right to disagree with me. Call me crazy if it will make you feel any better. Laugh in my face. But, I will not argue the point any further with you. Why? For the same reason I politely changed the subject in the restaurant that day:

4”Don’t respond to the stupidity of a fool; you’ll only look foolish yourself.” (Proverbs 26:4 – MSG)

I rest my case.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.