Monday, January 23, 2012

Wise or foolish?

1 Corinthians 1-2 is an important passage which discusses and contrasts the "wisdom of men" to the "wisdom of God" that is found in Christ. I feel that this passage is sometimes mis-interpreted and mis-applied to justify an anti-intellectualism and to argue against a positive role for apologetics.

Here are a few selections from the passage:

17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God... 
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom..
25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 

What is the context of the passage? What is the main point of the passage?

The context is the Corinthian church is divided about which leader to follow. Who is the best speaker? Who is the wisest? Who does the best baptisms? Paul is saying these are the wrong criteria for choosing a leader and the church should not be divided.

The main focus of the passage is on salvation, not on the role of the intellect in general. Salvation is found only by acknowledging our weakness and foolishness and casting ourselves upon Christ. We have nothing to boast about. Intellectual prowess does not help someone get saved. The world may scorn our humility as foolish and intellectually unsophisticated (or self demeaning).

For a Christian who has been saved in this "foolish" manner the passage does not imply they should scorn the intellectual riches of the secular world pertaining to matters other than salvation.

The passage does not mean that we should not use to our brains to reason and think about the riches of the Gospel.

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