Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

The Wisdom of God


Scripture says God has made the wisdom of the world foolishness.  It is as if he’d rather we didn’t use reason.  No debate, no wisdom seeking.  Remain as sheep willing to follow.  

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. For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

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? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
                                                          ~1 Corinthians 1:18-25

This is why for so long I didn’t seek wisdom outside of scripture.  Some speak of scripture, tradition and reason.  Clearly this scripture above slams any tradition or reason that isn’t in keeping with the wisdom of God.  Where does that wisdom come from?  I had been taught that the wisdom of God came from scripture.  What is tradition if it is not an outflow of what is taught in scripture?  Before someone comments that there were followers before there was a Bible, I will say there was scripture before there were followers.  Certainly not the Bible as we know it, but scripture nonetheless.  What scripture, then, did the Bereans search daily to see for themselves if Paul was right in his teaching?

Where does tradition come from?  Where does tradition go?  If the scriptures of the New Testament were not penned before there were followers, where did scripture come from?  It came from those followers observing tradition.  They wrote that tradition.  That is the New Testament.  Not all off tradition, of course.  But does your tradition negate scripture?  I’m thinking not.  Those early followers wrote that tradition, the essentials of it, down for future generations.

Perhaps they didn’t write it sooner because they thought Christ would be returning in their lifetime, so what would be the need?  When they realized that wouldn’t happen they thought they’d better make a record of it.

At any rate scripture plainly says that the wisdom of this world is foolishness.  And that is why I didn’t seek it.  That is why I accepted the creation account at face value.  That is why I continued to accept all of scripture as literal and inerrant.  That is why I rationalized genocide, slavery and oppression.  That is why I left my own reasoning where God was concerned behind.


20 thoughts on “The Wisdom of God

  1. I've met several fundamentalist Christians who used scriptural inerrancy as a trump card in arguments. Whenever scripture clashed with science or ethics, scripture always trumped them because it was supposedly the word of the Almighty.As you said, this causes some fundamentalists to shun information from the outside world, since they believe that the Bible has all the answers. Such willful ignorance closes them off from so much knowledge and wonder, and it's a shame. Kudos for breaking out of that worldview.


  2. Dear DMA, I started a comment here, but I turned my comment to you into its own article on my site. Thanks for the inspiration.I am still working on the article I told you about earlier. It is actually on a topic that is very difficult for me to write about, but I will hopefully have it up soon.


  3. Ahab said:"Such willful ignorance closes them off from so much knowledge and wonder, and it's a shame."I have always marveled at sunrises and sunsets. I think they're absolutely breathtaking. I thought, "If that is God's throw rug, where He puts His feet, I wonder what the throne room looks like!". When I accepted the fact that God didn't literally speak them into being I wondered if I'd still marvel at them in the same way. I don't. I marvel even more.


  4. I love this post. And I second what Ahab said. I've always loved nature but felt only wonder and awe for the first time when I took off my Creationist-POV glasses and saw amazing this world is. Fundamentalism robs us of our ability to experience that kind of wonder.


  5. I marvel right there with you at the sunrise and sunset.It always struck me as odd that God would forbid you from looking elsewhere. I mean, He's God. He's got the best goods you can get anywhere. If I was God, I'd be like "sure, go try worshiping that piece of wood covered with brass and see how far that gets you compared to my blessings." (I would be a little more forthcoming with blessings for my followers.)


  6. I just recently stepped outside of the whole "scripture is inerrant, and literal, and 100% true" box and I feel like that might actually be the thing to save my faith.


  7. D'Ma, Paul himself was an intellectual, a learned man in his time. One of his companions in the gospel was a physician.I think what is being said in this portion of Scripture is that by human wisdom, human reason alone, we cannot apprehend the cross of cross. It even seemed to be foolishness to those who were caught up in the philosophical systems of thought of that culture.But, I would not interpret this passage to say that it is always wrong to use reason, or for us to study, and to learn. I mean some of the most learned people on the planet, past, and present have been Christian believers from the inception of the church.I think it's important to always consider the context of the Scripture, what issue the writer is actually addressing, and why, and then to look at the overall teaching of the Bible, as well.Becky.


  8. Becky,I'm not disagreeing with you about context or the issue that the writer was addressing. This was a post about my former thinking. Where my new thinking will take me has yet to be established. What it has done has made me more aware and have more empathy toward those who don't have "faith". Quite honestly, I've been in church for a very long time and there is nothing new you are saying to me. I completely get what this passage is saying. I also know that this is a quote from the Old Testament. I realize that it's speaking of things that God does that cannot be reasoned out with human wisdom.What I don't understand is that he supposedly gave us this human wisdom and then tells us we can't use it to get to him. We have to have this "special reasoning" that only comes from the Holy Spirit. I also don't get that he says it pleases him to make it that way. It pleases him to confound the wisdom of the wise so that they cannot understand the wisdom of the cross. If it is his desire that none should perish and that all should be saved, why would this be so? It's circular. It makes no sense.


  9. D'ma, your observation points out one of the great failings of our former fundy midsets. Ironically, the fact that we had to "rationalized genocide, slavery and oppression" to people means that even then, we knew we had to have rational answers for things. It's important however, not to take the fundy-mindset and use it as a cudgel to kill off our faith entirely/ too hastily. Leaving fundamentalism behind means we have to start again in many cases with our tradition and its texts, rather than just retain our (perhaps erroneous) all-or nothing approach and reject the whole thing.


  10. phil,It's important however, not to take the fundy-mindset and use it as a cudgel to kill off our faith entirely/ too hastily.Agreed, which is the purpose of this journey. What I'm attempting to do is scrap the entire former way I did my faith. Part of this journey the difficulty of ridding myself of that all-or-nothing approach. That's the way I've thought for the last 25 years. That's not undone overnight. Maybe if I hadn't taken it so seriously it would be easier. But I did. I believed it all. I had pushed my whole stack of chips to the center of the table. I was all in.


  11. D'ma,I love the poker analogy 😉 For some of us, going all in is our natural tendency.It's easy to get the impression (reading St. Paul in particular) that we've gotta be "absolute" about things, making these hard-and-fast statements about belief and truth like it seems much of the NT is doing. It's even more pronounced when our pastors get up there and "preach" and "rubuke" this and that with such forthright confidence. I reckon St. Peter was like that, hence Jesus telling him to stop being a bone-head all the time.


  12. To an extent, I bought into this way of thinking as well. I think it is esp. reinforced in reformation type religions, in which the Bible's place is so elevated, perhaps as a way to trump the authority of tradition within the Catholic church.


  13. DoOrDoNot,It is definitely reinforced in the Southern Baptist Church. Like phil said, the pastors preach and rebuke with such authority anything resembling "wisdom of the world". I'm not sure if it's to trump the authority of tradition or not. As I alluded to in my post, I believe that's kind of a chicken/egg proposition. Certainly there was tradition before there was a NT, but wasn't the NT an outflow of that tradition? At any rate I think my trust issues rear their ugly head. I'm not sure I trust an oral tradition any more than I do a written scripture. Having said that I am beginning to explore some of those oral traditions.


  14. I love this post. And I second what Ahab said. I've always loved nature but felt only wonder and awe for the first time when I took off my Creationist-POV glasses and saw amazing this world is. Fundamentalism robs us of our ability to experience that kind of wonder.


  15. I just recently stepped outside of the whole "scripture is inerrant, and literal, and 100% true" box and I feel like that might actually be the thing to save my faith.


  16. It does make it a meaningless effort to try and prove what is true through the normal means we use to determine whether or not anything is true. How do you know which things you are supposed to set aside your reason for? Isn't it reason that helps you decide that? It's an endless circle.I think what the bible teaches is that the christian faith is essentially a matter of belief not based on facts, but on the inspiration of the holy spirit. It is essentially a calvinist view… that the holy spirit will give faith to believe to the elect, but the rest of us will see it as nonsense. That notion actually worked for me when I had faith. However, the holy spirit does not seem to be giving me much of that faith lately. So I'm out of luck I think.


  17. EI,Wondered where you'd been. The whole thing does seem circular, doesn't it? I think I've become a bit of a Calvinist myself. Faith is a gift of God, and I don't seem to be gifted lately either.


  18. Many "Christians" are asking some very good questions about God, Jesus, The Bible etc. I do believe the scripture to be inspired and inerrant. I don’t think that is the problem. The problem, I believe, is what that means to us. Our understanding is based on tradition and training that has been imbedded into us, particularly in the west. We have been influenced from a Greek/western mind, but the scripture was written from a eastern understanding of God. In the west we understand God through thought. We rationalize, process information drawing conclusions and build a mindset, philosophy/theology. In eastern thought God is not to be understood this way. God is a real person, He desires relationship. The wonder of connecting with Him is similar to the wonder of falling in love. It is an ever growing, journey of discovery as we spend time getting to know each other. Jesus Christ died to allow for us to enter into that journey in the way that He originally created us.In the Garden, whether literal or symbolic is not unimportant for this conversation, the living Spirit of God walked in beautiful intimacy Man. Because He desired true love and friendship with His children He gave us free will. Why? Because if we don't have the choice to love freely it isn't love! God is the only being that does not need something outside of Himself to sustain life. Because we are created beings we need a source of life. He made us so He would be the source of our life as we stay relationally connected to Him. Not physical life but spirit life, as we were made to be eternal beings, living forever with Him. In order to do so, we have to have His life fully living in us. That can only come by our choice. So, we were given a choice. Eat of Him, receiving Him as our sustenance or choose to live on our own, wrestling with knowing what is good and evil and the choices that come with that knowledge and the urges that cause us to stumble into selfishness that are relationally destructive. We get to choose, what a wonderful father that doesn't want to control us. However, because we will not perfectly choose what is always right and good, we are always broken, breaking and breaking others. This is called Sin. God is not trying to play games with us by tormenting us with giving us wisdom and then saying don't use it. The wisdom spoken of here is tied into “ What is the source of life for you?” Or better, "what do you live for?" His wisdom is simply this. "I was made you 4 me, I am the source of true life, purpose and eternal existence. He sent Christ to die so we could take responsibility having a 2nd chance to choose Him as the source of life to my soul or I can choose to continue to live for myself, be my own self sustaining one. “So, the wisdom of the world is rationalizing around Christ the provision for us to reconcile our broken relationship with God. His offers us the same choice we had in the garden, a 2nd chance to choose the Tree of Life/Jesus. Wisdom of this world = trusting in our self continuing to eat from the "Tree of the knowledge of good and evil" or to eat of Him; "The Tree of Life". This makes no sense to the world. This is what this scripture speaks of, it is not speaking of theology, we have made it that. All of these things are man's attempt to live in their own wisdom dressed up in religion. That’s not to say some traditions and theologies aren’t with value or benefit. Many are quite accurate, but they are still our attempt to create a system to defend a position for a God that wants our hearts and not our heads.The Bible can be the inerrant inspired word of God, infallible and perfect; the problem is “are we reading it the way the author intended”. IS it leading us to intellectual positions we defend? Or is it leading us to His heart, rooted in HIS love, reveling God the Father of all”. By His spirit His wisdom becomes ours. When the two meet we become the children He created us to be.


  19. Thankfully, Phil has it all figured out.


  20. I've been racking my brain to come up with a suitable response to phillhv. I haven't been able to think of anything eloquent to say. My apologies, phillhv, but your comment seems very incoherent to me. If your point is to tell me I don't understand faith in God because I'm a westerner I think you've missed the mark. If your point is to tell me that you have to have faith to have faith I've heard that before and it only strengthens the argument for Calvinism. The kind of faith you describe here isn't something I can just muster up.I have, in the past, believed that the Bible was the inspired, inerrant word of God. In order to believe that I had take leave of reality, as in cognitive dissonance. I can no longer hold that view of the Bible.Why did you use quotations around "Christians"? Are you implying that these people only call themselves that but are not "true believers" like yourself?


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