Monday, March 04, 2013

Don't Fix Stupid: Stupid Doesn't Need Fixing

God hath chosen the foolish (stupid) things of the world to confound the wise
1 Corinthians 1:27

In last week's discussion about the blood, we had seen how someone said (and since retracted the pejorative) about people who took a certain position that disagreed with him, "You can't fix stupid."  There's a lot I could write on and would like to write on, but I want to write on this again, because I think that this is in fact a serious problem in evangelicalism and fundamentalism, that being, they're too afraid of being stupid.

I say "stupid"?  Yes, "stupid."  Evangelicals have decried the anti-intellectualism (perhaps a kind of stupidity or at least perceived stupidity) of fundamentalists.  The practice of the new-evangelicals was cooperation and dialogue and association in part to remain credible with the the liberal intelligentsia.   Prominent new-evangelical Harold Ockenga, famous pastor of Park Street Church in Boston, represented this idea in a renowned press dispatch in December 1957:  "The evangelical believes that Christianity is intellectually defensible, and that the Christian cannot be obscurantist in scientific questions pertaining to the creation, the age of man, the universality of the flood, and other debatable biblical questions . . . The new evangelicalism is willing to face the intellectual problems and meet them in the framework of modern learning."

The attack that they are in fact anti-intellectual has always been an issue for Christians.  Part of the pressure put on them is to fit in with the world system, and its intellectualism a major part of it.  Paul dealt with this in 1 and 2 Corinthians because it was a problem for him there.  The Greeks needed "wisdom," but that's not how God operates, which is why the Bible is full of paradoxes.  You just take what God says by faith, even though your head says it contradicts.

This enters the realm of epistemology.  How do we know what we know?  God's will, which is as smart as anyone can get, is apprehended by faith, not by an elite intellect.  Jesus said you've got to become like little children to enter the kingdom of God, a sort of purposeful naivety, dropping intellectual barriers to reception of Christ.

The original twelve disciples were unlearned and ignorant men.  Paul was assailed by false teachers at Corinth for his stupidity.  You read strains of an answer to this charge in 1 Corinthians 1-3 and then expressly in 2 Corinthians 4.  Not many mighty or noble were called because God saw fit to use weakness so that no flesh should glory.  I didn't say "defense," because Paul was admitting stupidity, "the filth of this world" and "the offscouring of all things" (1 Cor 4:13).  God used earthen vessels, mundane clay pots, like himself "that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of [him]" (2 Cor 4:7).  His enemies said he was stupid, and Paul's comeback, "Well, you're right!"

A swing toward evangelicalism in fundamentalism today relates to the issue of intelligence.  Fundamentalists are the straw man heading toward Oz to get a brain from the wizard of evangelicalism.  This pursuit of a brain, or at least recognition of one, is witnessed in many doctrines.

Intellectualism made room for another account of creation in Genesis 1 for evangelicals.  It picked up textual criticism or eclecticism as the method for deciding Scripture in contradiction to faith.  It accepts egalitarianism.  It commends contextualization.  It assigns its own meaning to already established expressions of holiness.  It invents its own standards of unity for coalitions beyond God's ordained institution.  It's all very, very smart.

Evangelicalism is smart like David was smart when he had the ox cart built to hold the ark.  It's smart like Cain with his fruit and vegetables.  It's smart like Nadab and Abihu with their new recipe for incense.  And fundamentalism wants to be smart too.  They bring in smart people.  They associate with smart people.  They praise smart people.  And they ridicule the stupid people, the foolish ones.

You can't fix stupid.  Don't fix stupid.  Stupid doesn't need fixing.

1 comment:

George Calvas said...

That is correct, you cannot fix those "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things". The context are those who "hold the truth in unrighteousness", ie, religious folks (Catholics, most Protestants, and now even Baptists) who have "a form of godliness but denying the power thereof".

What they pursue is the glory of man, and the bible has many such answers for ALL of them that can only be accomplished by the "foolishness of preaching":

"All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity, for I say unto you:

"Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;"

The Preacher