“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Paradox of “Foolish Wisdom”

2. God’s Wisdom Is Foolishness to Man

This paradox is very similar to the one just described. It is, I think, largely the same idea, described in somewhat different language, particularly language of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, foolishness, ignorance, etc.

“Jesus declared, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.’” – Matthew 11:25-26, see also Luke 10:21, Psalm 8:2, Matthew 21:16
Those who think themselves “wise” are prideful, thinking that they can understand the things of God on their own. It is not these to whom God delights to reveal his ways, but to the humble – those who acknowledge their childlike weakness and dependence on God.* It is to these “children” or “infants” that God will give knowledge and wisdom. (John Piper expands on this theme in chapter 10 of The Pleasures of God – a book well worth reading.) This concealment from the “wise and understanding” was the purpose of Jesus’ speaking in parables, as he describes in Matthew 13:10-17 (see also Luke 8:9-10). Jesus knew that Israel was, as a nation, largely stubborn and hard-hearted, unready to hear the secrets of the kingdom explained fully; he thus spoke in parables, and only those who were humble, lowly, “little children,” like his disciples, were told the fuller meaning.

*The same idea is present in the Old Testament. See, for example, Jeremiah 9:23-24: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me”; Jeremiah 8:9, “The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped. Since they have rejected the word of the LORD, what kind of wisdom do they have?”; Isaiah 5:21, “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!”; Psalm 131:1, “O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.” See also Job 5:12-13, 37:24; Proverbs 21:30.

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