I read this passage this morning, and it filled me with joy. I love following a crucified Lord.

For the message of the cross is foolishness 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;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

– 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

4 thoughts on “Reminder

    1. Alison Post author

      No, not really, although I can understand why you think that. On the surface it sounds like it is saying “Christianity looks ridiculous but that’s OK, it’s the way God conveniently made it to be. Now no-one with an intelligent argument for another worldview can beat us. Hahaha!”

      But I don’t think that is Pauls’ main point. It’s more about the weakness and the humiliation of the cross. It’s not about telling Christians to ignore wisdom. It’s emphasising the fact that Jesus actually turns things upside down. Jesus shows us incredible strength in ultimate weakness, which sits pretty awkwardly with the two major worldviews of the day – Judaism and Greek paganism. Paul is trying to show what makes Christianity different.

      1. dumsum

        I don’t quite see the difference in what you’re saying. A “cross” is nothing more than a few bits of wood nailed together – it’s the meaning behind what Jesus supposedly achieved on one of them that’s important. And that was noted in the very first sentence of what you quoted. This “message” is in essence christanity – this is what is foolish by.. well, just Jewish and Greek standards? Fair enough, but given how this piece of writing affected you today, I wonder how you’ve extrapolated it to include a world now filled with people who engage in skeptical inquiry? Skepticism’s greatest strength is in recognising the fragility – the weakness – of any conclusions. Sound familiar? Just because something’s different, doesn’t make it any more – or in my case less – reasonable.

      2. Alison Post author

        No, sorry, what I meant to say is that “the cross” (and, like you said, evetything it represents) is foolish because it is shorthand for a dead messiah.

        I don’t really care so much what it does or doesn’t say about skeptical inquiry. What inspires me about this passage is the way that it turns mainstream cultural values on their head. Jews were expecting a powerful leader, and they got Jesus crucified – and Christians from a Jewish background have to get over that stumbling block. Greeks were impressed by awesome rhetoric – and instead they get mumbling Paul who is pretty much the least impressive public speaker in town, talking about some Jewish hick who got killed. Greek Christians have to get over the idea that the only ideas worth listening to are those from the wise orators of the time.

        When I extrapolate it out to today, it challenges me in my own cultural context. I am a Christian from a western materialist background, who lives in a society that tells me (among other things) that to get ahead I need to get a good job, own property and enjoy myself. And what Jesus shows us in the cross is the complete opposite.

        I guess what I’m trying to say is that I see this passage as a challenge to cultural paradigms, not a smack down of people who think rationally.

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