“I am a great and sublime fool. But then I am God’s fool, and all His works must be contemplated with respect.” – Mark Twain
Aristotle was an ancient Greek philosopher and scientist who lived from 384 – 322 BC. He studied for 20 years at the legendary Academy in Athens under its celebrated founder, Plato. After Plato’s death around 348 BC, Aristotle left the Academy and returned to his native Macedonia where he would later tutor the young Alexander the Great. In 335 BC he traveled once again to Athens, establishing his own school at the Lyceum. Like Socrates and Plato, Aristotle is considered one of the great intellectuals of Western history. I am neither fan nor follower of ancient Greek philosophers, but I did come across a quote from Aristotle which I found intriguing,
“The best form of philosophy is the contemplation of the universe of nature; it is for this purpose that God made human beings and gave them a godlike intellect. All else” strength, beauty, power, and honor” is worthless.” – Aristotle
Aristotle was a monotheist. He believed in the existence of one God who is eternal, and separate from the natural world (his creation). Aristotle also believed that we should all contemplate God. He supposed this to be the purpose for which God (the creator) made human beings and gave them a godly intellect. To Aristotle, contemplation of the creator and the universe of nature (His creation) was the supreme objective. To focus on the creature is insignificant by comparison. It seems that Aristotle believed that man was best served in this life through contemplating the thoughts of God. That’s quite an observation for a pagan.
So, if God is the creator of all things and nature (creation) is His reflection, why does humanity struggle with acceptance of the Almighty?
The New Testament writer Paul said,
18-21Now the holy anger of God is disclosed from Heaven against the godlessness and evil of those men who render truth dumb and inoperative by their wickedness. It is not that they do not know the truth about God; indeed he has made it quite plain to them. For since the beginning of the world the invisible attributes of God, e.g. his eternal power and divinity, have been plainly discernible through things which he has made and which are commonly seen and known, thus leaving these men without a rag of excuse. They knew all the time that there is a God, yet they refused to acknowledge him as such, or to thank him for what he is or does. Thus they became fatuous in their argumentation, and plunged their silly minds still further into the dark. (Romans 1:18-21 – J.B. Phillips New Testament)
Interesting. Paul argues that mankind has always known that there is a God but simply refuses to acknowledge him as such. He points to the natural world as proof of the Gods’ eternal power and divinity. So, it appears that ol’ Aristotle had a point; contemplating the universe of nature is indeed wise. It will lead you to God. The humanistic pursuits of mankind (strength, beauty, power, honor, and everything else) are of little worth by comparison. Paul went on to further accuse the God deniers,
25-26a These men deliberately forfeited the truth of God and accepted a lie, paying homage and giving service to the creature instead of to the Creator, who alone is worthy to be worshiped for ever and ever, amen. God therefore handed them over to disgraceful passions … (Romans 1:25-26a – J.B. Phillips New Testament)
Instead of believing what they knew was the truth about God, the deniers deliberately chose to believe lies. They became worshipers of the creature (humanists) rather than the creator (GOD) who made all things.
“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” – Plato
The ancient Greeks had a word that I believe is perfect for describing this extreme pride or self-confidence which would lead a person to forfeit the truth of God. The word is hubris.
The meaning of this word has changed somewhat over time. Today hubris can be defined as overconfidence, pride and arrogance. While often associated with a lack of humility, hubris does not presuppose a lack of knowledge. In matters of the Spirit, hubris is: presumption that leads to a disregard of the divinely fixed parameters for mankind.
Simply refusing to acknowledge the existence of God (Atheists) has no effect whatsoever on reality. God exists whether you like it or not. Modern philosophies and the opinions of those blinded by hubris are meaningless when you consider that God has allowed their silly minds to plunge still further into the dark. Let’s cut to the chase” the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” – Proverbs 16:18
Hubris also gives birth to genuine fools who are defined in the Book of Psalms:
14 “That man is a fool who says to himself, “There is no God!” Anyone who talks like that is warped and evil and cannot really be a good person at all.” (Psalm 14:1 TLB)
Well, that about sums it up. You don’t believe in God? You are a fool.
“Oh my, he is so rude. So intolerant. He said people who don’t believe in God are fools. I am offended. This is a hate crime. How dare you! I don’t like this at all. You Christians are the fools. You have no right to say these things. I demand you apologize immediately.”
Sorry. No can do. And besides, I didn’t say it anyway. I quoted a verse from the scriptures. It is not my opinion. It is a statement of Biblical fact. If you do not like it, well, that’s between you and God. Don’t shoot the messenger.
“The heart of a fool is in his mouth, but the mouth of a wise man is in his heart.” – Benjamin Franklin
Listen to what Paul wrote in his letter to the Christians who lived in the ancient city-state of Corinth (then located on the isthmus of Corinth, roughly halfway between Athens and Sparta.)
18“I know very well how foolish it sounds to those who are lost, when they hear that Jesus died to save them. But we who are saved recognize this message as the very power of God. 19 For God says, ‘I will destroy all human plans of salvation no matter how wise they seem to be, and ignore the best ideas of men, even the most brilliant of them.’
20 So what about these wise men, these scholars, these brilliant debaters of this world’s great affairs? God has made them all look foolish and shown their wisdom to be useless nonsense. 21 For God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never find God through human brilliance, and then he stepped in and saved all those who believed his message, which the world calls foolish and silly. 22 It seems foolish to the Jews because they want a sign from heaven as proof that what is preached is true; and it is foolish to the Gentiles because they believe only what agrees with their philosophy and seems wise to them. 23 So when we preach about Christ dying to save them, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it is all nonsense.
24 But God has opened the eyes of those called to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, to see that Christ is the mighty power of God to save them; Christ himself is the center of God’s wise plan for their salvation. 25 This so-called ‘foolish’ plan of God is far wiser than the wisest plan of the wisest man, and God in his weakness “Christ dying on the cross” is far stronger than any man.” (1 Corinthians 1:25 – J.B. Phillips New Testament)
Perhaps I seem like a fool to you. Ignorant. Narrow-minded. An intolerant bigot. I have heard these and a hundred more pejoratives a thousand times before. For the record, I love all people. If it’s legal, I don’t care what you do. I am not your judge. But, I will concede – I am a Fool. And the great Apostle Paul – the biggest fool of all. He said so, listen,
9-13“I sometimes think that God means us, the messengers, to appear last in the procession of mankind, like the men who are to die in the arena. For indeed we are made a public spectacle before the angels of Heaven and the eyes of men. We are looked upon as fools, for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in the Christian faith. We are considered weak, but you have become strong: you have found honor, we little but contempt. Up to this very hour we are hungry and thirsty, ill-clad, knocked about and practically homeless. We still have to work for our living by manual labor. Men curse us, but we return a blessing: they make our lives miserable but we take it patiently. They ruin our reputations but we go on trying to win them for God. We are the world’s rubbish, the scum of the earth, yes, up to this very day.” (1 Corinthians 4:9-13 – J.B. Phillips New Testament)
Yes, I am proudly a fool for the sake of the liberator Jesus. I make no apologies for his message to mankind. I will broker no denial of the core message of Christianity: Jesus is the only way to reconcile with the creator of all things (God).
Foolish? Perhaps to you it is.
But again, I am a fool for Jesus Christ.
The real question is, whose fool are you?
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie ®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656