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Answering The Atheist
February 25, 2007 / Volume 7, Issue 8

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Is it good to be foolish? Some verses say that it is good (1 Corinthians 1:21; 3:18; 4:10), but others say that it is not (Psalm 5:5; Ephesians 5:15). Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
No, it is not good to be foolish. The book of Proverbs time and again addresses the fool in his folly, and cautions us against such. The fool "shall not stand" in the sight of God (Psalm 5:5), and we must be sure that we "walk circumspectly, not as fools" (Ephesians 5:15). But the 3 texts from 1 Corinthians speak favourably of foolishness. Let us consider each of them.

1 Corinthians 1:21 Verse 18 tells us that "...the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing..." It is man who labeled the gospel foolishness, not God (v 23). Though unbelievers consider the gospel message to be foolish, God has used it to save. The context reveals that "...the foolishness of God is wiser man..." (v 25). The text is not encouraging foolishness, it is a witty response to man's wisdom.

1 Corinthians 3:18 There are two types of wisdom mentioned in the Bible; the wisdom of this world and the wisdom from above (James 3:13-18). These are contrary to one another. Thus, if someone is "wise in this age" (ie. has the wisdom of this world), then he must "...become a fool (so far as the wisdom of this age, wjs), that he may become wise."

1 Corinthians 4:10 This, like verse 8 in the same context is a statement of sarcasm. The Corinthians were a spiritual people, in their own minds, but not in reality. There are many similar situations elsewhere in the book where Paul uses satirical remarks. He was a faithful servant of Christ, but in the Corinthian perspective, he was a fool.

There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible