“For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. ” (I Corinthians 1:19-21)
The Bible is written so that the simple as well as the intellectual man can understand it. For each of these men, it is not his mental prowess that allows him to grasp the deep things of God; saving faith is contingent upon his willingness to humble himself before God’s word.
Men of all types are forced to do business with the word of God. It is just a question of which stumbling block they will encounter in walking the path toward truth. “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom; But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” (I Corinthians 1:22-23).
The wisdom of this world is revealed by the level of value that men place upon education itself. And by one’s motivation in seeking awards and degrees in pursuit of higher knowledge. At the end of the journey, however, there is no guarantee that the most advanced in that arduous pursuit will actually become wise men or wise women.
At least not wise from God’s perspective.
An Obsession with Intellectualism
The obsession for scholarship and intellectualism among modern Christian leaders has produced both good and bad results. It is bad when the pursuit veers away from a solidly biblical track towards popular philosophy. The desire for mainstream academic approval and acceptance has caused many Christians to depart from the simple faith of the scriptures.
This desire for acceptance has caused many Christian leaders to compromise with the clear teaching of the word in favor of a spiritually liberal or modernist position. It used to be that those who rejected the literal biblical record on chronology, on history or miracles were mostly found in the mainline denominations. Where even the creeds themselves were changed to reflect the departure from the faith. Leading even to the falling away of entire denominations.
But this is not so much the case anymore. Now, one is just as likely to deal with the departure from literal truth within the mainstream Evangelical churches. Where leaders may deny the Genesis record and its clear statements regarding a literal 6-day Creation and a world-wide flood.
(But, of course, we’ve already spoken of this often on this website.)
The problem is understanding why this is occurring more frequently. What is causing this increasing, widespread departure among those who profess to believe the Bible as it is written? And why are we seeing an increase in the bold declaration of that unbelief within Evangelical universities and leadership?
Longing for the World’s Approval
I believe the answer is found in our insatiable desire for approval. Our desire to be accepted by the mainstream academic and religious worlds. It is our longing for acceptance by the culture as a whole.
And our unwillingness to face the persecution that inevitably comes from proclaiming the simple truth.
For example, one excuse for avoiding the teaching of difficult doctrines, is so that more within the educated cultures will listen to the gospel and come to Christ. Theoretically, this is done by removing or glossing over as many dogmatic obstacles as we can so that they may believe.
And this seems kind of reasonable. At least on the surface.
But we have twisted this idea around so much that now Christian leaders believe they must obtain special intellectual status in order to win the culture. Or to say it another way, they must earn the intellectual right to preach the gospel to the more highly educated. Hence, the constant attempt to cleverly re-word, re-state, re-work and re-think the message of the Gospel by popular Christian leaders.
All of this is just the vain attempt to produce and present a gospel in a way that the world approves. To have our gospel and our faith receive intellectual kudos from the academic world.
Rather than face the hard reality of the foolishness of preaching and the foolishness of the Cross.
The Mythology of the Scopes Trial
Much of this modern obsession was ignited by the Scopes Trial of 1925. The popular media had a field-day with that trial. Using it, from every angle, to paint the Fundamentalist as a fanatic with the brain of a turnip. And increasing the perception that literal belief in the Bible is for the ignorant and uneducated.
In answer to the trial specifically, I would recommend the book, Tornado in a Junkyard by James Perloff. In that eye-opening book, you’ll discover the truth behind that trial. And understand that very little of what was reported actually occurred. The trial was custom-designed by the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) to ridicule Bible believers. It was a propagandized event orchestrated to created anti-Fundamentalist reaction among the American public.
Inherit the Wind was a film that Hollywood produced in 1960 to capitalize on this event. It was a disgustingly dishonest and inaccurate portrayal of the trial and surrounding events. It was a hatchet piece designed to stir up public sentiment against biblical faith and gather massive support for teaching the evolutionary worldview.
I remember seeing this movie in my high school history class. It was presented as an accurate, historical portrayal of both the trial and the community of Dayton, Tennessee. Its purpose was to create a grotesque caricature of Fundamentalists.
And, to that purpose, it was a great success. So much so, that it has effectively discouraged many Christians from making a strong doctrinal defense for the Bible. It has also been a major catalyst for Evangelicals to disassociate themselves from those that are now perceived as narrow, intolerant and ignorant. And to set themselves up, independently, as an improvement over those narrow Fundamentalists.
In posts to come, we will discuss the divide that took place between the Evangelical and the Fundamentalist in the early 1900s. And explore how Christians’ desire for social, cultural and intellectual acceptance by the world has brought confusion rather than clarity in proclaiming the simple gospel.
To Be Continued . . .