atheism vs. foolishness

Recently I listened to the 2008 discussion between NT Wright and Bart Ehrman on “The Problem of Evil”. They introduced both men as widely renowned scholars and men of certain status in their fields. There was appropriate applause. Then NT Wright began with a 20 minute message of how he has a real Hope in the midst of grappling with the existence of evil. I’m a bit biased, obviously, but it was a solid 20 minutes that I think a LOT of Christians NEED to listen to.

Then it was time for Mr. Ehrman. A one time Baptist pastor and theology professor who became an atheist after a journey of biblical scholarship combined with how much is wrong with the world…etc. Granted, I’ve never heard of this man or heard him speak. But the difference between his attitude/approach to scripture and life in general; and the way he spoke almost made me wonder how he would be given the same podium as Wright. But a few of the key phrases, and opinions he presented over and over again brought up a good point.

Lately I’ve been spending time in the wonder of the “Foolishness” of God. When we stop pretending Christ makes sense in our world, and stop selling God as a one-way ticket to avoiding hell….Christianity becomes a whole lot more real and revolutionary, and most importantly – NEEDED in our world. But it’s still foolishness.

Now, a lot of what Mr.Ehrman spoke about are beliefs that Christians have somehow gotten over the centuries without much foundation. Wright would challenge many of those beliefs with just as harsh a rhetoric. I haven’t been able to listen to the part where they’re each allowed a rebuttal, but I’m looking forward to it. But to focus on (people who dismiss “evil” as a simple problem that was “dealt” with in a simple way by God……people who believe that there’s a rapture coming soon where we’re all gonna get “sucked up into heaven”….or focus on people who put their foot down that all creation was created in 6 days, and evolution is satans tool”) and to spend time calling that foolish is to miss the true redeeming foolishness of the Gospel.

This is the same foolishness highlighted in just about any atheist blog/book or popular movie also. Atheism and believers in other faiths attempt to promote THESE as the types of foolishness we are known for. And many Christians will sit back and say “well yes…we ARE supposed to be fools for Christ…so this is fine with me.”

We’re not foolish because of our biblical interpretation. We’re NOT foolish because we try to force God’s Kingdom in public and unloving ways around the world. We’re not foolish for believing in a God that we can’t even begin to understand, but we love to try. We’re foolish for the Gospel.

Foolish for letting go of power. For giving without expecting return. For loving to the point of death, even those who would seek our ruin. Foolish for forgiving tresspasses. Foolish for welcoming the poor, broken, smelly, and not-able-to-do-anything-for-us as our closest friends. Foolish for leaving our “doors unlocked”. For believing that Christ is the beginning and the fulfillment of so much that God is accomplishing in creation, and believing we’ve been invited to participate in that. For believing there is purpose to each day, not just in eternity, but IN THAT DAY to love others, and reflect God and His call from/to the unknown.

May we live as people, and become known as a body that exhibits the foolishness seen in Christ…a foolishness that is needed everywhere in creation.

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