The Foolishness of God

Of course as a minister I have read more of the Bible than Romans 1 – 8. The Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 1:25 wrote that the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. If God appears to act foolishly, might he not be called a fool?  About 25 years ago I wrote “An Ode to the Fool“.  Now I am writing another version of my thoughts in prose.

  1. Adam

    Adam and Eve

    According to the Bible, God created man and woman and planted a garden for them to live in. Two trees were in the garden:  the tree of life and the tree of knowledge. The tree of knowledge b0re forbidden fruit.   Any wise human could have told God not to plant the tree of knowledge or forbid eating its fruit. But the risk-taking, loving, forgiving, and merciful God foolishly planted the tree and wisely forbade the eating of it’s fruit, anyway.

  2. God told the couple that on the day they ate fruit of the tree of knowledge they would surely die. Any wise human knows it’s best to stick to one’s word. But on the day they ate of the fruit, the loving, forgiving and merciful God foolishly took the risk and wisely sent the couple out of the garden to populate and take care of the whole earth, anyway.
  3. God and Cain

    God, Cain and Abel

    Cain, the first son killed his younger brother Abel in anger. A wise human could have told God that capital punishment was the right way to control evil. But the loving, forgiving and merciful and risk-taking, foolish God wisely let the murderer live and kept him safe, any way.

  4. When it seemed like the whole earth was filled with corruption and violence God determined to destroy the earth by a flood. A wise human could have affirmed God’s decision for when an experiment goes awry it is best to end it. But the loving, forgiving and merciful God ran the risk and wisely saved Noah and his family, anyway.
  5. Law

    The Lawgiver

    God delivered the Jews from slavery in Egypt. On their way to the promised land, the people camped at Mount Sinai where God gave them his law. Knowing that no one could keep his law, the loving, risk-taking, forgiving, and merciful God wisely provided a complex system of sacrifices as a way for sinners to be accepted by him. Yet a wise hymnist wrote: not all the blood of beasts on Jewish altars slain could give the guilty conscience peace.

  6. Despite the repeated warnings by God-sent prophets, the people divided into factions. One faction worshipped the law more than they worshipped God, another favored the sword as a means to freedom, while another compromised with outside powers to gain influence and wealth. All of them took advantage of widows, the poor, and stoned the prophets.

    A Brown Baby

    So, the loving, forgiving, and merciful God decided to save the world by sending his son to earth as a baby.  Any wise human could have told God that a baby wouldn’t cut it. What the world needed was a person of power backed by a large fully armed and well-trained army of special forces that could establish national boundaries, control terrorists and refugees, and be unloving and unforgiving, and rule without mercy. Through foolish-risk-taking, the loving, forgiving and merciful God wisely sent his son to save the world as a baby, anyway.

  7. Not much is known about the first 30 years of the baby’s life except that he grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people, Luke 2:52. When he was about 30, he left home and began a public practice of godlike loving, forgiving and showing mercy to everyone. He was such a good man that he could not be allowed to live.  In their wisdom, power, and knavery, humans unlovingly, unforgivingly, and without mercy foolishly crucified him.  His memory was kept alive by followers who practiced love, forgiveness, and mercy in his foolish manner, believing that through such deeds the world will be saved, anyway.  Thus is my reading of the Bible about the making of fools:  

love, forgive, mercy.
All such attributes of God 

make God look foolish

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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9 Responses to The Foolishness of God

  1. Glenn Lehman says:

    Dear Martin, This rhetoric is popping off the page. You make it look easy. I know it is not. Enjoy a cookie and tell yourself you have achieved. Glenn Lehman-Martin-Groff-Brackbill.

  2. Freda Zehr says:

    Martin, once again you have resonated with me in your thoughts. At times I find myself asking questions, like when my four year old grandson had first heard about hell, (not from me, I was so traumatized as a child by that place as it was mentioned to me almost every day that I never mentioned that to my kids and grandkids) However he knew he had found out about it because after the news one night where a father had been put in jail for scalding his son on purpose, Nevin was very thoughtful and I knew something was coming up. “Grandma, aren’t we Gods children, does he love us?”, yes Nevin, I said, “well, then God should be put in jail for burning people, my daddy would never burn me , he doesn’t even hit me, I don’t understand about God”.
    What do you say to a four year old when he asks such a question?

    • Carl Metzler says:

      Freda, your post recalls to me the old saying: “Out of the mouths of babes…” A four year old says “I don’t understand about God.” There is much this eighty-four year old doesn’t understand about God. To say I understand all about God would be to bring God down to my level of limited experience and very finite knowledge. And I revel in the mystery; the mystery so well illustrated by Martin in this post and in “An Ode to the Fool“.

  3. Freda Zehr says:

    Thanks for those words, Carl. and I can echo them as I hit the eighty year mark this last August, I was thinking about that the other day and how I always thought that when I would be “old” I would have also become wiser and would not have all these questions in my mind about God, etc. But you hit the nail on the head with your words above. Thank you.

  4. Harold Bauman says:

    Well-written, Martin. Let me add another action. The loving-forgiving-risk taking God raised Jesus from the dead and sent the Spirit of the loving-risk-taking God to enable Jesus’ followers to be forgiving-risk-taking toward the scoffing, unforging and unloving people.

    • Harold Bauman says:

      Harold Bauman. Revision: The loving-forgiving-risk-taking God did the foolishness of raising Jesus from the dead and sent the Spirit of the loving-forgiving-risk-taking God to enable Jesus’ followers to be loving-forgiving-risk-taking toward the scoffing, unforgiving, and unloving people.

  5. Wilmer says:

    Well said.

  6. richard yoder says:

    In a recent issue of Christian Century , John Buchanan had some worthy thoughts; “Some things should be pondered rather than explained.”

  7. I should remind readers that my knowledge of God is based on the Bible. From its stories I learn that the God of the Bible takes risks, is loving, forgiving,merciful, and wise. Harold Bauman is right in adding to the Biblical record of God activity.

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