I’ve been traveling the last several weeks – spending some time in Europe working (with a little vacationing thrown into the mix). Last weekend I visited Lutherstadt Wittenberg, A small town in eastern Germany where Martin Luther spent most of his adult life, preached, raised his family, and … oh yeah … composed the 95 theses. The wooden door is long gone, but Luther’s theses are engraved on bronze doors to All Saints Church also known as the Castle Church or Schloßkirche. Both Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon are buried in the church. The church is undergoing major renovation leading up to the 500th anniversary of Luther’s 95 theses in 2017, but I was lucky enough to get inside briefly. The pictures are from top to bottom: the Schloßkirche, the Stadtkirche St. Marien, and the Corpus Christi Chapel next to St. Marien’s.
As a result of these travels, today’s post is a slightly edited repost from several years back on a topic worth another look.
The Wisdom of This World. Oftentimes when discussing issues of science and faith, or other issues that challenge the conventional thinking of the Christian faith, someone will up and quote or paraphrase Paul from his letters to the Corinthians.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? (1 Cor. 1:18-20)
Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” (1 Cor. 3:18-20)
The implication when this is brought into the conversation is, implicitly or explicitly, that we should forsake the wisdom of this world – the questions raised by philosophy, psychology, science, archaeology – and have faith in the wisdom of God and in his Holy Word, the “plain” reading of scripture. To accept an old earth and evolution or to question the historicity of Adam, Noah, Babel, Job, or Jonah is to succumb to the wisdom of the world, forsaking the wisdom of God (it is usually fine to turn the Song of Songs into an allegory though). To question the reality of Hell, eternal conscious torment, or the exclusivity of salvation is to succumb to the wisdom of this world.
In the 1 Cor. 23 Paul notes that Christ crucified is “a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks” (1. Cor. 1:23). I have at times heard people claim that this view of Christ crucified as “foolishness” explains the resistance to so-called “biblical” views of creation be they young earth, old earth progressive creation, or intelligent design.
Does this stumbling block have anything to do with our approach to science?
Without discussing the specifics of the age of the earth, evolution, the historicity of Adam or the concept of Hell, I would like to look at this more closely today and pose a more fundamental question as well.