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Philosophers and Theologians Strike Out

Evil and suffering are embarrassing intellectual problems that philosophers and theologians have wrestled with forever. Why, having spent all that time, do they come up empty-handed?

This statement of Jesus is key:

“I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to babes."                 Matt 11:25

That's quite a trick. Just how does the “Father, Lord of heaven and earth” do it? Do we ever see that feat elsewhere, perhaps in the university settings where those philosophers and theologians hang out? Does it ever happen there that the babes understand, yet the wise and intellectual ones come up short?

No, it does not. So how can it be true in this context?

The quick answer is that we are emotional beings as well as intellectual ones. And certain qualities will absolutely short circuit one's spiritual quest. Pride will do it. As will narcissism. "Smarts" can be found in abundance in the university setting. But humility is more rare. As is the willingness to put other's interests ahead of one's own.

As long as this is the case (and I can't picture it ever changing) those philosophers and theologians will strike out every time. The answers are there. Their minds can readily grasp it, more readily than those less mentally endowed. But their dominant dispositions will never permit it.

For example, regarding the Christian message, the apostle Paul said:

For the speech about the torture stake is foolishness to those who are perishing....For it is written: “I will make the wisdom of the wise [men] perish, and the intelligence of the intellectual [men] I will shove aside.....we preach Christ impaled, to the Jews a cause for stumbling but to the nations foolishness...    1 Cor 1:18-23

And, make no mistake, Christianity in the first century did not appeal to philosophers and theologians, any more than it does today:

For you behold his calling of you, brothers, that not many wise in a fleshly way were called, not many powerful, not many of noble birth; but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put the wise men to shame; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put the strong things to shame; and God chose the ignoble things of the world and the things looked down upon, the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are...       vs 26-28

Note that Paul did not say "any." He said "many" There were some Christians "wise, powerful, of noble birth," but not "many." Pride, selfishness, and concern about one's social status would thwart them almost always, completely negating any intellectual advantage.

Paul endeavored to spread Christianity in Athens, where he encountered philosophers of the Epicurean and Stoic variety. They can hardly be described as brimming with humility. “What is it this chatterer would like to tell?” they asked each other? The word "chatterer" literally means "seed-picker" and it has reference to a bird who picks up a seed here and poops it out there, and picks one up there and poops it out some other place.       Acts 17:18

No, he was not treated with much respect. Today Jehovah's Witnesses find a similar situation. They present their Christian message to everyone. Yet only humble people respond. People bursting with pride never do.

It's not hard to see why. The Bible's message is that humans do not have the answers to the world's problems, and are not capable of self-rule. Furthermore, God's Kingdom is the answer and the best way we can spend our time is to announce that Kingdom, while remaining neutral with regard to this world's affairs and politics. Just try selling that to a prideful person! They live for figuring new solutions, devising new politics and......God forbid they should spend their time speaking religion to strangers, or even be associated with those that do!

Within the humble context of Bible study, the mystery regarding suffering and evil is answered readily.   

 

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Tom Irregardless and Me             No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Comments

Screech

How very true and a great explaination on that scripture. I've seen many people stumble because of what amounts to pride. That quality isn't just in someone thinking that they are above others. It can also be expressed in thinking that someone's situation warrants special attention when it does not.

There are times when people feel that because of who they are (ironically sometimes people feel that they are humble enough to warrant special treatment) they deserve special attention. So if things are going wrong in their life, they EXPECT others to pitch in to help them. This, of course, can set one up for disappointment, which may cause many other problems as well.

People who are truly striving to be humble should keep in mind their circumstances and be careful about what they feel entitled to. Prayer to have ones eyes opened and to gain wisdom and control over it will help, but the effort must always be there.

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