Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Contempt From The Sophisticated World

I ran across this quote from Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia a while back and I filed it away for future reference. In the days since his death, I have seen it several places and it rings powerful and profound every time I read it. 

It is credited as part of a speech at Living the Catholic Faith conference in 2012. I have seen it credited to other speeches as well and it is entirely possible and highly probable he said this on multiple occasions.

“God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools…and he has not been disappointed.… If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.”

Admittedly, Justice Scalia's view of the Christian faith was 180 degrees opposite from mine but his great legal mind grasped very clearly the opposition of the world to nearly every thing considered Christian. He echoed Paul's words and summed them up very succinctly.

It was a reoccurring theme for Paul. He knew we would be tempted to allow the elite, the noble, the cultivated, the sophisticated as Judge Scalia said, the wise, to intimidate us into denying the preaching of the cross, the power of the Gospel and the truth of the Word of God because they know it is foolish.

Paul rejected that notion repeatedly and forcefully! I have listed just a few examples below. Take a moment to read each verse carefully, please.

I Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
 20 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?
 21 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 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

I Corinthians 3:18  Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
 20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.

I am sure the Supreme Court may never be the same without the brilliant mind of Justice Antonin Scalia. I am sure the conservative segment of American society will have to look long and hard for a replacement. His untimely death may have long and lasting effects on our society.

But I find it extremely interesting that in every article of the great and witty things he said or wrote, you find the quote above in every list. This man wrote literal volumes of legal opinions that law schools will be teaching and debating for years to come. Yet out of all his great analytic, brilliant, intelligent, profound things he uttered: it is amazing that one taken directly from scripture would be among his most quoted. That alone should speak volumes to us.

Take courage, friend. Let the world call you a fool. Let the world say you are unlearned and uneducated. Let the wise of this world scorn you for your belief in the Bible, in Christ, in morality and in the Gospel.

But know this friend, God has the final say and God is always right. God will take the wise in their own craftiness.

Believe the Bible! Believe the Gospel! Believe Truth! 

Let the wise say what they will and let their insults ricochet off you like a smooth stone on water or bullets on armor. Their constant barrage of put downs, mockery and slander should not even turn our head. Their condescending babble is all vain, no matter how much they applaud themselves!

Does it really matter in the grand scheme of things if the talking heads on TV, the movie stars, sports heroes or music idols agree with God and give us permission to believe God too?

Think about it friend. Justice Scalia was right. Apostle Paul was right. And God is right. That is the side I want to be on.


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