Thoughts About Thinking: Maybe Highly Educated Non-Christians Aren’t All That Smart

Digital drawing of girl in graduation cap and gown

When I lived in Memphis, two friends often volunteered to drive me to church in the wheelchair accessible van that I had. One friend had a Master’s Degree (in what, I don’t know) while the other had only completed a GED.

The three of us always found it amusing that the one with the GED consistently had to show the one with the Master’s Degree how to use the tie-downs to secure my wheelchair. Consistently, I said. Every. Single. Time. We’d say, “So much for higher education!”

Thankfully the one with the Master’s Degree had a good sense of humor.

As cute as this story is, it illustrates a point the apostle Paul made about the disparity between human wisdom and the wisdom of God.

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” ~~1 Corinthians 1:20-31 (ESV)

Paul wasn’t knocking educated people per se; he himself had been educated in both the Torah and classical Greco-Roman culture. His unusually diverse education uniquely positioned him to spread the Gospel in both Jewish and Gentile contexts, as well as to write nearly half of the New Testament.

Yet he knew that Greco-Roman culture prided itself on learning the latest philosophies. It exalted human wisdom, despising the simple message that Christ Jesus had died as a sacrifice for the sin of all who believe and rose again. What a preposterous message! That society demanded something much more sophisticated — and without the pesky moral implications of submitting to Christ as Lord.

Our postmodern universities increasingly exhibit the same disdain for Biblical Christianity. They eagerly encourage young people to question the veracity of the Bible and to instead embrace liberal philosophies and ideologies. These universities produce journalists, actors, politicians and jurists that strongly influence our culture away from Christianity. The cultural elite despise those of us who actually believe the Bible.

But God chooses us, with our supposed intellectual deficiencies, to declare the wisdom of His Word. As indignantly as the world rails against our message, it will never eradicate the truth.

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