Session 3: The Real Scandal of the Evangelical Mind
(I Corinthians 1:18-30) “For the word of the cross is folly 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,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’
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? 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. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
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. 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; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”
God took on flesh in Jesus Christ. He lived a life of perfect obedience. He died a humiliating victim of political and theological enemies. And three days later, this same Jesus walked out of the tomb alive again. Forty days later, he ascended to the throne, having received all authority in heaven and on earth, and from there he will descend again, completing history, judging the quick and the dead. Those who trust in His provision will enjoy eternal bliss, and those who do not so trust will suffer eternal damnation. Any questions?
This is our story. To those outside the Kingdom, this is foolishness, a scandal, and a stumbling block — which makes us fools in the eyes of the world; blind, stupid, gullible and easily led. The world will not take us seriously. They laugh at us. They mock us. They find us contemptible. In 1994, Mark Noll wrote a book called The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, which became influential and widely read. In it, he argued that it is a scandalous thing that the evangelical world is not up to the task of presenting itself in serious discourse on the level of the world, and scolded us for being “backwoods fundamentalists.”
Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr.’s theme for the third session was, “The Real Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.”
“The true scandal, the real scandal, is that our disrespect, our being held in contempt by the world, is that that scandalizes us — that it is we who embrace the offense of the gospel are offended that it is offensive,” Dr. Sproul Jr. posited. “So we … complain and we establish anti-Christian defamation leagues, we stand and insist on our rights — but worst of all, we adapt. We proceed to remove the scandal.”