Guest Column: Stupidity in context (Part 2)

Guest Column: Stupidity in context (Part 2)

By Dr. Robert R. Kopp

The most stupid people in the world are those who think they’re smarter than God.

You know the kind.

They say things like, “I know that’s what Jesus and the Bible say, but I think…”

They remind me of the celebrity on a late-night talk show who gushed, “Well, well, well, that’s enough about me. What do you think of me?”

Pathetically, the dominant weltanschauung of our culture is egocentric rather than theocentric.

Crudely, most folks don’t get beyond navel-gazing in their search for truth.

That’s why institutions such as government, media, organized religions, social clubs, and so on function as practical atheism; going about daily business with a wink to authority beyond auto-suggestion.

Bruce Ennis, a brilliant MIT engineer, wrote one extraordinarily profound, yet precise sentence on the inside back cover of his Bible on Nov. 14 1976, which he shared with me not long before dying: “To any intelligent and perceptive human being exposed daily, as he is, to the beautiful miracles of this earth, and realizing that only some Power greater than he could produce such miracles, it must seem that an atheist has a low degree of intelligence, coupled with an abysmal lack of perceptivity, a deplorably egotistical self-esteem, and an unseemly arrogance.”

Now that was one smart guy who knew God is smarter!

Looking at human history, we haven’t been particularly proficient when left to our own sovereignty over things.

Three-quarters of the world is always at war.

The environment is going down the toilet quicker than poop through a goose.

Poor people starve to death as rich people fret over their quest to find a deodorant to keep them dry all day long.

Surfing cablevision and the Internet prove we’re more debauched than ever.

Hosea was right (4:1ff.).

Maybe Darwin was right in reverse.

We’re devolving into a planet of the apes.

There’s more than enough evidence to prove we’re not that smart.

We can’t figure out how to live in peace and mutual concern.

How ironic that we’ve got so many institutions of higher education in our world, yet remain such savages.

The problem was clarified for me many years ago by a gentle pastor near the Delaware Water Gap in New Jersey. He was my field education supervisor during seminary. As I was asking him to review my course selections for the next semester, he stopped and seemed to plead, “Just don’t separate yourself from God and His people by degrees.”

As the degrees piled up and years passed, I began to develop a distrust in the academic, noting how it encourages the egocentric over the theocentric.

I began to understand the cynicism of a college philosophy professor who, many years before, had lambasted me for participating in an egghead program: “You’re a bunch of ineffectual intellectuals who sit around all day in easy chairs assaying the human condition while offering no solutions to the hurting of this world.”

I think he was saying we we were full of %&#@.

He echoed Clarence Jordan’s paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 1:19-20: “It’s like the Scripture says: ‘I will tear to bits the dissertations of the Ph.D.s; I will pull the rug from under those who have all the answers.’…Where does the worldly-wise professor wind up? Hasn’t God made human reasoning appear utterly ridiculous?”

Brother Daniel, a monk at Ava, Missouri’s Assumption Abbey, taught me how to become smarter about 20 years ago.

During a retreat at the monastery, I noticed the Trappist was reading Psalm 91 between duties. Emboldened by Hebrew studies of the psalm in Israel as well as Princeton, I felt obligated to enlighten him.

While telling him how much I knew about it, he seemed thoroughly underwhelmed.

So I asked him to tell me what he knew about it.

As he spoke through a warm smile and sparkling eyes, it seemed as if the heavens were opening, and God Himself was communicating to me through this old monk who barely made it through 8th grade.

Finally, I asked, “How can you know so much more about this psalm than me without the benefit of my education?” Brother Daniel smiled again and revealed the secret, “I asked God what it means.”

If you want to know the truth, go to the source!

I can still talk and act as stupid as the next person; but now I know where to go for the smart answers to life’s questions—God.

It’s the most basic tool of biblical exegesis. Ask God what it means! He should know. He wrote it (cf. 2 Peter 1:20-21).

Of course, it won’t work if you stay stuck on yourself.

And that explains why there are so many stupid people in our world.

Dr. Robert Kopp is the pastor of Bethany Presbyterian Church, Loves Park.

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