‘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 the 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 week in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even the 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, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’” (1 Cor. 1: 18-31)
It always causes me to stop in wonder when I hear a professing Christian tell a street preacher, “You’re doing it wrong.” Not because I believe they have presented to me information that I have never considered before, rather, that they are blindly holding to a mindset that identifies with the wisdom of the world instead of the wisdom of God. That is not to say that everyone who says this is a false believer who worships the world (though that is possible), but that they are blind to what God’s Word has said regarding the preaching of the cross. Sadly, such mindsets are not reserved for judgments on street evangelists. It is far too often the case in American Evangelicalism that pastors and churches embrace this thinking. There are a great many churches who, in an effort to increase numbers of professing believers, endorse pragmatic, worldly minded techniques to achieve their goal. The result are churches who look, sound and taste like the world and have little to no resemblance to the God they claim to worship.
The Compromise of Corinth
In the above passage, the apostle Paul is writing to the church in Corinth. History tells us that Corinth was well known for its hedonistic debauchery. For a modern corollary, we may think of Las Vegas, New Orleans or even San Francisco. While my readers might be from any of these locations, and may object to the characterization, it cannot be denied that these cities have a reputation tied directly to the industries they support. As such, when people speak of these cities, those who live there are seen in light of those reputations. Such was the case with Corinth. In Paul’s day, to be one who lived in Corinth was to be one who had a reputation of being part of a very perverse culture.