Jesus condemned those who would cry, “Thou fool!” Why was He so adamant, and how can we avoid both being a biblical fool or condemned by recognizing fools?
25 Let not my lord, I pray thee, regard this man of Belial, even Nabal: for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him: but I thine handmaid saw not the young men of my lord, whom thou didst send.
~ 1Sa 25:25
The Bible does not contradict the Bible. That is perhaps that most fundamental belief necessary in order to be a real Christian. After all, if the Bible is fallible, then so is the author, which means either God is fallible or He did not inspire the Bible. If either of those is true, then we have no idea who or what this “God” character is!
So, how can we reconcile Jesus’ warning about calling others fools with the fact that the Bible itself calls some people fools? Does this mean that we are not allowed to judge anything as foolish? What is a biblical fool? Why was Jesus’ warning so stern?
We Are All Fools
Firstly, it would serve us well to observe that in relation to God, we are all basically fools. I will later show that is true even with the biblical definition, but for now let’s concentrate on the fact that we are ignorant, slow, limited and very fallible human beings.
25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
~ 1Co 1:25-26
You know, many hymnals in the COG organizations have this verse in a hymn within its pages. Yet, I truly wonder how many take it to heart. Far too many are on campaigns to exalt themselves rather than God, and they give themselves titles like “prophet”, “apostle” and even far worse.
God’s plan is such that no flesh will glory (1Co 1:29)!
God, OTOH, is all-powerful, all-knowing and does not possess our human failings.
The World Is Foolish
It should be no surprise then that the world itself is foolish, for it is run by foolish mortals who have rejected God’s perfect ways.
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
~ 1Co 1:27
19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
~ 1Co 3:19
The glaring lack of common sense is all around us. You only have to turn on the television to see it. A woman can identify and pretend she is black, and she gets applauded for her “racial identity”? It doesn’t matter what your genitalia is, if you imagine you are a different sex then that makes it so?
It used to be accepted that sanity meant at very least a willingness to deal with reality. We have effectively created a scenario where lunacy has become not only accepted, but you can be punished for living in reality!
And, I haven’t really even mentioned the presidential race! Does anyone doubt that there is a mass insanity that has taken hold of this nation?
It all gives new meaning, at least to me, of a couple of passages including:
4 I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.
~ Isa 66:4
Are Atheists Fools?
Anyone who has studied another language eventually comes face-to-face with the fact that there isn’t a one-to-one correlation between the meanings of words. I often speak about idioms, expressions in a language that often mean something other than what the literal translation would give you, but even simple everyday words don’t necessarily translate very well.
So, we must be careful when we consider certain passages in the Bible, a book written in another language and an ancient one at that.
14 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
2 The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.
3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
~ Ps 14:1-3
So, are atheists dumb? Illiterate? Uneducated? Of course not. So, this passage alone should give us pause to consider whether or not “fool” means the same thing as we commonly mean in English.
In fact, we should pause and consider even whether or not atheists are being meant here. I cannot find the article I read once, but it made a good case that atheism most likely is not being addressed here. Perhaps there have been skeptics down through the ages, but most at least paid lip service to this or that deity at some point. To think that the average ancient Hebrew was an atheist is not very realistic.
No, but reading vv 2-3 makes it more obvious that the person is acting as though there is no God by not seeking Him, His will or His ways and, consequently, doing evil instead of good.
So, who is the fool? The predator priest, the false prophet and those who view religion as a means to riches rather than a calling. It covers many who will speak against the Church of God, spreading lies and gossip decades after people have died. It covers false teachers who will twist and turn Scripture and unjustly criticize church organizations based upon those twisted Scriptures, slander and innuendo. It covers organizations that claim God is a family but insist upon shunning family members for believing only 75% of what they do and causing such division that young adults feel compelled to take their own lives.
Some of them are definitely the synagogue of Satan, and they are identified easily by their slander of God Himself in their words and deeds.
Perhaps now the tie between the seriousness of calling someone a biblical fool is coming into view. It is a serious matter. It amounts to almost but not quite judging someone as beyond hope.
As GotQuestions?, a Protestant site, says:
There is an important distinction between the biblical definition of a fool and the word Jesus used (raca) in Matthew 5:22 when He forbade calling a Christian brother a “fool.” The term raca, spoken from a heart of contempt, implied utter worthlessness. Jesus was not saying that we cannot call the choices of another foolish. But to call someone “raca” was saying that this person was beyond the reach of God and therefore condemned forever. To say, “You fool!” to a brother or sister in that day was the equivalent of saying, “Damn you!” to someone today. We do not have the power or the right to condemn anyone to hell.
~ “Question: ‘How does the Bible describe a fool?’“
However, it goes even beyond that.
22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
~ Mt 5:22
Notice the context. CARM says of this verse:
When Jesus said in Matthew 5:22 that you should not call anyone a fool, contextually He was speaking of those who were unrighteously angry. That is why Jesus mentions anger in this verse. There is a righteous anger which is not sinful (Eph. 4:26–“Be angry and do not sin . . .”) as well as unrighteous anger that is sinful (James 1:20–“for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God”). When God is angry with someone, He is always righteous in His anger. Jesus, being God in flesh (John 1:1, 14, 20:28, Col. 2:9), can righteously be angry with people and pronounce upon them the foolishness of their deeds–which He did (Matt. 23:17)….
~ “Can we call someone a fool or not?“
Yes, Jesus called people of His day a biblical fool whenever they perverted God’s intent, which was far too common with the religious leaders of His day. It is far too common with religious leaders of our day. In fact, it is far too common with people who claim to be part of the Sabbatarian Church of God movement today.
To sum this up, Jesus commanded:
24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
~ Jn 7:24
The Blind Leading the Blind
However, we cannot stop there. The real heart of the question is are you a biblical fool? After all, you cannot change the leadership of this country, of the church, me or even your spouse. Only you can determine whether or not you are seeking God’s will and not what you’ve been told is God’s will.
Jesus made the observation:
39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?
~ Lk 6:39
If you are following a fool, what does that make you?
We need to be in The Book. We need to be sizing up our entire lives against what is in Scripture. If we are following a false teacher, a false prophet or even if we are following a “good man”, then we are in danger of destruction! We need to be following Christ!
11 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
~ 1Co 11:1 (NIV)
Paul encouraged people to only follow him as he follows Christ! Christ is the role model, not Paul, not some false prophet and not some false apostle.
To do otherwise is to be a biblical fool.