Ridiculous is an interesting word. According to the omniscient Google search, it simply means, “deserving or inviting derision or mockery; absurd.” Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians :
18For 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. 19For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20Where 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? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preachb to save those who believe. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. The Gospel is a scandal (v.23). But it has become the habit of many to dress it up as something that it is not. Men serve to dull the sword of the Word making it only effective to bruise but not cut to divide between the bone and marrow (Heb. 4:12).
Ironically, those who are the ones to dress up this message of the cross and remove the scandal are also the same people who vouch for the ridiculousness of the Old Testament. Andy Stanley says, “All I know is this, He died, He rose from the dead; and when somebody predicts their own death and their own resurrection, you just go with whatever they say, okay? My faith doesn’t hang by the thread of verifying everything in the Old Testament…For the first 300 years the debate centered on a event not a book…did Jesus rise from the dead?… The success of the church isn’t ‘the Bible tells me so’, the success of the church has always been totally built around the eyewitness accounts of the resurrection.”
Inconveniently, the only way to have eyewitness accounts is through ‘the bible tells me so.’ (Of course I realize there are those outside the canon who affirm the resurrection; however, the eyewitnesses Mr. Stanley cites are Biblical authors).
As Paul Washer explains about the Gospel:
“Paul’s (the Apostle) flesh had every reason to be ashamed of the Gospel because it contradicted everything that was believed to be true and everything that was believed to be sacred in his culture…Paul makes no attempt to become relevant to his culture…the Gospel is an absolutely unbelievable message, a ludicrous word to the wise of the world. As Christians we sometimes fail to realize how utterly astounding it is when anyone believes our message. In a sense, the Gospel is so far-fetched; that it spread throughout the Roman Empire is proof of its supernatural nature. What could ever bring a Gentile – completely unaware of Old Testament Scriptures and rooted in either Greek philosophy or pagan superstition – to believe a message, such a message about a man named Jesus.
He was born under questionable circumstances, to a poor family in one of the most despised regions of the Roman Empire, and yet the Gospel claimed that He was the eternal Son of God, conceived of the Holy Spirit, in the womb of a virgin. He was a carpenter by trade, an itinerant religious teacher with no official training, and yet the Gospel claims that He surpassed the combined wisdom of the Greek philosopher and the Roman sages of antiquity. He was poor and had no place to lay His head and yet the Gospel claims that for three years He fed thousands by word, healed every manner of illness among men, and even raised the dead! He was crucified outside of Jerusalem as a blasphemer and an enemy of the state, and yet the Gospel claims that His death was the pivotal event in all of human history and the only means of salvation from sin and reconciliation to God. He was placed in a burial tomb yet the Gospel claims that on the third day He arose from the dead and presented Himself to many of His followers, and forty days later ascended up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of Majesty on high. Thus the Gospel claims that a poor Jewish carpenter, who was rejected as a lunatic and a blasphemer by His own people, and crucified by the state, is now the Saviour of the world, the LORD of lords and the King of kings, and at His name every knee shall bow including Caesar’s. Do you have any idea how impossible it is for anyone in Paul’s time to believe this message. It is impossible!
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However famous Christian apologists like William Lane Craig believe in the verifiability of the Gospel over that of the Old Testament accounts. Professor Craig says, “The unreliability of certain Old Testament narratives would have no impact upon the truth of theism or the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.” (Read his full post).
Professor Craig assumes in his statement that some Old Testament passages and stories are ridiculous, but the Gospel is not. How ridiculous! It is just as incredulous to say, “God created the world in six days” as it is to say “some obscure Hebrew man was God in the flesh and rose from the dead!” Seeking to remove this scandal from the “core tenants” of Christianity (or simply ignore them) is equivalent to seeking to remove the power of God.
In building up, preaching, and defending “Mere Christianity” we have forgotten that the Gospel is ridiculous. And in turn, we have also forgotten that people are not saved by our intellect, emotional persuasion, and clever rhetoric. People are saved by the power of God. How much resources are poured into programs, doughnuts, lights, music, performance! May it be anathema! May instead we may scream with Paul, “I would be accursed, cut off form Christ, for the sake of my brethren!” (Rom. 9:3).
Though the cross is certainly ridiculous, it is certainly true. We all sinned and fell short of the glory of God (Rm. 3:23). We could not repair this chasm between us and God. No man could live a perfect life and suffer an eternal punishment to be redeemed before God. Jesus became human in order to live the perfect life we could never live and die the death we deserved. When we repent and turn from our evil ways, and trust in the life and death of Jesus Christ we will be saved. soli Deo omnis gloria