Christianity Is Stupid, Dull, Dumb, And Foolish

Text: 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

Did you realize that Christianity is stupid, dull, dumb, and foolish? Yes, you heard me correctly. Christianity is indeed stupid, dull, dumb, and foolish… at least it is according to the world. 

You see, in our Epistle Lesson from 1 Corinthians we hear from the Apostle Paul that the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. That is to say; unbelievers do not and cannot view the central message of Christianity – the cross – as wise, good, and true. For their ears, eyes, and minds, the message of Jesus bloodied on the cross for the forgiveness of sins is foreign, and frankly a waste of their time. For unbelievers, the doctrine of the cross sounds dumb and looks foolish.

The message of the cross not only sounds dumb and looks foolish according to unbelievers but it is also a stumbling block. That is to say; the message of the cross causes the world to trip. The message of the cross is like a pesky fallen tree on a grassy trail that hikers trip over. It is like a rock that sticks out of the ground that a shoe catches on, causing people to fall. And so, the message of the cross causes frustration and disgust among unbelievers. It simply does not jive with the culture of our day. In fact, Christianity with it proclamation of the cross has never fit into the world’s way of thinking and it never will. It is a foreign message to the world - a foolish message that causes people stumble. More specifically, the message of Christianity poses a problem to the world’s thinking to the point that it causes unbelievers to become frustrated and even snort at Christianity in disgust.  

What this means is that according to the world – according to unbelievers – we Christians are frankly not cool and certainly not wise. Indeed, Christianity is viewed by the world as a religion for losers and the weak. The world does not understand Christianity, so the world scorns it. The world looks at Christians and writes them off as fools.

This presents a huge problem for us Christians, though. The problem is this: we want to be cool, and we want to be accepted, and we want not to be viewed as fools by our unbelieving friends and family. We want to be the popular kids on the block. We want to be in the ‘in-crowd.’ We want to be with movers and shakers of our social circles and our town. However, Christianity, with its foolish message of the cross, seems to keep us down, it holds us back. It brands us as fools, so that we are always the last ones chosen for the team. Indeed, that pesky message of the cross can make us look dull and dumb and stupid in front of the high-rollers of the world.

As a result of this, Christians across our lands often suppress and hide the message of the cross. That is right; Christians become so consumed with the need to be accepted by the world that the message of the cross is buried. We are ashamed of the foolishness of the cross – we do not want to be looked upon as fools, so we either do not talk about the cross, or we shove it into the background, and hope unbelievers do not notice it.

To make things worse, whole Churches shy away from the cross as well. What this looks like is this: since the cross is a stumbling block to unbelievers, churches go the way of a bait and switch. In other words, the church will engage the world and the community that it finds itself in but will do so without the cross. Deep down the church knows that if it presents the cross of Jesus too boldly and too clearly that it will cause many people in the world to stumble and it will give the church a reputation of being foolishly religious and irrelevant. So, like that church in South Carolina who gave away flat screen TVs to people or that church in southern California that hired a fast food restaurant to give away hamburgers and fries, churches across the land present unbelievers a form of Christianity with free handouts but no cross. Yes, the idea is to present a view of super cool and hip and relevant Christianity without the cross, so that unbelievers will not stumble over the cross. And then at some future time and point, the goal is to introduce the cross to these unbelievers, once they are in the door. That is to say; the church baits the world into the church with a crossless Christianity and freebies but once inside the doors, if the church ever gets around to it, the message is switched to the cross.

Dear friends, not only is this disingenuous, but it is unethical. The reason why? Christianity without the cross is not Christianity. And baiting and switching? That is the way of get-rich-quick schemes not the way of Christ’s church. Furthermore, this cunning does not work. You see, the way in which congregations entice the unbeliever 'through' their doors, will be the same ways that the church will need to keep the unbeliever 'inside' the doors. Give an unbeliever a flat screen TV; they may come through the doors of the congregation. However, to keep them inside, they will demand a DVD Player and Soundbar as well.

And here is the most important thing to note. The cross – the message and doctrine of Christ-crucified for the forgiveness of our sins – is not only the central focus of Christianity but it is the instrument of our salvation! This means that a Christianity without the cross is no Christianity at all. Christianity without the cross is like a lion without teeth – it is like an army without soldiers or a sunrise without the sun. Remove the cross from Christianity; you eliminate the power of the Gospel, and you no longer have Christianity but a Christianity in name only. 

Dear friends, the reality is that the more an unbeliever wants to comprehend the cross of Jesus with his or her own reason, the less they will understand or believe. This should not surprise us because the wisdom of the world does not approve or promote the Gospel, but opposes it and sees it as empty, foolish talk.

Unbelievers will demand signs, philosophical proofs, and logical demonstrations, to be convinced about Christianity. Other unbelievers will want the bait without the switch – they want promises of greatness, they want the glittery messages, they want the free handouts, and they want entertainment. However, in spite of what the unbelieving world wants, God gives to the world and to us, simply this… one crucified.

Indeed, we have been given the message of one crucified. Christ Jesus continues in the character of the crucified one. The church has been given this message of the cross; it is the only message that we preach.

“But Pastor!” you may say, “That message causes the world to stumble! The message of the cross is foolishness to the world! The world mocks the cross! Unbelievers are not going to buy into a bloody uncool cross! My neighbor will think I am crazy and a fool for believing such a message! And our church; if we hold to that message, no one will think we are relevant – they will consider us as dumb-stupid-religious fools!”

Dear Baptized Saints, according to the world, we are indeed dumb, stupid, and foolish because the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. However, this shall not sway us, for you have been called. Yes, you have been called by the message of the cross, which is the power of God.

Dear Baptized Saints, you must not lose heart! You are baptized into Jesus – you have been called. You have been given the power of God – forgiveness, life, and salvation. You are saved by the Lord’s power of grace, love, and mercy – Christ saved you in the cross and has joined you to His death and resurrection in your baptisms!   

And get this, the foolish thing that God does in the cross for you and me, is wiser than anything done by mankind. That is to say; the apparent weakness of Christ’s cross is in reality stronger than the might of mankind. What seems to be foolish in the eyes of the world is, in reality, wiser than mankind’s wisdom. What seems to be God’s weakness is stronger than mankind’s strength.[1]

And so, we proclaim Christ and Him crucified! We proclaim Christ and Him crucified because this message is the power of our salvation and the power of salvation that our unbelieving world needs to hear.

And as the world hears the message of the cross, some will call it foolish. Others will call us fools. And others will stumble over the message, fall to the ground in repentance and be raised up in faith, faith which receives forgiveness, life, and salvation.

Indeed, the world will consider the message of the cross as foolishness and a fable… that is until the Holy Spirit through the message of the cross calls, enlightens, and converts them.

So, dear Baptized Saints, let the world call us fools. Let the world call us stupid. Let the world call us dumb. Furthermore, we do not have to hide the cross, and we do not have to be ashamed of the cross, for we are indeed foolish according to the world, but according to God, we know that we have wisdom, power, and truth.

Truly, we know this day that Christ dying on the cross is that which conquers death, the devil, and sin. We know that according to God that which is seen as foolish is actually strength. We know that the foolishness of the cross is the power of God unto our salvation – here, now, and for all of eternity.

Let the world mock and laugh. Let the world scorn and snort. And may we rest in the wisdom, assurance, and hope of Christ’s cross, a cross that is for you and me.

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

[1] Harold Buls, “Buls Notes on the New Testament”, (accessed July 15, 2017).

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