What Matters Most?
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Surely, You Jest!

The jolly

"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'
They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity;
there is none who does good."
-Psalm 53:1 (ESV)

 

There is jesting that makes us jolly and jovial and there is truth that makes us joyful. It cannot be assumed that they are the same. Joy is grounded in something beyond the tangible and tangential.  Joy is rooted in eternal truth. That demarks and differentiates the territory between felicity and foolishness.

This verse is not really or primarily about atheism, because it is not about an intellectual conviction or doubt. It is an assessment of a heart inclination that knows one thing and behaves in an oppositional manner toward truth.

There are many theists who have said in their hearts that there is no God. To know one thing and act as if what we know is not true or irrelevant to our lives is foolish.

Neither is it about intellectual deficiency. The biblical context for use of the word, "fool" is almost always the absence of wisdom and moral discretion. In fact, it self-defines in this verse as, "they are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity."

In other words, "You act as if there were no governing truth or Governor of truth in the universe. You live your life in contempt of God."

I used to call this "practical atheism."

Some of my friends would argue that morality and theology have no correlation and I would remind them that I am preaching to the choir who feels that because their theology is sort of OK, that they are OK.

But then, it gets more inclusive than that. Do you like inclusiveness? Try this: "There is none who does good."

None.

Is it "psalmistic" hyperbole, the exasperation of a godly soul who is fed up with all the ungodliness or is it the reality of human depravity and universal susceptibility?

Maybe both.

Does he include himself?

I do not know, but I count me among those who have worn the jester's hat and played the fool.

Every time I forget my Center, I am among the company of spiritual, oral, and ethical idiots who are saying in their hearts (mission control of the decision-making process) that there is no God.

"Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When God restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad."
-Psalm 53:6 (ESV)

So, after the initial exasperation of verse one, where the fool says in his heart that there is no God, the psalmist processes things and processes them some more and lands on hope and redemption.

God is in the restoration business.

The opposite of unbelief is, among other things, real rejoicing.

 

 

 

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