I like reading the Epistles of the Apostle Paul because he was a very logical, straight-forward writer who excelled at explaining the wonders of God’s grace, power, and love plainly in ways that normal people can understand. But he doesn’t just scratch the surface, theologically speaking. There are times he digs deeper, and sometimes he says things that seem very confusing at first. The verse below is one of these verses:
For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. (I Corinthians 1:21)
That one is a little bit of a tongue twister! If you are like me you have to read it over several times to understand what he is saying. I think what the verse is saying is that God did not design the gospel to appeal to people of higher mental capacity. God knew better than that. God did not want to build a church out of intellectuals, because intellectuals are arrogant. He wanted to build a church out of humble people. So the gospel was designed to present the truth in a way that it would be believed not by the smartest people, but by the most humble people.
That is not to say there is no empirical evidence that supports the gospel message. There is plenty of it. But the factual evidence will not be enough to convince anyone in and of itself of the truth of the gospel, because of the inherent arrogance, blindness, and weakness of human beings. Therefore the gospel was designed not to appeal only to a person’s intellect, but their heart. Through the gospel God has created a way for the truth to be know to those of lesser intellect. This is the “wisdom of God,” that He has seen fit to level the playing field so that everyone gets a chance to believe.
Indeed, the message of the gospel seems foolish on the surface to an educated audience. How could Jesus be both God and Man? How could He die and rise again from the dead? How could He take our sin penalty upon Himself? Obviously this is not a message that appeals to the intellectual person. Instead, it’s main appeal is to a humble person, a person so desperate, so overwhelmed by his own sins that he realizes he cannot help himself. To this kind of person the gospel message rings true, because in his heart he knows that God did not create human beings only to destroy them. He knows that God is willing to save desperate sinners like himself. He knows that there must be a solution to death, entropy, and sin, and that it must be one entirely of God’s making, because every scheme of man’s is a failure.