Responding to Fools

FRIDAY

NAU Proverbs 26:4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Or you will also be like him.

NIV Proverbs 26:4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself.

NKJ Proverbs 26:4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him.

NAU Proverbs 26:5 Answer a fool as his folly deserves, That he not be wise in his own eyes.

NIV Proverbs 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.

NKJ Proverbs 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes.

Are you confused? What do you do, answer a fool or don’t answer a fool? I like some of the Jewish offshoots of these two proverbs like “When a wise man talks to a fool, two fools are conversing”, or, “A fool can ask more questions in an hour than ten wise men can answer in a year”. The best to me, though, is “The biggest foolishness of a fool is this: he thinks he’s smart”.

Earlier this week after posting ‘The Foolishness of Atheism’, I received this remark:

You really don’t understand, do you? I’ll give you a starting hint- there are plenty of believers who are fools. G W is a good start.

How do you answer someone who is so far outside of the context? The topic is biblical fools, and a biblical fool is one who is morally deficient. Moral deficiency begins with the rejection of God. So the comment (in the context of The Foolishness of Atheism) is deficient on two fronts – equating followers of Messiah with atheistic and morally deficient fools, and making an unqualified equation between G.W. and fools.

Such a comment also fails the Psalm 74:18 test that we looked at yesterday (One who looks with disfavor upon those with honor and is not afraid to use speech as verbal assault or abuse in an unqualified way against them).

This leads me back to Proverbs 26: 4, 5. To answer or not to answer! If you do not answer you do not run the risk of being a fool yourself, but if you do answer you prevent him from thinking he is smart (Robert Alden, Proverbs). So, I choose not to answer this person directly but will answer him indirectly and encourage all of us to act with more humility and with less foolishness.

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