According to wisdom from below, people can transform God’s creation into a paradise by correcting some basic flaws in the world as God made it. The proposed solution is always some simplistic reduction of reality. There are crusades to get rid of private property, crusades to get rid of certain classes of people or certain races of people, crusades to get rid of fossil fuels, and so on and so on. Some people really believe in these efforts. What all of these causes have in common is that they are irrational leaps of faith. There is no objective evidence that these efforts would do anything other than harm if they were successful.
There are multiple examples of the current woke craziness, but I think that there are three that stand out from the rest. The first is the new legal definition of marriage to include not only the union of a man and a woman but also the union of a man and a man or of a woman and a woman. The second is the recent allowance for certain biological men to access women’s locker rooms and to dominate women’s sports. The third is the recent rejection of many of the virtues of western civilization as systemic forms of white supremacy. Why are such things happening in our culture, and why are they happening now? I think that a key to answering these questions is understanding what James 3:17 calls wisdom from above and the alternate wisdom which is wisdom from below.
In a nutshell, wisdom from above is a wisdom rooted in the fear of God, and wisdom from below is a wisdom rooted in rebellion against God. From the perspective of wisdom from above, wisdom from below is foolish. From the perspective of wisdom from below, wisdom from above is foolish. Everyone today is living a life that is some combination of these two contradictory forms of wisdom.
For those who do not know Jesus, wisdom from below dominates their lives, but not absolutely. Wisdom from below saturates and taints the totality of their experience, but wisdom from below does not dominate them absolutely. A total domination by wisdom from below would be fatal. No one could live a life absolutely dominated by wisdom from below. Wisdom from below leads to deadly lifestyles and actions. God restrains wisdom from below in the lost, and uses wisdom from above to exercise a moderating influence over them. That is the only reason why the lost are able to survive in this world. That is also why no one is as evil as he could be. The worst of people could always be worse than they are.
For those who know Jesus, wisdom from above dominates their lives, but not absolutely, at least not in this life. Their souls will not be made perfect in holiness until the time of their physical death. Wisdom from above saturates and elevates the totality of their experience, but they still have to struggle in this life with a continuing influence of wisdom from below. That is why no one in this life is perfect, and why even the best people may fail us at times.
So all who are now alive, both those who know Jesus and those who don’t, are living a life that is some combination of these two contradictory forms of wisdom. Our culture also, at any particular time in its history, is a manifestation of both wisdom from above and wisdom from below. What differs from time to time is the relative degree of influence that these two forms of wisdom have upon our culture. There have been times in the past when wisdom from above was the predominating influence in our culture. For several generations, there has been in our culture a gradual weakening of wisdom from above and a gradual strengthening of wisdom from below. What we have seen in recent years is a volcanic eruption of wisdom from below with a new consistency and capacity and range of influence. We have seen the flow of this destructive movement wreaking havoc and destruction in its wake. We hope and pray that this destructive force will not come our way, and we hope and pray that this destructive force will weaken before it destroys our culture.
According to the book of Proverbs, the beginning of true wisdom is the fear of God. The fear of God here refers not to abject terror but to a proper respect and regard for God based on a recognition of who God truly is and what God has actually done. Let’s consider who God is and what God has done. What is the original and ultimate reality? Does the original and ultimate reality consist of the dimensions of time and space? No, God created the dimensions of time and space as part of His work of creation. Does the original and ultimate reality consist of abstract qualities that God first possessed from eternity and then we began to possess at our creation? No, abstract qualities such as goodness, truth and beauty are not qualities that God possesses. They are abstractions of realities which God is. God is not merely good; God is goodness. God is not merely true; God is truth. God is not merely beautiful; God is beauty.
The original and ultimate reality is God Himself, and God alone. We know that God created the creation out of nothing, but sometimes we underestimate the radical emptiness of that original nothingness. The ultimate and original reality is not an impersonal background consisting of dimensions and qualities. God is the ultimate and original reality. That means that we live in a world that is thoroughly personal. Not everything created is a person, but everything created is God’s creation and God is a personal being. Creation is not an impersonal world where we are free to define and use things however we might want.
This personal God has no personal needs. He is not lonely. From eternity past, God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit have had a completely satisfying personal communion with each other in the oneness of God’s being. God did not create us because He was lonely and in need of companionship. God created the world and us as a completely free act of His divine will. He was under no necessity to do so, but God freely chose to do so. God created the world not to get more glory because God was already all glorious. God does not derive any glory from the creation but rather uses the creation to manifest His glory, to make His glory known.