Three Types of Fools

Three Types of Fools

Fool #1: Denies God

The most egregious and deadly form of foolishness is defined by the psalmist in Psalm 14:1: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Those who deny the existence of God are, according to Scripture, the ultimate fools. After all, what could be more foolish than rejecting the God who made you and everything else?

The opening of Psalm 14 gives us the heavenly perspective on the nature of humanity. It speaks not only of the heart of the atheist but ultimately of all of us. All people (except Christ) are born with hearts that declare that there is no God. In the Hebrew mind, the heart was not the muscle that pumps blood through our circulatory system. Instead, it represented the very seat of human understanding. We moderns tend to divide mind and heart, but this was not so for the ancient Hebrew. To say in one’s heart that there is no God is to say with one’s entire emotional, psychological, and rational faculties that there is no God.

The Scriptures tell us that we are all born with hearts that say that there is no God. For example, consider Romans 3:10–11, “As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.’” The Apostle Paul, drawing on the Old Testament, makes a universal declaration about the nature of humanity apart from God’s redeeming grace, and what he says, essentially, is that we are all born saying in our hearts, “There is no God.” In other words, we are all born fools.

In Reformed theology, we refer to this phenomenon as total depravity or, as R.C. Sproul put it, radical corruption. This idea does not mean that humanity is as bad as it could be or is incapable of doing any kind of good for others. Instead, it refers to a radical corruption of our minds, hearts, and wills that renders sinners incapable of self-help when it comes to knowing God and receiving His salvation. In other words, without God’s intervening grace, we are doomed to continue to say in our hearts, “There is no God.”

Our radical corruption began when our first parents foolishly chose to disobey God in the garden. In essence, through their act of disobedience, they said in their hearts, “There is no God.” Human history is merely a chronicle of the repetition of that foolishness in subsequent generations. We see it all around us. Our culture is not just saying in its heart that there is no God; it is screaming it from the rooftops and encoding it in social policies. This is an alarming and perilous trend. As we know from Scripture, foolishness does not end well. But as we appropriately critique our culture for its foolish rejection of God, let us not forget that we too were born fools.

Fool #2: Despises God

A second type of fool that we encounter in Scripture is the fool who despises the prerogatives, privileges, and gifts of God. Whereas the first type of fool is generally found outside the visible church, this second type of fool can also reside within its ranks. This type of fool is described in Hebrews 6:4–6:

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

This type of fool has “been enlightened,” “tasted the heavenly gift,” “shared in the Holy Spirit,” and “tasted the goodness of the word of God,” but despite having been exposed to these benefits and blessings, he has chosen to reject them.

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