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Foolishness of the Cross

I (Craig) recently had the opportunity to sit down and write some reflections on 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 for a forthcoming publication. I started work on those meditations the day after the first Presidential debate of the "season." Thus, I was especially struck by Paul's claim that the wise, the scribes, and the debaters of this age don’t “get it.” As Christians we are called to live according to the foolishness of Christ's cross and not the wisdom of the world. What might that mean? It must at least mean that those alleged wise persons, who argue over the right use of economic, legislative, and military might, should be weighed against the standard of the cross. What does that mean? Well, in 1 Corinthians, Paul says that the cross is the foolishness of God that is wiser than human wisdom. The cross is that point in history at which God entered the world and showed humanity what it looked like to live as a person of God. Those who follow Christ must then adopt the foolishness—indeed, the scandal—of the cross as their way of life. Christians are not called to argue over the right use of power; instead, Christians are called to empty themselves of all desire for power in order to love. Christ displayed self-emptying love one the cross, and his disciples are called to that same sort of self-emptying love. And so, as we enter into election week, please keep the notion of self-emptying love in mind. We are not a people who attack and deride one another based on prideful political allegiances. Let's remind ourselves that the main point of 1 Corinthians 1 is that we are called to be united in Christ because Christ and his foolish cross are greater than anything human that masquerades as greatness. None of us have reason to boast, except, as that fine old hymn says, "in the death of Christ our Lord."

This week will provide many temptations to boast in things other than Christ's cross. May God help us resist those temptations.

Craig D. Katzenmiller is the Social Media Editor at and is currently pursuing a PhD in Liturgical Theology and Ethics at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg.

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