How God Teaches Reason to be a Fool

Circumcision and Name of Jesus Sunday

Luke 2:21

“And after eight days, when the child was circumcised, his name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”

First, let us ask Smarty-Pants, Ms. Jezebel, natural reason: Is it not a foolish, ridiculous, useless commandment that God demands circumcision? Could he not find a different member of the body than that one? If Abraham had followed reason here, he would not have believed that it was God who demanded this from him. For circumcision is such a foolish thing in our eyes; there could hardly be something more foolish. Additionally, the Jews bore much disgrace and shame, were despised by the whole world because of circumcision, and were considered an abomination. Moreover, there is no use
to it: what good does it do if the body is mutilated? Man is not made better thereby, because it all depends on the soul. But this is how all of God’s commandments and works are and should be: To our eyes, they appear to be the most foolish, most shameful, and most useless things, so that arrogant reason that considers itself intelligent and wise would be brought to shame and blindness, so as to surrender its presumption and submit to God, give him the glory, and believe that everything he prescribes is the most useful, the most honorable, and the wisest, even though reason does not see this
and thinks much differently about it. If God had given Abraham a sign that was pleasing and useful, wise, honorable according to reason’s presumption, reason would have remained in its old skin, would not have given up its arrogance, and would have remained in its customary ways of seeking and loving vain honor, use, and intelligence on earth; in this way, reason would have become more and more deeply rooted in the worldly, temporal things. But now that God presents foolish, useless, shameful things to reason, he tears it out of the quest for benefit, honor, and wisdom; and God teaches reason only to look to the invisible divine wisdom, honor, and benefit and to suffer gladly a lack of temporal honor, benefit, and wisdom, to be a fool, poor, unfit, and despised for God’s sake. This is why God was not about circumcision, but about humbling proud nature and reason. In the same way, we also have baptism in the New Testament where we are to submerge in water and believe that we there are cleansed from sin and are saved. Likewise, we are to believe that Christ’s body is in the bread of the Lord’s Supper. Likewise, we are to adore the crucified man as a Lord and God. All this is immeasurably beyond and against reason. This is how all works and words of God only go against reason, and reason goes against God, so that they collide over the sign that is opposed, Luke 2:34. It was quite foolish talk before men when Noah built the ark and said that the world would drown. What a fool Lot was when he said that Sodom and Gomorrah would be destroyed. Moses and Aaron were fools before king Pharaoh. In short, God’s Word and his preachers must be fools, as St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:21. And in this, God seeks no more than the humility of man’s taking captive his reason, 2 Corinthians 10:5, and be subject to divine truth. This is why Abraham was given foolish circumcision so that under it, they would give God the glory and let him alone be wise.

St. Louis ed., 11:284-285.

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