Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
I have written other pieces about the arrogance of man, especially in this day and age. With the huge strides taken each year in science and technologies, many come to the conclusion that there is no God. They believe that man will explain and eventually control all things. So they begin to worship their own thoughts and hypothesis as the only real provable truth. Man places intellect as god and worships the products of it.
I thought that this thinking, these thought patterns, had only recently come about with the rapid rate of scientific discoveries in modern times. I realized these words written by Paul in his letter to the Romans were even more applicable today than they were in his time.
I took some time to read the commentaries written about these verse by a couple of 17th century scholars. I read the commentaries of Matthew Poole and John Gill. Both lived and wrote in the 1600’s. Although there were industries in that century, obviously when compared to today’s technology, they weren’t too far removed from the Dark Ages. And so I found their commentaries very interesting.
I found these lines from John Gill’s exposition on these verse to be very poignant.
“The learned man among the Gentiles first called themselves “Sophi”, wise men: and afterwards, to cover their wretched pride and vanity, “Philosophers”, lovers of wisdom; but not withstanding all their arrogance, their large pretensions to wisdom, and boast of it.”
Gill goes on to write about Socrates, who asserted that there is one God, yet one of the last things he did was ask his friend to sacrifice a chicken to Aesculapius, the ancient Roman god of medicine.
As I read this my thoughts were and have been, once again reaffirmed. Even though we have made monumental strides in technology, science, and worldly things, we still are the same people as in ancient times.
Arrogance consumes us and we worship ourselves and the worldly things we create. We take our knowledge, knowledge that we gained through the gift of God, and then disregard that which allowed us to get to this point. So just as Socrates on his death bed and just as is written at the beginning of verse 22 above:
Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
Socrates, a great philosopher, still revered to this day, asked that a chicken be sacrificed on his death bed. Some argue over what Socrates meant by those words. Did he believe the practice had some after life value, or would it cure him, or was it just some great metaphor?
It doesn’t matter. That’s the point, the wise being foolish to argue over such matters. We get so caught up in our own creations that we fail to simply acknowledge the Creator, the Creator who gave us life and the gift to create things through change.
In our arrogance we place ourselves as creator and worship our creations, be it intellectual or physical. Thus we fill our hearts with the world and deny the room that God has placed in our hearts for righteousness.
The arrogance of man, a constant throughout time.
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