Ann Coulter makes her living as a media personality by writing and saying provocative things. To cite a recent example, her August 6 post about Dr. Kent Brantly, the American medical missionary who contracted Ebola in Liberia after caring for infected Africans, is entitled “Ebola Doc’s Condition Downgraded to ‘Idiotic‘.” I generally decline to be baited by provocateurs (pearls before swine and all that) and I certainly have no wish to add to Ms. Coulter’s lucrative notoriety.¹ But this time, I can’t help myself.
I can’t help commenting on Ms. Coulter’s post because over at First Things I read an excellent response to it that I want everyone I know to read. I can’t resist sharing the First Things post not because of what the author, Collin Garbarino, says in response to Ann Coulter, but because of what he says about the gospel and about how God works in the world.
Ms. Coulter calls Dr. Brantly’s actions “idiotic,” but Mr. Garbarino reminds us that God’s wisdom often looks foolish to the so-called wise of the world:
Christianity has always been a little topsy-turvy. The mightiest king in the universe was born in a lowly stable. The second person of the Godhead “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant.” “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” He had “no place to lay his head,” and he surrounded himself with a rag-tag group of fishermen and tax collectors. Jesus could stand as a righteous judge, but he allowed himself to die a sinner’s death. Through sacrifice God saved his people. Through death death is conquered. What’s more foolish than dying in order to live? Christ calls his people to do just that. Take up your cross and follow him.” [Emphasis mine.]
Mr. Garbarino goes on to take exception to Ann Coulter’s suggestion that Dr. Brantly would have been better off converting a “Hollywood power-broker” than serving Africans without influence, correctly pointing out that worldly influence and power are not God’s preferred way of changing the world:
God uses weakness in order to show his own power, and in spite of his habit of using the lowly, he’s still managed to turn the world upside down. When people start thinking that they need the clout of a “Hollywood power-broker” to do God’s work, they’ve abandoned the gospel. If we attempt to convert the mighty so that we can use their resources, we’re telling the world that God’s power is insufficient. Does God need the rich and powerful to change the world? May it never be. God is sufficient in himself to do all he sets out to do.” [Emphasis mine.]
The whole post is an excellent summary of the Church’s claims about Jesus and worth the 5 minutes to read it. Read the whole thing here.
For some reason, we live in a world in which people without wisdom–celebrities, media personalities, and Hollywood power-brokers–are often seen as wise.² In such a world, I prefer the foolishness of God and the examples of idiots like Dr. Brantly.
1. As is obvious, I am not in agreement with Ann Coulter on this issue. In fairness, however, she does raise some important points in her post. For example, it is true that the American church should be doing more to care for the poor in our own country. But, loving our neighbors is not an either/or issue. According to Jesus, the Liberian with Ebola is just as much my neighbor as is the homeless man down the street: I have a responsibility to show mercy to them both.
2. I was encouraged to see Dr. Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention remind his readers that Christians ought to exercise more discernment before sitting at the feet of “hucksters and demagogues.”