Friday, August 8, 2008

In Defense Of Sarcasm

In an earlier post I repented of the prevalence of, what some of my critics have described as, extremely angry and cutting sarcasm however, regardless of the fact that I have publicly announced my intention and then subsequently deliberated to tone down the sarcasm,” there are still some critics who categorically object to all sarcasm and would have me shut down this blog. They argue that unbelievers might be offended at my words or that weak, immature Christians might not understand and be caused to stumble.

But I disagree that the use of sarcasm is always bad and never appropriate. In some cases, the use of sarcasm can even be useful or edifying. Charles Spurgeon recognized and insisted on the occasional appropriateness of laughing “the laugh of sarcasm against sin, and so evince a holy earnestness in the defense of the truth.”
Jesus used sarcasm in His earthly ministry and it is even recorded where God employed a bit of it from time to time.

In I Kings 18, Elijah is engaged in a contest with false prophets to demonstrate the mighty power of God and the sheer impotence of Baal. Elijah has challenged the prophets of Baal with this test; Elijah and a prophet of Baal would each build an altar and lay an ox on each one. Then they would each call upon their own gods respectively. The god who could bring fire on the altar would be the True God. That was the basic premise although the testing got more difficult (in fact, impossible) but that’s the point; with God all things are possible.

Anyway, right there in the pages of inspired writ and under the control of the Holy Spirit of God, His prophet, Elijah, employs one of the best-known examples of cutting sarcasm found in the Bible.

The Baal worshippers prayed and danced and cried and begged and cut themselves but nothing happened. That’s when Elijah began to mock them and scoff at them. He said, “You’ll have to shout louder than that to catch the attention of your god! Perhaps he is talking to someone, or is out sitting on the toilet, or maybe he is away on a trip, or is asleep and needs to be wakened!” ( Yes, I know the Living Bible is a paraphrase.)

Elijah’s purpose there in mocking the prophets of Baal was not to convert them to the true and living God. His purpose was to point out to God's people how STUPID and FOOLISH the Baal worshippers were and it worked. When the people saw the demonstration of God's power, they fell on their faces and shouted, "Jehovah is God!"

So I see no reason to not occasionally employ some sarcasm to mock the stupidity of evolutionism, atheism, Christian liberalism, or even some occasional, outrageously stupid practices within evangelicalism. Stupid and foolish people believe and do stupid and foolish things because they are stupid and foolish. That’s what carnal men are and do. If they were wise, they would be turned to God from their idols.
Sensitivity, tolerance and acceptance of stupidity and foolishness will not convert the unregenerate to love and serve God. Only God can convert them by His grace through faith in Christ and He accomplishes that with His Word. On the other hand, sometimes the cutting edginess of well-crafted sarcasm can be used to turn God’s people from the stupidity and foolishness of their own idolatrous actions and ideas and turn back to the One True God.

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