How do you feel about “stupid”? Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German theologian, pastor and anti-Nazi dissident believed that stupidity is worse than evil because stupidity can be manipulated and used by evil. He believed that the stupid could acquire power of one sort or another, but that they surrender their individual critical faculties in the process. Do these thoughts resonate in your mind? Are they compatible with scripture?
A dictionary definition of stupid is “having or showing a great lack of intelligence or common sense”. Additionally, it means “dazed and unable to think clearly”. A good example of stupidity is that of a man and a pigeon playing a game of chess. The pigeon knocks down many of the figures, leaves its droppings on the board and then flies away to proclaim victory to its fellows. How stupid is that? How stupid was the man for initiating the game in the first place? No common sense and no clarity of thought on either front.
Just what is it that makes “stupid” stupid? Scripture adds a great deal to the definition as to what makes it so. “My people are fools. They don’t know me. They are stupid people. They don’t understand. They are experts in doing wrong, and they don’t know how to do good” (Jeremiah 4:22, GW version). Stupid people are also foolish and they lack understanding. Stupidity, foolishness and a lack of understanding are all bound together by a common fact: such ones do not know God. They therefore lack the knowledge of the truth to come to sound conclusions through a clear state of mind. Thus, for anyone to trust in the reasonings of his or her own mind apart from God’s truth is stupid.
There is a great danger is remaining willingly stupid. The Apostle Paul describes those who are being destroyed by it. “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). Satan the devil will, over time, blind the minds of those who reject God’s authority and sound minded truth. Bonhoeffer was right to a degree. Stupidity absolutely can be manipulated by evil, but it ultimately merges with it as it is swayed by the spirit that is in the world.
What sort of evil can Satan bring upon the willingly stupid? Jeremiah’s description of foolish and stupid people who lacked godly understanding is prefaced with this, “O my soul, my soul! I am pained in my very heart! My heart makes a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because you have heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. Destruction upon destruction is cried, for the whole land is plundered. Suddenly my tents are plundered, and my curtains in a moment. How long will I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet?” (Jeremiah 4:19-21). Death or captivity by war is the horrible result of surrendering one’s individual critical faculties to the power of evil.