To Confuse or Not to Confuse?
1 Corinthians is an epistle when read carefully, offers quite a few interesting arguments about the guidance of God. Today we’ll be looking at one such argument. We read as follows:
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound (καταισχυνη) the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; – 1 Corinthians 1:27.
We then read as follows:
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. – 1 Corinthians 14:33.
These two statements are plainly contradictory. On the first hand, we have the argument that God intentionally chose the absurd and foolish things of this world to confound (confuse) the wise. On the other hand, we have the argument that God is not the author of confusion.
Looking at 1 Corinthians 1:27, we note several things. Firstly, that the Christian (concept of) God cannot blame anyone for being guilty of rejecting the belief that God can be both man and God, that God can be both capable of suffering and all powerful, ignorant and all knowing. This is because, as the scripture says, God intentionally chose the foolish things to confuse the wise, if the wise are confused because of the foolish things, then who bears responsibility for the confusing in the first place? In this case, it would be the Christian (concept of) God. We also note that the word here for confounding or confusing is not a translational error. Many translations including the KJV, AKJV, Jubilee Bible 2000, Douay-Rheims Bible and the Webster Bible Translation all use the word “confound” in their editions for this verse. Additionally, the Greek word used here is καταισχυνη which according to Strong’s Lexicon (#2617), means:
Short Definition: I shame, disgrace, put to utter confusion
Definition: I shame, disgrace, bring to shame, put to utter confusion, frustrate.
Therefore, to appeal to claim it is a word equivocation between the words in the two passages would be incorrect, to appeal to a different translation is also incorrect and to also claim that the word does not mean confusion is also wrong.
Looking at 1 Corinthians 14:33, we see the argument that the Christian (concept of) God is not the author of confusion. To understand the context the verse is being used, we read from Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:
God is not the author of confusion – Margin, “Tumult,” or “unquietness.” His religion cannot tend to produce disorder. He is the God of peace; and his religion will tend to promote order. It is calm, peaceful, thoughtful. It is not boisterous and disorderly.
Some may argue that other interpretations refer to the confusion as women (as we find in the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible commentary) or that the confusion refers to a conflict in prophecy. If the confusion is to be understood as women, it makes the verse much worse, if it refers to prophecy and the words of prophets (or those inspired by God), then the issue is not removed as Christians consider both passages above to be from inspiration and they plainly conflict which does not remove the problem but compounds it. Other commentaries have combined the two and indicated that the confusion is both moral and spiritual, as we find in the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges:
for God is not the author of confusion, but of peace] Confusion; literally, unsettlement. Cf. St James 3:16. Also St Luke 21:9, where the word is rendered commotion. As in the natural, so in the moral and spiritual world, God is a God of order.
Both of these interpretations do not remove the contradiction between the passages, but affirms them, and therefore to appeal to other commentaries would not remove the issue. The contradiction stands as is.
In conclusion, if the Christian (concept of) God is not the author of moral or spiritual confusion, why would the Christian (concept of) God intentionally make the religion of Christianity both difficult and confusing?
and God knows best.