Proverbs 26:4–5 reads: “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.” This verse may seem like a contradiction when you first read it. But like most alleged Bible contradictions, the “contradiction” quickly disappears with further thought.
So what does it mean to answer and not answer a fool according to his folly?
Well, let’s start by noting that the Bible isn’t engaging in name calling by using the term fool. It refers to someone who has rejected God’s truth and thus given up the foundation necessary for knowledge. This is an irrational or foolish position. And we aren’t to answer a fool according to this folly. If a fool wants to set the terms of the argument by saying the Bible isn’t true or miracles can’t happen, we reject those terms because they are foolish terms. We don’t embrace an unbeliever’s starting point lest we become like him.
But we are to answer fools according to their folly by exposing the foolishness of their arguments, to keep them from becoming wise in their own eyes and thinking there is no answer to their argument. If you read any of our Feedback articles, watch our Facebook Live program Answers News, or even regularly read my blog, you’ll notice a common theme. We generally address atheistic and naturalistic arguments—“folly”—from a presuppositional approach. That means we expose the underlying worldview and faulty thinking behind other belief systems, showing how they’re really stealing from a biblical worldview (which is the only worldview that has an ultimate basis for logic, morality, uniformity of nature, etc.) in order to argue against it. We temporarily use their terms to reflect their position back to them to show them their folly.
You can learn more about the Don’t Answer/Answer strategy in this article by Dr. Jason Lisle: “Fool-Proof Apologetics.”
Discover how to “answer a fool according to his folly” at our Easter conference called Answering Atheists.
You can discover how to “answer a fool according to his folly” at our Easter conference called Answering Atheists, sponsored by PureFlix.com. This conference takes place April 17–21, 2019, at the Ark Encounter in our brand-new Answers Center (inside a 2,500 seat multi-purpose auditorium).
This five-day conference features speakers with the Living Waters ministry: Ray Comfort, Emeal (“E.Z.”) Zwayne, and Mark Spence. Also, Dr. Christopher Cone of Calvary University, astrophysicist Dr. Jason Lisle, and many other dynamic speakers will be on hand. Several Answers in Genesis speakers, including me, will hold sessions, too.
This conference will conclude with a sunrise service lead by Ray Comfort on Easter morning on the grounds of the Ark Encounter. This special sunrise service is free for anyone to attend.
And, new this year (instead of a conference registration fee), we will feature a special multi-day pass option for families, couples, or individuals to our attractions. These multi-day passes include unlimited admission for seven consecutive days to both the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum (45 minutes away from each other), unlimited parking, all conference sessions, and other special offers. This exciting new ticketing option is a great way to explore everything both attractions have to offer during this unique conference.
Register soon for the conference to ensure you’ll enjoy the best-pricing option. The early bird discount of 15% off ends February 28, 2019.
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This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.