Michael Pearl: Michael Pearl here again to answer your Bible questions. Now I've not seen these questions. The reason I don't look at them is I'm too busy and it would occupy my mind unnecessarily. So here we are to answer another question. Jared, read us one off.
Jared: Proverbs 26:4 says, "Answer a fool not according to his folly lest thou also be like unto him." And then in Proverbs 26:5, it says, "Answer a fool according to his folly lest he be wise in his own conceit." Could you please explain this?
Michael: All right, let's turn to that. That's a very interesting passage. Now a fool is one who is a contradiction in itself, in other words, he is always doing the wrong thing. Doing the opposite of what he should be doing. And his actions are unexplainable in terms of even his best self interest. A man who lives by self interest is not a fool; a man who lives contrary to his own self interest is a fool. A man who speaks contrary to his self interest is a fool. So Proverbs 26:4, "Answer not a fool according to his folly." In other words, if a fool ask a question or raises an issue and you answer it in the same vein, then He said "Thou also be like unto him." You'll be a fool too. Some fools' questions are so inappropriate and so...the basic assumption of the question is so wrong that to answer it is to participate in his folly.
He says, "Answer a fool according to his folly, "in other words, descend down on the level of the fool and answer him, "lest he be wise in his own conceits." So a fool thinks he is wise when he's a fool, and if you don't answer him, he's going to continue in his foolishness.
So what this shows us is the contradiction of the situation that you're caught betwixt and between. You're damned if you do and damned if you don't. If you answer him, you're going to be like a fool. If you don't answer him, he'll stay a fool. So which do you do? Well, you do both, you do either, you do neither. The result is you're going to have a fool when it's all over with. It's a proverb. It's a wise way of explaining to us the innate contradictions of a fool.
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