The question of ethical character (and its deficiency) has become a matter of lively public discussion in recent years and promises to be so for a long time to come-in private life, in politics, in business, in society. While the world tries to figure out how to restore character, it will not find better guidance than we already have in the Bible.
Fool: Identifying and Overcoming Character Deficiency Syndrome is a forensic, worldview-conscious study of the fool and folly as depicted in the Bible, especially in the Book of Proverbs. The message of author Garry D. Nation is that character deficiency (folly) is a vicious, predictable, downward spiral of destructive personal choices. Moral upbringing and ethics training may interrupt and temper it, but God's grace alone can cure it.
Sometimes humorous, sometimes exasperating, sometimes tragic, but always engaging, Fool uncovers surprising insights into what makes us all tick.
Practical wisdom...in today's less than ethical business climate-deep, thought-provoking, and entertaining.
Phil Eubanks, Corporate Ethics Compliance Professional
I’m embarrassed to say, that as an immature Christian, I kind of had it in my head that the Proverbs in the Bible were like bits of wisdom from Confucius or something--like what you’d find inside a fortune cookie. Dr. Nation’s book helped me see the depth of Proverbs as a study of my own character deficiencies when I engage in the folly the world puts before me every day. The simultaneous simplicity and depth of the book is so refreshing, and as I am recommending it to others, I find myself realizing that I’m actually recommending it to myself for her another reading!
Mark Taylor, Educator
Garry is a pastor and scholar with a passion for Christ, an innovative spirit, and an open heart. I have read his work with spiritual profit. Now it's your turn to benefit: the Bible tells us that 'wisdom is too high for fools' (Prov 24:7). Find out for yourself and read this book.
Professor Andrew Walker, King's College, London
Excerpt from Chapter One,
"Diagnosing Our Disorder"
No less than at any other momentous time in history, we face a character crisis of epic proportions. The sharpest description and diagnosis of such a crisis of character ever given is found in the wisdom literature of the Bible, which comprises the books of Job, Ecclesiastes, some of the Psalms, and especially the book of Proverbs. This literature teaches that moral character is grounded in reverence for God and constitutes wisdom. It calls the failure of character “folly.” The sages who wrote these books, Solomon being chief among them, presented their observations with unsurpassed poetic virtuosity. Their true genius, however, is the method by which they made their observations. These ancient writers were the original behavioral profilers.
The words “fool” and “folly” in the English Bible translate several Hebrew words used widely in the Old Testament for individuals who are deficient in character. Don't be fooled by our contemporary uses of the word “fool.” The fool we're talking about is not necessarily unintelligent. He is unwise. This is not someone who is silly or ridiculous, but someone who has never learned that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Proverbs 1:7
I mentioned that there are several Hebrew words. In this book we are going to look specifically at six terms. They are not interchangeable synonyms, but each one has a distinct shade of meaning which illuminates our central theme. Together they indicate at least four progressive stages or degrees of descent into moral and spiritual depravity. I call this pattern of descent Character Deficiency Syndrome.
This is not an attempt to be jazzy or cute. I am not trying to create a New Age cliché here. Every word is deliberate and meaningful. The whole issue is about moral character. Wisdom means knowing the right thing to do and doing it. It is equivalent to the kind of sound and God-fearing character that thinks straight, makes good choices, and does what is right in a complicated world—even when doing right seems to make things even more complicated. “You've got to pay your dues,” as the song says, and “it don't come easy.” Ringo Starr, "It Don't Come Easy." Character willingly pays its dues. Folly amounts to a deficiency of that kind of character. The fool does not want to pay the dues. He wants the good life to "come easy." That is his first mistake. He goes downhill from there—and he does go downhill.
Folly does not stay still. It is progressive. Weakness of character is degenerative, and the process of its degeneration has identifiable, integrally connected stages. When we put the biblical clues together, we can see a clear pattern of cause and effect. Hence the term “syndrome.”
The first stage, the first degree of folly, signifies the simple or naïve fool, who is unthinking, gullible, and “devoid of understanding.” He does not even have a basic comprehension of moral cause and effect. The second degree is the self-confident fool. He is known mainly by his stubbornness and by his big mouth. The third degree is the committed fool, who has decisively rejected wisdom and instead made a commitment to destructive ideas and behaviors. There are some other interesting—if distressing— dimensions to this stage of the syndrome that we shall talk about when we get to them.
Finally there is a terminal stage of Character Deficiency Syndrome: the scornful fool, a mocker who is openly contemptuous of spiritual truth and moral righteousness. Many fools do not advance to this stage, if for no other reason than that it requires too much effort and commitment. On the other hand, some whom one would never suspect—including many that appear to be upstanding citizens, even clergy—actually descend to this level. They not only harbor a deep hatred for ethical absolutes, they have become evangelists for moral infidelity. They may well have passed a deadline beyond the longsuffering mercy of God.
This book, then, is about folly in all its inglorious dimensions: its symptoms, its diagnosis, its causes, and—if we may be permitted to borrow for analogy the "disease model" we criticized earlier—its cure.
Copyright © 2015 by Garry D. Nation. All rights reserved.