Today when we think of madness we view it from a clinical perspective. Everything is viewed through the prism of psychology. But there was a time, long ago, when this was not so. The ancients viewed madness as something of a divine gift. In scripture we find several examples of people viewing the prophets of God as mad and even feared them. In fact, Jesus Himself was viewed as being out of His senses (Mk. 3:20-22). There was a burning flame produced in these men by the Spirit of God, something that compelled them go above and beyond any normal social behavior. Jeremiah describes the agony of this: If I say, “I will not mention Him, or speak anymore His name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot (Jer. 20:9). Prophets such as Samuel were feared (I Sam. 12:18). Jesus also terrified people (Lk. 8:34-37). We don’t seem to have a problem going to church or reading a devotional book but if real power came before us what would we do? Otherworldly power greatly unsettles us. Divine madness has been forsaken for some sort of “objective understanding” of the world. Did God not defeat the Philistines with thunder (I Sam. 7:10) and the Canaanites with hornets (Ex. 23:28)? Do we really believe these things? They sound so strange to us now. You would be mocked mercilessly for stating that the voice of God is in the thunder (Ps. 29:3, Job 37:1-5). But see what was said of those who rejected His voice and claimed that it was only thunder that they heard (Jn. 12:27-30). In these mad times I think the flame of madness should be lit once again. To burn away our iniquities lest the whole world is turned to ash.
Let us together sing the refrain that the wise man of old said: “There is a madness which is a divine gift; the greatest of blessings have come to us in madness.” (Phaedrus 244 a)