Monday, February 18, 2013

What Does the New Testament Say About Blasphemy?

Check out today's episode

I have recently finished reading the New Testament and I am collecting my thoughts about what I read in this series of posts. Today I am writing about what the New Testament says about Blasphemy. Other entries in this series:
  1. Slavery
  2. The Apocalypse
  3. Women
  4. Violence
  5. Sexuality
  6. Obedience
  7. Fear
A common message that is preached by Christians is that we are all sinners, and we all deserve the fires of hell. However, God loves us, so he gave us a way to get to heaven despite the fact that we are not worthy for this fate, if we accept Jesus into our hearts we escape the hellfire that we deserve. But is there anything that we can do that God simply cannot forgive us for? Yes! According to Matthew 12:31Mark 3:28-29, and Luke 12:10 there is exactly one thing, blasphemy against the holy spirit, that is unforgivable. The implications here are pretty interesting, you can be a murderer, rapist, or child molester and get into heaven with no problems by believing in Jesus, but if you speak against the the holy spirit it is over. There is nothing you can do, you will go to hell when you die, end of story. What does it say about God that the highest crime possible is blasphemy?

Those three verses from the gospels explicitly say that blasphemy is the only sin that is unforgivable, giving us the clear message that blasphemy is really the worst sin as far as God is concerned. There a few other clues in the New Testament that this is the case. Jude 8 (which is discussing Sodom and Gomorrah) describes the terrible crimes of those people, the justification for destroying the entire cities. The three named crimes are defiling the flesh, rejecting authority, and blasphemy. Again, not murder, rape, or child abuse, but spitting in God's face. Again, in Revelation 13:5-6 when discussing the beast who is terrorizing the planet, the crime which is mentioned (and therefore the message is sent that it is his worst crime) is blasphemy.

So blasphemy is clearly a very big deal, something that we should all try to avoid. Given that it is the only unforgivable sin, we need to make sure that there is no point in our lives that we are blaspheming, for if we do it once our afterlife is forfeit. So it would be nice if we could get some clarity from the bible on what exactly constitutes blasphemy. Although I found little, there was a bit of a hint in Jude 10 which mentions that people can blaspheme things that they don't understand. Let that sink in a minute, this means that it is possible to commit and unforgivable sin based entirely on ignorance. You could ensure an infinite bath in fire and sulfur based on committing a crime that you didn't understand was a crime.

The New Testament also gives us a few things to avoid, as they could lead to blasphemy. 2 Peter 2:2 says that sensuality leads to blasphemy, and James 2:7 implies that all rich people are blasphemers. This reads to me like pure fear tactics. We already know that blasphemy is pretty much the worst crime in the eyes of God, so it seems like a good threat to throw around if you are trying to control people. In the case of the sensuality, they were talking about false prophets coming in and tricking people to leave the faith with sex. I would argue that the church just didn't want it's followers to listen to any competing ideas, as it opens the door for some potential losses. What about rich people blaspheming? The church has said in the past that you should give them all of your money, this just ups the ante on that, if you are rich then you haven't given the church all of your wealth, therefore you are blaspheming. It sure is remarkable how much sense these passages make if you think about how the church benefits from them.

5 comments:

  1. It's very revealing that the Biblical God's ego is so fragile that he will not forgive humans who insult him. How would blasphemy harm an omnipotent being?

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    1. Well said Ahab. Why would an omni and perfect being care about being blasphemed. Heck, I am neither of those things and I don't care if you "blaspheme" me---I guess the old addage, "sticks and stones may break my..." did not originate from god then...

      p.s.---well....god damn it, I guess I am doomed to see you all in hell.

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    2. Well said Ahab, why would God have such a fragile ego? It's almost like God is just a thin facade set up by the church and they don't want it exposed...

      John, I like that idea of us blaspheming each other. Not only would I not mind if people blasphemed me, I'd consider it an honor. All of you should replace God damn it with Hausdorff damn it...that doesn't really roll off the tongue though does it? how about "Haus damn it!"...awesome

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  2. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines blasphemy as:
    "1. a : the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God
    b : the act of claiming the attributes of deity
    2: irreverence toward something considered sacred or inviolable"

    Doesn't say it only pertains to the Christian God. Therefore, bad-mouthing anything to do with any religion, even extinct ones, counts. Looks like heaven's gonna be pretty empty. Damn, and here is I was thinking I'd be free from those freaking Christians when I died.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Cheryl, thanks for dropping by :)

      I did get a bit sloppy in a few places just saying "blasphemy is unforgivable", but if I was more careful and we looked closer, it actually says blasphemy against the holy spirit is unforgivable. Therefore it would seem that even blaspheming Jesus or God the father would not fall into the category, although with the whole trinity thing, who knows. But we can be sure that according the the bible, blaspheming other gods is no problem :)

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