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December 20, 2006

The Blasphemy Challenge

Would you trade your soul for a DVD? Well, over one hundred young people (and counting) have.

A group calling itself the “Rational Response Squad" is inviting people (mainly teens) to blaspheme the Holy Spirit and thereby commit the “unpardonable sin.” If you are among the first 1001 people to declare “I deny the Holy Spirit” and post your denial on YouTube, you, too, will receive the free DVD, “The God Who Wasn’t There.”

Now on one hand, whatever naughtiness these folks think they’re committing in their cheeky videos, they’re not blaspheming the Holy Spirit. To do that requires an admission of supernaturalism—a definite no-no to free-thinking rationalists like the RRS. You see, according to Scripture, the “unpardonable sin” is to experience the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit and attribute it to another supernatural agent: Satan.

On the other hand, this is a very clever ploy by the RRS. They realize that once someone has jumped off this “cliff” they can’t change their mind as they plunge down the abyss. If you’re convinced that regardless of later revelations you are beyond forgiveness, your only choice is the full court press of godless rationalism.

Disturbingly, the RRS reports that the Blasphemy Challenge is targeting 25 websites geared to teens including Xanga, Friendster, Boy Scout Trail, Tiger Beat, Teen Magazine, YM, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. Their aim: to de-program kids who have been indoctrinated from birth to believe in God, in general, and Christianity in particular.

In the words of RRS, “If we talked about religion the same way we talk about science, history or other fields involving truth claims, dogma would wither in the light.”

They may be on to something. If religion and, say, evolutionary science were held to the same standards of testability and falsifiablity, dogma would wither—especially that incapable of accounting for the diversity and complexity of life, not to mention existence itself, and the great metaphysical questions of meaning and purpose.

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Comments

Chris Clukey

Walter, I say this with love, though I doubt you will receive it that way. If your most recent post doesn't fall under what Isaiah was talking about in Isaiah 5:20 and Paul was talking about in 2 Timothy 2:3-4, I don't know what would.

Your homonormative crusade has now taken you into territory where you express approval for someone who is intentionally trying to blaspheme the Holy Spirit and lead others to do so. Does it not give you pause that you say "Good work" to an enemy of Christ?

Steve (SBK)

Can we all just have a little more grace in this thread? And always hope for more grace from God, day by day?

Walter

Chris,

Jason and Harvey have taken the "challenge". Jason said:

"I do not think it is possible for the Holy Spirit to guide people to marry same-gendered spouses anymore then I think it possible for the Holy Spirit to guide people to any other sin."

Harvey said:

"He will remind them that Woe is to come to those who call what is wrong a right, and those who call what is right, wrong. "

Both have placed their narrow personal rigid understanding above others' conversations with God. Is that behavior not a denial of the Holy Spirit?

Gina Dalfonzo

But then we get into the question of whether what the Holy Spirit says to us, or what we believe He's saying to us, could ever contradict what He inspired the writers of Scripture to say.

In any case, it looks like we're wandering pretty far afield from the subject of the thread. Can we try to get back on topic, please?

Rolley Haggard

I'm sending up a flare for help. For all intents and purposes, the dilemma this poor soul (below) is facing is on a par with blaspheming the Holy Spirit because she believes herself unsaveable. I noticed some of the folks who've posted here have had struggles with thinking they committed the unpardonable sin, and I'm hoping they (or anyone else) might be able to help. Here's the deal --

A friend is going through an incredibly hard time (health and financial problems) and has concluded that she is being judged by God for accumulated sins that she committed over the past 30 years. Until recently, she assumed she was a believer all those years (and so do all her friends and acquaintances, myself included). But the hardships she's going through have convinced her that she minimized sins she committed all those years, and that now God has run out of patience and has withdrawn His hand of blessing, and will not forgive her unless she demonstrates the sincerity of her repentance by going to virtually everyone she thinks she sinned against in thought, word or deed over the past 3 decades, and confesses her deceit, rationalizations, flirtations, etc. etc. -- in short, confesses to the people affected all the dishonoring thoughts and actions she may have committed. Otherwise, she concludes, God will not consider her repentance sincere and she will, like the rich young ruler, go away empty-handed.

She said she could have peace, "if only there were an example in the Bible of a professed believer who lived for decades rationalizing sin, and then when they came face to face with it, received forgiveness." But, absent discovering such an example, she sees only threats and warnings that those who continually rebuff God's overtures will eventually reach the end of His patience.

The root issue for her seems to be this necessity of proving that her repentance is sincere. She says she wants to repent, but if God expects her to go and confess all these sins to all these people as proof that her repentance is sincere, she is not sure she is willing to do it (because of all the embarrassment and humiliation it will bring upon her), and therefore feels her unwillingness proves she is not repenting as God requires, and if she is not repenting as God requires, then she will not receive forgiveness.

BTW, her sins are not "scandalous", but she feels that because of all the light she has had she is held to a higher standard (her father was a godly man and a professor of theology at a good Bible school all her life, and she herself has always been well-taught and active in a good evangelical church, etc). She sees the principle "to whom much is given much is required" at play here.

Any suggestions for books, sermons, etc. that address this idea of "proving the genuineness of your repentance and faith" would be greatly welcomed. I (and others) have spent countless hours talking with her, but she is unable to get past the Bible verses that describe God's hardening people's hearts and giving them up to further moral/spiritual decline. She thinks she is beyond hope of forgiveness, and with all the physical suffering she's going through, it is unbearable to see her unable to find at least spiritual comfort.

Thanks, friends, for your compassion, prayers, and ideas.

Gina, if this type of post is too off-topic or out of bounds, feel free to delete.

LeeQuod

I would say to her, Rolley, that Job was a better person than she, and yet Job got punished worse. He not only lost his health and all his finances, but all his children died, too.

So to me, the Book of Job makes clear that there is not a clear-cut link between circumstances and sin.

She also has an intricate blame for God - He is expecting her to do something she's not willing to do, so it's His fault if she ends up in Hell. (I also detect a strong whiff of self-pity, since she's spread this story around to many friends who've spent hours with her.) The thief on the cross didn't get the chance to repay those from whom he'd stolen, and yet Jesus said that the thief would be in Paradise.

So I don't think God's quite that cruel. I find "The Passion of the Christ"'s flogging scene difficult to watch not because of the gore, but because I see each lash taken on my behalf. All that blood that Mary mops up was *my* fault. (I know - but this works for me.) And Jesus knew this would happen, going in, and did it for me anyway. Pretty unlikely He'd prescribe an agonizing personal penance like the one she describes.

And Martin Luther also springs to mind; he who did penance better than all the other monks, and who wore out the priests with his agonizingly detailed confessions, before concluding that the just shall live not by works.

But I also know that Job's friends were really his friends at the beginning, when they came and just sat with him. Sometimes no amount of rationalization is effective as silence. I'll be praying for your strength, sir, and that of your compatriots.

James 5:11 NIV - especially the last part.

infernus006

I really don't understand why Christians are so afraid that the Blasphemy Challenge in and of itself is converting kids to atheism and taking away their only hope for eternal salvation. That seems to be what a lot of Christians are saying about it. But that's not what's happening, even if everything in the bible is really true. All of the people (both young and old) who take this challenge are already atheists who are just making an arbitrary statement to show their complete lack of belief in the bible and subsequently their lack of fear as well, of both Christians and their god, and it is their right to do so whether you like it or not. Why is this so frightening to Christians?

You don't have to worry about these people losing their faith in Christ, they either don't have it to begin with or they already lost it and don’t want it back. Nor does their simple denial of the Holy Spirit have anything to do with attacking Christians. No one is threatening the freedom of Christians to practice their faith by choosing to deny their faith. They are just being honest about their beliefs, and why shouldn’t they? Would you rather for them to lie and pretend to believe in Jesus when they really don’t?

Nor do you have to worry about them failing to come to Christ later in their life just because you think that they might feel like they can’t since they already committed the worst possible sin that the bible says is unforgivable and there would be no point in trying even if they wanted to. If that's what you think then you are missing the whole point of this thing. They don't really believe that they are going to hell at all, for anything that they have or haven’t done, and they’re just saying a particular phrase from the bible that means nothing at all to them just to show how meaningless the words are to them, that's all. Why is that so hard to understand?

By the way, if you honestly believe that our supposedly loving and all-powerful creator is going to let anyone on this earth suffer in eternal torment after they die just because they said the words “I deny the Holy Spirit” while they were alive then you are completely screwed in the head and you fully deserve to be ridiculed to no end.

This all boils down to the tired old argument of “just in case”. Believe in God, just in case. Go to Church, just in case. Accept Jesus as your Lord, just in case. Don’t deny the Holy Spirit, just in case. Just in case my ass! How about don’t do any of those things *just in case* your god is really the devil? Or how about just do the right thing because you know it’s right, do the best you can because you want to, and follow the golden rule because you need to in order to get along, not because of a scary ultimatum from an invisible being that refuses to show itself?

Let’s say that Christians are right, though, just for the sake of argument. I have to say that, in all honesty, if my only choice really is to accept Jesus to go to heaven or else I will go to hell, then I will gladly take the latter option. Why? Because why should I even want to spend eternity in a place that’s filled with people that I never liked at all while everyone who I ever actually cared about and respected in life is going to a completely different place where I will never see them again? There simply is no incentive whatsoever for me to accept Jesus in that case since I believe that heaven would in fact be more miserable for me than hell would. I’m not afraid to say that the people on this earth who I care about are infinitely more important to me than Jesus and I would rather be with them regardless of the dire circumstances that we might be faced with as a result of our lack of faith, and I really feel sorry for anyone who feels differently about that regardless of whatever rewards you might be given for it in the afterlife. Because in that case I think that you are really just a bad person and there is no reward that could possibly justify that kind of behavior to me.

Basically, to harbor blind faith in a tyrannical deity and surrender to it for personal gain while remaining complacent to everyone else's damnation by said deity just to keep your ass out of the fire goes to prove that you’re nothing but a selfish coward who doesn’t really care about what’s right or wrong as long as you come out on top. And I really don’t want to be in the same place as you, not in this life nor any other that might come thereafter, no matter how bad the alternative is. That’s right, if I have to bask in the lake of fire in order to stay true to myself and my people without selling out to some [expletive deleted] god that I know in my heart is wrong, then so the [expletive deleted] be it. We’ll just have to wait and see who really regrets their decision in the end.

Here’s another challenge for you. If you are a Christian who thinks that you are going to heaven because of your belief in Jesus and you happen to have a friend or a loved one who is a non-Christian, whether they are an atheist, agnostic, pagan, or whatever, who you think is going to get sent to hell because of their lack of belief in Jesus, then I just have one question for you. It’s a really simple question that I have never had any Christian answer for me yet. Would you like to be the first one to answer it? If so then here it is: I just want to know how it is that you think that you will actually be able to enjoy yourself at all in heaven with the knowledge of that person being tormented in hell forever. That’s it, that’s all I want to know. Because that just makes no sense to me how that can even be possible for anyone with any sense of morality in their being. The only choice that I can see in that case is for you to somehow completely detach yourself emotionally from that person and just stop caring about them altogether, otherwise you might as well just be in hell right alongside them. And if you do detach yourself from them in that case and just forget about them, do you think that’s what god really wants? And if so tell me how then is god not evil? It seems kind of strange to me that no one wants to answer this question, because I’m not aware of any Christians today who openly admit that they deliberately avoid associating with or becoming attached to any non-believers on a personal level just so they won’t feel bad about going to heaven. But if you are a Christian who does actually do that and that is how you think that you will be able to savor your rewards in heaven, then please speak up, quit hiding and let it be known, because I’m tired of Christians saying that they care about other people when they really don’t.

[Ed. note: Infernus006, you're welcome to share your opinions, but we have a policy against profanity. Please bear it in mind in future. And I deleted your e-mail address because we never publish those. --GRD]

Robert Van de Water

Fernie,

Do you mind if I call you Fernie? Infernus006 seems way too long.

I find it hard to believe that nobody has responded to your question. Allow me to be the first.

When I placed my faith in Jesus Christ, I admitted that I was a sinner who needed the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ to do what *you* yourself said was necessary and "follow the golden rule because you need to in order to get along". When I accepted Christ, I admitted that I needed the help of the God's Holy Spirit to love others as God desires. Without the help of an omnipotent God, I am simply incapable of following the golden rule.

Those who believe as you do have rejected your need of the forgiveness and grace of Jesus Christ. Just as alcoholics who deny their need of help will continue to abuse alcohol, so those who break the "golden rule" and reject the forgiveness of Jesus Christ are doomed to the consequences of not loving one another perfectly for all eternity.

So the answer to your question is that you are *choosing* to be tormented by the imperfect love of those around you in hell. Hell has nothing to do with burning in literal flames. Hell is being surrounded by those who have rejected God's help to love their neighbors as themselves.

You don't think that imperfect love can be a torment? Perhaps you should talk to someone who has had the experience of imperfect parental love. A person who has had this experience would surely testify that someone can love you intensely while at the same time driving you to distraction. Only the perfect love that is possible through the power of God's Holy Spirit will allow human beings to live in peace for all eternity. (Please note that we Christians fall woefully short of the perfect love of Christ down here . . .)

If I had a simplistic belief that hell involved "literal flames" (gasoline perhaps?) like you do, then I might not be able to live in eternity knowing that God was actively torturing people who I cared about. As much as it saddens me that many of my friends and loved ones cannot admit their need of Christ, however, I will not deny that *I* need God's help just because others will not admit that they need Christ.

God Bless,

robert van de water

Samuel X

This seems to be the Topic That Wouldn't Die. How appropriate.

Infernus, my short response is that I agree with pretty much everything you say except for the part where you equate it with Christianity.

And to answer your question... my belief is that those who end up in Hell are those who would not have been happy in Heaven. Possibly the hellish part is knowing that they were wrong, and refusing to deal with it, for all eternity. Their destination is, at the very least, not God's choice, but their own. Is that helpful?

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