Accidentally unforgiven?

I was reading this morning in Matthew 12, about the "unforgiveable sin." It brought back a flood of memories, and some disturbing questions.

When I was a kid - and probably longer than I want to think about after that - I heard about and read about this sin, and I had no idea what it meant to "blaspheme" the Holy Spirit. But it was clear that anyone guilty of it was in a heap o' trouble, and I didn't want to go there.


It caused me untold worry. I wasn't every mother's delight, and even though I was a "professing Christian," I had absolutely no clue what it was about or how to live the life of a follower of Jesus. I grew up in a fundamentalist church, and they don't teach such stuff. Doesn't fit with legalism.

So what happens when I die? Will I get there and find out I committed The Big Screw-up back when I was 12? Burn, baby, burn! Not a comforting thought.

I have since understood that worrying about committing the offense pretty much guarantees I have not committed it. That's because the offense is in the attitude, not the action. It's unforgiveable because of the stiff neck and unrepentant attitude of the perp.

So that settled my head some on the matter. Then this morning, another thought popped in. Sigh.

Is it possible to commit this blasphemous sin by what we don't do, rather than by what we do? I mean, is it possible that our refusal to believe or act is in itself blasphemous? That we don't have to publicly denounce the Holy Spirit, as happened in Matthew?

I don't know the answer.

I think a very common attitude among American evangelicals is a "comfort zone, high-control theology." And yet, according to my New Testament, it's not possible to live a biblical life, apprenticed to Jesus, without yielding to the Holy Spirit. Actively, intentionally yielding.

Here's the problem: In much of American Christianity, the Holy Spirit is defined in a way that makes him utterly irrelevant. And we like it that way. He's dangerous. We don't want to yield control, because who knows what crazy thing we might do? We might even become one of those snake-handling holy rollers. Whatever those are.

And so we knowingly take the safe way, maintaining control, keeping in our comfort zone. And we practice and experience an empty, powerless Christianity.

Question: Do we blaspheme the Holy Spirit when we resign him to irrelevance?

I don't know.

2 Comments

Wow! Great question!

Like many Christians, who happen to be introverted - I shied away from anything that resembled charismatic theology. I still cringe when I see people who are hyper-expressive in worship.

At first, I am ashamed to admit that I stood in judgement of those who were more expressive. Through the years, I have mellowed in this area. I believe there needs to be a balance, but I also believe that God made me unique, so how I see the Holy Spirit working is also unique and I don't need to be afraid that one morning I will wake up speaking in toungues unless God has prepared my heart to do so.

In other words, I don't see God as being too fond of pulling uncomfortable tricks on us. He is loving and gentle and knows more about me than I do in the area of charismatic gifts.

So, I have had to ask myself how exactly do I see the Holy Spirit manifested in my life and in the lives of others.

Do I believe that He comforts me? Yes!

Do I believe that He reminds me of God's truth by bringing scripture to mind? Yes!

Do I believe that I have to manifest the charismatic gifts in my life in order show I believe in His power? No. In Galatians, Paul talks about the fruit of the Spirit as being loving, kind, gentle, peaceful, one of self-control (boy do I need help in this area!) etc..

I do not need to speak in tongues or possess the gift of healing in order to demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit in my life.

Norah,

While I believe the "charismatic gifts" are valid and important, they are but one part of the work of the Spirit in the life of a follower of Jesus. There is some confusion between the fruit and the gifts of the Spirit. The fruit (singular, incidentally) is the result of the work of the Spirit in bringing forth the character of Jesus in us. The "gifts" (in I Cor. 12) are tools, supernatural abilities ("manifestations" of the Spirit, said Paul) given to us as a community of followers, tools for accomplishing the task set before us by Jesus.

Do we need the gifts to show we believe in something? No. You are correct. But that's not their purpose. Jesus said (Acts 1:8) that when the Spirit comes upon us we will "receive power" to be his witnesses. Attempting to be that in our own power is both pointless and perhaps even a sin.

How d'ya like them apples?

Leave a comment












Loading tweets:

Follow us on Twitter!

  • Larry Baden said:
      Norah, While I believe the "charismatic gifts" are valid and importan...
  • Norah said:
      Wow! Great question! Like many Christians, who happen to be introver...

home quodlibet journal theo blog sermons theology e-texts church history forum home