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.