|Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven
Friday, November 12, 2004 Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit
Michael Medved posed the notion today on his radio show that some people like Arafat, Hitler, Stalin, Bin Laden et al. become committed to evil to such an extent that reform, redemption, repentance is impossible.
This concept is anathema to most Christians, 'though for all practical purposes, it is generally believed but not said. I think we all from time to time, under serious consideration, conclude that a number of people are bound for Hell for the life they led.
Only one condition exists in the New Testament where Jesus promises that an individual is irredeemable, and that is for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
There are a great many interpretations of what the sin which is blasphemous must be that triggers damnation. After much searching (and a little fearing since one doesn't know if he has committed the blasphemy or not since it isn't specified), I have concluded that what the New Testament means is quite simple, and what we encounter in others every day.
Why can you blaspheme against the Father and the Son, and it can all be forgiven, but against the Holy Spirit is verboten? My experience is that people who blaspheme against the Father and Son don't know them, have never met them, and speak from ignorance, shame, and pain. The Father and Son they curse don't actually exist. They are mere figments of weird imagination in the mind of the one cursing, and so such things don't actually touch God.
Jesus implies this when he says (in a way), you can say anything you like about me. It doesn't matter because I know you don't know me at all as I am.
But the Holy Spirit. Ahh, that's another thing entirely. The Spirit is always present to people and is recognized by what we call Truth. The mind that recognizes that 1 + 1 = 2 is that of the Holy Spirit in that his wisdom and intelligence is operating. The mind that recognizes perfect logic, or a contradiction in terms, or cause and effect - inductive and deductive reasoning - these are operations in which we participate in union with the Holy Spirit whether we recognize it or not. The same with Natural Law.
Paul expresses this when he talks about the glory of God and his existence is obvious to all in the working of Nature and Heavens. The created universe being evidence in itself of God.
But there are people of "invincible ignorance" who abjectly and absolutely reject both the evidence of their senses, and that of their reason. We see this in atheists who torture logic to defend absurd premises about life and the universe.
We see this in terrorists who justify their bloodlust by claiming God's license or existential right. In pedophiles who blame children for being so darn sexy and provocative. In murderers who insist the other fella or gal had it coming.
Ideally, Christians believe in the absolute and ineffable power of God and forgiveness. In practicality, we are aware that a great many people die in their sins unrepentant, unreflective, undisturbed, and unafraid.
My own father is 78, in declining health, and wonders why his children are all estranged from him. He is convinced he had nothing to do with it, but that we all just turned out badly. He doesn't claim to be perfect. He believes in his own way there probably is a God, but he finds it impossible for him to bend his knee and ask for help in any way from divinity. He simply doesn't believe he needs to be forgiven for anything, or requires grace in any capacity.
As a Christian, I am perfectly content to share Heaven with Hitler, Stalin, and Arafat if it turns out they have taken complete responsibility for their sins, repent of them, and have been forgiven by God. The parable of the late workers in the vineyard illustrate this beautifully. BUT, I don't expect to actually meet anyone in heaven with a complete knowledge of their personal history on earth. I don't expect to know my own history or name (in the sense of an identity of earthly deeds).
If there is a purgatory (which is a reasonable concept), it would equally apply to ther most heinous repentant sinner to the sweetest nun as a place for making perfect.
Is it possible for a soul to self-annihilate as Medved and others insist? I don't know, but there is a stratum of utter animal depravity, of mindless evil, and unmitigated viciousness which possesses a great number of people like Stalin, Hitler, Arafat, and so on down to the malicious and sadistic capo in Auschwitz.
Evil is real, and some people give their all to it in this world. They are not simply lost souls in search of meaning, paradise, utopia, well-being or self-esteem. No, they have given their all wholeheartedly to meaninglessness, nihilism, chaos, destruction, and heartlessness in their will to power. Their's is the satanic culpability Milton captured in Paradise Lost - "evil, be thou my good." posted by Mark Butterworth | 1:31 PM |