Some Thoughts on Blaspheming Oneself
I’m going to talk some theology today, but first let’s talk about some feelings. I’ve got a dear friend that struggles from time to time with deep fears, shame, and insecurity around his relating to God and the state of his soul, and his anxious heart tends to latch onto religious and theological reasons for these feelings.
In the years I’ve walked with him, different aspects of Christian faith and theology have shaken his assurance that he is, in fact, a Christian and that he can have a hopeful belief in his present and future relating to God.
Recently, he’s been struggling with an idea that’s gone by a few different names throughout history: “The Unpardonable Sin”, “Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit”, “The Unforgiveable Sin”, among others. It’s repeated and reframed in a few places of the Bible, but here is Mark’s version:
[And Jesus said,] “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—for they [his enemies, the Jewish leaders] had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
Many, many of you out there may brush this aside as one more cryptic saying of Jesus on which you can’t base the whole weight of eternity. Others may think this is such theological minutiae or so random out of everything in the Bible that they find it confusing someone would be overly concerned with it.
This weekend, I will be teaching the last class in my six-week Bible Survey class at my church. I want to end the class talking about how to use the Bible (and especially the knowledge gleaned from the class) in one’s personal (and corporate) spiritual life. How does the Bible actually function in a believer’s life to cultivate a dynamic, deep, and intimate relationship with Christ and the Holy Spirit? I have my own thoughts on this, but I want to hear from all of you. So here are some questions:
- Do more Bible “facts” actually have a direct impact on your spiritual engagement with God? In other words, has studying the backgrounds of the Bible ever led to meeting God? How or why not?
- What practical methods of immersing oneself in Scripture have been most fruitful to you spiritually?
- How might people use the tools of Biblical Studies (commentaries, etc.) to treat the Bible formationally, rather than merely informationally?
- For those that are oriented in such a way that they constantly want to know the context, background, history, date, etc. of Scripture, how have you been able to quiet all these questions in order to meet God?
- Similarly, for those more “intellectually”-oriented, how have you been able to move beyond the intellect to engage other parts of yourself with Scripture?
- How do we move beyond facts of Scripture to the Person of Scripture?
- If (as I said in the first class, and other theologians have said) the Bible only “becomes” the Word of God as the Holy Spirit meets us during our engagement with it, what have been the most effective practical ways that you have invited the Holy Spirit into your Bible Study time?
- In your experience, what have been some of the pitfalls in other approaches that are commonly endorsed by the contemporary church, or what are some of the realities that aren’t talked about often?
- What would you say if you were me (haha)?
Feel free to respond below, in a Facebook comment, email, text, or phone call. Thanks.
I just reached this part in the book I referenced in my post earlier on Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. This book was somewhat challenging the Documentary Hypothesis in my mind. I thought this book, in its recounting of Documentarians, was pretty fair and not too blindly fundamentalistic. But, now that he has turned from documenting the development of the field to laying out his own thoughts, I see I was wrong. Crap.
Posted from WordPress for Android on my Droid X
Update: I realized I was wrong.
Okay, for many of you, this will seem silly and inconsequential; others will find it blasphemous. But bear with me for this quick post.
Starting in a few weeks, I’ll be teaching a survey of the Bible class through the summer at my church (I’m going to try and record it and post it here each week). To prep for this, I’ve been delving back into seminary-land, reading about 12 different OT Surveys, OT intros, and Pentateuchal commentaries to get ready for just the Intro to the Old Testament and Pentateuch parts.
And of course, this brings up the issue of the authorship of the Old Testament. Honestly, I don’t plan on going more than 2 minutes on the topic in this class, but I want that two minutes to be fair, informed, helpful, and above all, edifying to the people in the room. I want people walking away understanding that godly people disagree on this stuff and why they do. I don’t want to caricature and criticize unnecessarily.
The main issue I’m working through is what part Moses (or any other pre-10,000 B.C. ancient authors/editors/redactors) had in writing the Pentateuch.