Category Archives: Insights

Just Stop It

Dear Christian.

Have you ever wondered why it is that you believe in Hell?

I mean, who in their right mind would just assume that this is the way the universe works?

It’s likely that you were taught to believe it from when you were a small child.

You were conditioned to believe it.

Deep down inside you know that it is a false teaching, after all you are not a sociopath. That is why you can live a normal life without being haunted by the thought of billions of souls being tormented by a god who claims to be love.

The idea of an all powerful being punishing his creatures infinitely in unthinkable agony for eternity for finite crimes is not tenable scripturally, morally or philosophically.

The idea of being harshly punished for committing a crime against one higher in position than you comes not from scripture, but from medieval justice (gee, thanks Anselm and Calvin)

The concept of Hell you were taught to believe is not even in scripture. Any serious student of Koine Greek and ancient near east culture who is familiar with metaphors and euphemisms of the time can tell you this. (A couple of fantastic resources on this subject are: “Her gates will never be shut” by Dr. Bradley Jersak and “That all shall be saved” by Dr. David Bentley Hart)

Dear Christian pastors and teachers. Teaching people about eternal Hell is not gospel. It has nothing to do with the life and teachings of Jesus. It is religious abuse. I understand that you teach it out of fear as you yourself experienced religious abuse. Now is the time for healing. You can stop the cycle. You know that your teaching traumatizes, is manipulative, harmful and plain wrong.

Just stop it.

– Ryan Harbidge
Used here with his kind permission

A Parable: The Saving of Mr. Pintle

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series Speaking Truth to Power

Here’s a parable/short story I wrote a good few years ago now. Like all good parables, it has layers of meaning and lots to give in terms of wisdom.

Enjoy!

The Saving of Mr. Pintle

If Mr. Horace Pintle could be said to love anything, it was his job. Having been promoted to Enforcement Management Officer, Dog Fouling, a couple of months ago, he’d gone to work with a vengeance, and now his town was a much better place for it. Granted, he’d had to work hard and had had some very unpleasant arguments with many awkward and powerful people, but he was confident that his job was being done properly, as it ought to. Besides, he loved the aura of power that he felt when he won his ‘discussions’ with people whom he was sure thought they were better than he was. Dog Fouling Enforcement was a most important job, and since the new ‘Council Initiatives to Combat Dog Fouling’, he knew that he had the full force of the Law behind him. Oh, he was a powerful man indeed, more powerful even than the man he had come to see today and in whose office he now sat, sipping an excellent coffee from a proper coffee cup, not those cheap plasticky ones he was forced to use from the coffee machine at the Council offices. The little things like this – he liked to think of them as ‘perks’ – were something he enjoyed immensely.

“Dr. Adams, the law is quite clear on the matter. Under Subsection 5.8.8.2 of the ‘Pavements, Fouling of by Dogs Order, 2008’, the dog must be destroyed if the owners fail to comply with the instructions of the relevant authority. That authority is of course myself, and these people were obstructive and rude when I confronted them with their offence. And since you are the dog’s veterinary surgeon, you are the most suitable candidate for the task. Clearly, it is in the dog’s best interests.”

Dr. Dave Adams steepled his long, sensitive fingers and looked at the little man at the other side of his desk. His clear grey eyes took in Mr. Pintle’s little moustache, his pince-nez spectacles and his thinning hair, carefully combed across his balding head. In another age, Dr. Adams thought, he’d have also been wearing a bowler hat and a pinstripe suit; such was the type of person he had in his office at that moment.

“Mr. Pintle, it is a completely disproportionate response to destroy a dog, simply because its owners failed to pick up completely the last vestige of faeces from the pavement. Did the Martins not explain to you that their dog had a tummy upset that day, and that although they used four separate bags and did their very best, that they simply could not collect all of the mess because it was simply impossible?”

“That is none of my concern”, said Mr. Pintle. “In any case, it is simply out of my hands. The law is very clear on the issue: these people are clearly not fit to own a dog if they cannot be bothered to clear up after it. It is a simple matter of cruelty, Dr. Adams. The dog is obviously not happy with people like these who cannot be bothered to obey the law. It is simply more than my job is worth to allow this situation to continue.”

Dr. Adams thought of Jeffrey and Martha Martin, the couple sitting anxiously in the waiting-room outside his office with their ten-year-old daughter Lucie. Only six months previously, Dave Adams had put to sleep their precious ten-year-old dog, Saladin, whose arthritis was so bad that he simply couldn’t get up any more. Mr. and Mrs. Martin had paid for only the best veterinary treatment in order to do their best for the animal, but to no avail, because the arthritis had been so far advanced by the time it was detected. Lucie had of course been particularly devastated when the dog had died; she’d grown up with him there all her life. Their new dog, Lollipop, was a shaggy brown mongrel who absolutely doted on Lucie and would certainly lay down his life for her, and who was now lying forlornly in a cage at the other side of Dr. Adams’s office, observing them both through soft, intelligent eyes. These people, Dr. Adams thought, were born to be dog owners. He felt he’d grown close to them on a professional level, while treating Saladin, to know that fact quite clearly.

Dave Adams spread his hands placatingly. “Mr. Pintle, I have taken a professional oath to not do any harm. I cannot simply put a dog to sleep because you demand it; there has to be a proper medical reason. And you must consider the family. The little girl dotes on the dog. Her life would not be the same without him. I’m appealing to your humanity, your sense of decency. Surely you’re a good man, with feelings too? This is tearing them apart!”

Horace Pintle felt the delicious flare in his chest that he usually experienced when people put on what he called their ‘be nice to Horace’ veneer. People had to be nice to him, or at least show him some respect. Even if it was only on the surface, they had to do this in the hope that he would decide to be nice to them; in case he felt like being lenient – to perhaps not come down as hard on them as he could. This was another aspect of the power that he loved. People knew that unless they at least maintained a façade of being civil with him, they had no chance of any leniency whatever; if they were rude to him then, well, they’d get no favours from him. Oh, no. They knew it, and he knew that they knew. He’d learned it during his time as a traffic enforcement officer. People had often been obsequious and wheedling, trying to avoid a simple parking ticket, that they could easily afford with their flash cars, families and nice coats. Posh old ladies who’d overstayed their car park tickets by ‘it’s only ten minutes, love’. One young mother in particular he remembered – obviously with a rich husband, of course – struggling with an expensive buggy packed with screaming kids and laden with heavy shopping bags; almost in tears as she’d pleaded with him while he gleefully pinned their fixed-penalty notices under her windscreen wiper the regulation eight minutes after her ticket had expired. Oh, yes, he knew what power was, and he enjoyed it to the full. He hated children and families, young families especially, with their dogs and buggies, nappies and shopping bags. They offended his sense of the order of the universe, the rightness of everything that was properly ordered and set out nice and neat and in accordance with the regulations. Dog mess on the pavement was an affront to him, not because it could infect young children with some unpronounceable disease or other, but because it just was plain wrong. Everyone in the world knew that.

“You remember our advertising campaign, Dr. Adams. We have received text messages from bystanders reporting this family committing this offence; we have surveillance cameras which corroborate their stories. I have made this my personal crusade – to eradicate dog waste from the streets. I have taken personal charge of this case and I intend to pursue it to completion. You realise that I can have your licence to practice revoked, Dr. Adams. I’m sure we both want to avoid any unpleasantness. Naturally, all your professional fees will be paid by the Martin family. It’s in everyone’s best interests, and from what I hear of your professionalism, it won’t feel a thing”. He smiled at Dr. Adams with his mouth only, not his eyes, of course. That would be too unprofessional on his part.

Dave Adams lowered his eyes and looked at his desktop, as if surrendering the point and the interview. Pondering for only a few seconds, he appeared to come to a decision. “Very well, Mr. Pintle. I had hoped it would not come to this; that perhaps we could come to some agreement; some sort of reprieve. I can see now that unfortunately you leave me no choice. No doubt you would like to observe and see that your wishes are carried out. Would you like some more coffee while I make the necessary arrangements?” With that, he stood up slowly, almost tiredly, from his chair, and went across to the place on his workbench that held the coffee-pot, near his dispensary cabinet. While the coffee was brewing, Dr. Adams opened the cabinet and began to make up the required drugs. Bringing across Horace’s fresh coffee, he placed it on the desk in front of Horace and then turned back to the cabinet to continue his work. Glancing down for a moment at Lollipop in his cage, Dave, always the compassionate vet, he tried to give him a wan smile of encouragement.

Savouring for a moment in his mind the recent application he’d put in to become an auditor of large professional companies, Horace Pintle re-stirred the hot coffee in his cup – it had to be properly mixed; anything else just was not proper – and took a good long swallow. Hmm. It was definitely a good brew, smoky, dark and delicious. Hopefully his career record would be immeasurably enhanced by this successful campaign, and give him a good chance to impose his own kind of order into yet more people’s lives. For the moment, though, he was feeling particularly tired. These arguments, or ‘discussions’ as he preferred to think of them, he always found tiring, but the inevitable victory at the end was always sweeter for that. In fact, this one had made him particularly drowsy, and, despite the good strong coffee, he was having difficulty keeping his eyes open. Ah, it looked as if Dr. Adams had finished his preparations and was ready to administer the injection. The vet turned slowly, heavily, from his dispensary towards the dog, and the syringe filled with blue liquid and fitted with a long, sharp needle came into view…..

Outside, in the waiting room, the tension reached its peak as Dave quietly opened his door and came out to confront the Martin family. Lucie was red-eyed with weeping, as were her parents, and the three of them had formed a close, family huddle in their moment of need. Dave closed the frosted-glass door of his office behind him and leaned tiredly against the frame. “That’s something I hope I never have to do again. But it was peaceful in the end; he didn’t feel a thing.” He turned, reopened his office door, and clicked his tongue. Lollipop trotted gamely out to meet his beloved family, and Dave, glancing back over his shoulder, said, “Don’t worry, it’s all been sorted out”, as he went back into his office where Mr. Horace Pintle had finally been put out of his misery.

No Fear in Love

This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series Speaking Truth to Power

This is a great piece by the superb writer Chris Kratzer, who I consider speaks truth to power. He’s not afraid to call out hypocrisy, judgmentalism and unfairness, especially in Christian circles. In this piece, Chris lays out the conflicting ideas fed to him as a youngster, and as a young Christian, and shows why these ideas are incompatible with the idea of their being ‘No fear in Love’ (1Jn4:18)[1]

Footnotes

Footnotes
1 Chris’s words in this posting have been set up as a series of screenshots from his original post on Facebook. This is because Chris has recently had one of his posts pirated by some Christian thugs, who edited it so that it said the exact opposite from what he wanted it to say, then republished it while still claiming his authorship. My posting his work as a series of screenshots makes it much harder for vandals to do this; rather than simply copying and pasting text which can be modified, they’d have to do a whole lot more work on it – something such people are usually too lazy to do. This is also why he puts in that request at the end that any reposts be unchanged.

Speaking Truth to Power

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Speaking Truth to Power

I haven’t posted much recently, and this is because – as my regular readers will know – I ‘do what I see my Father doing’. And just lately He hasn’t been ‘doing’ me posting on my blog.

Lately, I have become more and more concerned about the way in which Christianity has been twisted by a combination of political and religious powers, to the point where many Christians no longer feel comfortable identifying as ‘Christian’ because of the harshness and nastiness that that ‘label’ now – quite rightly – brings to mind in the thoughts of someone not associated with the Faith. People are not wanting to be called Christians any more because of the bad behaviour of right-wing Evangelical nasties. But, personally, I won’t let the pirates and interlopers steal my own birthright: the right to carry the Name of the One Who loves me. Come what may, and even given all the negative connotations that the name carries, it’s still my birthright. Tarnished and sullied by the unclean it may be, but it still means the world to me[1]. It was mine to begin with, before the bad guys stole it and made it unclean to be seen wearing.

I’ve also decided that, at my age[2], it’s my turn to gripe and moan about the ills of society, bureaucracy, officialdom and the lack of any kind of sense of humour in many people. I’ve lived long enough to have seen the unchanging nature of human civilization, its pettiness, its frustrations, its curse of repeating history and not learning past lessons[3] to have hoped from childhood that things must surely get better; they can’t persist in those methods for long, surely? Only to find out that indeed they don’t get better, and they do persist[4].

This isn’t from a point of view of hopelessness. This is from a point of view of someone who is an upbeat, happy and positive person who nevertheless wants to point out the things wrong with society, so that even if nothing ever changes, at least others can see that they are not alone in their frustrations. I have a firm belief in God and in His plans for bringing ordinary people into the blessings of His presence. Maybe that will gradually help to change society in the process; who knows. But this is not the sort of thing you will read about or hear about in the news, because modern news only concentrates a) on the bad news, and b) on the things that politicians are saying – which usually comes under category (a) in its own right 😉 God seems to work more in the quiet, small unassuming things of life, like someone holding open a door for the person following them, or letting a hassled young mum, with an armful of tired toddlers, go first in the queue. The little things of life.

Some of this stuff may appear political. I don’t get involved in party politics; while I do exercise my hard-won right to vote and thereby participate in democracy – which “…is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time…”[5], I don’t openly profess allegiance to any political party. The idea of this series is to address and call out official bullshit no matter its source. I also won’t be addressing every issue on the table; just the ones I feel called to address. My silence on an issue does not indicate any opinion on it in any way.

And I am not necessarily going to propose any solutions, except maybe occasionally to show that there is a better way, and that better way usually involves something that looks like treating others fairly and treating them well. That said, there are a lot of nasty people out there and I’m afraid I do believe that anything bad that happens to those people is simply them getting their own just desserts. I’m not into treating bad people all nicey-nicey. This does not clash with my beliefs on Grace: the undeserved and unearned favour of God Who loves all people. No, this is simply people getting their just desserts so that, hopefully, they can learn from their mistakes and become better people for it.

I’m not claiming to be any better than anyone else. And even if I am, it isn’t anyone else’s place to judge me for that or for anything else. I’m not forcing anyone to read my drivel, but if you find it helpful – which I sincerely hope you will – then that’s great. But, being a Yorkshireman, I like to say it how it is and, if that means I lose others’ favour along the way, then so be it. I’m not in this game to please others anyway 🙂

So, I’ll get on and write some pieces for the series now. I hope you will find them helpful! 😀

 


Header picture is a beautiful shot of the buildings housing the seat of British Government: the Houses of Parliament, and I use it here to symbolise ‘power’. While much of the current hijacking of Christianity is taking place in the United States, there is also a slow and insidious infiltration of the same types of problems into British Christianity. So, while I am a UK citizen, I could equally have placed a picture of the US Capitol Building as my header picture, and it would have meant the same thing.

Footnotes

Footnotes
1 This is an almost verbatim, direct quote from where I have written this before, in this article
2 I’m 62 at the time of writing
3 I have heard it said that the only lesson we learn from history is that no-one ever learns the lessons of history
4 It is worth me emphasising at this point that this is not meant to be a doomsday kind of statement, nor is it any claim that ‘things were better back in the day’ because, despite what the naysayers might try to tell you, the average standard of living worldwide is now far better than it has ever been before.
5 Winston Churchill, quoting an ‘unsourced aphorism’ – someone else invented the phrase, but Churchill quoted it without naming the source – which he likely didn’t know anyway). My source for this information is here

Hors D’Ouvres

Another collection of bite-sized chunks of wisdom, humour and downright inanity for my readers’ delectation.

Enjoy!

“If you find that your heart has grown bigger than your doctrine, know that it is the doctrine that needs to go, not the heart that needs to be restricted.”
– Jeff Turner

“It is far easier to lie convincingly to someone than to convince someone they were lied to”.
– Elim Garak, Star Trek – Deep Space Nine

“Alexa, why do I have relationship issues with women?”
“This is Siri…”
– Anon

“It’s amazing that people in the Bible heard directly from God but people today need a Bible to hear from Him”.
– Jamen

“…trying to hug reality with words”
– Wendy Francisco

“If you’re going to err, err on the side of love and acceptance and inclusion and trust God with the rest. And the real question here is, ‘Do you trust God enough to do that?’ Are you willing to just love and let go and let God handle everything else, or do you feel like you need to intervene? Do you trust God enough to let go?”
– Rob Cottrell

“In any legitimate and honest search for truth about a matter, one must first consider at least the possibility that one’s current belief might not be true. Otherwise, why even bother looking? Honest doubts are the fuel that propels any legitimate search for truth”.
– Richard Goyette

“But failure is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign that you are alive and growing”
– Col. ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, United States Air Force

“I personally think, after being a church guy my entire life, that religion’s greatest fear is that the manifesting sons and daughters will discover just how powerful they really are, which will result in a total loss of religion’s manipulation and control that came through generations of convincing people of the lie that they are separated from God; worthless sinners headed for eternal torture if they don’t toe the line”.
– Dr. Don Keathley

“Don’t waste your time debating with people who are committed to misunderstanding you…especially those who just don’t believe there’s any chance they could be wrong”.
– Robert Cottrell

”  ‘….if I could imagine what it would be like to experience judgment…’
Well, we do. Every day. For some people, their sole purpose in life is to judge others; we are surrounded by judgmentalism. But God’s not like that. If there is such a thing as a final judgment (which I doubt), all we will get is ‘this is my child, with whom I am well pleased’. I know that’s how He feels about me now; why should that ever change?”
– Me

“Only an aircraft is tied to nothing. There is a complete sense of detachment and isolation in the sky”.
– Capt. Laura Savino, Jet Boss: A Female Pilot on Taking Risks and Flying High

—-

“If God created you to be you, but you being you isn’t good enough, then why did God create you in the first place?”
– Chris Kratzer

“Religion tries to get you TO a place of victory while grace has you living FROM a place of victory.”

– Don Keathley

“Both the 7th day at creation and Jesus’s “it is finished” from the cross refer to man’s inability or necessity to add to what God had done. We can neither add to, nor take away from, a completed work. Nothing is needed.

“Our response to what is finished does not make it finished. Our response makes us subjectively experience what is finished.

“Our lack of response does not make it unfinished. Our lack of response prevents us from being aware of what is finished.

“Today, rest in your completeness”.
– Dale O’Neal

“I love you more than anything you could ever do wrong”
– Maarva Andor, Star Wars: Andor, S1 Ep.12

“Most evangelical churches are built on opposing doctrines. Come just as you are and be saved by grace, now that grace saved you let me tell you the laws you must keep to stay saved…. It’s the old bait and switch. Bait with grace then switch to law once grace hooks them”.
– Don Keathley

“If leaving religion causes you to give up on God…then…you had a relationship with religion, not a relationship with God!”
– Glenn Regular

“Don’t limit the way that the Spirit of truth can bring you revelation, truth and the solution. He is much larger than the 66 books that comprise your Bible. He will come down any road to deliver what you need.”
– Don Keathley

“God doesn’t do guilt, period.

“So: if anyone ever, ever, EVER tries to guilt you into anything, it isn’t God.”
– Rob Grayson

“Having the Mind of Christ is not a big mystery. It is a mind that thinks in sync with the mind of the Father and expresses itself by saying and doing what the Father says and does…”
– Don Keathley

“The bit in Hebrews 12, about the ‘sin that so easily entangles’, is precisely about the obsession with sin. Sin (whatever it is) has nothing to do with the redeemed any more; we are dead to it. It’s obsolete”.
– Me

The narrow way is Jesus plus nothing. You will never fit through the gate carrying all your religious “I must do to be accepted by God” baggage…
– Don Keathley

“The idea that ‘it’s always darkest just before the dawn’ was clearly invented by someone who was still in bed at the time. And the bloke who said ‘Slow and steady wins the race’ always came last”.
– Me

 

 

 

Unconventional

Within Evangelicalism, there often seems to be a ‘rubber-stamp’ approach to the ‘accepted way’ to ‘become a Christian’ (whatever that means). For many, and especially for pushy evangelists, not only is there only one way to Heaven (Jesus) but there is also only one way to ‘become saved’ by Jesus, and that’s to pray the ‘sinner’s prayer’, or a similar method that is deemed acceptable to the one preaching – never mind what God thinks. And of course it has to be prayed out loud, so that the predator evangelist can hear you and make sure you’re jumping through all – all! – the correct hoops. In fact, to these people, it’s not even acceptable for you to be ‘born-in’, that is, being a Christian from birth because of the church your parents go to, because we are told that ‘God has no grandchildren’ and ‘each of us has to make their own decision for Christ'[1]. In the past, I have mentioned that I know people who are in the Kingdom, and yet never came in by human-approved methods or pathways; instead, God did it. There was no decision, no evangelism, no ‘action’ on the part of the new believer; this is likely part of what evangelists don’t like, because God did it without their help and all their formulae were irrelevant 😀 There is no ‘decision for Christ’ involved, and, well, we can’t have that, now can we? 😉

In reality, of course, every believer’s journey is different, and there is no such thing as a  ‘conventional’ ‘conversion'[2]. Here, then, I present an excellent piece by Kenn Burroughs (and used with his permission) where he describes how he ‘unconventionally’ became a Christian with no human intervention; no ‘credit’ to himself or to anyone else. It’s really illuminating; have a read:


I became a Christian thru an unusual way at 2 in the morning on December 7th 1974 in an empty Navy 4 bed barracks room.[3]

Going to church didn’t have anything to do with it.

I didn’t own a bible so that wasn’t involved in this dynamic life changing experience either.

I didn’t know I was supposed to “repent of my sins”, nor was I aware that I “needed a Savior”.

No one “witnessed” to me, whatever that meant; which, when I found out, I referred to it as “christian mugging.”

The current move of the Holy Spirit is “deconstruction”, but because I wasn’t brought up in any real life meaning religious environment, I was into deconstructing from the get go.

I NEVER believed in fiery torture for eternity.

I wasn’t any kind of womanizer so didn’t have sex until I got married, but never understood the “purity culture” mentality.

I always loved the example Jesus showed when it came to treating women instead of Paul’s thing about submission which I thought was beyond unreasonable.

I have NEVER talked about salvation to anyone, so I am not making it up when I say that my faith has been questioned at least once a week for over the 47 years I’ve loved Jesus.

And don’t get me started with denominations, because I don’t understand the reason, the importance, the silliness and even as harsh as it comes across, the stupidity of them. I just don’t get it and in almost half a century it still boggles my mind.

I am not much of a fan of Sunday services because I will never believe that an audience is supposed to sit in rapt attention to one guy spouting out stuff he got by preparing a sermon. I can’t believe the God I believe in works that way.

I have always believed the Holy Spirit was a “she” if pronouns are permissible.

I also believe Jesus loves us, likes us, comforts us, respects us, encourages us, cares for us, and accepts us EXACTLY the way we are regardless of anything.

I’m not much of a supporter of so called “christian” music as I personally got more from God thru “No More Drama” by Mary J. Blige, “Smash Into You” by Beyonce and “1,000 Cranes” by jazz band Hiroshima, which I listen to at least once a week than anything played on christian radio.

So if you are a religious Trump Republican conservative red white and blue pro life church going every time the door opens bible memorizing women should be silent men only as pastors Amazing Grace singer come up front for an altar call repeat after me ask Jesus in your heart to be saved homophobic full of Islamaphobia going to hell if Jesus isn’t Lord believer, [then] I must be the shittiest example of christianity – but that’s okay.

Honestly, because I am loved and accepted by MY God whether you do or not.

– Kenn Burroughs


I think that’s simply excellent, don’t you?


The header picture is of a Blohm & Voss Bv-141, a highly unconventional German reconnaisance aircraft of the World War II era. You can read more about this fascinating aircraft in its Wikipedia article here.

Footnotes

Footnotes
1 Please allow me to apologise for all the ‘air quotes’ (there I go again!) in that passage. It’s because I am using terminology used by those who do pushy evangelism. I don’t use those phrases (nor do I believe in the concepts) myself.
2 Aaaand he’s done it again… 😉
3 The December 7th date is interesting. Kenn mentions his being in the Navy, and Dec 7th 1941 was the date the US Navy was attacked at Pearl Harbor, bringing Japan and the USA into the Second World War – Ed

Do You Know Where You Would Go?

The favourite catch phrase of the street evangelist is the phrase, “If you died tonight, do you know where you would go?”, often followed up by its partner, “Are you secure in your eternal fate?”

And actually, this ‘evangelist’s mantra’ is hollow. And the reason is this: the evangelists themselves don’t really believe it.

According to most of the people who spout this tripe, you cannot actually be sure of your eternal destination because you might make a right pig’s ear of it in the moment before you die.

Once saved, always saved‘ is the only way you can ‘know’ where you will go; every other belief apart from ‘once saved, always saved’ is an insecure salvation because you can lose it at the drop of a single ‘sin’. These people aren’t as ‘assured’ as they like to think.

And so, the correct answer to the question, “If you died tonight, do you know where you would go?” (in addition to ‘mind your own business’, of course!) is this:

Yes. Do you?

The Unforgivable Sin – Reblog

The idea of the ‘Unforgivable Sin’ is so widespread in Christendom, and so misused by ‘nasty’ Christians, that I felt it important that I reblog this piece from nearly five years ago, which has brought release and blessing to many.

Here you go:


It always amazes me how people who say they believe in the Love of God have this idea that there’s one ‘Special Sin’ that God just can’t find it in Himself to forgive.

Like if someone insults your mother, y’know, that sort of thing.

It just doesn’t make any sense, and the passages in Mark 3:28-30 and Matthew 12:31-32 must mean something different from what people usually think, because Jesus did not deal in harshness; He dealt in love, compassion and gentleness.

But, we are told, there is such a ‘sin’, and it’s called the ‘Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’.

All you need to do is to Google ‘Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’ and you will come up with a huge swath of hits, not only of people waving this idea around condemnatorially, but equally of people worried (sometimes literally) to death that they are destined to burn forever in Hell because of a few careless words.

We must remember that the ‘angry God’ model of the Scripture always defaults to the harsh, threatening interpretation, whereas the Jesus model takes us to the better, more gentle and loving interpretation. However, today’s Pharisees, just like those of old, love to find condemning Scriptures that they can use to bash people’s heads in, and because of this they will always default to the harsher interpretation.

Naturally, they seem to revel in the idea that there’s an ‘unpardonable sin’, which seems to be tailor-made for them to wield against the latest set of hapless believers to whom they have taken a dislike: maybe those who believe in Grace; maybe the inclusionists; maybe those who don’t believe that the Bible is infallible and inerrant; certainly anyone who does not agree with them on all small points. (Which is just about everybody, when you think about it!).

The idea is that they gleefully swing this horrific weapon and leave bleeding and despairing people in their wake, feeling that they have passed forever beyond all hope of forgiveness. In truth, there are fewer Scriptures that have brought more misery than this one. Think about it. As a Pharisee, using this most beloved of all your Scriptures, you can verbally condemn someone to believing that oh they’ve really gone and done it now; they will never, ever be forgiven. What better weapon could a Pharisee want?

But this is not the way of Jesus. Of course God forgives all sin.  But because this verse is wielded as such a powerful weapon, joyfully weaponized by those who are almost the Enemy’s servants in order to bring all that untold misery and despair to people, it needs to be addressed.

So, what did Jesus mean when He mentioned the ‘unpardonable sin’?

Well, here’s a beautifully simple exegesis of the Matthew passage by my friend Nathan Jennings, where he puts it really clearly. This explanation of the text closely dovetails with my own opinion on the matter. Over to Nathan:

“BLASPHEMY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Thoughts on Matthew 12:31-32

“Often, I am asked what to do with these verses in light of what we know of the grace and mercy of God through Christ. There are probably a few good ways to look at this. First we have to remember that Jesus, being the full revelation and character of God, forgave his enemies on the cross and throughout his time pre-resurrection. Also if you look at the verses leading up to this we see the Pharisees denying Jesus having the spirit of God as being the means of his healing people and said that it was the spirit of the devil. Immediately following the next set of verses, which begin with a “therefore” indicating the message about to be given is a response/result of the previous text, it states:

Therefore, I tell you that people will be forgiven for every sin and insult to God. But insulting the Holy Spirit won’t be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Human One will be forgiven. But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit won’t be forgiven, not in this age or in the age that is coming”
Matthew 12:31-32

Immediately we can see and deduce that insulting /blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is unbelief in the work of the Spirit due to the passage in the text right before this.

Also the word ‘forgiveness’ is better translated as ‘freedom’ or “freedom from something” so, to me, what is basically being said here is:

“Therefore, I tell you that people will be freed from the power of every sin and insult to God. But unbelief in the power and work of the Holy Spirit and the freedom it offers you will result in enslavement, because you’re not believing the truth. And whoever speaks a word against Jesus can still see freedom because the spirit can still be seen. But whoever doesn’t believe in the work of the spirit won’t experience the freedom of their true identity, in this age or the next.
Matthew 12:31-32″

I think that’s brilliant. And, if you feel that you have blasphemed the Spirit, be reassured: youre not. Because the ‘blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’ means essentially a refusal to recognise that it’s the Spirit at work, if you are conscious of the Spirit’s work then you can’t be ‘blaspheming’ Her.

And, in any case, all sin was dealt with at the Cross, once and for all, forever. All sin, including this one. Don’t concentrate on sin, concentrate on Jesus. Christians today are far too preoccupied with sin; they need to leave it in the grave where it belongs!

Morsels

Some people will judge you for changing. Others will celebrate you for growing. Choose your circle carefully.
– Anon

Let your work and your thinking be driven by a sense of amazement at how brilliant things actually are, not by the need to be vindicated.
– Me

As I like to say, when I’m not exactly sure what I want to say, “I’m going to give the wrong answer first.”
– Josh

Me [to someone vocally judging another person]: ‘Quit bloody judging people and go look in a mirror!’
Judgmental person: ‘Ooooh! You just cussed! That’s a sin in the eyes of the LORD, that is; just you wait ’til I tell Him…’
Me: <thinking> Distraction successful. Job done (how piss-easy was that?) </thinking>
– Me

We shouldn’t conclude that someone doesn’t care about a problem just because they don’t agree with our ideas about how to resolve it.
– Diana

When Jesus said ‘Do not worry’, He was talking about daily needs like food and clothing. If He’d been at all concerned that we were not worrying enough about our ‘eternal destiny’, He would have preached a whole lot more on hellfire and damnation, rather than about us simply not worrying about where our next meal was going to come from.
– Me

You will not heal by going back to what broke you.
– Anon

Yesterday morning, I was so bored with the currently-playing dream that I actually smiled when my alarm went off.
– Me

Unforgiveness is like drinking a poison and expecting someone else to die from it.
– Anon

What a pathetic god they believe in. Unable to get his way, he flings his image bearers into a fire forever rather than spend any of his infinite love or power trying to restore them. What a dick.
– Dave

If you have a problem with me, call me. If you don’t have my number, you don’t know me well enough to have a problem with me.
– Derrick Day

I didn’t want to bring people to my old church precisely because I didn’t want them to hear about the loving God I personally know, in such terrible terms [as one who would send people to burn forever in hell]. I see that now. I wasn’t sure back then why I was so reluctant, but this is why.
– Me

If you make someone’s suffering a bit more bearable today, and their burden a little less heavy, you will have manifested more of God than most religions and ideologies ever get around to doing in their entire life-cycle.
– Jeff Turner

[On people not wanting to be called Christians any more because of the bad behaviour of right-wing Evangelical nasties]:
I won’t let the pirates and interlopers steal my own birthright: the right to carry the Name of the One Who loves me. Come what may, and given all the negative connotations that the name carries, it’s still my birthright. Tarnished and sullied by the unclean it may be, but it still means the world to me.
– Me

These things just never look quite the way you pictured them when praying for them, because if they were exactly what you wanted, they wouldn’t be what you needed.
– Jeff Turner

No Christian should ever cause anyone to doubt that God loves them.
– Keith Giles

Judgmentalism is the root of all sin, imo.
– Me

Faith is not something we do to persuade God; faith is what happens to us when we realize how persuaded God is about us.
– Francois Du Toit

Enjoy what you know; look forward with anticipation to knowing more than you know now; and, most important, enjoy the journey of discovery! 🙂
– Me