Bible GoodOld Religious Right Truth and Reconciliation

It Seems “The Unpardonable Sin” Is Stalking the Christian Right

My wife heard on the radio the other day that resistance to Bush is clearly “Satanic.” “Christian” radio is promoting some strange ideas, but this is one in particular to be very wary of.

We do need to judge spirits, but according to Jesus backwards judging of the spirits is very dangerous. He says there is an unpardonable sin, and it has to do with mis-judging spirits – calling movements of the Good Spirit satanic.

Remember this story? 1) Jesus cast out a demon. 2) The powers that be in the religious world said he was a servant of the devil. 3) Jesus said,

“I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

(Matthew 12:31,32)

They may have had problems with the history of Jesus, or with some of his teaching. But if they could not acknowledge that he really was going around doing good, then something was deeply wrong.

When you attribute to satan what is obviously good, well-intentioned and truthful, you are lining up with those Pharisees and hypocrites. And that is a place you don’t want to be.

And that’s what’s happening here.

I. Some Things that Clearly are NOT Satanic.

To speak out of a heart of integrity heavily burdened by the deceitfulness of this President and his regime (and it’s servants in the media) is NOT “Satanic.” It is just being honest.

To speak against contempt for the poor and catering to the wealthiest of the wealthy is not satanic. It is just caring what happens to your neighbor.

To speak for peacemaking and against dishonest, incompetent, and corrupt warmaking is not satanic. It is just trying to be a truth-teller and a peacemaker.

To speak against the manipulation of the churches into arrogant hatred of other Americans (and even of other Christians), as the radical right has done so much lately, is not satanic. To speak against false prophecy is just a way of trying to defend the truly prophetic.

II. When You Call the Activities of the Good Spirit “Satanic”, That is Blasphemy.

Jesus acknowledges that you could be wrong about him per se, and still be not a lost cause.

“Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven …” (Matthew 12:31,32)

But He seems to think you cannot be aggressively wrong about what is blatantly good and what is clearly bad in the realm of the spirit and still be reachable. You have lost a sense of the distinctions between what is holy and what is evil. You make yourself an outspoken servant of evil, and the good no longer exerts an attraction on you. You are really in trouble.

This is not always easy for a third party to judge. But the principle seems clear, and Jesus obviously thought himself competent to judge it.

When you see the good being done in a good manner by a good man – as they saw in Jesus – if you have any spiritual health or integrity you can at least recognize that good. You may have problems with the history of the person you are dealing with, or with some of their specific teachings. But if you cannot see and acknowledge those who are doing crucial good out of deep concern and at real risk to themselves, then you are negligent and need to start being more responsible, OR you have been very deeply corrupted.

III. Living in Fear is Not the Way Jesus Lived; It is Not the Way He Taught; It is Not the Effect of the Holy Spirit.

The American Christian right today peddles fear. It cultivates bogeyman jumpiness in the churches. And the fear becomes hate rather than hospitality (xenophobia rather than philoxenia – Titus 1:8, I Pet 4:9) There is also a refusal to practice listening to the truth as the antidote to fear. Without the antidote (truth and love) the condition just gets worse.

Conclusion

Judge the spirits. The spirit of fear, falsehood and hate is NOT the spirit of Christ. That, at least, we know for sure.

If we cannot see that many or most of those complaining about Bush and his ways are doing so JUSTLY, and on a basis of fact and truth, out of a deep concern for traditional American and ancient Christian values, then somehow or another we have become very deeply corrupt.

It is not a good sign. Obviously I am not The Judge. But I say we should be very careful about condemning those who are speaking the truth – it’s a very dangerous spiritual pattern to get into. It corrupts the judgment. So we find people who listen to voices like Rush because “he tells it like it is.” Wrong. He is a criminal, an inveterate liar, an abuser, a colossal hypocrite. If we cannot acknowledge where the liars really are we have a big spiritual problem.

“… out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”

(Matthew 12:34,35)

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9 Comments

  • »» If we cannot see that many or most of those complaining about Bush and his ways are doing so JUSTLY, and on a basis of fact and truth, out of a deep concern for traditional American and ancient Christian values, then somehow or another we have become very deeply corrupt. ««

    I am rubbing my eyes for some six years now, and at a steadily incrasing rate, – between incredulous and dismayed to see this deep confusion of values which the deeds of AND the support for the ostensibly Christian president Bush bespeak and for this corruption belonging to reality, not to a bad dream.

    Yet, by our outrage against obvious injustice and insanity, we are no more justified than by any other of our “own righteousness”. It needs to bear witness to (what you know from) the Lord, which NATURALLY INCLUDES speaking up against blatant, but (on the social plane) subtly-working, misrepresentations of the Christian faith, including those committed by “elders and kings”.

    Sorry, Bellino, but I must state here that I cannot even begin to imagine how cruelly it needs to “stretch” proportions, perception of social realities, bible reading and honesty in order to arrive from those simple and innocent words of Larry (admin) …

    »» I. Some Things that Clearly are NOT Satanic.

    To speak out of a heart of integrity heavily burdened by the deceitfulness of this President and his regime (and it’s servants in the media) is NOT “Satanic.� It is just being honest.

    To speak against contempt for the poor and catering to the wealthiest of the wealthy is not satanic. It is just caring what happens to your neighbor.

    To speak for peacemaking and against dishonest, incompetent, and corrupt warmaking is not satanic. It is just trying to be a truth-teller and a peacemaker.

    To speak against the manipulation of the churches into arrogant hatred of other Americans (and even of other Christians), as the radical right has done so much lately, is not satanic. To speak against false prophecy is just a way of trying to defend the truly prophetic. ««

    .. at the cautioning against the utterance of any material-moral objections against political leaders (a matter where Jesus, indeed, was insuperably overt) – on the (ridiculous) grounds that such a (legal!) behavior ostensibly infringes on our Christian duty to submit to the worldly powers.

    Bellino, I contradict you in such emphatical terms, surely not because I would like to shame you, – this is not a matter between you and me or anyone else, personally, – but I write with vast emotion because it is imperious for our culture (if we want to stand a chance to survive as a civilization, i.e., as men, not “human cattle” – or, very well possibly, to survive at all!) to regain a SPONTANEOUS UNDERSTANDING that such a sense of outrage against your false alternatives is or would be just that characteristic sign of moral health that a culture (or a Christian community) MUST find in its bosom if democracy be fit to work (and Christians be saved from the twin evil of either rebelling against the powers or becoming guilty of complicity with their potential vices).

    ——————————————

    Okay, here I am back, venting gain, – whereas, originally, I just wanted to say “thank you” and “I am falling in” with both of you, Larry and bookaholic. I am grateful for you (and a lot of others) doing your (piecemeal) work, which some (starkly appellative) comments of mine might be read as denigrating or doubting, – which is not what I intend(ed).

    Thanks, especially, to Larry for this entire post. I see it as one of your very best.

    This matter, the “Sin against the Holy Spirit”, is a very popular one in evangelical circles. A lot of argument is daily going hither and thither, in an effort to sound the proper middle course in dealing with this admonition while keeping clear of both daunting and belittling interpretations. But most of this argument takes place in (the usual) blithe rejection of the original context this word of Jesus was uttered in, which squarely was one that characteristically combines the two subjects of (I) Satan (i.e. the curse, the enslaving aspect, of sin, and Jesus’ victory over this yoke), and (II) the political, or at least public, nature of interests which are the specific source of that resistance to Jesus which embodies the unpardonable sin.

    Obviously, it is a prejudice almost insurmountable for our culture, that the “tectonic of political power”, in place at the very time and place a Christian calls his or her own, must not be considered on biblical grounds as playing a crucial role in the way (s)he must find his/her way around the obstacles of seduction into the arms of the Savior. But this prejudice is wrong. It is wrong according to the most unbiassed reading of the biblical records, imaginable.

    (From the main post, admin, see above)

    »» Jesus acknowledges that you could be wrong about him per se, and still be not a lost cause.

    […]

    But He seems to think you cannot be aggressively wrong about what is blatantly good and what is clearly bad in the realm of the spirit and still be reachable. ««

    Let anyone who reads these lines, spend a dour hour of contemplation over the import of this proposition.

    The piece of Scripture involved here is a reverberating refutation of any “Jesus-as-a-mere-label” conception of conversion, re-birth and the indispensability of Jesus for the salvation of people of all cultures and religions. Because these conceptions tend to substitute a label called “Jesus” for the true person of the Savior, which (who!) really is the “only way to the Father”.
    Christian absolutism at the expense of a qualitatively Christian message is nothing but a conservative counterpart in error to the liberal dream, to that propensity to diminish the name and power of the Lord for his (“humanist”) message alone.

    ——————————————

    Obviously, it needs to expect a true Savior – not only for the Pharisees of his time, but for every pious person of every age to effectively (that means: validly, in the eyes of God) designate Jesus while vocally – and even biblically – talking of Christ.

  • Larry, I appreciate your response to Bellino. I have never understood how someone can believe that Christ requires such passivity as Bellino advocates. It would mean being against the Magna Carta, the American Revolution, the Constitution and any kind of active role as a citizen in a representative democracy, plus it would mean being in favor of the divine right of kings!

    I am always respectful and polite when I write my Congressman and Senators (although I think that when my emails arrive, they roll their eyes and send them straight to the trash) but I keep on writin’ and writin’ and if lots of other people exercised their right to write, some of the ideals and standards advocated on this site would slowly make their way into the public realm.

    You know why? Because in our system of government, people are SUPPOSED to express their views to their elected leaders. And the leaders are supposed to NOTICE those views. Of course there is no point in getting involved in dueling Bible verses or dueling interpretations with Bellino or anybody else; that way lies crankiness. We just have to do what we think is right. So Larry, thanks for doing what you think is right and keep up the good work.

  • “Instead of complaining or judging …”

    The Bible is full of “complaining or judging”! Jesus’ ministry often involved “complaining or judging.” Even when he said that about taking the log out of your own eye first he was directing the criticism at the Pharisees and other leaders who were the general target of his critiques.

    WHY do you want those who are trying to be honest to shut up, while you encourage the dishonest and murderers by your silence and subservience? That puts you in a very anti-Biblical position.

    “Intercede”? I intercede a lot, for all of us, including those at the top. I hope you are joining me in that.

  • “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for
    there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Instead of complaining or
    judging, wouldn’t it be more Christlike to intercede for those
    in authority as God’s word tells us to? That is my preference.
    Man is never the judge. We need to leave taht to our God.

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