Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Dream the impossible blaspheme

The Rational Response Squad has issued the following Blasphemy Challenge to all non-believers:
The Rational Response Squad is giving away 1001 DVDs of The God Who Wasn't There, the hit documentary that the Los Angeles Times calls "provocative -- to put it mildly."
Incidentally, I saw that documentary a while back (well before my conversion), and found it pretty underwhelming. Maybe that's partly because I was then part of the choir to which it was preaching, but I also thought that some bits were uncomfortably childish and petty. But, hey, free is free, and this remains a pretty generous giveaway. Back to the Challenge:
There's only one catch: We want your soul.

It's simple. You record a short message damning yourself to Hell, you upload it to YouTube, and then the Rational Response Squad will send you a free The God Who Wasn't There DVD. It's that easy.


You may damn yourself to Hell however you would like, but somewhere in your video you must say this phrase: "I deny the Holy Spirit."

Why? Because, according to Mark 3:29 in the Holy Bible, "Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin." Jesus will forgive you for just about anything, but he won't forgive you for denying the existence of the Holy Spirit. Ever. This is a one-way road you're taking here.
Indeed, Mark 3:29 comes from the mouth of Jesus himself. Unfortunately, the claim that he's talking about denying the existence of the holy spirit is textually indefensible.

I don't know if anyone really knows what Jesus is talking about here, but it's clarified a bit by the context. The set-up for Jesus' declaration in v.29 is given in v.22:
And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, "He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons."
It's in response to them that Jesus says (vv.28-29):
"I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin."
And, in case the reader has forgotten the context given in v.22, a reminder is given immediately thereafter (v.30):
He said this because they were saying, "He has an evil spirit."
So, blaspheming the holy spirit involves something like accusing the holy spirit of being an evil spirit. I'm not sure what it would mean to do that (it's not clear that Jesus is even accusing the people in v.22 of doing it - this could just be a warning), but, at the very least, it seems that blasphemy of the holy spirit involves having certain spiritual beliefs, which might also involve believing in the Abrahamic God.

This pretty much rules out the possibility that any genuine atheist could truly rise to the Blasphemy Challenge. Merely denying the existence of the holy spirit has nothing to do with blaspheming the holy spirit, and whatever this unforgivable sin really is, atheists can't commit it. Blasphemy Challenge is right that this is a "one-way road", but it seems likely that it's not a road that atheists can take. And one consequence of this is that there's nothing an atheist can do to eliminate the possibility of someday undergoing the terrifying process of Christian salvation.

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