Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Friday, February 09, 2007

    Response to "The Blasphemy Challenge"

    Mark 2:29 states "But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin."

    It should not be surprising when unbelievers are seen to key in on this verse in attempting to taunt believers and promote their unbelief.

    The Blasphemy Challenge is no exception. In it, as captured by Nightline, members of the Rational Response Squad is trying to encourage and provide a method for atheists to come out of the closet and to resist and erase a social vilification (and subjective fear), challenged people to make videos of themselves denying, denouncing or blaspheming the Holy Spirit and then to post them on YouTube. Hundreds have participated, but the question remains: What in effect have they accomplished and what in effect are they accomplishing?

    I'd like to address those issues.

    First, it is possible that some in participating show a misinterpretation of the text itself. While some in posting a video may by doing so reveal their already settled position, many in posting may think that by participating in a one time temporal act they are flippantly or defiantly conforming to the qualifications required by the text and thereby rejecting the truth taught by the text. However, when one comes to understand the text refers to a settled or persistent condition of the soul in contrast to an isolated incident involving the soul, then the effect is nullified.

    Second, for those who possess such a settled position of the soul, participation in such a video is meaningless in the sense that to do so as to suggest that one can do so and get away with it without consequence is to fail to understand biblical revelation and divine judgment. On the one hand, the Bible not only claims that God is patient and therefore had delayed final accounting and judgment to a later time, but also that God in judging man sometimes gives man over now to the darkness and depravity of his heart, so that even participation in such a video is not neutral, but reveals the judgment of God.

    Third, those who deny or denounce the Holy Spirit, while they may do so in name, often do not do so consistently in life. On the one hand, they are like those who may speak of getting over on the IRS in private, but when confronted by the IRS would not be so bold. On another hand, while they may denounce the Holy Spirit on a video, they are not willing to go so far as to live a life fully consistent with their pronounced beliefs by intentionally violating all his revealed word and commandments at every opportunity. For example, why don't unbelievers who want to denounce the Holy Spirit always dishonor authority, commit adultery, kill, bear false witness, etc.? While some may be quick to say that human experience, human values, human government, etc., dictate otherwise, they fall short of proving that eternal laws govern the universe and that even their conscience bears witness to the fact the laws of the Spirit are right and authoritative.

    Fourth, those who seek to deny the Holy Spirit in effect ARE denying the proof necessary for salvation. As one put it they are "cutting off their only and last hope". However, to presuppose or to videotape the nonexistence of God does not do away with the existence of God. Rather, it reveals the truth of God.

    Finally, those who look to Mark 3:29 in attempting to deny the Holy Spirit reveal the irony of God. for we all know that a person can be truly, fully, and deeply known if and to the extent that they reveal themselves. This is true not only of man (who is personal) but OF GOD (who is also personal). This should not be strange to us. For who knows a person better than the person themselves? Do others not know us to the degree that we reveal ourselves? For others to know us, do we not first have to make the real "us" known? Do we not also choose to reveal ourselves to some and not to others, and even to those whom we reveal ourselves do we not do so to varying degrees according to our pleasure and purposes? If this is true of us, then should we then think it irrational for it to be the same with God (in whose image we have been made)?

    No, the Bible tells us that is exactly the case. "Who knows the mind of man better than his spirit? Who then knows the mind of God better than His Spirit?" This is why not only the gift of God's Spirit but the gift of his revelation is not only critical, but the only means of knowing him, and knowing him not only as he really is but knowing him deeply! The irony is that those who seek to deny, denounce or blaspheme the Holy Spirit actually deny their only hope of knowing the very God whom they deny. It's true that "those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs." (Jonah 2:8)

    Unbelievers have two choices. They can deny the Spirit and His revelation whereby they are left to ignorance and/or speculation (along with sin and condemnation), or they can look to and accept both the gift of God and His revelation whereby they may have life and life eternal.

    Grace and Peace,


    youtube site challengingtheblasphemy

    1 comment:

    Puritan Lad said...

    Outstanding post Tim. Very thorough and well written.