by Thomas Hoskyns Leonard
This article is intended to be scripturally based, and hence not dismissible by our modern day Pharisees as 'written from a liberal perspective'. For example, the conservative American Evangelical fundamentalists say that we should base our beliefs upon a reasonable interpretation of our Holy Scriptures, in which case (e.g, John Hus) we are answerable to God rather than to institutionalised religion.
According to St. Paul:
There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death (Romans, Ch.8. Verses 1 and 2)
We have also been lead to believe, by both St.Paul and St. John, that Jesus died on the cross to save us all from our sins:
Romans 5 verse 8
Jesus's Sacrifice for the Ungodly
…7For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.…
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.
But if our unrighteousness brings out God's righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.)
He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer.
1 John 4:10
1 John 4:10
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
I understand from a Canadian Catholic friend that John's Gospel is usually the favourite Gospel among those who have a positive view of Paul's teachings. The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) tend to be more focussed on the 'here and now' nature of the Kingdom of God. John (the disciple who Jesus loved) went on to write the highly imaginative Book of Revelations (e.g. the barking dog and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse) which is totally detached in style from the Synoptic Gospels.
The words of St. Paul and St. John have encouraged many very grave sinners to become Christian, in anticipation of forgiveness of their crimes if they subsequently believe in Christ Jesus. For example John Newton (1725-1807), the composer of 'Amazing Grace' pursued a career in the slave trade before becoming a student of Christian theology. St. Paul imprisoned and murdered Christians, before (self-reportedly) seeing a vision of Jesus on the Road to Damascus. Did he murder any little children, one wonders? Nowadays many sex abusers and people of violence seek refuge and solace in the Church. Indeed some Evangelical fundamentalist churches appear to encourage this in order to line their coffers, and many churches harbour paedophiles among either their clergy or their members. An eminent and highly spiritual Scottish Episcopal rector commented, as an aside, a few years ago that there were a large number of 'bad people' in his congregation. He seemed to think that he could save them, a highly laudable endeavour but maybe not completely realistic. Did John Newton really receive our good Lord's amazing grace, and I wonder what the much put upon slaves in his ships would have thought about that?
It essential in this context to try to interpret what Christ Jesus himself said about 'unpardonable sin'.
The Unpardonable Sin (Mark 3, 28-30)
"Truly I tell you, all sins and blasphemies will be forgiven for the sons of men. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin".
So Jesus clearly doesn't forgive everybody. His death on the cross only redeemed those he wanted to forgive. This is consistent with his intention, as so clearly expressed in Matthew 25 (the Second Coming) to take the 'sheep' to the 'Kingdom of Heaven', while sending the 'goats' into 'eternal Hell fire'. He moreover clarifies the overriding importance of 'good deeds' when compared with 'faith'. It is, for example, quite possible for a non-believer to 'enter the Kingdom of Heaven' if he is kind and helpful to other people,
Jesus doesn't, for example, want to forgive those who have 'blasphemed against the Holy Spirit'. This appears to be one of the riddles which, like the parables, he has left us to try to decipher,
The Purpose of the Parables (Mark 4, 11-12)
And he said unto them (his disciples), To you has been given the secret of the Kingdom of God, but for those outside everything comes in parables, in order that
they may indeed look, but not perceive,
and may indeed listen, but not understand;
so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.
Jesus used his parables to confuse the Pharisees. And our modern day Pharisees, including the Evangelical Fundamentalists and the higher echelons of the Roman Catholic Church, perhaps,
Jesus makes his protective views about children very clear elsewhere in the Bible, for example
Mark 9,42: If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were thrown around your neck, and you were thrown into the sea.
This seems to make clear Christ's view that child abuse is unforgivable. Perhaps this is a special case of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit,
I interpret the Holy Spirit as the 'force of good' which lives and moves among humankind, and which is, for example, present both inside the psyches of true believers and whenever two or more people speak in His Holy name; the living God indeed. Blaspheming the Holy Spirit may well include damaging or defiling it. While our good Lord has the final say in these matters, the following examples come to mind:
(1) Damaging a child's brain with ECT or with ritalin
(2) Coshing our demented elderly with anti-psychotics
(3) Waging unnecessary war
(4) Destruction of places of worship
(6) Many types of psychopathic bullying
(7) Premeditated murder
(8) Some forms of (two-faced) Machiavellian behaviour e.g. in a working or family environment.
(9) Orchestrating 'Austerity' schemes which force vulnerable people into either suicide or death by starvation,
(10) Buying and selling human beings as slaves.
(11) Extreme forms of homophobia and transphobia.
(12) Controlling the minds of large swathes of our population with toxic psych meds.
(13) Poisoning our food supply with chemicals
(14) Wilfully damaging our environment.
(15) Involvement in a Eugenics program,
In real life terms, Christians should perhaps be a bit less forgiving to people involved in these sort of sins, while trying to be much more forgiving to non-believers who behave like christians with a small c. It would of course be totally wrong to hate or seek revenge against perceived 'blasphemers against the Holy Spirit'. Other options include using civilised means while attempting to curtail their activities, or simply stomping your feet and walking away.
In any case, it is clear to me that Paul of Tarsus distorted Christ's teachings in all sorts of ways, I regard him as a false Apostle who blasphemed against the Holy Spirit in many of the crass letters which he circulated around the Roman Empire. Please don't get me started! I, in particular, regard his assertion in Romans Ch 8, verses 1 and 2 as a downright lie.
6th September 2015: I was advised in Church this morning that 'I should forget about these things', that I 'shouldn't think like this', and 'to the effect that 'we are called upon to live harmoniously and in good spirit' . It seems to me that many institutional churches try to put their congregations in a form of mind control where they are expected to live happy and contented existences without speaking out against the, supposedly forgiveable, evil happenings around them, I however believe that Christians have a duty not to hide their lights under a bushel, but rather to do everything they can to protect and nurture the rest of humankind. I also believe that the word of Christ Jesus takes precedence over that of any member of our Holy Church, including of course myself. By ignoring His Holy Word, some modern day Churches run the risk of being perceived by the secular world as condoning evil.