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Published: December 16th, 2006 » Tags: Sayings

It is really, really becoming difficult to believe there isn’t a real evil force ‘out there’ railing vehemently against Christian belief, faith and practice. Seriously, if Christianity is not real, as the secularists say, then what real and/or alternative answer do they offer to explain the incredible amount of time and energy they spend upon not leaving and forgetting all about it, but actually denying it and actively attacking it in a fashion which paints them - whether they like to admit it or not - as believers, even if negative ones! After all, can you really deny or blaspheme something which does not even exist? Can you really rally around a cause built around a mission rooted in the attacking of what is perceived to be imaginary or illusory shadow? The Rational Response Squad seems to think so. They are coaxing people from all over the world to blaspheme the Holy Spirit in an effort they call “The Blasphemy Challenge.” According to their site: 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.” The videos made and uploaded are very hard to watch. It is a heartbreaking episode. I would just say that God loves you all, even when you do not know what it is you do. Also, whoever is behind this effort, really should repent and change directions.

25 Responses to “The Blasphemy Challenge”

  1. I take comfort in the fact that simply denying the Spirit’s existence isn’t the Unpardonable Sin, as I understand it. This fact makes their whole “Rational Response” inherently irrational. Those making the videos are still pardonable, praise God!

    After all, I always thought to blaspheme the Spirit requires at least two things:
    1) A belief that Jesus performed miracles.
    2) A belief that the miracles were performed by the power of Satan and/or demons.

    Atheists accept neither miracles or demons, and therefore cannot believe that which constitutes the sin.

    Rick Beckman

  2. Yeah, it’s just sad to watch. Also, I owe you a hat tip, Rick. Your post actually introduced me to the whole thing. My apologies for forgetting to tip. I suppose the emotions created by the entire experience just overrode my usual ability to properly tip. Thanks man.

    Shawn Anthony

  3. If you look for other uses of the word blasphemy in the Bible, it is used many times to mean simply speaking ill of an exalted object. Blasphemy comes from two Latin words, Blaptein, meaning to injure, and Pheme, meaning the reputation.

    Simply because Christ, in the Matthew and Mark verses that pertain to this subject, was referring to pharisees claiming evil on the part of Christ’s miracles, doesn’t mean that is the ONLY way to blaspheme the holy spirit, any more than Clinton claiming he didn’t have sexual relations with Lewinski is the only way to commit perjury. He said blasphemy of the holy spirit was the unforgivable sin, and that they’d committed it because they’d said the miracles were the work of evil spirits. Many times in the Bible when the Latin text used the word blaspheme, it was translated to a number of other things, reproach, revile, speak evil of, speak ill of, etc.

    Hence, to say anything, regardless of belief or intention, that contradicts the reputation of the holy spirit (the only source of which is the what the Bible says about it) is to commit the only unforgivable sin, and that includes denying it’s power or existence. I know it’s difficult to believe it’s that easy, but it is. Sorry.

    Michael Lawson

  4. Hi Michael. Thanks for your thoughts on the subject.

    So, let me get this straight in my own head and understanding …

    You are, in your above comment, actually arguing from the New Testament that Jesus can be blasphemed and that the act is the unpardonable sin (assuming your definition of the sin). It seems to me that you are saying that 1. Jesus existed 2. He warned against a certain sort of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and 3. It is a damning sin.

    O.K. Got it.

    Questions: 1. Do you believe this was an event that occurred in real time and history, or 2. Do you believe it is mere historical fantasy? If you answer the former, then I must scratch my head in honest disbelief over your project and goals; if it is the former I have to believe you have better things to do then rail so vehemently against what could be called - from your declared perspective - a historical phantom or a make believe faith. I also find it bewildering that you would build a defense of your blasphemy upon the “truth” you perceive in the very scriptures you simultaneously cite as false. So, what gives? How is any of this “rational?” Your entire argument and approach seems to be characterized by an irrational postmodernism (which is only slightly informed by the western scientific rationalism and method ala Dennet, Dawkins and Harris), and just enough knowledge re: Christianity and the Biblical texts to get yourself into trouble with Christians who would rather argue with you then show you the love of Christ.

    I am not one of those Chrisitans who would argue with you in an attempt to “defend God, Christ and the Church.” I think God, Christ and the Church will survive your best efforts to dismantle them. They have faced bigger and better challenges over the course of 2000 plus years. The issues you raise are very minuscule and have been addressed by theologians more times than can be counted. So, in a spirit of friendship and understanding, I just want to say that the sort of Christianity you and people like you rail against SHOULD be railed against. I hear you. There are a lot of bad representatives and models out there doing authentic Christianity a serious disservice. People like you - people who point it out - are closer to God then most think. Thank you. That said, however, I would also challenge you to put down the broad brush which you use to paint all of Christianity and all Christians in the same light. There is much good to be found in Christianity. Why not spend a little of that angry energy looking for a bit of positive?

    Thanks Michael and peace to you.

    Shawn Anthony

  5. PS: I’d look at the Greek texts before the Latin …

    Shawn Anthony

  6. Sorry, but the whole “how can they deny something that doesn’t exist” is stupid. Do you believe in Zeus? Don’t deny him! Because if you do, you believe in him!

    What if ALL of your friends and family believed in Zeus and you thought they were going to Hell for not believing in Jesus? Would you try to convince them that Zeus didn’t exist? If so, wouldn’t it anger you when they insisted upon saying you believe in Zeus otherwise you wouldn’t be talking about him so much?

    Is that the best you can come up with - that atheists really DO believe in god? Seriously? Since you’re not in their heads, I’m thinking that’s a pretty bad argument.

    S

  7. Hello S. Thanks for the comment.

    Now, what would be stupid if I, a person who clearly does not believe in Zeus, would spend most of my time, energy and resources trying to let the world know or convince myself that Zeus does not exist. Luckily, most of my time is not spent on denying something I don’t think exists. Good thing too, because such an act would be tantamount to taking joy in energy spent debunking ghosts.

    There are a lot of things I don’t believe in that I can talk about in a way that expresses as much. I think it would be rational to say why I don’t believe in something and offer a few reasons to substantiate the fact. However, if a main act of my explanation was inherently dependent upon a bit of “falsehood” extracted from the source I disagree with, and I enacted this main act in real time by actually doing what it says and thus making tangible its truth, and I ended up arguing apologetically for my interpretation and/or perception of this new “truth,” while simultaneously claiming none of it is true, then I have indeed wandered off into irrational places. I would stop and think about what I was doing and seriously ask myself why in the world I would be doing such a thing.

    The folks blaspheming are not merely expressing their disbelief in something … they have camped out on it in a way that is seriously divergent from the way I would cite my disbelief in Zeus, as you say. It is irrational.

    Blessings to you.

    Shawn Anthony

  8. A sudden question drenched in clarity for you and folk like you, S: “Are you literally denying something when you say “I deny the …,” or is it just an empty act, laden with empty words, that amounts to entertaining theater more than anything else?”

    If you answer “yes,” then why would you deny it and on what grounds is this indictment founded? If you answer “no,” then why carry on with it in such a juvenile fashion? Do you not have better - more constructive - things to do than so vehemently chase what you would call “the illusory?” I mean, you all spent $25,000 dollars to chase “the illusory.” This is rational? Are you sure?

    Shawn Anthony

  9. Shawn,one way to look at it might be along these lines. As a Christian you (I assume) deny the inherent goodness of human beings and affirm their sin-laden nature, descended from Adam. You spend time trying to convince people that this “good” state doesn’t exist (and hence to follow Christ). Others might characterize your efforts as juvenile, depending upon their perspective.

    The reason that some atheists are so focused on demonstrating that god does not exist is that they think belief in such an entity is harmful. Likewise, you may think that belief in a state of natural “goodness” (I’m using this term in quotes because I know there are nuances here, based on creation, etc) is dangerous, because it leads you away from Christ. There are lots of other things, as you say, that you don’t believe in which you are actively trying to dissuade people from following, right, as a Christian? (At least when you spend time in evangelism?)

    That seems to be sufficient to explain their motivations. Your charges of irrationality appear pretty convoluted to me–why not just understand their motivations as being similar to your own, although handled in a different manner (through parody and satire)?

    ck

  10. My approach is not convoluted at all. It’s pretty simple, actually.

    Also, for the record: what they do and what I do are far - far - from being at all similar, thank you very much.

    If you don’t believe in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, then don’t attempt to use what God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit say not to do as justification for what it is you do - especially when what you attempt to do happens to be to prove God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit do not actually exist. If this is appears convoluted it is because of the bizarre and blatantly irrational premise the whole thing is built upon.

    It seems there are actually a few Dawkins friendly atheists who agree with me too. Check the comments at Dawkin’s Site.

    So, again, I say that if God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are not real, but figments of Christian imagination, then one’s act of uploading a blasphemous video re: God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit to You Tube is, at the very least, little more than theater, or, at the worst, serious irrationality. Therefore, my question stands:

    A sudden question drenched in clarity for you and folk like you, S: “Are you literally denying something when you say “I deny the …,” or is it just an empty act, laden with empty words, that amounts to entertaining theater more than anything else?”

    If you answer “yes,” then why would you deny it and on what grounds is this indictment founded? If you answer “no,” then why carry on with it in such a juvenile fashion? Do you not have better - more constructive - things to do than so vehemently chase what you would call “the illusory?” I mean, you all spent $25,000 dollars to chase “the illusory.” This is rational? Are you sure?

    Shawn Anthony

  11. Oh, ck, one more point, this time regarding your comment’s suggestion located in the last paragraph.

    This is not parody and satire, but let’s just assume it is for the moment …

    I find it curious how parody and satire directed at orthodox Christian belief is so tolerated by religious liberals and the Unitarian Universalist sorts …

    I mean, really, if this sort of “parody and satire” were directed toward any other facet of religion and/or faith, it would be less warmly received and/or defended, I think.

    I personally do not get spun out by a bunch of kids getting online and blaspheming because God, Church and Christ have endured plenty heavier attacks over the course of 2000 years …

    I am more interested in the liberal religious interpretation of the intention and effect such actions has upon a faith which seems to be excluded from the “wide” circle of liberal religious pluralism.

    Let me ask you how you feel when Unitarian Universalism, its ministers, and your belief are satirically painted.

    So, I close by saying 1. What these folk are doing is not even close to what I am doing, thank you. 2. Parody is a terrible excuse because the people in the video are not making personal statements as much as they are making statements about a faith in which they no longer believe and which they would enjoy eradicating completely from the planet … and for what!?! Is it because in the majority of Christianity people love, care and support one another? Is that why it should be eradicated?!? Seriously, the big famous leaders of the relgiious right are not representative of the majority of Christianity. You would think scientists of Dawkins’ caliber and his legion would be Westernized enough in their methodology to at least figure that much out.

    Now, that’s a bit different, wouldn’t you say?

    Shawn Anthony

  12. Let’s see, where to start.
    1. I didn’t say you were doing the same thing, only that others (from a different perspective) *might* paint your efforts as juvenile. For the record, I don’t, but I’m trying to talk about different perspectives here. One’s own religion/viewpoint often looks crazy or strange from the outside…standing in that stance, if only temporarily, can help us recognize why others act as they do.
    2. That is why I can chuckle at the parody you linked to. I think the point of the cartoon is that gay marriage is silly, a proposition with which I disagree. However, the characterization of crystals and faddishness hits at something true, however much I may disagree with painting all of UUism with that brush. There are few things that I find too “sacred” to lampoon with satire to prove a point.
    3. Again, I think that the reason behind the “blasphemy” is to demonstrate how they find the warnings of damnation to not be a threat, and to bring what they consider rational lights upon the non-existence of god. You know as well as I do, Shawn, that any religion (or non-religion, as in atheism) has its fair share of historical evils and injustices, along with influences upon human beings that are less than beneficial.

    It’s hard to say who is “representive”–if the leaders of a movement stand for something, then that seems to implicate the movement (your cartoon of UUism demonstrates that), and simply polling the beliefs of the majority doesn’t cut to the heart of what is entailed by a set of beliefs (people can be inconsistent).

    So again, even though I can see why you would disagree with these guys, I am not understanding why you find it so baffling and irrational. That’s my central point.

    ck

  13. Lets see, where to start.

    Again, if God, Jesus, Spirit and Bible are all illusory or even deceptively made up, and one desires to prove it, why would one not only use text and principles inherently attributed to the four, but also defend the “truth” of their interpretation of this “truth.” What this group is doing is just that … and it is a specific act that is very different from say historical criticism, biblical study, etc.

    Seriously, it’s not real difficult to see the irrationality behind such “apologetics.”

    If I wanted to tell the world how much I do not believe in the existence of automobiles, I would not actually find an automobile, position myself inside the automobile, start the engine, roll down the driver’s side window, and announce out the window that automobiles do not exist. I would look like an irrational nut.

    If I wanted to tell the world that I don’t believe in the polytheistic gods of modern paganism, I would not inherently attach my disbelief and apologetic to the “truth” of the actions and/or statements historically attributed to these gods, and then defend these “truths” as real-time truths to substantiate the disbelief I just rendered ridiculous all by myself (by the choice of act itself!). In other words, I would not incorporate the polytheistic gods of modern paganism into my apologetic in a manner that actually makes the truth or “truth” of my apologetic proportionately relatable - or even dependent - upon the truth or “truth” of the existence of these gods. This, believe it or not, is exactly what these folk were trying to do. If it is not what they were attempting, then they should admit the act itself is totally void of meaning, save the making fun of people who actually believe in God, Christ and Church. It is irrational to spend $25,000 to publish meaningless statements, is it not? That says nothing of the irrationality of the apologetic involved.

    So, if these guys/gals were trying to actually say something true about Christ and Christianity, then they are acting in an utterly irrational fashion. If they are just doing theater, then they are focused and stuck on that which they do not believe (Christ and Christianity) in a seriously unhealthy manner. That too may be a bit irrational (i.e., spending so much time talking about the God and faith in which you don’t believe).

    LOL! Seriously, I think Dawkins and the folks and his legion at the site named above talk about God, Christ and Church more than my pastor does. I am not joking …

    Shawn Anthony

  14. You’re missing the point, but you unwittingly nailed it on the head in your original post. The blasphemy challange is partly meant to be a statement of atheist solidarity / inspiration. But more importantly, they wanted to do it in such a manner as to make Christians’ heads explode.

    By stating their atheism, and doing it in exactly the manner you say they really, really, really, shouldn’t, they have successfully gotten you and a lot of other Christians to pay attention to them, get ticked off, and start making goofy statements like “It is really, really becoming difficult to believe there isn’t a real evil force ‘out there’ railing vehemently against Christian belief, faith and practice.” Atheists love it when you rant about the devil.

    Rustavo

  15. Rustavo, thanks for the comment.

    You write, “But more importantly, they wanted to do it in such a manner as to make Christians’ heads explode.”

    My head is fine thank you. I said numerous times that I don’t get worked up over this as God, Church and Christ have handled far greater challenges in history. This is, at this point, a purely intellectual exercise dedicated to trying to make sense out of an irrational atheist apologetic coming from reason lovin’ Dawkins fans.

    You also write, “and start making goofy statements like “It is really, really becoming difficult to believe there isn’t a real evil force ‘out there’ railing vehemently against Christian belief, faith and practice.”

    LOL! See the tick/quote marks around the phrase “out there?” Do you see the tense inherent to the word “becoming?” They are both there for a reason, my friend. What is this reason? Simply: this latest and very specific and calculated effort to disprove God, Christ and Church is so utterly and obviously irrational, as is the amount of time devoted to God, Christ and Church by those who don’t even believe in any of it, that something as “goofy” as the devil must be - MUST BE - behind it. A rational reason for this tomfoolery escapes me other wise … That said, I do very much believe in “an autonomous force of defiance,” or what you probably think of as a red-horned being with a tail and a pitch fork (You fundamentalist atheists need and rely upon the same sort of immovable Bible literalism used by the religious fundamentalists more than you’ll ever admit).

    So, anyway, simply saying “We got you all talking, did we not!” isn’t going to save an effort gone terribly bad. Honestly, the whole thing made/makes secular atheists and atheism look as bad as the the worst of the religious right (I’m no fan of those folk either). LOL! Why not feed people with that $25,000, rather then investing it in a silly effort built upon the idea of denying that in which you don’t believe?

    Thank you Rustavo. May you find peace, hope and love.

    Shawn Anthony

  16. I deny the holy spirit. If Jesus did do miracles, he was possessed and assisted by demons.

    Am I going to hell now?

    James

  17. Hello James. Thanks for the comment. :)

    You ask, “Am I going to hell now?”

    In the end, the answer is between you and the God who is there. Why would you even ask me? I don’t know your heart. Besides, I would rather discuss the discovery of life and light, not hypothesize about death and darkness.

    So, before we try to hypothesize about where we are going, why not talk a little bit about how we are living? Is life good?

    Shawn Anthony

  18. If you guys really can’t understand why some non-believers would put so much time and effort into denying God and debunking religious myths in today’s America, you are either not very bright or you simply haven’t been paying attention. Allow me to help you comprehend…

    The issue behind all of this is that evangelical christianity in America has become a threat to democracy, a roadblock to scientific and medical progress, and a catalyst for hate and discrimination, among other things. America has been creeping toward fundamentalism and theocracy, and rational secular people who are concerned about the present and future of America are growing sick of it. The cost of respectful silence among nonbelievers on the subject of religious delusion has become too great to bear.

    The blasphemy project is about inspiring non-believers to come out of the ‘atheist closet’ so our true numbers will be recognized and our political power will be established as a counterweight to the religious right. Then we can better work to protect our democracy, preserve the separation of church and state, promote science education, and make sure that critical medical research can progress without interference in the name of religion.

    Frank

  19. Hello Frank! Thanks for your comments too. Your thoughts - which you have obviously invested a lot of time - are appreciated.

    Authentic Evangelical Christianity is not a threat to democracy, and it is not built upon a mission to build theocracy. You have been listening to the incredibly poor representatives that are the Falwells, Robertsons, and Dobsons (and their followers). They may be dedicated to such things, unfortunately. They are not, however, good representatives of Evangelical Christianity. Authentic Evangelical Christianity - is not a threat to anyone, save those who would smother others in obvious injustice. The answer to this sort of smothering is love and service, not legislation and law.

    So, I would be right beside you in a rejection of their efforts, though my rejection would be for different reasons than yours (mine is rooted in a deep belief in an authentic God, Christ and Church). You see, I will not throw out the historical good and universally beneficial aspects found in God, Christ and Church just because a few of the loudest representatives of Evangelicalism have wandered far, far from the path. I would challenge you to try to do the same.

    So, do put away that big, broad brush. :)

    Shawn Anthony

  20. I don’t believe any of those who’ve taken the challenge have really blasphemed the Holy Ghost. If they had, they’d be in the same predicament I’m in.

    The real meaning is explained at www.totalblasphemy.com.

    Jonathan Castro

  21. Why do people have such a hard time accepting the fact that saying bad things about the Holy Spirit is unforgivable? According to Mark, Matthew, AND Luke (peeps is always forgettin’ Luke 12:10), Jesus said “he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.” Read the entire context (Mark chapt 3, Matthew chapt 12, and Luke chapt 12) and you’ll find it finds right in just as well as it does by itself. It is a statement of fact. People who deny Jesus said this need to reconcile why it says so in the Bible THREE (3) times.

    Also, for those people confused as to what blasphemy is: making up definitions that suit your particular philosophy is intellectually and morally bankrupt. Plus it’s making extra work for yourself. Other people have done all the defining, all you need to do is open a dictionary or go to a website like www.dictionary.com where it clearly says that blasphemy is an “impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things”.

    What’s not crystal clear about that? There may be other verses or quotes which make it seem unlikely that Jesus, who forgives all, would do such a thing, but Jesus himself said this one thing was unforgivable.

    And, just to show how important it was, he’s quoted THREE (3) different times in the Bible as saying it.

    Do you really believe that God would allow this quote to be placed in THREE (3) different places in the Bible, but it should just be ignored?

    Don’t make up your own stuff: read the Bible. Like Prego says: It’s all in there!

    “But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.” — Jesus, in Luke 12:9

    [links removed - sA]

    Erik Pierce

  22. Ah. Christians are getting scared shitless because some dare denounce a hateful religion that has brought very much suffering to the world and encourage others to do so as well. Unlike 300 years ago, people are now legally people, so Christians cannot torture or burn these people any more as they usually do, as they would get condemned for murder by law. You know what? That’s a good thing. Really, that’s a good thing. Why? No more religion of suffering and hatred towards others. Actually taking responsibility for your actions and not blaming it on the imaginary god that has not shown itself, has maid no attempt to prove itself and roots from nothing, but a emperor with a broken skull. If Nero, the pervert, the city burner, the torturer, the dictator would have had a vision showing what will Christianity will do, he will look like a naughty child by comparison.

    The author of this thing will not repent, because he is not in a religion of hate that will forgive for any and all bloody actions as long as you repent, and instead takes his responsibility for his action.

    And do you want to know what’s the evil force behind the attack of Christianity? People. Not evil people, but people that live in an age where superstition is silly and not law, where solutions are looked for, instead of blaming others for their own troubles and problems they, and they alone are responsible for.

    And guess what. We were not the one that laid the first strike. YOUR RELIGION WERE.
    Ever heard of the Spanish Inquisition? They burned thousands for reading a book that is not the Bible. They burned because they dared point out an error in their reasoning, in their methods and dared protests againts the hypocritical power of the church that tortured innocents for nothing but mere stupidity, and hold power with greater tyranny then any warlord or king. They dared question the “convert of die” mentality when missionaries went with armies to places they had no business with, and told people that they had no business with what to do and how to live. When it was not fire and torture, it was smallpox or AIDS.
    The list is a long one, and I advise that you ought to look into history to see it.

    Zixinus

  23. Ah, OK? I really, really pray God will break through your anger, bitterness and seriously misguided thoughts about Christianity. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment here. Peace be with you, Zixinus.

    Shawn Anthony

  24. Why do atheists attack what they don’t believe in? Gee, I wonder…..it’s not like christianity ever tried to control what is taught in our schools, or control our laws, or teach small defenceless children that eternal torment awaits nonbelievers, or……..look, I’m sure you can fill in a few of your own. I used to be a christian. Now I’m an atheist. Personally, my motivation is, I’d like to see other people spared this particular mental virus. OK, fine, and I’m angry that I wasted so much of my life on this nonsense. Anyway, 5 minutes of rational, unbiased thought-are you capable of that?-would show you how attacking a belief you dont believe in can make a lot of sense, especially if that beliefs believers think they should run the country.

    Shadowslacker

  25. Thanks Shadowslacker. I think serious anger directed toward the aspects of Christianity cited in your comment is justified. However, do you really believe these bad examples of Christian thought & living epitomize all of Christianity? No, they do not. So, I would just say that you do have a right to be angry, but try not to paint all of Christianity with a brush dipped in an admittedly detrimental paint can of a few bad - the worst - examples.

    Shawn Anthony

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