Blasphemy: The Most Serious Sin

By Kersley Fitzgerald

Etymologically, "blasphemy" means to "speak evil of" or injure a reputation. More specifically, it means to speak or act contemptuously or profanely toward God or a sacred deity. It also includes the act of assuming the rights or qualities of God on oneself or another.

Of the Ten Commandments, three relate to blasphemy (Exodus 20). The first and second forbid the blasphemy of assuming any other entity deserves the worship owed only to God (no other gods before Me). The second also forbids making an object and assuming it carries the attributes of God (idolatry). The third commandment demands respect for God's name — meaning not only His actual name, but also His reputation and the way He is presented. The Israelites took this to the extreme with the tetragrammaton; in an effort to not blaspheme God's name, they reduced it to the abbreviation "YHWH" and refused to pronounce it at all.

In the New Testament, the Gospels speak of blasphemy in two different ways. In Matthew 12:31 and Luke 11:14, Jesus condemned the Pharisees of blasphemy because they denied the work of the Holy Spirit, instead claiming Jesus performed miracles through the power of Satan. It is blasphemy to assign the character and actions of God onto another. Later, the priests and Pharisees accused Jesus of blasphemy (Matthew 26:65; Mark 14:64; John 10:33) when He claimed to be God (Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62; John 10:30). Of course, they had no idea that He was God and could therefore claim to have His power.

Worldwide, execution has been the standard punishment for blasphemy. Leviticus 24:15-16 commands that anyone who curses God or blasphemes His name should be stoned. In Daniel 3, when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship Nebuchadnezzar's statue, they were put into a fiery furnace. In Daniel 6, Daniel was thrown into the lion's den for worshiping God instead of the king. Countless Christians in the early church were executed for rejecting the Roman Emperor Cult, and Christians today who leave their cultural or native religions are killed for blasphemy. The most famous modern "blasphemer" may be Salman Rushdie who had a fatwa, or death sentence, proclaimed against him after Ayatollah Khomeini determined his book The Satanic Verses spoke irreverently against Muhammad.

Blasphemy against God is prevalent in media. The films Legion and Dogma completely misrepresent God, and The Last Temptation of Christ and The Da Vinci Code spread old lies about Jesus for the sake of plot points. Strangely enough, the comedy movies Bruce Almighty and Evan Almighty are two of the least blasphemous movies I've seen. They represent God's character in a way that is fairly accurate. Overlooking the obvious, such as God looking like Morgan Freeman or that He would ever give His power and authority to a human, God is shown as loving, respectful of free will, all-powerful, and deeply involved in people's lives. The films do contain disrespectful uses of God's name and an incomplete view of the gospel and humanity (including sin and God's reaction to sin). But the movies also show positive changes in people as they come to realize God's true nature.

The issue is, is it against the second commandment to ever claim to represent a characterization of God? If so, every passion play put on by a church is blasphemy. Human representations of God will always fall short; we are incapable of understanding Him, let alone portraying Him. In the end, we learn that we should not trust our own attempts to teach us about God; we should go straight to the Bible.

Blasphemy against God is one of the most serious sins a person can commit. Blasphemy is misrepresenting the nature of God — the perfect and holy Creator. It is a part of the modern unpardonable sin. The only sin God cannot forgive is a lifetime of rejecting Him. To deny God's holiness and God's existence is blasphemy; it is speaking and acting in a way that represents God contrary to His nature. To deny mankind's fallenness, mankind's inability to save itself, and mankind's need of Christ's sacrifice is also blasphemy since it assumes God's attributes upon our shoulders. Every person, either through ignorance, negligence, or rebellion, believes this at some point. God is willing to forgive if we admit the truth about Him and our need of Him. To die with a blasphemous worldview, however, is to definitively reject God.

Image Credit: Ally Aubry; "hear no evil see no evil speak no evil"; Creative Commons

TagsChristian-Life  | God-Father  | Reviews-Critiques

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Published 10-16-12