The concept of sins
The word sin means an offense committed against religious laws. Sins are outlined in most religions across the world. Christianity has specific references to sins. A sin is considered an offense against God. It is considered as opposition to the laws as outlined by God. St. Augustine has defined sin as words, thought, or action against the eternal law. There are different types of sin based on the severity of the sin, cause, act committed, the manner in which committed, against whom it was done, the manifestation of the sin, etc.
Commonly, the following types of sin are identified in most Christian denominations:
- Original sin (referring to the sin committed by Adam and Eve).
- Venial sin (a lesser sin)
- Concupiscence (sinful lust)
- Mortal sin (a grave sin that leads to damnation, if not repented)
- Eternal sin (an unpardonable sin that denies the sinner salvation)
Blasphemy – a sin
Eternal sin is considered as the most heinous of sins. God will never forgive an unpardonable or unforgivable sin. Of the different sins considered as an eternal sin, one sin that is mentioned repeatedly is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Before we understand what is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the meaning of blasphemy needs to be understood.
Blasphemy is an insult or contempt for a deity or for anything considered sacred in a religion. Blasphemy is an offense in most religions. Insulting the religious texts, prophets of the religion, religious symbols, idols, and the Gods is considered a serious sin. In some countries, blasphemy against the state religion is a criminal offense that can lead to imprisonment. In many countries, blasphemy is considered an offense of hate against a religious denomination. It can be punishable.
The word blasphemy means injuring through speech. It refers to the act of speaking evil of God and injuring or abusing beliefs. Blasphemy is an offense in Christianity. Blasphemy is mentioned as a sin in religious texts. In ancient times, blasphemy was considered a very serious offense. Anyone who committed blasphemy would be punished with death. Even in later years, blasphemy would be punished by death. Until the 17th century, blasphemy used to be an offense punishable by death.
It must be noted that even Jesus was charged with blasphemy. It has been a serious offense for ages. Blasphemy may be against the religious beliefs, against the religious texts, or religious symbols. One of the most serious types of blasphemy is the one committed against the Holy Spirit. This is an eternal sin that cannot be pardoned.
What is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?
The answer to what is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is that it is an unpardonable sin that is committed against God. It is a sin that will not be forgiven by God. It is one of the key eternal sins mentioned in the religious texts. None other than Jesus himself has said that every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven except blasphemy against God. He goes on to say the Eternal will never forgive such individuals who commit blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
References from the texts
There are many references in the texts that talk about the serious offense of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The details of the same are given below:
Mark 3:28-30 = All sins committed by men will be forgiven but anyone who commits blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is guilty of eternal sin and will not be forgiven. Such a person is in danger of eternal damnation.
- Matthew 12:30-32 = Blasphemy against the spirit will not be forgiven. Those who speak against the son of man will be forgiven but those who speak against the Holy will not be forgiven. They will not be forgiven in this age or at any age to come.
- Luke 12:8-10 = Anyone who acknowledges me will be acknowledged before the angels of God. Anyone who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.
- 1 John 5:6 = Blasphemy committed against the Holy Spirit is an opposition to the truth because the Holy Spirit is the truth. This leads a man away from repentance and this results in no forgiveness. One who cannot acknowledge his sin cannot ask to be forgiven.
- The Catholic Encyclopaedia says sinning against the Holy Spirit is confounding him with the spirit of evil. The act is defined as a malicious denial of His divine character. It reiterates that a sin done against the son of man can be forgiven because it is done due to ignorance or misunderstanding.
Interpretation of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit
To understand in detail what is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, then we need to look into the interpretation of the texts. Thomas Aquinas, a well-known Italian priest and philosopher, has given a detailed interpretation of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. His interpretations are as follows:
- Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is any insult directed at any of the Trinity.
- This is a mortal sin that persists against death. It is done despite the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to deliver sinners from evil.
- A sin against the Holy Spirit is more serious than a sin against the Father or the son.
- Aquinas has detailed six sins and they are-
- Resistance to the truth (here the Holy Spirit is the truth).
- Envy of increase in divine grace in the world.
- Despair, which is the thinking that one’s malice is greater than the goodness of the Divine.
- Presumption, which is the act of a man wanting to get glory without merit. It also includes a desire to get a pardon without repenting for the sin.
- The specific purpose of failure to repent a sin is known as impenitence.
- Obstinacy is where a man holds to his sin.
- The sin being eternal prevents salvation. Since it cannot be forgiven, it is an obstacle to achieving salvation. Aquinas says that it is only God who can remove such an obstacle through a miracle.
Slightly different interpretations are also given that seem to suggest that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is not such an unpardonable sin. For instance, the Catechism clearly says that it is the desire of Jesus that anyone who gives up sin should have the gates of forgiveness open. This is a clear indication that even if someone blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, if such a person gives up the sin, it can be forgiven.
St. Augustine, Numidia Bishop, and philosopher, has said that the reference to this eternal sin is one of the most difficult passages in the holy texts. He states that the only unforgivable sin is one that a person does not repent. So, his interpretation is that if a person repents committing blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, then the sin can be forgiven. This is consistent with the view of the Catechism.
Pope John Paul II said that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is a refusal to accept the path to salvation that God is offering. He says that the reason this is an eternal sin is because of non-repentance of the sinner. Non-repentance is why the sinner is not forgiven in this life or even in the next. This view again suggests that repentance can lead to forgiveness, even of this eternal sin.
Views and opinions of other denominations
Arminius, a protestant theologian, says that this sin is rejecting and refusing Jesus Christ with malice and hatred. He says that this sin is committed by non-believers. The United Methodist Church and the Methodist Catechism also reaffirm that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unpardonable.
The Latter-day Saints say that all sins can be forgiven except the sin committed against the Holy Spirit. They also say there is no repentance for such a person and he becomes an enemy.
Pardon possible for the unpardonable sin
From the views of St. Augustine and Pope John Paul II, it is clear that the unpardonable sin may actually be pardoned. The only pardon is seeking forgiveness. Anyone who confesses this grievous sin and asks for forgiveness can be pardoned. When we look at the holy texts, there are clear statements that those who confess their sins will be forgiven by Him. Confession helps to cleanse acts of unrighteousness.
Paul says (1 Timothy 1:13-5) that though he committed the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, he was pardoned. He explains that the pardon was because the sin was done due to ignorance. He clearly says that Jesus has come to the world to save all sinners. It is said in John 6:40 that anyone who believes in the Son shall have eternal life. This means whoever turns to Christ can be pardoned.
The answer to the question of what is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit was discussed. It is clear that anyone who sins or insults the Holy Spirit is doing so deliberately or maliciously. This is an eternal sin that leads to damnation. The only solution available for these sinners is repentance. This alone can save a person who commits this unforgivable sin.