It's not like I murdered somebody!


In the area of criminal law, we can determine which crimes are worse by the amount of punishment available. If Jane commits an act in which she could be sentenced to 10 years in prison, and Joe commits an act in which he could be sentenced to 15 years in prison, we readily exclaim that Joe’s crime is worse.

Christians act as if there is a hierarchy of sins. Some are worse than others. Some scriptures certainly intone a hierarchy of sins.

If there was a hierarchy, would God have been clearer what, exactly, it was? Or is it more likely that each author was making up their own determination as to which sins were worse than others? That, in fact, the books of the New Testament are human creations in which, not surprisingly, humans disagree as to differences in sins.


You tell me what you have done, and I can tell you where it fits in how “bad” it is under our legal system. Lied under oath? Perjury (15-year felony) is far worse than stealing a car (five-year felony). Unless there was a person in the car (Life). All of which is worse than hitting a person (93 day misdemeanor). Even if you hit them with a knife (4-year felonious assault.)

Tell me how many grams of drugs you had, or how much you stole, or what weapon (if any) you used in the robbery, or how much monetary damage you caused, and I can conveniently plug you in to where your actions fit in our criminal system.

Ah, but I have misled you. See, I can tell you what your actions mean under Michigan Law. Take one step south into Indiana or Ohio, and all of a sudden the rules change. Perhaps perjury is NOT worse than stealing a car. Perhaps the amount of drugs you have means the difference between a life sentence in prison, or a 10-year felony.

I am aware of one county in which a first-time offender of drunk driving will get probation. A county adjacent to it has a policy of 30 days in jail, even for first time offenders. Literally, depending on which side of that little sign—“County Line”--a person is observed makes a difference of 30 days in their lives!

So I can list exactly where you actions fit, and you could read another attorney’s input from another jurisdiction and receive completely contradictory information. What is terrible in my state may not be so bad in another and vice versa.

We would expect, if the books of the New Testament were inspired by the same God; a consistent system of hierarchy of sins would emerge. We understand that county to county, or state to state, or country to country we would have different laws. But we are not talking about different jurisdictions—if there is only one set of laws from one God a pattern would become evident.

Instead, we have authors all over the board as to what sins are bad, and what are not so bad. If it is merely a matter of personal preference—doesn’t the New Testament exhibit the natural human trait of differing emphasis upon morality? Nothing cohesive or divine about it at all.

The Unpardonable Sin

Jesus was tossing demons out of humans. The religious leaders accused him of being Beelzebub, or Satan. Jesus shouts out, “A-ha! All sins will be forgiven of humans. Even blasphemy will be forgiven of humans. But blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is unforgivable and is subject to eternal damnation.” (Mark 3:28-29)

The only problem is—Jesus never exactly states what the unforgivable sin is, nor why it is unforgivable. It is reasonable to view the actions, and the response of Jesus to extrapolate that it is accusing an act of God as being an act of Satan. The leaders accuse Jesus of being Satan; Jesus says “There is this thing called the unforgivable sin.” Not a stretch to connect the two. (See also Mark 3:30)

Matthew and Luke retain the same connection when recounting the story. (Although Luke places other statements between the actions. See Luke 11:15 to 12:10)

No other author speaks of this terrible crime. What is it that is so bad, even God cannot forgive? Jesus died for trillions of sins committed by billions of people, yet there is one sin, even if committed by just one person, that God says will never be covered. Commit it and you are done. Finished. Kaput.

“Uh, Jesus? I murdered someone today.”
”That’s O.K. I forgive you.”
“To be honest, I raped her first.”
“Again, you are forgiven.”

“Actually, she was not my first.”
“All covered by the cross, my son.”
“Not even my second. Or if I was really honest, even my third.”
“Yes, that is why I died for you.”

“I keep trying to not, but this desire compels me.”
”I know….Excuse me for a minute. You! Yeah, you over there! Where do you think you are going? INTO ETERNAL DAMNATION WITH YOU!....sorry ‘bout that. Where were we?”
“Wow. What did he do?”
“Oh, he thought the devil did something that I actually did. Don’t worry, though, I didn’t forgive him.”

You would think that if there was a sin out there that was so bad, so unforgivable, once you commit it that even a Hitler gets to pass you with a grin on his way to heaven, because HE didn’t do it, that Jesus would be a little more specific as to what it was. Or how to not commit it.

What if we could still do it today? What if some Christian says “The Devil is putting me through some tribulation” but they didn’t know it was actually God—did they just do the unforgivable? What if David blamed taking the census on the Devil. (1 Chron. 21:1) Actually it was God. (2 Sam. 24:1) Did he just commit the unforgivable sin?

Due to the lack of clarity, I would think most Christians would scared to ever attribute anything to Satan, for fear that it was actually God. And doomed to eternal condemnation. Like the Harry Potter villain, Satan would become “he-who-cannot-be-named.”

Funny with this terrible, terrible sin looming out there, no other author even bothers to give it a mention. Likewise, we would think the authors of Mark, Matthew and Luke would at least mention the “sin unto death” yet they must have missed it.

Sin Unto Death

1 John 5:16-17 categorizes sin into two kinds—those that lead to death and those that don’t. Is it spiritual death? Physical death? The author says that if Christians ask, God will hear and grant their petition. If a brother sees another sinning and asks, God will grant the brother life.

However then the author says, “Hey, but if the brother is committing one of those death sins, don’t bother praying. Won’t do any good.”

I would think it would be pretty important, for both the person committing it, and the person praying for it, to at least know what the heck the author is talking about. Is Murder a sin that leads to death? Unbelief? Lying? Oh, sure, pretty clear that it is a waste of time praying for someone that committed the unpardonable sin (only we don’t know if they had). They are eternal toast already. Are there more sins Christians can stop praying for?

Can Christians stop bothering to pray for a whole list of sins, as long as they are labeled a “sin that leads to death”? Or is it more likely that the author of Mark created an unpardonable sin, and the author of 1 John created a “sin that leads to death” in an attempt to create a hierarchy of sins. Only neither seems to want to clarify what it is.

If we are to be held to this standard, a little clarity would have been nice.

(Probably time for my side note. I can hear persons chomping at the bit to claim “Ignorance of the Law is no Excuse.” Do you know why we say that? Because if we allowed “I didn’t know the law” as an exoneration of committing an act. all criminals would use it as an excuse, and we could never convict anyone of anything.

It is not that the justice system holds that there is no obligation to inform the public of the law. Far from it. It is recognition that, as humans, we cannot determine what another person actually knows, and whether they are lying about knowing the law. It becomes easier to draw a bright line, and not allow it as an excuse.

And even then it can be used an excuse on occasion. Do you see all those posted Speed Limit Signs? Most jurisdictions require notice of a speed limit, prior to imposing a ticket. Imagine if we truly implemented “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” We could remove every speed limit sign, and write tickets left and right, claiming it was the driver’s responsibility to known the speed limit dropped from 45 m.p.h. to 25 m.p.h. upon passing Brown Rd.

In our present situation, why would God want to “hide” his law? Why would the concept of “Ignorance of God’s law is no excuse” ever come up? Humans are unable to determine what another person “knows.” God could. Humans may not effectively be able to communicate the state of the law. God could.

When I see an apologist use the platitude of “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” in talking about God’s judgment, I suspect they do not understand the underlying principle of the statement. God CAN determine what a human knows and God CAN accurately communicate the law. Imposing human limitations on God is—well—human.

On with the show.)

We would think that the author of 1 John might also mention if internal or external sins are the ones that lead to death. But he didn’t.

Inside – Outside

Paul (who never talks of sins of death or unforgivable sins) also categorizes sin into two categories—outside the body and inside the body. 1 Cor. 6:18 All sexual immoral sins he claims are against one’s own body, but all other sins are outside the body.

We are left with a grand assertive statement and no explanation. And 2 millenniums later people are still debating over what that means. Are jealousy, bitterness, and anger sins “outside” the body? Sure, they can be exhibited by external actions, but lust (internal) can also be exhibited by external (adultery).

Although Paul does not explicitly state it as such, he seems to hold sexually immoral sins as worse, by implication. Yet it is not as bad as a sin that “leads to death.” Paul, at least, thinks sexually immoral sins are repairable. And they are certainly not eternally condemnable.

In trying to line up these various books, we end up with a mess. Of all the sins, we have one that is unforgivable. Of the rest, some lead to death, some don’t. Of those that don’t, some are inside, some are outside. Yet the unforgivable sin could be inside, yet it is not sexually immoral. As sex seems to be such a large concentration of sins, what is it that is worse, committed outside the body that leads to death?

Or, if we want to align Paul with sins that lead to death, he does give a list of actions that “deserve” death in Romans 1:32. If a child tells you they disobeyed their parents (Rom. 1:30) must you tell them they committed a sin that leads to death? But not to worry, it was not the unforgivable sin. They will die, but not be under eternal condemnation. That will make for a fun Sunday School class!

Paul gives a list of who will not inherit the kingdom of God in Gal. 5:19-21. The author of Revelations gives a different list in Rev. 21:8. Paul has qualified his list with “…and the like” so it would be appropriate to presume the ones in Revelation should be included. In other words, each list adds to the other, and is not intended to be exclusive.

Many Christians seem to be under the false impression that only non-believers will be denied heaven. Revelation only includes non-belief as one of many groups of people that will not be there. If that list is not exhaustive, and we must include Galatians 5, there will be very few, if any, in heaven.

Both lists include murderers. Certainly Murder must be somewhere up there, close to unforgivable, and near “leads to death.” Yet the author of Matthew records that Jesus holds a person who is unjustifiably angry, or calls another “Fool” is equally at fault as Murder! (Matt. 5:21-22) Unjustifiable anger must also be right up there. ‘Course Jesus also seems to think internal lust is as bad as external adultery, so luckily we have Paul to straighten Jesus out of that thought. (Mt. 5:28)

In the end, there is no real way to determine what sin is worse than any other. Yet the authors provide different claims of what sin is of greater degree of punishment than another. As we read the different books, any attempt to align the assertions becomes hopelessly tangled.

Rather than one God with one rule of conduct, we have many authors all vying for what bothers them the most as being the “worse” sin.

What is more likely? That the Bible is a cohesive description of the rule of conduct as prescribed by one God? Or that it is a compilation of various human authors, and their various opinions resulting in a not surprising variety of hierarchies of sin.

14 comments:

Theresa Frasch said...

Very good points. Thank you for the insightful article. If only Christians would honestly take a look at what they believe instead of becoming defensive about what they don't know.

Hellbound Alleee said...

If there were a god, naturally one should assume that it would have a system that was completely clear and solid, and not anything like the arbitrary and politics-based crime-and punishment systems in the United States. US Law is sometimes based on how unpopular an act is, and sometimes based on how good a defense attourney is. Or on how sorry someone's face looks. You would think that a god could get it a little bit better than that.

openlyatheist said...

"Christians act as if there is a hierarchy of sins. Some are worse than others. Some scriptures certainly intone a hierarchy of sins."

I was always under the impression that there was NOT a hierarchy of sins in Christianity, and that the smallest transgression was enough to damn one to Hell.

I can vividly recall the first time a Christian told me I was no better than a murderer.

Since then I've found that it largely depends on the Christian.

Benjamin David said...

I am so very sorry to post this comment for I can see that you are very excited about any and all reasons to reject Christianity, it seems for fear of it, but I cannot say for certain. However, for reasons of honesty and good form I must point out that in posting this blog several errors, I'm sure accidental ones, have been made.
First, a simple truth has been reversed. All sin has the same punishment: death.(Romans 6:23) Therefore, a hierarchy of sin does not exist. In your example of the hierarchy of crime, each person gets their just deserts for their own crime. In Christianity, however, all sin leads to the same punishment. All sin is equal.
Secondly is this. I would suggest a more thorough reading of the scriptures before your next post. You seem take things out of context to fit the point you are trying to prove. For exapmle, if you had had a more complete understanding of scripture before this your post was written you would know exactly what blasphemy in the holy spirit is. It is, in fact, denying God. To deny God is to not accept his offer of forgiveness and is therefore, of course, unforgivable. It is unforgivable simply because it is a human's decision; and God has promised never to limit or take away human free will.
To be perfectly honest I stopped reading after this section for fear my comment might become to long. So thank you for you wonderfully articulated opinions. It was a pleasure to read at least part of this post.

Rich said...

While there may be no consistancy in the authors of the bible to catagorize sin into some list of worst to not so bad, the thing that is consistant is that no unclean thing shall enter the kingdom of God. So unforgiven sin of any degree would keep you from entering the kingdom of God. It seems thatit is us, people that want a heirarchy, because even if I tell little white lies I'm not as bad as Hitler. I might be bad but there are worse then me so let me in.
Trying to be perfect and seeking forgivness of all our sins is the only sure way to enter in his kingdom.

DagoodS said...

openlyatheist,

You raise a good point. Yes, most Christians that hold to the concept of hell indicate that the “punishment” (to some degree) is equal regardless of the crime. One single bad thought is the equivalent of a million murders. In comparison to our laws, it would be the same as providing capital punishment for an infraction as minor as driving without your license, or as major as a Five State Murder spree.

The problem is that this idea breaks down upon inspection of the verses I cite in my blog entry. If all sins are of equal punishment, why does Paul give these lists? Why would Jesus say that unjustified anger is similar to murder? 1 John gives a sin that leads to death, and sins that do not. Are those equal? And if all sins receive the same punishment, and one sin is unpardonable—inflicting eternal damnation, then ALL sins are unpardonable—inflicting eternal damnation.

Further, the Bible implies levels of punishment, depending on the sin. Luke 10:14. Christians haven’t really thought out the idea of “difference of levels” in eternal torment. It can’t be time—both are eternal. It must be degree. But what of it? Does that really make a difference?

Assume I was a bit worse than you. For you, Hell will consist of toasting at 200 degrees. (Celsius or Fahrenheit, take your pick.) I’m a little worse off, so I get 250 degrees. Are you looking over at me, saying, “Whew! Glad I am not him!” Of course not. Difference of degrees of punishment in hell is meaningless.

Finally, it is always interesting how those who propose hell often use Hitler as an example for its necessity. As in “Do you think that Hitler should be in Heaven?” If all sins are equal, and all, even one, damn a person to hell, what is the difference between a Hitler, or a child that cries selfishly? Why don’t they ever use that child as a reason we need a Hell?

Because, pragmatically, they DO believe in a hierarchy of sin.

DagoodS said...

Benjamin David,

Well, as I always say—“Half a post is better than none!” *grin*

While you recommend I do a more thorough reading of the Bible, you also indicate “All sin is equal.” Equal—how? Equal in punishment? Equal in execution? Equal in results? While you may disagree with me, we have the problems with the verses I list. Perhaps you can suggest where I can do a “more” thorough reading of the Bible.

The author of 1 John most certainly does not indicate that all sins are equal. Some lead to death, some do not. Paul, in 1 Corinthians most certainly does not indicate that all sins are equal—some are internal, some external. Jesus most certainly does note indicate that all sins are equal, indicating there are “worse” punishments. Luke 10:14. The author of Revelation most certainly does not indicate that all sins are equal, some prohibit entry into heaven, some do not.

And, of course, if all sins are equal, and one sin is unpardonable, then all sins are unpardonable. If the Bible says one thing, and you say another—which should I believe?

Benjamin David: if you had had a more complete understanding of scripture before this your post was written you would know exactly what blasphemy in the holy spirit is. It is, in fact, denying God.

I am sorry. You have been sold a bill of goods. Please point out, in the verses cited, how Jesus relates blaspheme of the Holy Spirit to Denying God. He doesn’t.

What has happened is that Christians desire to divide the groups of those entering into Heaven into just two—believers and non-believers. A very simple, bright line. However, if there is an unpardonable sin that is not tied to belief, this would create a possible third group—believers that commit the unpardonable sin who go to hell. Yikes!

In order to prevent this from occurring, many Christians conveniently “re-define” the unpardonable sin into one of unbelief. The Bible doesn’t warrant it. I would ask that Christians treat their Bible with better respect. (Funny, coming from an atheist!)

There are three problems with this theory.

Context Contrary to your assertion, I read the context very well. Jesus does a certain act. (Tossing out Demons.) The religious leaders accuse Him of having the spirit of Satan. Jesus immediately responds with “there is this thing called Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.”

The most obvious connection is that what the leaders just did was Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. If it was not clear enough, Mark even makes the connection. (Mark 3:30) In your claim that it is denying God, how do you explain away Mark 3:30?

Luke Luke, in repeating the tale from Mark, for his own reasons, separates out the event (tossing out demons) with the words “Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.” (Luke 12:10) However, within this separation, Luke includes compare/contrast.

If a person confesses Jesus, Jesus will confess them. Luke 12:8
Deny Jesus, he will deny you. Luke 12:9
Speak bad words against Jesus you will be forgiven. Speak bad words against the Holy Spirit, you will not. Luke 12:10

By claiming that Luke 12:10 is “denying Jesus” you have rendered Luke 12:9 as meaningless. Can’t claim it is a repeated assertion, since it does not correlate. (“confessing Jesus” is not the same as “bad words against Jesus.”)

According to Luke, Jesus has already made the claim that denying Jesus will get one into eternal damnation. Luke 12:10 is an additional way in which to do so. In your claim that it is denying God, how do you explain away Luke 12:10?

Revelation The sticky one. Revelations 21:8 lists unbelief as only one way in which heaven is denied. No liars get in, either. Is lying an unpardonable sin? If, you are hold that “unbelief” is the ONLY way, how do you handle the rest of the verse?

You can’t. In your claim that it is denying God, how do you explain away Rev. 21:8?

Benjamin David: So thank you for you wonderfully articulated opinions. It was a pleasure to read at least part of this post.

You are quite welcome.

Rich said...

I would have to agree that there are sins that are worse than others. Even actons from christian churches should tell us that. Not honoring they fahter and mother is one of the big ten but no one that I now has ever been delt with harshly for breaking this commandment. Yet adultry is delt with by escommunicating people. So even if you claim that all sin is equal, the actions speak louder than words.
As far as what I was trying to say before is that any sin left unresolved will keep you out of the kingdom of heaven.
Different degrees of glory as Paul speaks of in 1cor 15:39-41.
So we must each get a different reward based on our deeds here. Christ also spoke of many mansions in his father's kingdom. What would be the point of even a mention of these if there wasn't some difference in our afterlife?

Benjamin David said...

Dagoods,

I would like to reply to your comment in the order in which it is written. I would like to begin with the example in the second paragraph of your post.

You comment on First John. Let me simply quote a note on this verse that I've read recently for it gives as good an argument as I could give.

"1 John 5:16,17 - Commentators differ widely in their thoughts about what this sin that leads to death is and whether the death it causes is physical or spiritual. Paul wrote that some Christians had died because they took Communion unworthy (1 Corinthians 11:27-30), and Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead when they lied to God (Acts 5:1-11). Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit results in spiritual death (Mark 3:29), and the book of Hebrews describes the spiritual death of a person who turns against Christ (Hebrews 6:4-6). John was probably referring to the people who had left the Christian fellowship and joined the antichrist. By rejecting the only way of salvation these people were putting themselves out of reach of prayer. In most cases, however, even if we knew what the terrible sin was, we would have no sure way of knowing whether a certain person had committed it. Therefore, we should continue praying for our loved ones and for our Christian brothers and sisters, leaving the judgment up to God. Note that John says, “I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it,” rather than, “You cannot pray for them.” He recognizes the lack of certainty.”

Because this scripture is so uncertain, even in the Christian community we are unsure of what John is referring to, using it as evidence is an argument from silence. There is not sure fact as to what it means. Thus, I could twist it to make my point, and you could do the same, if we so chose. However, this note does not specifically address the claims you made based on this scripture. You stated that “The author of 1 John most certainly does not indicate that all sins are equal. Some lead to death, some do not.” John says, “If you see a brother or sister sinning in a way that does not lead to death…” (NLT) insinuating that one can sin in a way that does not lead to death. This is true. If someone has accepted Christ’s forgiveness and yet sins (as all Christians do) he/she is forgiven and does not have to take the punishment of death (spiritual death) since Christ has already taken it. Therefore, one can commit sin without taking the punishment (this is what the offer of Christianity is) but the sin itself is still equal to all others because the same punishment had to be taken, it was simply taken by Christ instead of the sinner.

Also, it is true that Paul talks about sins being “internal and external” but in no way does he say that one type of sin is better or worse than the other.

As for the Luke 10:14 reference, the verse prior to it explains. In Luke 10:13, Jesus says “If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago…” (emphasis added) The miracles performed “in” them were the complete transformations of their hearts by the gospel (the greatest miracle of Christianity). Therefore, the people of Tyre and Sidon had not heard the gospel since this miracle had not taken place there. “How can they call on him (Jesus) to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him?” (Romans 10:14) Christ (The Son, the part of the trinity with the authority to judge) will not hold those who no nothing of him accountable. It is those who hear the gospel and yet reject it that are judged harshly.

Now for the reference and arguments concerning Luke 12:10. You’re correct, my comments on blasphemy in the Holy Spirit were not very clear in my last comment. Allow me to explain. The Holy Spirit is the part of God that speaks to the heart of an individual, calling him to Christianity (This is why it is specifically blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, not the Son or the Father, that leads to damnation). Therefore, to blaspheme the Holy Spirit is to, in one way or another, not heed the promptings of the Holy Spirit, whether that be by mocking it, denying it, ignoring it; it all depended upon your definition of blasphemy. To not heed the promptings of the Holy Spirit who is, in fact, the voice of God is to not accept, or to refuse the call of God. We would both agree that to not accept God’s call to Christianity is to not be Christian and therefore, from the Christian perspective, not go to heaven. Therefore, this sin is unforgivable, but it is our choice to remain in it that makes it unforgivable. The reason I refer to it as “denying God” is because God is the trinity. (Father, Son, Holy Spirit.) [To avoid confusion, let me just explain that these are not separate entities. God is the entity, the members of the trinity are the parts. Much like we use a hand to write and a mouth to speak, God uses different parts of himself for different things.] If you prefer, it could just as well be called “denying the Holy Spirit” or really anything. All Jesus is saying in Luke 12:10 is reiterating the fact that to not accept his free, sacrificial gift of forgiveness is to not be given eternal life in heaven.

Now, finally, Revelations 21:8- When a person accepts Christ he becomes perfectly holy and blameless. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that we “become the righteousness of God.” We do not become equal with God, for he still has his infinite power, but we do become as righteous as He. Therefore, in God’s eyes, we are perfect. In his eyes we are no longer any of the ugly things listed in Revelation 21:8. The author of this book (authorship is being currently debated) is speaking only of the unsaved, who are still “cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt,” etc.

Thank you once again for your wit and high level of thought. Your conclusions are very well thought out, even though I might not always agree with them. I would also like to apologize for my previous post; it was juvenile, instinctive and inflammatory. Finally, I would like to thank you for your willingness to debate. Essentially, your blog offers a great deal of well-substantiated challenges to Christians, which, for me, strengthen my belief in Christianity.

-Benjamin David

P.S.- I very much like your username.

DagoodS said...

Benjamin David,

Yes I am well aware that 1 John 5 is not very clear (in fact not at all) as to what a “sin leading to death” is. Isn’t that more Christianities problem than mine? Is it more human or divine to make unclear statements? That is sorta my point—that this hierarchy (or difference if you prefer) in sins as recounted by humans in the Bible is less clear than what humans provide for each other.

Are divine mandates deliberately so oblique as to the point we can give them no meaning? We are talking about a sin leading to death. A sin that is so bad, one need not bother to pray for it, as God will not be providing life. The same God that the author says whatever a Christian asks, God will hear.

And the best Christian commentators can come up with, for this horrible sin, is “Gosh, we don’t know”?

OR, is it far more plausible that the author wrote this, not for a perpetual audience of 2000 years, but to a distinct audience that was well-aware as to what he was talking about? Something we see in humanity all the time. Why would God do it, though?

Further, as to your explanation that it is a “brother” that sins giving life, as compared to an unbeliever that sins, leading to death, does not follow from the author at all. (Bit of friendly advice. Before ya warn atheists that they need to read Scripture in its context, make sure you have as well. In other words—better know it at least as well as they do!)

What does the author say immediately following this “sin leads to death”? “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin…” (1 John 5:18) He could NOT be talking about believers sinning—as the author says believers no longer sin! (The term “brother” is translucent as to whether it must mean a believer, or simply a fellow human being.)

I am uncertain where you see that the author has a lack of certainty about there being a sin that leads to death. S/he is quite clear that such a sin exists. Just fails to give us any insight as to what it is.

As to blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, I couldn’t help but notice that you failed to address Mark 3:30. Or the Matthew passage. It is in direct response to the leaders accusing Jesus of tossing out demons with the strength of Satan that Jesus responds about Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Where does it say they were not “heeding the promptings of the Holy Spirit”? Seriously, would accept this misalignment of the Bible from a non-Believer? If I told you that some passage meant something completely different than what it says, would you accept my interpretation? If you would not accept it from me, why should I accept it from you?

And when Jesus says the miracles that occurred “in” Chorazin and Bethsaida, he is talking location, as within their geography, not “in” their hearts. Read Luke 10:13-14 as if “in” means “transformation in their hearts” and explain how they are under judgment. And how it will be “better” for Tyre at the judgment day, if these people were transformed in their hearts.

Yes, the most common, attempt to resolve Rev. 21:8 is the claim that it is only talking about unbelievers that murder, lie, etc. Doesn’t fly. If it was talking about unbelievers, there would be no need for the additional items listed. Further, how do you pick one out of the list, and say the others are included under that list? If it is unbelievers that also murder, could it not mean murderers that are sexually immoral?

Imagine I was having a party. And I told the doorman to not let in anyone named “Pat” or red-heads or people wearing long-sleeves. What you are stating is that you would interpret this to mean the doorman should not let in anyone named “Pat,” PLUS any red-heads named “Pat,” PLUS any persons wearing long-sleeves named “Pat.” There would be no need for my to tell the doorman any more than “anyone named Pat.”

Or, was I emphasizing red-heads? Meaning the doorman should not let in red-heads, red-heads wearing long-sleeves or red-heads named “Pat.”

Looking at Rev. 21:8 there is a HUGE difference. Is the author saying unbelievers plus unbelievers that lie are barred entry? Or liars plus liars that do not believe are barred. Under the latter interpretation, you aren’t getting in.

Again, what I am seeing is an inordinate attempt to “interpret” or twist or bend or shape the verses to say, NOT what the verses actually say, but rather to what the Christian has a bias toward. If the Christian desires the bright line demarcation of believer vs. unbeliever, then the words and meaning become gray. We start to hear, “it is possible…” But that possibility is not warranted by the verse and its context.

Now, I understand the concept of “Scripture must interpret Scripture” very well. And that a Christian that holds to Romans as the preeminent determination of salvation will therefore be forced to interpret things such as Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, sin leading to death, or Rev. 21:8 as somehow falling into the believer vs. non-believer concept.

The problem is—why does Romans hold sway? What if Rev. 21:8 is the correct interpretation, and Romans must be interpreted in light of Revelation? That Paul has already written off all murderers, liars and sexual immoral and is only discussing the select crowd of those that have done none of those things, and whether they are believers or non-believers. That, too, could be “Scripture interpreting Scripture” depending on which verses you want to hold have to bend to the other verses.

I also understand this may not be persuasive to you, Benjamin David. But do you understand why, when I read these various descriptions of hierarchy of sins, and the best we can come up with are tortured interpretations, I am inclined to be persuaded it is all a human—not divine—affair?

As humans, if we stretch enough, we can align just about any writing. Is that what is happening here? Humans attempting to align human writings?

Benjamin David said...

Dagoods,

I appreciate your comments and they are well taken. However, I will debate no further. Please know that I am not doing this because either one of us is "winning" or "losing" this debate; quite the opposite in fact. I believe it was clear from the outset that neither of us would ever re-evaluate our thoughts or standpoint. To get you to rearrange your beliefs was never my intent, for I know that I have absolutely no power to do so. My purpose in debating was simply to exercise my convictions and make them stronger. This I have done and I believe you have done as well. Also I am finding it hard to debate with you. I have taken care to use logic, as well as scripture in every argument I make. However, when I use logic, you ask for scripture, and when I present scripture, you ask for logic. I am uncertain as to what you desire. I have been trying to debate on your terms, on your ground. I am simply unsure as to what that ground is. Once again, thank you for your stimulating and affirming debate. I will continue to pray for you, Dagoods. Please do not take this gesture as a self-righteous act. I say this not in a condescending or “holier-than-thou” way. Nothing could be less self-focused. I only wish that together we could share a lasting purpose and joy, for you are a fascinating person. That’s it. I’m done preaching now. Thanks again for being willing to cross wit with a foolish seventeen-year-old like myself, you have been a blessing.

-Benjamin David

P.S. - Feel free to comment again and get in the final word if you feel so inclined. I will certainly read it. However, as I’ve said, I will politely not respond.

Benjamin David said...
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DagoodS said...

Benjamin David,

Thank you for the “last word.” Wish I had something devilishly clever to do with it.

I did not understand your comment about you using logic, and I demand scripture, but when you use scripture I demand logic.

What am I looking for? Simple—a consistent methodology. One by which we can both review verses and agree that this is what the author meant. Some way in which I can apply to other verses, and continue to come to the same conclusions. Remember—it is the Christian proposal that the Bible is a cohesive effort. We would expect the same applied method would garner the same results in different portions. It is my position that it is NOT a cohesive effort, but the effort of a variety of authors with differing positions on numerous subjects.

I hope you continue to enjoy the discussions surrounding theism.

Rich said...

After all that I am left wondering why it is that a sin from a believer is not as bad as the same sin commited by a nonbeliever. Doesn't seem to follow scripture to me. The only difference I see is it should actually be worse for a believer to sin. I also understand this to be in line with blaspheme against the Holy Ghost. Once having a knowledge of the truth and turning against it, isn't that what Cain did?