Thirteen thoughts on blasphemy:
- Comedy about Christian things is not at all the same as blasphemy. (E.g. Life of Brian mainly makes fun of Christians not Christ, and much of what it says about Christians is on the money!).
- By the same token comedy is not the only nor even the main vehicle for blasphemy - it just happens to be a 'sharper' form of communication and so gets more press. (E.g. A Muslim may consider it just as blasphemous for a book to link the life and teaching of Mohammed with modern terrorism. But when the point is made via a comic, it becomes incendiary.) 'Comedy' should not be blamed for blasphemy just because it makes the same points more persuasively.
- Jesus died on a blasphemy charge. The people of God, the religious establishment, the bible guys - they made the blasphemy charge. But they were wrong. Really, really wrong. The heathen Pilate gave Jesus His proper title in death (King of Jews) and the centurion confessed Him rightly (Son of God). But the religious conservatives, they truly blasphemed the LORD. It takes the people of God to really blaspheme. And yet, even in this act Jesus prays 'Father forgive them...'
- Heaven and hell depends on blasphemy. Mark 3:28-39 "'I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.' Jesus said this because they were saying 'He has an evil spirit.'" Every blasphemy will be forgiven a person, but if they continue to reject Jesus (as the Pharisees had been doing) then they blaspheme the Spirit Whose role is to testify to Christ. This is the ultimate blasphemy. Obviously you can blaspheme Christ and then repent (as Paul did, 1 Tim 1:13). But there is an inveterate blaspheming of Christ that takes a person to hell.
- If there's one thing a non-Christian can do that should upset us it's blasphemy. (A couple of times I've told friends they can swear all they like, but don't use mybest friend as a swear word.) Correcting a non-Christian's moral code won't help a bit. Correcting their view of Jesus, now that's worthwhile. It could be a great gospel witness to let everything else slide except His Name.
- It's one thing to say blasphemy is wrong - it is!! But the real question is what we should do when a non-Christian blasphemes Christ.
- Your view of the sword is key in this discussion. By sword I mean the whole apparatus of statehood - the legislature, judiciary and law enforcement. Should matters of faith be upheld or coerced by the sword? I don't think so. Ask yourself - why is blasphemy wrong? Is it wrong because it's against the law of the land? Surely we don't get at the evil of blasphemy by calling the cops!
- Romans 2:24 is an eye-opener. Paul, reflecting on both Isaiah and Ezekiel says: "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." Not because of them - those wicked heathen. Because of you - the people of God! Why isn't our first response to blasphemy to come before Jesus and confess our part in bringing dishonour to His name?
- The blasphemy we receive is a barometer of the gospel we preach. What has the culture understood of what we reverence? Wouldn't it be wonderful if today's church was ridiculed for worshipping the crucified God - as in the Alexamenos graffitt?? As it is the culture stumbles over entirely different stones we've placed in their way. Shame on us.
- If it's the church that's ridiculed, the godly thing to do would be to own whatever is true about the accusations, and to seek to address them in contrition and repentance.
- Turning the other cheek would be a radically Christian response - and what a witness. Is it not what Jesus did on the cross as He is blasphemed, dying under the blasphemy charge!? To apply this to today - Were there any Christians outside Jerry Springer: The Opera holding up "Jesus loves Lee and Herring"? (Stewart Lee and Richard Herring wrote it). Wouldn't that have answered their blasphemy against Christ with the true strength of Jesus?
- The whole world was waiting to see how the Muslim world would react to the Mohammed comics. Those who reacted violently confirmed every fear the comic was based upon. The whole world also looks to Christians to see how we will respond. And there is, on some level, an expectation that we will react differently. There is an expectation that forgiveness will be part of our response. And that's a good thing. But some Christians say "That's the problem, these comedians target Christianity because they know we'll put up with things the Muslims never would." Well yes. But that weakness is precisely our strength. May we go on being the only group on the planet that can actually handle ridicule and answer with grace.
- Spurgeon's comment on apologetics is greatly applicable here: "Defend Jesus?? Why I would rather defend a lion. Let the Lion out of His cage, the Lion will defend Himself!" We don't respond to blasphemy by calling the cops but by preaching the gospel - the gospel that every blasphemy will be forgiven in the Blasphemed One.