Wednesday, September 30, 2009

International Blasphemy Day-A Christian Response

Today is International Blasphemy Day, sponsored by the Center for Inquiry. The Center's mission is "to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist value." As part of the day's celebration the CFI is sponsoring a blasphemy contest, inviting people to submit poems, phrases and statements that are blasphemous.

I have written a brief article about this for a more general audience at Examiner.com that you can access here.

While the creation of this "holiday" may tempt believers to become indignant and to feel persecuted, I don't think those are the best responses that we should have. Al Mohler gets it just right when he counsels Christians to "take no offense" at the establishment of this day.
Refuse to play into the game plan of those sponsoring International Blasphemy Day. The Lord Jesus Christ was and is despised and rejected of men. Our Lord bore the scorn heaped upon him by his enemies. Christianity is not an honor religion. Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are not commanded to defend his honor, but to be willing to share in the scorn directed to him. Is the servant greater than his master?
Rather than offense, we should take pity--genuine pity. The kind that Jesus had for Jerusalem when He looked over the city and wept because of their unbelief. "How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing" (Luke 13:34). Sometimes we get lulled to sleep about the true spiritual condition of those outside of Christ. With the increasing secularization of our culture, events like the International Blasphemy Day ought to rouse us from such delusions.

A second response we ought to have is hope. Not the kind of hope that arises out of unbelief that something will or could happen, but biblical hope--the kind that is confident about the future because of the past. Hope that is biblical takes the promises of God and makes them present blessings because in Christ--through His life, death and resurrection--every last one of them is "Yes!" and "Amen!" (2 Corinthians 1:20).

The hope that belongs to every Christian on Blasphemy Day is this: First, we are confident that blasphemers can be converted. They can be conquered by grace and swayed by the gospel to become loyal followers of Christ and servants of God. Such was Paul. Such was I and, if you are a Christian today, such were you. So don't hate blasphemers or dismiss as hopeless. They aren't! God can change them. He has been doing so throughout history.

Secondly, we are confident that one day every blasphemer will bow to Jesus as Lord. Either they will do so while there is still opportunity to receive forgiveness and new life in Him through faith, or they will bow in terror and endless sorrow on the day of judgment. But we can be sure "that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:10-11).

Christ will not be undone by blasphemers. He will conquer them either by His grace or His justice. This is our hope--our confidence. And we should live as those who are thus assured.

7 comments:

Eclectic Pietist said...

A preacher I once knew who seemed to receive more than his fair share of verbal abuse and even people spitting on him remarked that the only surprise to him would be if godless people *didn't* misbehave and act badly. Godless people are *supposed* to act godlessly. He advised we should not be shocked or surprised when these things do indeed happen. Rather than take offense, he advised, we should pray for them. Afterall, he said, "spit is soft." - Mike Cheek

Elijah Elkins said...

I was frustrated and a little angry at first at what people were doing, but the you guided me and help show me the truth throughout the article. Thank you for that... We definitely need to keep all the things you mentioned in mind and be out there showing/preaching the Gospel... Matthew 24:14 "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." He told us when He'd come back, so let's do it!

DoGLover said...

How ironic that people who claim not to believe in God seem bent to "get a rise" from him. If there's no God, who're they mad at? If they were truly secular, it seems they'd just ignore the foolishness of the gospel & go on about their business. But that's the irony, humans can't get away from God no matter how hard we try. His presence, power, & authority shine right through the muck of our disobedience.

Thanks for sharing this post, Tom.

By grace,
Chris

David B. Hewitt said...

Greetings again, Dr. Tom. It's been a while since I've written anything on your excellent blog, but rest assured I've kept up with what you've written. :)

I was wondering a couple of things -- perhaps the response to such a day being created could be a both/and (to some extent) rather than an either/or. That is, some anger coupled with pity.

The anger I am suggesting, however, is not one that comes partnered with surprise, such as, "How could they create such a day? I cannot believe they would do something like that!" This indeed would be incorrect; what you and others have said is right on the mark: people apart from Christ who are living in rebellion against Him will do these things. They will express their rebellion against His Lordship and suppression of His truth (Romans 1) in a myriad of ways, and we should expect such things as this blasphemy day to exist and even be prominent in some cases.

Yet, this doesn't preclude anger that they are mocking God. They are insulting the One True God with their foolishness, as we once did before God graciously saved us. Genuine anger at sin I think is appropriate, as long as it is expressed properly and doesn't turn into self-righteousness. I would agree though that getting offended isn't necessary, though one I think can be righteously angry without getting offended, at least in the sense of how the term is used nowadays.

Also, Dr. Tom, I was thinking about your reference to Luke 13:34 and Jesus weeping over Jerusalem because of their unbelief. When one takes the context of verses 33--35, as well as the parallel passage in Matthew 23:29--39, it would appear that the primary intent of the passage is to serve as a word of judgment against the leaders of Israel, such as the Pharisees, who, like their fathers before them, were guilty of killing the prophets God had sent them. Their guilt was in that they were wanting to kill God's Ultimate Prophet, Jesus Himself.

There is certainly an indication of people Jesus would have gathered -- that is, the children of "Jerusalem." So, it would seem that the passage is a condemnation of the leaders of Jerusalem that are/were standing in the way of the truth of God getting to (some of) the inhabitants of the city who Jesus would have gathered had they not created the obstacles. I guess I am also not quite seeing where Jesus was weeping over them here either.

In any case, this post is by no means whatsoever intended to cause trouble; I love and appreciate you greatly, brother. I hope to have some interaction on this though, and to learn something from a capable and godly teacher such as you.

Thanks in advance,
david hewitt

David B. Hewitt said...

minor edit to above:

"and suppression of His truth"

should be

"and suppress His truth"

sorry about that. :)

John said...

Tom,

I appreciate your take on this.

Mark Farnon (Tartanarmy) said...

Well said, David. Good post.

Mark