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Author Topic: Unforgiveable Sin?  (Read 1785 times) Average Rating: 0
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Chelsea
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« on: March 17, 2010, 04:57:42 PM »

Is there such a thing as an unforgivable sin?  Something so bad that once you've done it there is no redemption possible?
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« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2010, 05:07:21 PM »

A suicide.
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« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2010, 05:16:23 PM »

Is there such a thing as an unforgivable sin?  Something so bad that once you've done it there is no redemption possible?

 I personally do not believe there is such a sin.  As Mike pointed out, suicide is one such sin where the person cannot offer prayers of repentance themselves, but in Orthodox Christianity, we can and do, offer prayers for the those who are no longer living. 
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« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2010, 05:32:38 PM »

Is there such a thing as an unforgivable sin?  Something so bad that once you've done it there is no redemption possible?

Apparently there is one:

Matthew 12:24-32
24 But the Pharisees, when they heard [this], were saying, "This [man] does not cast out demons, but by Beelzebub, the chief of devils." 
25 Now Yeshua knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom that is divided against itself will be destroyed. And every house and city that is divided against itself will not stand. 
26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then does his kingdom stand? 
27 And if by Beelzebub I cast out devils, in what way do your sons cast them out? Because of this, they will be judges of you. 
28 And if by the Spirit of God I cast out devils, the kingdom of God has come near to you. 
29 Or how is a man able to enter into the house of a strong man and to rob his possessions, except first he will bind the strong man and then rob his house? 
30 He who is not with me is against me. And he who does not gather with me indeed scatters.
31 Because of this, I say to you, all sins and blasphemies will be forgiven to men, but blasphemy that is against the Spirit will not be forgiven to men. 
32 And anyone who will say a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven. But anyone who will speak against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, neither in this age nor in the age that is to come.


I would like some Patristic quotes on this passage.


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« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2010, 05:42:50 PM »

In the OSB it says, "St. John Chrysostom teaches that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would be forgivable if a person were to repent of it. Jesus makes this declaration knowing that those who blaspheme the Spirit are calling pure, divine goodness evil and are beyond repentance by their own choice"

And this is the actual quote from St. John Chrysostom:

First then it were well to listen to the very words: "All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy of the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto them. And whosoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaks against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come."

What now is it that He affirms? Many things have ye spoken against me; that I am a deceiver, an adversary of God. These things I forgive you on your repentance, and exact no penalty of you; but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven, no, not to those who repent. And how can this be right? For even this was forgiven upon repentance. Many at least of those who said these words believed afterward, and all was forgiven them. What is it then that He says? That this sin is above all things unpardonable. Why so? Because Himself indeed they knew not, who He might be, but of the Spirit they received ample experience. For the prophets also by the Spirit said whatever they said; and indeed all in the Old Testament had a very high notion of Him.

What He says, then, is this: Be it so: you are offended at me, because of the flesh with which I am encompassed: can you say of the Spirit also, We know it not? And therefore is your blasphemy unpardonable, and both here and hereafter shall you suffer punishment. For many indeed have been punished here only (as he who had committed fornication,as they who partook unworthily of the mysteries,amongst the Corinthians); but ye, both here and hereafter.

Now as to your blasphemies against me, before the cross, I forgive them: and the daring crime too of the cross itself; neither shall you be condemned for your unbelief alone. (For neither had they, that believed before the cross, perfect faith. And on many occasions He even charges them to make Him known to no man before the Passion; and on the cross He said that this sin was forgiven them.) But as to your words touching the Spirit, they will have no excuse. For in proof that He is speaking of what was said of Him before the crucifixion, He added, "Whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy Ghost," there is no more forgiveness. Wherefore? Because this is known to you; and the truths are notorious which you harden yourselves against. For though ye say that you know not me; yet of this surely you are not ignorant, that to cast out devils, and to do cures, is a work of the Holy Ghost. It is not then I only whom you are insulting, but the Holy Ghost also. Wherefore your punishment can be averted by no prayers, neither here nor there.
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« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2010, 06:06:32 PM »

Thank you. Feel free to add more. Smiley
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Chelsea
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« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2010, 11:09:00 AM »

Thank you for the replies.

I'm not sure I understand blasphemy of the Holy Ghost.
 
Quote
But as to your words touching the Spirit, they will have no excuse. For in proof that He is speaking of what was said of Him before the crucifixion, He added, "Whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy Ghost," there is no more forgiveness. Wherefore? Because this is known to you; and the truths are notorious which you harden yourselves against.  For though ye say that you know not me; yet of this surely you are not ignorant, that to cast out devils, and to do cures, is a work of the Holy Ghost.

Does this mean that if you specifically witness a demon being cast out and claim that it is the work of the devil, then you are guilty of blasphemy of the Holy Ghost?  Or are there more general ways you can commit this sin?

Is being angry with God forgivable?  If you experience very difficult things and are angry with God for them, can you be forgiven? 
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« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2010, 12:52:55 PM »

BLASPHEMY : "The use of slander to make one’s thoughts publicly known in an attempt to ruin the good name and reputation of someone else in order to hinder them."

case study 101: Lets say an Atheist witnessed the holy spirit descend from heaven on a person while they were being baptized by an Orthodox priest and they turned to the people around them and said to them that this priest used special lighting, affects and that it wasn't Gods doing that but modern technology.  Instead of acknowledging the miracle they witnessed they try and discredit it in favor of there agenda. To sway the people towards Atheism. Knowing all along that it was an act of god and trying to hinder the efforts of the holy spirit knowingly.

 
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« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2010, 12:58:04 PM »

Not being known by Christ.


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« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2010, 01:03:49 PM »

Those who wagged their tongues at our Lord saying, "He saved others, let us see if He can save Himself."


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« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2010, 05:44:07 PM »

I think I heard somewhere that the Church defines blasphemy against the Holy Spirit as a conscious and hardened denial of the truth. I know it's pretty generic, but it seems to be the guiding theme of the examples given above so I think that it's right.
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« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2010, 06:50:13 PM »

BLASPHEMY : "The use of slander to make one’s thoughts publicly known in an attempt to ruin the good name and reputation of someone else in order to hinder them."

case study 101: Lets say an Atheist witnessed the holy spirit descend from heaven on a person while they were being baptized by an Orthodox priest and they turned to the people around them and said to them that this priest used special lighting, affects and that it wasn't Gods doing that but modern technology.  Instead of acknowledging the miracle they witnessed they try and discredit it in favor of there agenda. To sway the people towards Atheism. Knowing all along that it was an act of god and trying to hinder the efforts of the holy spirit knowingly.

 

That makes sense.
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« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2010, 09:15:31 PM »

I suspect only God knows the answer to that.
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« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2010, 04:56:29 PM »

I suspect only God knows the answer to that.

If God only knows the answer, then why did He send us His Son to warn us about it.


john
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« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2010, 11:56:45 AM »

Thank you.  This makes sense now.  It's not just misunderstanding or being disappointed.   It's actively denying what you know to be true, possibly in a public way.
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« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2010, 12:15:49 PM »

A suicide.

Only if you follow tradition rather than reason.
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« Reply #16 on: March 20, 2010, 05:10:50 PM »

Only if you follow tradition rather than reason.

Are you so sure that you know that, Mr. Indecisive? Wink
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« Reply #17 on: March 20, 2010, 05:19:27 PM »

Is being angry with God forgivable?  If you experience very difficult things and are angry with God for them, can you be forgiven? 

Of course someone angry with God can be forgiven, otherwise most of the people who wrote the Scriptures would not even be forgiven.  Just look at the story of Job, or read Ecclesiastes. Jonah the prophet was horribly angry at God because God had mercy and did NOT destroy Nineveh. Are all these Biblical prophets, writers and people we read about not forgiven?  That would be a bizarre interpretation indeed. And if it was true that being angry at God meant no one could be forgiven, then I reckon the entire Christian enterprise, the Incarnation, crucifixion, and Resurrection would have been mostly in vain. Very people in Church history have NEVER been angry at God. That's just the way things are.

Being angry with God is perfectly normal. And unless the God we worship is some petty pagan god like Zeus or Ares, I'm confident, based on Biblical accounts that God will indeed forgive people who "get angry" at God. He forgave Jonah, Moses, Job, David, the christian saints, why not you or me?
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« Reply #18 on: March 20, 2010, 05:47:08 PM »

Being angry with God is perfectly normal.

Well, it might be common and even at times an honest expression, to say that this state is 'normal' or normative is incorrect. We should strive to be at peace with God in our hearts.

That being said, the Church is Israel, which I believe literally means "to wrestle/contend with God."  It is a struggle to the end, and often anger and frustration is a part of that struggle.
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« Reply #19 on: March 20, 2010, 06:04:46 PM »

I've heard that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is willful rejection of God's truth when you know it is true.  The kind of miracles Jesus was doing proved beyond all doubt the truth of His message, but there were still people who were so prideful that they rejected it.  These are the ones guilty of the unforgivable sin.

Compare to this passage from Hebrews 10:
26If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

I have heard that one of the Ecumenical Councils condemned a group of heretics that taught you can't re-enter the Church after you have fallen away, you are automatically lost forever.  The Church teaches that it is even possible to restore apostates, so the unforgivable sin must concern only those who remain in a hardened state of unrepentance despite that they know the truth.

Look at James 5:
19My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

So you can see that just "wandering from the truth" is still forgivable.
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« Reply #20 on: March 20, 2010, 06:16:26 PM »

Being angry with God is perfectly normal.

Well, it might be common and even at times an honest expression, to say that this state is 'normal' or normative is incorrect. We should strive to be at peace with God in our hearts.

That being said, the Church is Israel, which I believe literally means "to wrestle/contend with God."  It is a struggle to the end, and often anger and frustration is a part of that struggle.


Well said my brother.

It's funny, because when I first got "saved" my friends and I would often use the term "struggling" in a negative since. For example, someone would ask, "How are you doing with your spiritual walk brother?" Then the response was often to hang one's head and say, "Man, I've been struggling lately;" which would mean that the person had been falling prey to lust or whatever. It never crossed our minds that struggling should be viewed as something good which we should embrace.

What a difference Orthodoxy makes! We can rejoice in our struggles and take solace in knowing that as long as we are fighting, wrestling, and striving against sin and satan then we are winning!


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« Reply #21 on: March 20, 2010, 08:53:53 PM »

"While the Roman Catholic tradition has identified particular acts as 'mortal' sins, in the Orthodox tradition we see that only a sin for which we don't repent is mortal." -Allyne Smith
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« Reply #22 on: March 20, 2010, 09:51:43 PM »

I think I heard somewhere that the Church defines blasphemy against the Holy Spirit as a conscious and hardened denial of the truth. I know it's pretty generic, but it seems to be the guiding theme of the examples given above so I think that it's right.

Does this mean like being a very, very stubborn atheist?

I'm not sure what blasphemy amongst the Holy Spirit is either...since the Holy Spirit is such a large permeating concept. Huh.

In re: suicide. Prayer after death can help repentance?

I'm stuck on the Catholic idea of mortal sin vs. Huh the Orthodox version. If there is one. Now this thread's got me thinking/confused.
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« Reply #23 on: March 22, 2010, 11:03:07 AM »

Being angry with God is perfectly normal.

Well, it might be common and even at times an honest expression, to say that this state is 'normal' or normative is incorrect. We should strive to be at peace with God in our hearts.



You'll have to forgive me for not be as theologically precise as you feel I should have been.  Cheesy

I guess I just assumed by "normal" everyone would understand what I meant by that without all sorts of explanations by what I meant by "normal" with the theological hairsplitting.

Of course I DO agree with you that it is not "normal" in some metaphysical, transcendent, otherworldly, mystical, and relational sense, based on our understanding of theosis, what it means to be "human" and to be "fallen humans" and to live in a fallen world. I could talk ad nauseum about how our "true selves" are only found in God, in Christ, and what it means to be "truly" human is to be at peace with God, 24/7. But is this reality? Yes I could also question and discuss what "reality" is and is not, because outside God nothing is really real, becuase only God is really real, and yet God simply IS and in an apophatic sense God is not "real" at all. These are all great things, of which I do believe are important aspects of our faith. So I don't meant to downplay the importance of the issue you raised.

However when someone is asking a question like whether being angry at God can be forgiven, they probably don't care much about any of this. From experience when I've been in a place to ask such visceral questions like "if I'm mad at God can God forgive me?" and when I was answered with all this high theology, it felt like total and absolute nonsense to me. Who cares? (or so I asked) I simply didn't want to feel like being angry at God is abnormal, evil, or like there is "something wrong with me".

There is of course much beauty and truth in your observation, but I stick by my statement that being angry with God is normal the way the world exists now. It's normal because we are human beings. I agree with all the caveats, and theological issues such a question raises, but I don't think that was the issue here. Of course maybe this was just an academic question and not a visceral question, and that case I stand corrected and accept such correction.



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« Reply #24 on: March 22, 2010, 11:09:23 AM »

I think I heard somewhere that the Church defines blasphemy against the Holy Spirit as a conscious and hardened denial of the truth. I know it's pretty generic, but it seems to be the guiding theme of the examples given above so I think that it's right.

Does this mean like being a very, very stubborn atheist?


Probably not since "very stubborn atheists" KNOW that there is not God! So as far as they are concerned they are only rejecting falsehood, and not knowingly rejecting truth.

From the Christian POV it's pretty easy to tell ourselves that people not in our "select group" are knowingly rejecting truth, but I think there are very few people in the world who actually do that. People who care about truth simply are not going to reject truth. (although I suppose the fact there are still flat earthers might debunk that idea?)

Now there are a whole group of people who really don't care about truth one way or the other, but I'm not sure they fit either.

I think in the end we don't really "know" what blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is. However I think it's a consistent teaching that no one is ever "too far gone" to repent...meaning if your desire is to turn to God, and come home, then indeed you CAN be forgiven.

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« Reply #25 on: March 22, 2010, 11:22:08 AM »

A suicide.

Only if you follow tradition rather than reason.

um, since when are they at odds with each other ...
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« Reply #26 on: March 22, 2010, 03:58:07 PM »


There is only one sin (of which I am aware) in our Lord's teaching which hears this judgment: "Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity, I never knew you.   Their reply is relevant to everyone...."but, we did....in your name.

Our Lord also said the only sin not forgiven in this life and that of the age to come is to blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

Who were these who cry, "but..."?  It is those who "draw near to God with their lips, but their heart is far from Him.

Do we not see these words actually literally fulfilled in the disciple Judas?  As Orthodox Christians, especially those who can be attentive to the Services (which are a Divine Authoritative interpretation of Holy Scriptures) of Holy Week?

Judas approaches and kisses the Lord as was his custom;  is this not the most frightening message of our Lord?  Did He not say it would have been better it that one had not been born?   

We supplicate in our prayers that we might escape that fearful day of Judgement when every thought, intention, words, deeds and the fruit or tare thereof which is passed on to the next generation(s) is searched and we experience that fearful reality that Like is drawn to Like.   

No amount of knowledge of the Scriptures, Church Tradition and the reception of the Divine and Holy Mystery(ies) shall deliver us from the fiery eyes of our Lord's soul searching; even to the bone and marrow of our existence.

Herein I find the only ORTHODOX (and Orthodoxy is very much about approaching God with pure lips) answer to the often asked question, "What is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?"

Though I am certain the topic of Suicide has one or more other threads, I shall venture my thoughts herein because it has been posted as being the unforgivable sin.

We Orthodox do not offer prayers at the alter by name for Orthodox Christians who have been correctly instructed (which does not mean ALL of our personal doubts, fears and/or questions thereto have been answered for us reasonably)  do not offer prayers "by name" at the alter for those who have committed this sin.

This is not a judgment, it rather a withholding of our judgment.   We simply cannot discern the good and evil within a person who commits suicide.  The Church seems (to me) to have had the discernment of the Holy Spirit to withhold her prayers rendering this kind of Sin to the Lord's judgment.  Therein lies hope, not sorrow.  For he who knows the heart know our DNA.  Do we know that All suicides are from Despair or Depression?  What about the boy who through himself into the fire?  Was this not caused by the Demons? 

My experience of the Church's instruction is to ask, seek and knock on Heavens door for some good deeds (such as giving alms vs giving tax deductions) which we can perform as an offering of our faith to God that He who is faithful will not forget the good deeds of the one for whom we pine our souls.  Each time we pray in our Divine Liturgy we pray for those who have fallen asleep saying "Lord have mercy" the mercy of God shines into the darkest unknown reaches of hell, for even from there has Christ our God risen.

john
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« Reply #27 on: March 22, 2010, 04:04:34 PM »





We Orthodox do not offer prayers at the alter by name for Orthodox Christians who have been correctly instructed (which does not mean ALL of our personal doubts, fears and/or questions thereto have been answered for us reasonably)  do not offer prayers "by name" at the alter for those who have committed this sin.



Ooopped!  We Orthodox Christians do not offer prayers "by name" for Orthodox Christians who have committed suicide.  Being Instructed thereto does not mean all our personal doubts, fears or questions have been answered to our satisfaction.

john
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Courteous is my name,
and I have always aimed to live up to it.
Grace is also my name,
but when things go wrong
its Courteous whom I blame;
but its Grace who sees me through it.
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