Talking Point #65 – blasphemy

Blasphemy (from the Miriam-Webster Dictionary Online):

1a:   the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God
1b:   the act of claiming the attributes of deity
2:     irreverence toward something considered sacred or inviolable

Blasphemy is from the Greek word blasphemia, which literally means “to speak harm”. From a religious point of view, it generally means the utmost disrespect or defiance toward God.  Toward God.  Toward God.  Toward God.

Have you ever heard of this?  I know you’ve heard the word in church at some time or another.  But have you ever studied this?  How do you know if/when you’ve done it?  How does God (of the Bible) feel about it?  Do you think he feels the same about it as the god of Islam?

“And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin.  And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death..”
Leviticus 24:15-16

Man, that sounds harsh, doesn’t it?  Put to death?  Yep!  God (of the Bible) made it a capital crime to blaspheme His Name.  Was this ever taken seriously?  You have to realize that God, in giving His commandments, His teaching and instruction in the Torah, was trying to dissuade certain behavior among His chosen people (which includes the church today).  He set harsh punishments to PRECLUDE the action, not necessarily because He wanted to see people put to death as a RESULT of the action.  Its intent was to put forth such an extreme punishment that no one would even think of doing it.

We also have this commandment:

“Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”
Exodus 20:7

Are they related to each other?  Well, in a way, sure they are; but not in the way you may be thinking.  You see, blasphemy is defined at the beginning of this post for you while this command in Exodus is more of a lifestyle command.  It means, much like women take the name of their husbands when they are married, “don’t take My Name (don’t “marry” Me) and then act like you aren’t Mine.”  In other words, God (of the Bible) is saying here that your salvation comes with a price and you are not allowed to be His and yet still live for the world.  You can read all about this command in Talking Point #54 if you want to, so for right now, let’s dismiss this one and continue with the topic at hand – blasphemy and how God of the Bible feels about it versus how the false god of Islam feels about it.

In the Bible, God considers idolatry blasphemy (“You mean idolatry like teaching Christians that the god of Islam is the same as the God of the Bible?”  Yep – I mean exactly that – worship of and the promoting of worship of a false god).  Look at this example from Ezekiel:

“Therefore, son of man, speak unto the house of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Yet in this your fathers have blasphemed me, in that they have committed a trespass against me.  For when I had brought them into the land, for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to them, then they saw every high hill, and all the thick trees, and they offered there their sacrifices, and there they presented the provocation of their offering: there also they made their sweet savour, and poured out there their drink offerings.  Then I said unto them, What is the high place whereunto ye go? And the name thereof is called Bamah unto this day.  Wherefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Are ye polluted after the manner of your fathers? and commit ye whoredom after their abominations?  For when ye offer your gifts, when ye make your sons to pass through the fire, ye pollute yourselves with all your idols, even unto this day: and shall I be enquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will not be enquired of by you.”
Ezekiel 20:27-31

Whoa!  He was quite clear that worship not constructed His way or that given to a false god (an idol) is blasphemy!  He doesn’t play around!

But did you know that blasphemy is a forgivable sin?  Of course it is…Paul talked about it:

“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.  And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.”
1st Timothy 1:12-14

So Paul, having blasphemed ignorantly, was forgiven for his blasphemy.

But there is one kind of blasphemy that is not forgivable – that of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit:

“Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.”
Mark 3:28-30

“And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.”
Luke 12:10

It would seem God (of the Bible) has His limits on our blasphemy and we should strive to know these limits.  He gave us His Word for a reason so let’s read it and live by it!  And in doing so, we’ll see that there is yet a coming blasphemy greater than any the world has ever seen.  For the sake of time and space, I won’t recount it all here, but you can read about it in the Book of Revelation, chapter 13.

So what about the god of Islam.  Does he endure blasphemy well?  If any of the previous Talking Points have cleared up his position for us, we should know by now that his take on this is going to be different from God’s (of the Bible).

As Shariah law takes hold in more and more Islamic countries (and brace yourself because it’s trying HARD to grow roots here in the United States), blasphemy laws are being enforced more and more.  Does that mean that Muslims are blaspheming their god?  Well, not really.  There is an intensifying, global campaign to impose Islamic blasphemy law on non-Muslims, including those living outside Islamdom, in non-Muslim societies.  In other words, this blasphemy-punishment-on-the-rise is aimed at you, Christian!

“Wait a minute!  We just defined blasphemy as being an insult of or contempt for God!  How can Muslims increase punishment for blasphemy against a Christian?”  Good question!

According to the Sunna (the traditions of Muhammad and the early Muslim community), by using foul language against the Muslim prophet Mohammed, Allah, or Islam,  non-Muslim transgressors put themselves on a war footing against Muslims.  Their very lives were at stake (and are today) for daring to talk in a derogatory manner against…wait…what was that again?  For talking against Mohammed?  I can see a blasphemy restriction for a Muslim who speaks out against his god, but this says for speaking out against Mohammed, a person (and a lying, thieving, pedophile person at that).  And it doesn’t say anything about a Muslim, either!  It says this is happening to non-Muslims.  How can that be?  How can one with no allegiance to the god of Islam possibly be punished for blasphemy against the god of Islam?  That doesn’t make any sense whatsoever; but it’s happening.  Today.

On February 19, 1989, Iranian theocrat Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa condemning author Salman Rushdie to death (along with those involved in the publication of Rushdie’s book, The Satanic Verses), while promising eternal salvation to any Muslim “martyred” in this cause (see Talking Point #8 for more on the only sure way to get to paradise, Muslim style).  To this day, no serious Muslim scholar has challenged the authority of this fatwa.

This orthodox Islamic doctrine has been incorporated into modern Pakistani legal code:

295C: “Use of derogatory remarks, etc; in respect of the Holy Prophet. Whoever by words, either spoken or written or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”

In Pakistan, this has caused the deaths of many, many Christians.  Shame.

An Egyptian state security court, on November 28, 2012, issued a verdict, which sentenced to death seven expatriate Coptic Egyptians, as well as American pastor Terry Jones, for “blaspheming” Islam.  Egyptian Judge Saif al Nasr Soliman stated plainly when the ruling was issued, “The accused persons were convicted of insulting the Islamic religion through participating in producing and offering a movie that insults Islam and its prophet.”  And please note that this says nothing about blaspheming the god of Islam, only the Islamic religion political system.

Right here in America, the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA), is well-accepted by the mainstream American Muslim community.  The Islamic scholars affiliated with this group have attained influential positions in universities, Islamic centers, and mosques throughout the United States, and train American imams.  Should the mainstream AMJA accomplish its goal of implementing Sharia in North America, the organization has already issued a ruling which sanctions the killing of non-Muslim “blasphemers“, courtesy of AMJA Secretary General Salah al-Sawy.

Lastly, to bring it back to the Muslim camp where it belongs, blasphemy committed by a Muslim is considered apostasy from the Muslim faith, and therefore has been a so-called hadd offense (requiring severe, mandatory punishment), with a requisite death sentence since the advent of Islam.  The poster below says it best from one of their very own.  This is why punishment-by-death exists in Islam; note the difference between “reason” for punishment-by-death in Islam and “punishment-by-death” in the Bible (see the paragraph above that talks about God (of the Bible) trying to dissuade certain illicit behavior):

punishment-by-death

I hope this has helped to clear up the difference (yet again) between the god of Islam and the God of the Bible.  But I do have one more Bible story to tell you today, since we had to speak of the killing of outsiders who talk about (even if truthfully) Islam.  Let’s see how an outsider was treated for talking derogatorily to one of God’s appointed ones in the Scriptures:

“And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera: he came forth, and cursed still as he came.  And he cast stones at David, and at all the servants of king David: and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left.  And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial: The LORD hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the LORD hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man.  Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head.  And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?  And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD hath bidden him.  It may be that the LORD will look on mine affliction, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day.  And as David and his men went by the way, Shimei went along on the hill’s side over against him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust.”
2nd Samuel 16:5-13

So here we have a story of a man treating a man of God rather cruelly!  And God’s punishment is not to have him destroyed, but to show kindness through His servant David.  Now it is true that, later, the king told his son not to let Shimei live because of his attitude – God had shown him the man’s true heart was deceitful (and so is ours, by the way – see Jeremiah 17:9).  But the story goes to show that followers of God are not necessarily upset when a fellow follower of God is talked to in a rude manner (including, in this case, the throwing of stones).  Yes, God (of the Bible) will order men (and women and children) killed when it is necessary to cleanse evil from the land (look no further than the flood for evidence).  But blasphemy can only be committed against Him and Him alone.

So this is just one more area in which the God of the Bible differs from the god of Islam.  One is purely vicious and evil and One is full of love and kindness.  One wants you to die, period (because he can’t stand the thought that you may one day end up in the presence of the Holy One) while One wants you to experience eternity with Him.  The two gods are not the same and, even though this post didn’t talk directly about Him, …

Jesus is NOT in the Quran!

About LTSMinistries

Bible Teacher and Founder of Learning to Serve Ministries
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