Friday, September 12, 2008

Blasphemy? Really?

A while ago (a long while ago, actually) I did a little study on the “queen of heaven” as it relates to Roman Catholicism’s exaltation of Mary and if that has any relevance to the pagan goddess mentioned in Jeremiah 7:18. The conclusion that I came to is that I’m not willing to say that the same spirit that was being worshipped as the “queen of heaven” in ancient times is modernly incarnated in the Roman exaltation of Mary. That being the case, I view the modern Marian devotion more similarly to run-of-the-mill idolatry that has always plagued man in his sinfulness.

So, I wrote my thoughts and made a summary video of it to put on youtube and there ended up being a fairly lively discussion in the comments section of the video. Recently I have pretty much left that video and the comments alone…until I saw this comment:

"O teach me Holy Mary
A loving song to frame
When WICKED MEN blashpheme thee
I'll love and bless thy name"

Now, this comment from “Rapture1987” was part of a stanza from a hymn to Mary. The primary thing that the commenter wanted to get across was that I am a wicked man because of my comments against the unholy and blasphemous exaltation of Mary. But what caught my attention is that this hymn ascribes the charge of blasphemy to those who dare challenge the exaltation of Mary in Roman Catholicism.

Now, I make the charge that the exaltation of Mary and the veneration of her is blasphemy simply because doing so either gives her attributes that are for God alone, or they make her the recipient of prayer or praise that is due to God alone. I submit that I do this on the basis of the Scriptural precedent that worship and praise and prayer is only to be addressed to God and to Him alone. It is quite a different thing to accuse someone of blasphemy against a person. That charge, I think, goes more to validate my concerns and objections to the elevation of Mary, but furthermore, it may lend credence to those who see the Marian elevation as nothing less than her deification in Roman dogma.

And now, based on this comment and the fact that it was a quotation of a Marian Hymn, I am more convinced that the true deification of Mary is where the modern Roman push will end up, even if that is not the intention of the majority of those who are promoting the fifth Marian dogma. Now, it may be that the hymn writer and the commenter have no real understanding of what they are saying when they accuse men of blasphemy when they attack Mary, but they should know better.

I did a quick concordance search on the word “blasphem” (this was to include both forms of “blasphemy and blaspheme” and I came up with 41 different results from the NASB. Now, granted, this is not an exhaustive study of the Biblical understanding of blasphemy, but it is a quick and cursory look at how the Holy Spirit used this word in God’s revelation to us.

The overwhelming majority of the Scriptures clearly indicate that the offended party in the act of blasphemy is God. The only time in the Scriptures that I could find that where the object of the blasphemy might be found in 2nd Samuel. This is during the account following David’s sin with Bathsheba and Uriah.
"However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die." (2 Samuel 12:14)

Now, although it seems quite clear in the larger context that it was the Lord who was the recipient of the blasphemy of His enemies, this verse itself doesn’t say “…occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme the LORD….” I don’t think that there is any other way that one could interpret the text other than to say that the blasphemy was against the LORD, but others might argue otherwise.1 The other 11 times that the charge of blasphemy was named in the Old Testament, it was specifically listed as being against God Himself. However, there is one verse where the sin of blasphemy was attributed to a human party as well as to God. And it is this Scripture that needs to be addressed, I think.
Then they secretly induced men to say, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God." (Acts 6:11)

The context here is the testimony, trial, and martyrdom of Stephen. How is it that Stephen was blaspheming against God and Moses if blasphemy is an offense only against God? Well, first of all, the revelation of the Old Testament, specifically the Pentateuch, was referred to as the Law of Moses (see, among others, Joshua 8:31-32; 23:4; Judges 4:11; 1 Kings 2:3; Ezra 7:6; Malachi 4:4; Luke 2:22; Acts 13:39; 15:5; 28:23; 1 Corinthians 9:9). And in this way, one could be said to blaspheme Moses by contradicting the revelation that God had given to him in the Law. And in the account of Stephen, he only used Scripture to point to Christ. He did not attack Moses or their perception of Moses as the most righteous man who intercedes on their behalf before God.

But even if one was to argue that the Jewish officials were accusing Stephen of blasphemy against the person of Moses instead of the Law, I don’t see a precedent set here that we could then use to apply in the case of Marian opposition. And there are three main reasons for why there is no problem with this accusation. First of all, this would be the single time in the Scriptures where the charge of blasphemy was attributed to an assault on a person instead of God. Secondly, this charge is made by those people who have rejected the incarnate Christ Himself and who schemed and “induced” men to make this accusation against Stephen. In other words, this is not the best crowd to look to for a correctly interpreted understanding of the Scriptures to make a precedent in this area or for honesty in their actions and accusations. And thirdly, this verse is nothing less than a single vague reference to a possible offence of blasphemy against a person and not against God alone, and so it should by no means be a verse we look to in order to expand the otherwise clear definition of blasphemy in the Scriptures.

It is on the basis of the Scripture’s use of this term and concept that I defend that the sin of blasphemy is only against God. Men who mock a gospel preacher may mock the man while they blaspheme God. And it is in the same vain of Biblical precedent that I reject the accusation of blasphemy against Mary. Mary is not God, therefore she cannot be blasphemed.

But if Rome wants to defend her Marian dogmas and charge those of us with blasphemy who challenge them for being extra-biblical and a satanic exaltation and veneration of her, they have no biblical ground to do so. And I would further state that the accusations of blasphemy against Mary, intentionally or unintentionally, ascribe a measure of deity to her based on how this word is used in Scripture.

My Roman Catholic friends, I urge you to see this exaltation of Mary for what it is: idolatry and subtle deification of a created being. Defend your dogmas, if you like, but know that their defense is not one that can be done from a consistent interpretation of Scripture.

Soli Deo Gloria.

1 I include this little caveat primarily because many of the opponents of Sola Scriptura (Roman apologists and adherents) believe that the Scripture must say certain things with the exact words that they think that it should in order to uphold our doctrinal conclusions. So, even though the inspired Scripture doesn’t include the “the LORD” after the word “blaspheme”, a fair reading of the text would come up with that interpretation.


Ethan said...

This was very interesting. Thanks for your study and elucidation. I'll keep your post in mind if I encounter this issue in our Catholic-saturated locale.



Rapture1987 said...

Clearly your protestant definition of "blasphemy" is different. Look at the online Catholic Encyclopedia: and also
Also, please read more about the Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Of COURSE Our Lord Jesus is His Holy Mother's Saviour, but - by a SINGULAR GRACE - she was saved at the moment of her conception, before original sin could have any effect on her soul.
God Bless.

EJ said...

I checked out that link, and I found it interesting that the seeming words cited weren't any of the uses of the Hebrew term actually for blasphemy. And the NT citations in the encyclopedia don't even reference Scriptures that your official Catholic Bibles don't even translate as blasphemy.

I think that if we look at the way that the language has been translated and how the translators in English have come up with the best usage of the word - then I think that my original comments and observations still stand.

Blasphemy is a crime against God only. It is possible to slander men, but not blaspheme them.

As for pre-conception/pre-original sin salvation of Mary... - uh...there is no Biblical warrant for that. So, on the basis of Scripture's clear presentation of the sinfulness of humanity - I reject the Roman Catholic Church's teaching on this.

rapture1987 said...

While it's not possible to blaspheme men on EARTH, it IS possible to blaspheme SAINTS who are in HEAVEN. As the Catholic Encylopedia online says, blasphemy "is said to be against God, though this may be only mediately, as when the contumelious word is spoken of the saints or of sacred things, because of the relationship they sustain to God and His service."

Mary, the Mother of God is the greatest saint of all, and of course SO MUCH MORE (i.e: Our Lord made her the Queen of all creatures and all things). So naturally, anything that is said to slight her would be more offensive to Our Lord than anything said to slight any other saint or angel.

Of course, since you subscribe to 'sola scriptura' (which is not something that Our Lord Himself or the Apostles or St. Paul taught), and since the Bible doesn't EXPLICITLY state that Our Lady was conceived without original sin, you refuse to accept the Church dogma of the Immaculate Conception. By the way, are you familiar with the Apparition of Our Lady in Lourdes, France to St. Bernadette Soubiros? When St. Bernadette asked Mary to identify herself, Mary said: "I am the Immaculate Conception".
But I suppose you'll say that the Apparition was not in fact Mary, Our Blessed Mother, but "some other 'spirit'". (If this is what you think, do know that St. Bernadette and her parish priest et. al were also very wary, and afraid that the Lady who appeared to her was an evil spirit clothed in beauty. It took a considerable amount of time for them to establish that the Lady WAS in fact Mary, the Mother of God).

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