No Unforgiveable Sin

Mark 3:20-35

I’m sorry. I don’t buy the theology that there is an unforgiveable sin. One sin is so bad that not even Jesus’s dying on a cross can cover it? Speaking against the Holy Spirit can bring you eternal damnation? Bull feathers.

Does this concept even make sense? The Father can forgive men beating and torturing Jesus and hanging him on a cross, but He draws the line at speaking against the third person of the Trinity – who at this point in the story hasn’t even been given to anyone yet.

Bible translators have created this theology of the unforgiveable sin. First of all, the word translated as “never” in the King James Version (and therefore many newer versions followed the faulty pattern), is translated as “no” or “not” over 1200 times, and of the 123 times it’s translated differently, sometimes as “never”, a high percentage can (and probably should) be translated as a form of “no” or “not.”

“Never” is an interpreter’s projection based on his bias of the nature of God that lives in his heart.

Second, the Greek word translated as “forgiveness” has ruts so deep that people can’t imagine it meaning anything different from “God wiping a person’s slate clean.” Yet the Greek word has various meanings, one of which is “release,” as in released from the bondage or imprisonment to one’s error.

Third, in this “world or the world” to come. Even the translators of the New KJV have changed the KJV word for world to “age.” An age can be a season, a generation, an unspecified period of time – as in the Ice Age, the age of Aquarius, the Bronze Age, etc. Maybe it’s the period of time until the blasphemer changes the way he thinks – repents.

What about “in danger of eternal damnation?” That’s the KJV. In the NIV, it’s “guilty of an eternal sin.” So are damnation and sin equivalent words? The NLT says it another way – “is guilty of a sin with eternal consequences.”

The Greek has a more common word for “sin” – and it’s not used here. The word used in this verse means “separation.” Separation from what? From the person who speaks poorly about your intentions, or from the Creator? That depends on your theology.

You also have to consider what “eternal” means – or doesn’t mean. This is the hardest to explain because it’s the word deepest engrained in our minds as meaning “forever.” That’s because the English word “eternal” does mean forever. But the Greek word that is most commonly translated into “eternal” rarely means “time without end.”

King David’s reign in the Old Testament was supposed to be an “eternal” reign. Where is he?

God made an “everlasting” (same word) covenant with Israel – the law of Moses. That’s come to an end. The cross brought down that covenant. We are under the new covenant in Jesus’ blood. At least, that’s what I say every Sunday in consecrating the sacrament.

The word “eternal” in the Bible does not mean “forever.” In most places it actually means an undefined period of time. Just one quick example to show you what I mean. 1 John 3:15 says, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”

No one who hates his brother has eternal/unending life in him?

Only when he stops hating his brother will he have eternal life in him — which means the quality of life God wants us to have…today! The amount of time eternal life will last is the length of time we treat our brother right.

Finally, “the Holy Spirit.” Translators added the capital letters. It could mean the holy spirit of Jesus. One’s spirit can also refer to the source of power, affection, emotion, desire that motivates you to act. Jesus acted out of love, a spirit that was worthy of reverence and praise, not with an unclean spirit.

When you speak bad about the motivations of others, you only reveal the uncleanness of your own heart. And those who speak negatively about the good intentions of others won’t be released from the consequences of their errors — at least not until they change their ways.

I don’t know if anyone is still reading, but I just had to get this off my chest. I get riled when I find passages that limit the goodness of God.

Translation is a puzzle to piece together. It depends on one thing – the translator’s image of God. And my image of God is love. I hope it’s your image of God, too.

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