A couple weeks ago I started hearing buzz about a video on YouTube in which people deny the existence of the Holy Spirit. It's named the "Blasphemy Challenge" and was dreamed up by the "Rational Response Squad," a group of atheists determined to "destroy Christianity."
In each video the subject must include the words, "I deny the existence of the Holy Spirit," referring to Mark 3:23-29 in which Jesus says whomever sins shall be forgiven, excepting those who blaspheme against the Holy Spirit. So the "Rational Response Squad" - so wittily named- in the interest of getting their fifteen minutes of fame, promotes the public renunciation of the Spirit as a simple way teenagers can barter with their souls. The RRS want to encourage young people (they put ads on teen magazine websites, Friendster, YouTube, etc.) to "challenge" the fear that religion promotes (a fear of God) by "putting [their] souls on the line."
There are just a few (hundred) things wrong with their argument. I'm not sure it's even worth the time to explain it all, because this is such a joke of a "challenge." But for reference purposes for the second half of this post, let's get into it.
1. This reading of Mark 3:23-29 is wrong. Flat-out misinterpretation. Jesus was using this explanation of the nature of the Holy Spirit to demonstrate that Satan and God are not on the same side. He was chastising the teachers for saying He (Jesus) could drive out demons; the teachers thought He could control demons because He was on their side. He wasn't.
Mark 14:17- "...the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him." The RRS cannot see the truth because they do not know God.
2. There isn't any sin Jesus doesn't have the power to forgive. Jesus forgives by way of the Father, God. As it was God's will to send Jesus to die for us, it became Jesus' will to do so (John 17:4- "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do").
Jesus never did anything without asking first what God wished Him to carry out. God is infallible, eternal and loves us very much. So much He became incarnate as Man, taught pagans the truth for thirty years, then willingly died for our sins.
The RRS has a problem with God; do they also have a problem with what Jesus did? Do they not want forgiveness? I think they do.
3. The RRS doesn't believe in hell, but want to talk about peoples' souls. Why? How do they rationalize the existence of souls? Or free will, which allows us to do whatever we like with our souls? If they don't expect us to prove ourselves before God (because, they say, He doesn't exist), why should we like to prove ourselves before the Rational Response Squad (by taking their challenge)? Clearly this is a case of believers gone sour, conned into thinking they don't need God. Why do they want to take Him away from us? Answer: "We seek to destroy religions that are based in fear" (their words). I'll admit there are plenty of Biblical references to fearing our Lord. But "fear of God" translates into obedience for Christians; is it so hard for the RRS to imagine that we might like being obedient?
There are many more points to be made, but what am I driving at? This so-called "challenge" isn't much of one. It presupposes that you already don't believe in God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit; if you don't believe God gave you a soul it's no skin off your nose to "put it on the line."
For many making these blasphemy videos, the challenge has already begun taking place in a soul they once believed they had. Lost and bewildered, they seek out a god to follow (as human nature dictates we will) and have found the "squad." We love to worship, don't we? We crave devotion to and validation from something. Targeting teenagers in our country is about as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. Most of them, due to our nation's usage of throwaway media and emphasis on celebrity status, are already well-versed in consumerism and idol worship. They are, essentially, half dead. It's not hard to see how a group like the Rational Response Squad has created itself from that environment and, in return, preys on it.
So here's my challenge to the "squad:"
1. Target a stronger set of people. Try believers. Adults. Those who have been walking with the Lord for years. I'm sure they've struggled- at least more than the average teenager has- and you might relate to that. Heck, you might even get a mentor out of it!
2. Establish consistency before you debate. For starters, come up with a better argument than, "there's no reason to believe in God." Actually, there are a lot of reasons. Move on to address the inherent contradiction in your promotion of your right way (to not believe) versus our wrong way (to believe); please explain a moral system on terms of an irrational world (without God). Finish with explaining clearly where your reason comes from, and how you can prove it- rationally.
3. Take the challenge of the Bible: love God, love your neighbor. Have you tried this? It can be really difficult! Sure, it's easy to love your family, your spouse, your kids, your friends and anyone you see struggling... or is it? Families can be cruel. People can adamantly and violently refuse your help. God can seem absent when you need Him most. But this is the true challenge, to love them regardless, especially God. And especially when He seems the most distant. You have to allow yourself to be drawn close to Him. That, my friend, is a challenge. To do God's will and delight in it? This is not easy, but truly the only thing I find a blessing in my life. It's a long, sometimes dark road I'm on, but I'm never alone on it.
Let's follow that big commandment, our challenge as believers: love the heck out of the members of the RRS. Pray for them. Write to them. Send them scripture in the mail. Personal testimonials. Then let God do His work. Praise the Lord that Our God is sovereign and can save these lost souls!
"..When you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul.. then the Lord will... have compassion on you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back."
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Hello there. I ran across your article, and I think it's great. I am about to do a YouTube answer to this silly "blasphemy challenge" so you might want to look for it. I like to do humorous stuff on YouTube, so if it looks like I'm acting crazy, just know that I am just acting. LOL. We underestimate the power of humor to reach people, especially if our goal in using it is to evangelize. So, keep up the good work, and God bless.