Blaspheme Me?

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Blaspheme Me?

Postby Speculum » December 9th, 2008, 6:16 pm

The other day, I wrote in the General Discussion side of Open Forum about having purchased the book The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man which asks, and seeks to answer, the question “How reliable is the Gospel tradition?”

I am nearing half way through the book. It is nicely written, with lots of scholarly references, and reasonably considered conclusions. I am glad to recommend it to those who have an interest in the who/why/how/when of the world’s spiritual traditions.

As I wrote earlier, it will not really matter to me – as a seeker – whether the book concludes that Jesus did or did not exist as a historical personality or even whether the man Jesus, if there was such a man, was the source of most or all of the Gospels Teachings, or whether the authors of the Gospels gathered them from other sources or even made some of them up themselves, and simply attributed them to Jesus. That is, as a seeker, what matters to me is that the Teachings exist, and that along my path, I came across them. Here, I embrace Ramakrishna: “(Whatever the appearances) God alone is the Guru”.

So, again, my interest in this book, and in others like it, is curiosity. I enjoy reading this stuff for its own sake.

That said, I understand why it would – and does – make others uncomfortable, and so this post is in The Sand Box.

Here’s an interesting item from the book –

For a long time, the Gospels’ warning against blasphemy (Matthew 12.32, Luke 12.10) has been confusing to me. Here’s how it reads in Luke (RSV): “And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven”. Matthew toughens the warning by adding, “… will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (in other words, I suppose, never).

Why is it sort of okay to blaspheme “the Son of man” (Jesus) but not “the Holy Spirit”?

Here the book writes,

Once one understands the biblical/Hebrew idiom "son of man" as meaning simply "human being" (as in Psalms 8:4), the saying makes eminent sense: Everyone who speaks a word against a fellow human being will be forgiven, but who blasphemes against God will not be forgiven.

Similarly, Mark 3.28: “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”.

Notice that, in Mark, the “Son of man” is absent, but the phrase “sons of men” appears – and in that context pretty clearly means you and me.

I don’t know when “son of man” became “Son of man” and came to mean “Jesus” as opposed to “human beings”. The book promises to address that question “in a later chapter”; I’ll try to remember to post it here when I come to it. But until then, I confess, I have never understood the phrase “Son of man” as an epithet for Jesus. I suppose it is intended to suggest that he is at once Divine and "one of us", the purpose for which I can understand. I can think of other guru-traditions which make that case. (I remember reading somewhere that in the original Hebrew and Greek biblical texts, there was no capitalization, so presumably "son of man" became "Son of man" at the hand of some other than the original authors?)

But beyond that, it clearly makes more sense to distinguish between blasphemy (slander) against a fellow human being and blasphemy against God than it does to distinguish between blasphemy of one or another face or aspect of God (Jesus and Holy Spirit). I mean, it seems to me that either it is a sin to blaspheme God or it isn’t. Dividing God into parts, and suggesting that it is semi-okay to blaspheme one part but not another, has never worked for me.

As for the harsh sentence imposed by the Gospels upon those who blaspheme God (“will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come”, “an eternal sin”), here's my take. In order to blaspheme God (or anyone/anything else), I must perceive Him (or it) as separate from “me”. That is, in normal usage of the word, it is not possible for me to blaspheme myself, only others. Thus, blasphemy is an activity of the separate and separative ego (“I am me, and you aren’t me”).

In Truth, God does not exist as an entity separate from me; He does so only in Stefan’s mind, and there only as an illusion, however attractive and comforting it may be. Thus, Stefan’s perception and conviction that he and God are separate entities is a slander upon the Truth, blasphemy.

And as such, it is a sin (error) whose effects are felt (lived) for as long as Stefan perceives himself as Stefan – or, forever … meaning, for as long as there is time. After all, in the absence of "time", the concept "forever" is meaningless; there is only Now.

Or, in Self-Realization (“thou art not thou, thou art He without thou”), the perception of self evaporates, and with it the perception of a separate “God”. There, blasphemy does not signify.
"The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust

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Re: Blaspheme Me?

Postby W4TVQ » December 9th, 2008, 7:45 pm

The term "Son of Man" is used with more than one connotation in the bible. In Ezekiel, it is the title by which God addresses the prophet. In later Jewish thought it came to be taken as a Messianic title, and when Jesus claimed the name "Son of Man" in speaking to his disciples,they would have understood it so, though it cannot be shown that the Bible itself posits this title as Messianic.

The idea that Jesus did not exist is belied by the fact that he is mentioned in secular writings as well as the Bible (i.e., Josephus). And by the fact that so many saw and walked with Him after His resurrection. It has always amazed me that scholars wil find one little reference to something in the writings of Caesar or some other secular writer, and take it as absolute evidence of whatever it is ... and then deny the evidence of literally hordes of people who saw Jesus alive after His death.

Oh, well. We see what we want to see and make of it what we will. Personally, I base my belief in the reality of Jesus not on logic, or argumentation, or dialog, but on His living presence in my life as my Teacher (Guru) and Friend. It works for me.

Pax Domini
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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Re: Blaspheme Me?

Postby Speculum » December 11th, 2008, 8:50 pm


... so many saw and walked with Him after His resurrection ...

I do not doubt for a moment that such things and more happen. First, because I long ago learned to put no limits on God. Second, because virtually all of the spiritual traditions I have encountered include reports of similar occurrences. And third, because they have happened to me … and Anna, too.

Some years ago, I had a vivid dream of a Guru (about whom I have written at A Continuing Fiction and The Gazebo and Anna here in Open Forum) in which I asked him if he had been the cause or source of one such extraordinary event which had occurred one or two days before, and he replied, “Perhaps it was you”.

That’s the thing, isn’t it? Who is seeing, and what is it precisely that he or she is seeing?

Here, consider Ibn ‘Arabi:

There does not see Him, save Himself; nor perceive Him, save Himself. By Himself He sees Himself, and by Himself He knows Himself. None sees Him other than He, and none perceives Him other than He. His Prophet is He, and His sending is He, and His word is He. He sent Himself with Himself to Himself.

Here’s ACIM: “There is no degree of difficulty in miracles. … They are all the same. All expressions of love are maximal.”

If a Teacher is not “an expression of love”, then I don’t know what is.

Thus, it follows that all Teachers are Identical, the very same One, and maximally so. At Self-Realization, the illusion of a separative ego evaporates, and the One, always Present, is Apparent.

So, Jesus, Rumi, Ramana, among Others (God-as-Teacher) teach (God-as-Teaching) creation (God-as-us).

And each of us "hears" (is Taught) precisely according to who/what/where we are at the time of hearing.

From ACIM to Zen, tailor made and custom fitted.

Too cool.
"The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust

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