Weekend Edification: Matthew 12:32

“Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.”

This verse really builds off Matthew 12:31, which I discussed briefly last weekend.  So, that makes this weekend’s edification shorter and more to the point.  Here, Jesus is clarifying just how seriously we are to take the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus was ridiculed and abused, he responded by asking God to forgive them for not knowing what they did.  That is the message the Spirit carries.  If we reject even that message, then we have truly broken our relationship with God.  Such forgiveness, through Christ, as the God-man who reveals His Father while in the Spirit, is at the heart of Christianity and that is who God is, so rejecting that is rejecting who God is.

Yet, I also think there are some ecclesiological (“church structure”) aspects to this verse as well.  The Holy Spirit is given in fullness to the Church to lead the Church into All Truth (see John 14 and 16 for this, as well as Acts).  This is why denying the Holy Spirit is so detrimental.  Blaspheming the Holy Spirit is denying the Christian faith itself.  And, a natural way of doing that is to deny the Spirit’s presence in the Church.

Of course, this is also why schism becomes so dangerous, as one cuts oneself off from the fullness of the Spirit given to the Church.  Creating Protestant “denominations” is not, in fact, a very Christian thing to do.  In fact, it’s a rather unChristian thing to do.  I’m not equating schism and heresy, here, which are two different things, but really, if one is not desiring to follow a heresy, then there’s no reason to sustain a schism, either.  Why remove oneself from “all truth” for a partial truth?  Orthodoxy can make a full and complete and compelling case for being the continuation of the Church established upon the Apostles.  For those of us who are Orthodox, we should not forget this.  For those of us who are not yet Orthodox, we should pursue  this.  Why break from the Church Christ established and to which the Spirit is given and leads?

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