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The unforgivable / eternal / unpardonable sin

What is the unforgivable sin?
Interpretations 25 to 38; all different.

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Interpretations 13 to 24 are located elsewhere.

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bullet 25: Not forgiving others: David Miano, writing for the American Unitarian Conference refers to Matthew 6:14-15:
"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

Miano concludes:

"For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don't forgive people, your Father will not forgive you your wrongdoing." 1

bullet 26: Committing suicide: Ben Beilharz posed the question whether suicide is the unforgivable sin. He cites two references:
bullet St. Augustine (354-430 CE) taught that suicide was a terrible sin.
 
bullet St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) taught that suicide is a mortal sin. A person who committed suicide would have no opportunity to repent of the sin. Thus, they would die apart from God, could not be forgiven, and would go to Hell. 2

bullet 27: Claiming to be free of sin: "Valinors_sorrow" responded to a forum on The Unforgiven Sin at AskMeHelpDesk.com. He wrote:

"I read somewhere that the only unforgivable sin was to claim a state of sinless (which is often the theme of ultimate evil in literature and history) and although it seemed pretty lame at first, later after I had turned it over and over in my mind, I realized it was a pretty good checkmate to blocking out any sunlight of the spirit. ..." 3

bullet 28: Denying the Trinity on Judgment Day: "Aqua@home" responded to the same forum, writing:

"... the unforgivable sin is plain and simple, rejection. I think it is final on Judgment Day when everything is before you, God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost and you still deny them. I think that is the unforgivable sin. Until then as long as we are sincere, all can be forgiven. 4

bullet 29 to 31: Other sins: Kyle Butt of Apologetics Press lists other candidates for the unforgivable sin that have been proposed: murder, adultery, "postponement of obedience until death." He rejects them all, writing:
"... we cannot arbitrarily decide which sins we think are heinous, and then simply attribute to them the property of being unpardonable ..." 4
bullet 32: Murder or repeated adultery: Jason Boyett, author of the Pocket Guide to the Afterlife wrote:

"There's some confusion over what an unpardonable sin would actually entail. Some think it's murder. Others think it's a second round of adultery after you've already played your first 'it was just a stupid mistake and won't happen again' card.

bullet 33: Being offered salvation and rejecting it: Jason Boyett continues:

"Most Mormons think the unpardonable sin involves having your eyes opened to the truth of salvation  -- that is, getting the chance, even in hell, to choose faith -- but denying it anyway. Cold. That's blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, and it earns you eternity in fire and brimstone."

bullet 34: Falling away from the faith after having been once saved: Some theologians believe that Hebrews 6:4-6 refers to the unforgivable sin:

"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,... if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance ..."

bullet 35: Any sin after having first been saved: Some theologians believe that Hebrews 10:26-27 refers to the unforgivable sin:

"For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."

During the first few centuries CE, the concept of salvation had not been finalized. It was generally recognized that baptism guaranteed salvation and entrance into Heaven. But there was no consensus about whether there was any way one could be forgiven for a sin committed after baptism, other than being martyred. That is probably why Constantine waited until he was on his death bed before being baptized. It also seems to have encouraged early Christians to accept martyrdom.

bullet 36: Refusing to forgive others: "James," posted his response to an article by Billy Graham. 5 James wrote:

"Jesus was very clear on blasphemy. In the scripture He said if we cannot forgive neither can our father forgive us. The power of the Holy Ghost is forgiveness and remission, when we refuse to forgive we deny that 'Christ in you' can forgive sin."

bullet

38: Believing that one has an immortal soul: 5 The anonymous web master at Myth-One.com writes that:

"... blasphemy is the crime of assuming to oneself the rights or qualities of God, and believing that one is born with an immortal soul assumes the eternal life quality of God, then are those who believe the immortal soul myth committing blasphemy? It would certainly seem so. ... Since all men are mortal beings, when they assume the godly characteristic of eternal life, they commit blasphemy."

Thus believing that people have immortal souls is blasphemy against God and the Holy Spirit, which qualifies as the unforgivable sin. 6

References:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. David Miano, "The Unforgivable Sins," American Unitarian Conference, at: http://www.americanunitarian.org/
  2. Ben Beilharz, "Suicide: The Unforgivable Sin?, at: http://hippocampusextensions.com/
  3. "The Unforgiven Sin," Ask Me Help Desk, 2006-APR, at: http://www.askmehelpdesk.com/
  4. Kyle Butt, "Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit?The 'Unpardonable Sin'," Apologetics Press, at: http://www.apologeticspress.org/
  5. "Billy Graham's My Answer," Billy Graham Evangelistic Association," undated, at: http://www.billygraham.org/
  6. "Chapter 10: The Unpardonable Sin," Myth-One.com, undated, at: http://myth-one.com/

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Copyright © 2006 to 2013 Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Posted: 2006-OCT-24
Latest update: 2013-JUN-09
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