Blasphemy – 2

Blasphemy and Christianity
In Christianity, blasphemy only centres on God.  It is interesting that Jesus Christ is used as a swear word, yet no personage from other religions is used in the same way.
The following article will help clarify what the Bible, our Holy Book, says about blasphemy.
‘Definition. In English “blasphemy” denotes any utterance that insults God or Christ and gives deeply felt offense to their followers. Though in some countries , blasphemy is a criminal offense,  there has only been a few prosecutions in the past hundred or so years.There is no Hebrew word equivalent to the English “blasphemy, ” and the Greek root blasphem- [blasfhmevw], which is used fifty-five times in the New Testament, has a wide meaning. In both Testaments the idea of blasphemy as something that offends the religious sensibilities of others is completely absent.The Old Testament At least five different Hebrew verbs are translated “blaspheme” in English translations. Translators choose “blaspheme” when, for instance, the verbs “curse” (qalal [l;l’q]), “revile” (gadap [@;d”G]), or “despise” (herep) are used with God as the object. No special verb is reserved for cursing or insults directed at God.However, to curse or insult God is an especially grave sin. It can be done by word or by deed. There is little distinction between the sinner who deliberately abuses the name of the Lord ( Le 24:10-16 ), and the one who deliberately flouts his commandments ( Nu 15:30-31 ). For both, the death penalty is prescribed. Similarly, the prayer of the Levites in Nehemiah 9 calls “awful blasphemies” all that Israelites did when they made the golden calf (9:18).David’s flagrant sin with Bathsheba may be called a blasphemy ( 2 Sa 12:14 ), but a more likely translation is that David has “made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt” (NIV). Instead of testifying by lifestyle to the character of the Lord, David’s action confirms the blasphemous belief of the nations that the Lord is no different from any other national god.The New Testament. The Greek root blasphem- [blasfhmevw] can be used of strong insults thrown at other people ( Mark 15:29 ; Acts 13:45 ; Eph 4:31 ; 1 Peter 4:4 ), or even unjust accusations ( Rom 3:8 ), but it is more usually used of insults offered to God (e.g., Rev 13:6 ; 16:9 ). Jesus is accused of blasphemy for pronouncing forgiveness and for claiming a unique relationship with God ( Matt 26:65 ; Mark 2:7 ; John 10:33 ).Jesus picks up the Numbers 15 passage about blasphemy in his famous saying about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit ( Matt 12:31-32 ; Mark 3:28-29 ; Luke 12:10 ). Numbers 15:22-31 distinguishes between unintentional sin committed in ignorance (for which forgiveness is possible), and defiant sin, called blasphemy, for which there is no forgiveness. Jesus teaches that the blasphemy for which there is no forgiveness is that against the Holy Spirit; all other blasphemies, particularly those against “the Son of Man, ” may be forgiven. Insults thrown at “the Son of Man” may be forgiven because they are committed in ignorance of who he really is: his heavenly glory does not appear on earth. But to ascribe obvious manifestations of the Spirit to the devil’s agency is a much more serious offense not committed in ignorance.This downgrading of the significance of blasphemy against Christ marks an important difference between Christianity and Islam. Whereas Muslims are bound to defend the honor of the Prophet, for Christians Jesus is the one who says, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me” ( Rom 15:3, ; quoting Psalm 69:9 ). He deliberately accepts the vilification of others and prays for the forgiveness of those who insult him ( Luke 23:34 ). In this, he sets an example for Christians to follow. According to Peter ( 1 Pe 2:19-25 ), they must accept insult and blasphemy without retaliation, as he did.

There is only one kind of blasphemy that Christians must resist: the blasphemy they will bring on themselves if they cause a fellow believer to stumble through the thoughtless exercise of their freedom ( Rom 14:15-16 ; 1 Cor 10:28-30 ).’

Slightly adapted from https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/blasphemy.html

Although we have had a blasphemy law in the UK, I am not sure if having one actually would have made any difference.  If we did have one, then everytime someone swears using Jesus’ name, they would be liable to be punished and thus will fill up all the prisons.  As someone said, God can take care of Himself.  But, those that blaspheme will be held accountable at Judgment, along with all their other sins, so they will not get away with it.  God does take the abuse of His name seriously, but it is up to Him to deal with it – Christians are to get on and obey Him and serve others in love.

 

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Blasphemy – 1

Blasphemy in Islam

Over the past decade or so, there has been much violence in both Muslim-majority and Muslin-minority countries over the issue of blasphemy, particular over insulting their founder Mohammad and disrespect of the Quran, their holy book.  In Muslim-majority countries (like Pakistan and Indonesia) blasphemy laws are used as an excuse to target Christians and occasionally other non-Muslim faiths.  As with Sharia law and other ‘add-ons’ the cause of blasphemy is not mentioned in the Quran.  Instead such things are used to manipulate people so as to gain power.  Recently, I came across the following article in The Independent newspaper which describes the situation well.

‘Blasphemy laws began in Christian countries, and started appearing in Muslim majority countries after British imperialism. But if we go back to the Quran, we can see that what’s happening in Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Pakistan isn’t faithfully Islamic at all.

In the 1979 hit British comedy Monty Python’s Life of Brian, an elderly man is charged and convicted for committing blasphemy. His crime? Uttering the name Jehovah. He insists he’s innocent, but an angry crowd is ready to unleash a barrage of stones on him.

It seems life imitates art. Last week Ireland investigated Stephen Fry, an outspoken critic of religion, for allegedly running foul of a 2009 blasphemy law. In the United States this week, a woman was convicted of laughing at Attorney General Sessions, and faces a year in prison.

Blasphemy laws historically began in Christian Europe as a means to prevent dissent and enforce the church’s authority. They were exported to Muslim majority nations via British imperialism. Today, just about every Muslim majority nation that has blasphemy laws can trace them back to British statute from centuries prior.

Nowadays, blasphemy cases are becoming increasingly popular as a means to persecute minorities in nations like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. In Pakistan, notable Ahmadi Muslim Tahir Mehdi was finally released after nearly two years in prison for the alleged blasphemy of claiming he is Muslim. Meanwhile another Ahmadi Muslim — 81-year-old Shukoor Ahmad — serves an eight-year prison term for the same alleged crime of blasphemy.

In Saudi Arabia, Raif Badawi is still in prison for the alleged blasphemy of being an atheist. And this week in Indonesia, courts convicted Jakarta’s Governor Aho of blasphemy: the governor, who is a Christian, faces a two year prison sentence. Ahok’s crime? He rebuked claims by clerics that the Quran mandates Muslims to vote for a Muslim over a non-Muslim.

By convicting Governor Ahok of blasphemy, Indonesia disgraces itself, violates human rights and ignores Islamic teachings. In fact, despite addressing blasphemy dozens of times, the Quran prescribes absolutely no worldly punishment.

That notwithstanding, Governor Ahok is right that the Quran does not mandate Muslims to vote for a Muslim over a non-Muslim. Instead, Quran 4:59-60 commands Muslims: “Verily, Allah commands you to make over the trusts to those entitled to them, and that, when you judge between men, you judge with justice… O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey His Messenger and those who are in authority among you.”

Thus, the Quran commands Muslims to judge with justice, not religion. Likewise, the Quran could have added that the faithful should only obey those in authority who are Muslim – but that notable omission speaks volumes otherwise.

So, in a twist of irony, the Christian governor accused of blasphemy cited the Quran correctly, while the Muslim clerics punishing him are themselves wrong. Thus, if such clerics are that hell-bent on blasphemy laws, they should arrest themselves and set Governor Ahok free.

But they won’t, because blasphemy laws don’t exist to protect God: they exist to protect the fragile egos of corrupt clerics. Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim nation and has long stood as a beacon of hope. But Governor Ahok’s conviction, along with the ongoing violent persecution of Indonesia’s Ahmadi Muslims, threatens this thriving democracy’s future.

The solution is embedded in a revival of true Islam based on a proven model of success and reformation of Muslims. Muslim leadership must be more accountable to protecting the rights of religious minorities in Muslim majority nations. How tragic that a Christian should be sentenced to prison for a peaceful difference of opinion, while the Prophet Mohammed instead wrote in a letter that “Christians are my citizens and I hold out against all that displeases them”.

In 2009, His Holiness the Khalifa of Islam Mirza Masroor Ahmad delivered a landmark address in Frankfurt, Germany, where he implored religious freedom, concluding: “The followers of any religion should be able to practise their religious customs freely; otherwise if the government will interfere with religion, in this civilised world, such interference will negate their claim to being secular and discharging the rights of others.”

So how did that Monty Python blasphemy scene end? Well, it ends when the judge charged with stoning the accused to death is himself stoned to death after accidentally uttering the word Jehovah. There is a lesson in this for all governments who punish peaceful difference of opinion: in doing so, you ultimately destroy yourselves.’

So Muslims need to revisit their source as to a way forward.  At the same time, we must remember that there are portions of the Quran which encourages violence, but that deserves a blog on its own