Blasphemy or Doxology

Blasphemy has been in the news of late. It’s a harsh word we tend to avoid in everyday use. A more accessible synonym is “slander,” defined as false and malicious speech against someone. So if blasphemy is false words against God, its antonym could be doxology, true words to God.

Ireland voted in late 2018 to remove blasphemy as a constitutional offence. It became an issue when actor Stephen Fry opined on TV about a god who is mean, stupid, and maniac. The Irish police investigated, and could have levied a fine of 25,000 euros. They dropped the case because not enough people were outraged. I wouldn’t have been either, since I don’t know the god Mr. Fry described. If he was addressing his Creator, I’d suggest that’s between the two of them.

Apparently Pakistan has defended its blasphemy law by pointing to Ireland’s constitution. It’s an issue that has roiled that country, especially concerning the case of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi. Pakistan imprisoned her for blasphemy from 2009 until 2018, when three high court judges acquitted her. Now she and her family are in hiding as vigilante radicals search house to house. She awaits asylum, but not even the country founded on religious freedom has stepped forward. (That’s US.)

A hero of the Christian faith was once a blasphemer, by his own admission. Paul wrote, “I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief.” Perhaps Mr. Fry was similarly afflicted. Paul doesn’t dwell on his reckless unbelief. Instead, he speaks of the grace, love, and mercy of God toward the “foremost of sinners” (himself), and his own faith and gratitude to Christ Jesus our Lord. In fact, as Paul writes about the patience of Christ towards him, he becomes enraptured. “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen!” (1 Tim. 1:12-17)

Did you see what happened there? He abandoned blasphemy and embraced doxology. Wow, do we need more of that in our culture today! You can detect the cultural blasphemies that contradict the truth of God in these: “Male and female He created them.” “A man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife.” “You formed my inward parts; you wove me in my mother’s womb.”

How do you sail your ship against these cultural headwinds? Well, first, know what you believe. If you’re not sure, consider the evidence in nature of a Creator God. Next, trust who God has revealed Himself to be, and believe what He says about you in the Bible. Finally, say true words to and about God, from whom all blessings flow to all creatures here below. And pray for mercy.

“Re” Words

Taking stock of your life is so human. The changing of the calendar is a natural time to do it, especially when you have holiday time off to ponder how your relatives have changed since you last saw them. Or, as in the case of some of us, how our families have one less member.

Wanting things to be better, to be renewed, is a common longing. Every decent longing has a sublime object, even if we do not realize it. This one is no different. We yearn for renewal because God does. In “Restoring All Things,” Warren Smith writes, “The Bible is not a book about how to have a better life or how to handle life’s problems. It is a book that explains the universe and how God is in the process of redeeming and restoring it to its original good, true, and beautiful state.”

The Christian faith understands the world as it is, one that includes evil and brokenness. That falls on each of us human beings, so God offers us a fresh start, a re-birth. That is the way Jesus reached out to Nicodemus, who countered, “How can these things be?” Jesus proceeded to explain His identity as the Son, His atoning sacrifice, and His offer of eternal life. By faith you are reborn (John 3).

As you reflect, you may realize you need to change course. The word for that is repentance, but in the Bible it means far more than “turning over a new leaf.” It means you have turned away from what you were, and embraced your new identity in Christ. It means you “walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).

Once I was speaking to dear souls recovering from substance abuse. One said, “Sometimes I wish I could take my brain out, wash it, and put it back in.” What a revealing statement about the junk habits and memories you can accumulate, to your detriment! The Bible says you can be transformed by the renewing of your mind. This happens when you present your body to God as a living and holy sacrifice, no longer conformed to the world (Rom. 12:1-2).

As you review your life, remember that as God has reconciled you, you are now a reconciler. This is how you participate in the work of God in this world. Redemption is within the grasp of your inquiring friends, as God is willing to reconcile them too, not counting their trespasses against them (2 Cor. 5:18-20).

All of these “re” words reveal a story about a loving God and people He created, you in particular. So, yes, take stock of your life now in the first few days of 2019, and believe God’s grand narrative that includes you finding your good, true, and beautiful state of being.