Father, Holy Spirit, & Son: When the Trinity is Out of Order

For you serious thinkers who are addicted to deep topics. And for you in the less-interested crowd who might typically pass this article by . . . But you were baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In that order. So you’re a little intrigued.

Here’s a thought.

The Trinity is one of the most mind-boggling mysteries to the Christian. And while the best description out there might be . . .

The Father is God.
The Son is God.
The Spirit is God.
There is one God.

. . . we find ourselves hallucinating when we read this:

Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
Matt 12:32 {see also Mark 3:28-29 & Luke 12:10}

We’re not here to talk about the “unforgivable sin.” And I’m not here to answer your questions.

Instead, I want you to stop. Right now {well, in a sec}. And do your own thinking. No commentaries. No study Bible helps. Just you, your Bible, and maybe a concordance. And a friend or two {a real, live, breathing one}, if you like.

How can it be that blasphemy against the Son is forgivable, but blasphemy against the Spirit is not?

After you’ve spent at least ten minutes and exhausted all those resources to your satisfaction, keep reading.

trinity2

Now that you may be curious to know my personal, lens-free thoughts on the matter, and now that you’re more apt to be skeptical of them since you’ve used your own brain first . . .

What do we do, here? It seems the Holy Spirit is greater or more significant than the Son. Speak against the Son? Guaranteed forgiveness. Speak against the Spirit? Forgiveness impossible.

This doesn’t work in my head. You’re punished for blaspheming the Spirit, but it’s no big deal if you blaspheme Jesus? If anything, it ought to be the other way around. {A skewed understanding of the Trinity, perhaps, but seriously, anybody else’s thoughts work like that? Or is it just me?}

How can it be that blasphemy against the Son is forgivable, but blasphemy against the Spirit is not?

My “conclusion”:

As Mark clarifies in 3:28, “All sins will be forgiven,” including the sin of blasphemy against Jesus Christ. {Side note: That’s incredible.} Why is blasphemy against the Spirit not forgivable? Because it is through the Holy Spirit’s work of conviction that we are saved. If we reject the Holy Spirit, we reject salvation and forgiveness. Whereas, it is possible to reject Christ for a time, until the Spirit draws us to faith and forgiveness.

That’s all I’ve got, folks. That, and loads of dissatisfaction.

So I tuck it back in my little {um, busting at the seams} “Incomplete” file and come back another day. Sooner or later, that file will be empty. Looking forward to that Day.

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
John 16:7-15

 [image  credits: pixabay.com, journeyoftheword.com]


20 thoughts on “Father, Holy Spirit, & Son: When the Trinity is Out of Order

  1. The surrounding passage gives clues about what blaspheming the Holy Spirit would consist in.

    It means denying the evidence the Holy Spirit gives us. The only unforgivable sin is to not repent.

    If in our hearts we say “Jesus is a liar,” this is something which we can repent of and be forgiven. But if in our hearts we reject the witness of the Holy Spirit, and do so continuously, we reject the miraculous power of God without which we cannot be brought to repentance. For it’s the Holy Spirit that regenerates us.

    This topic has been addressed by many good preachers. John Piper is one example. He gives a an explanation:

    “The unforgivable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is an act of resistance which belittles the Holy Spirit so grievously that he withdraws forever with his convicting power so that we are never able to repent and be forgiven.”

    http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/beyond-forgiveness-blasphemy-against-the-spirit

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    1. You captured it perfectly! Assuming that we’re on the right track. I guess I have a hard time feeling confident about this one. And again, my struggle is not so much the “unforgivable sin” itself, but the comparison between the Holy Spirit and the Son. Are we saying that a persistent rejection of the witness of the Holy Spirit is unforgivable? Where do we get that? Because that’s not exactly what it says. It doesn’t say we reject the witness of the Holy Spirit. It says we speak against him. And it compares that with speaking against Jesus. But that’s forgivable.
      Again, I’m not so sure. Plus, if it is the witness of the Holy Spirit we’re talking about, to what is he a witness? The truth about Jesus, correct? So we can reject the point of the witness and it doesn’t matter, but we reject the witness and we’ve committed the greatest sin?

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      1. Great observations. The points you brought up do make the interpretation more difficult. Notice that Jesus doesn’t specifically say in Mark that the Pharisees have committed the unpardonable sin. He seems to be indicating what kind of sin it would have to be in order to be unpardonable. What kind of sin would that be? Attributing the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit to Satan. Any sin can be forgiven if we repent. But is there a sin from which we cannot repent? If so, that would be a sin which would so harden us that we would be unable to listen to the Holy Spirit’s inner conviction about who Jesus is. I don’t see this passage as setting up the Holy Spirit as more important than Jesus in a metaphysical sense. The difference is only in the respective roles in the process of salvation. To attribute the Holy Spirit’s inner conviction to Satan is to evade the only means by which we can be saved. If such a thing is done (especially if it becomes a habit) then we will never repent, and, thus our sin is unforgivable.

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  2. I agree with your conclusion. The Spirit convicts and draws us to salvation, thus, if we refuse Him, we cannot be saved. But I hold to the fact that the Trinity are all equally God.

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    1. Thanks, Kristin. And, yes, I agree that the three persons of the Trinity are all equally God. Which is why this passage was so difficult for me, because it almost sounded as if, in this matter, the Spirit was of more importance than the Son!

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  3. Powerful questions and powerful answers back and forth and over and under. The subject is what is truly the powerhouse and one where I have questions before. Thank you all for being open and ready to give an answer.

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  4. Good points here. My thoughts on speaking against the Holy Spirit are the people mentioned were attributing the working of the Holy spirit to Satan. This was unforgivable. We hear people curse God, use the name of Jesus loosely and we hear half a curse when people say Holy _____ or Holy _______. I don’t think that counts as the unforgivable. The only sin that anyone will be truly accountable for is the person who REJECTS Jesus and does not accept Him as Lord of their life. In that final day they will not be forgiven. Your post makes people think and that is good. Thanks for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

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  5. Interesting. I’m with you on enjoying the deep topics. I’m glad I read this post. This week, I was thinking about why Jesus mentioned that the Holy Spirit / Comforter would come only AFTER He (Jesus) left. I thought… why? Why was it important that Jesus leave? Well, the Comforter would come and take His place. Why? I’ve been thinking on this: Why didn’t Jesus just stay? I have thoughts on that… but not sure I have the Biblical references or research to support those thoughts. I appreciate “going deep”… thanks for “going there” …. Blessings. Brook @ missionzera from Tell It To Me Tuesdays link-up

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    1. Ooo, that’s a great question. I’ll have to give that one some more thought!

      Glad you enjoy the deep topics. That’s what I devote my blog to: deep thoughts about the Bible. So, I hope you’ll come back often! I’d love to hear your feedback anytime. I sometimes post questions {like the one you suggested} that I haven’t quite figured out {not that I ever have them figured out!}. Those are under the tag “questions” in the right-hand column on my home page, if you’re interested.

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  6. I’d have to say that your explanation makes a little to a lot more sense when compared with others I’ve heard.

    Here’s another interesting thought that goes with that: John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
    So, it appears that to reject or blaspheme the Holy Spirit is one and the same with rejecting/blaspheming the whole Godhead – all three members. This would fit with what you concluded because one might repent of not “believing in God”, or of rejecting Christ, but to reject the Spirit is the end of the line.

    It reminds me of the first lines of an old song:
    “There’s a line that is drawn by rejecting the Lord,
    Where the call of His Spirit is lost…”

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