Saturday, December 23, 2006

Blasphemy and the Donatists

I think some light might be shed on the issue surrounding blasphemy against the Holy Spirit by looking at the Donatist controversy. That controversy concerned whether Christians who had denied their faith to avoid martyrdom could rejoin the Church once Constantine had become Emperor and public worship was now legalized in the Roman Empire. After all, where were these guys when the Church needed them to stand up for their faith? They chickened out and denied it in public, right? The Donatists said that they couldn't rejoin the Church, but that position was actually condemned.

Apparently renouncing or deny Christ (or even the Holy Spirit) was not sufficient to remove them from the possibility of receiving God's grace, according to the Church at that time.


Anonymous said...

A Christians would never deny his faith to avoid martyrdom.

Victor Reppert said...

So you think the wrong side won this controversy? These people were readmitted and even were allowed to become priests.

Anonymous said...

A Christians would never deny his faith to avoid martyrdom

Easily said when you're not actually facing the prospect

Jason Pratt said...

I think the operant example the church was acting on, in the case of readmitting Christians who denied their faith to avoid martyrdom, was Simon Peter. Though technically all the apostles would count, since they failed in the crunch. But if they denied that a willing and public--not to say strenuous!--denial of Christ permanently disassociated a person from the church, then the first Pope wouldn't have been welcomed back in and forgiven by Christ (and so wouldn't have been the first Pope--with all the consequences of a lack of apostolic/papal succession, too. {s})

That isn't a theological reply, per se, but it shows the historical side of why the question was eventually answered the way that it was.

(Theological discussion will have to wait until I'm off vacation. {g})