What Is the Unforgivable Sin Jesus Once Spoke of?" An explanation from a Priest's Blog


Jesus said “every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever says 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 the age to come” (Mt 12:31-32) A leading blogger-priest gives a good explanation about what Jesus meant by this sin.
see www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2015/02/what-is-the-unforgivable-sin.html


So he is saying the greatest sin is not admitting we are wrong or have sinned and not asking for forgiveness? In other words, we are too proud to admit wrongdoing?


IIRC: The unforgivable sin is the absolute denial of God’s love and forgiveness.

Here again, I deffer to James Akin:
(** I can not stress enough that you follow the link below and read this entire entry in the context. Mr. Akin has a great deal to say about this topic and this little quote doesn’t nearly cover it! ** - as usual, any bold or colouring in the following text is by my hand :slight_smile: )
www.ewtn.com - THE UNFORGIVABLE SIN - James Akin
(…) in the preceding verse, Jesus asserts (v 30) that one must ally with him or be opposed to him and “through this” he tells us (v 31) that the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Blaspheming the Spirit is thus a failure to repent and ally oneself with Jesus. Since this can always be done during one’s life (cf. 20:1-15), blasphemy against the Holy Spirit must be a final refusal to repent, or final impenitence.

Thus the official stand of the Catholic Church’s, following Augustine and a whole host of subsequent moral theologians, is that the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is final impenitence. [Saint] Pope John Paul II writes:

“Against the background of what has been said so far, certain other words of Jesus, shocking and disturbing ones, become easier to understand. . . . They are reported for us by the Synoptics in connection with a particular sin which is called ‘blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.’ . . . Why is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit unforgivable? How should this blasphemy be understood? Saint Thomas Aquinas replies that it is a question of a sin that is ‘unforgivable by its very nature, insofar as it excludes the elements through which the forgiveness of sin takes place’ (ST 2b:14:3). According to such an exegesis, ‘blasphemy’ does not properly consist in offending against the Holy Spirit in words; it consists rather in the refusal to accept the salvation which God offers to man through the Holy Spirit, working through the power of the Cross. If man rejects the ‘convincing concerning sin’ which comes from the Holy Spirit and which has the power to save, he also rejects the ‘coming’ of the Counsellor . . . If Jesus says that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven either in this life or in the next, it is because this ‘non-forgiveness’ is linked, as to its cause, to ‘non-repentance’, in other words to the radical refusal to be converted. . . . Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, then, is the sin committed by the person who claims to have a ‘right’ to persist in evil—in any sin at all . . . [T]he Church constantly implores with the greatest fervor that there will be no increase in the world of the sin that the Gospel calls ‘blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.’ Rather, she prays that it will decrease in human souls” (Encyclical Letter Dominum et Vivificantem “The Lord and Giver of Life”] 46-47). (…)


Thank you for this further comment. Mr. Akin I see also says this sin is never repenting.


I find it interesting that scholars interpret a simple statement to the extent that it means something tangentially different from the actual statement.

So, "anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, in this age or the next" (a simple enough statement) is taken to mean "anyone who does not repent and is self-righteous will never be forgiven because he cannot be forgiven." (I believe that is a fair summary of the linked priest’s blog).

In other words, “speaking against the Spirit” means “being self-righteous and unwilling to forgive or be forgiven”. That is one giant leap of logic and interpretation.

But what if the passage actually refers to “speaking against”? Actual heresy or blasphemy: "The Holy Spirit is not God" for example. Saying that, and meaning it, would be the unforgivable sin. After all, the Holy Spirit is (perhaps) the least accessible part of God, the part of the Trinity that people have the hardest time imagining.

That’s what I think Jesus meant: a simple statement with no broader perspective or need for scholarly analysis. He was trying to assert the truth of the Holy Spirit.

Probably, the writer of the Gospel put this in to assert, once and for all, the doctrine of Trinity, and to seriously discourage heresy against it. That’s perfectly reasonable in an era when the doctrines were first being sorted out.


God’s mercy is infinite to those who repent sincerely. Repentance comes from God; it is a pledge of God’s mercy. Even the gravest blasphemers can be, and have been, pardoned. Further: many blasphemers, including St. Paul, have gone on to become great saints.

According to various Saints, catechisms etc., this Scripture refers to a sinner who is so blind and hardened that they do not respond to God’s grace, which leads us to repent. One does not need to utter offensive words; a mute can still blaspheme; nor is it true that all blasphemy is mortally sinful. “St. Thomas Aquinas declares blasphemy to be a mortal sin, unless it is committed in a hasty moment without deliberation.” (‘The Catechism Explained’, 1899, p. 344)

“Although no sin is absolutely unpardonable, those who sin against the Holy Ghost stubbornly resist the influence of grace and do not wish to repent. Hence their sin cannot be forgiven them.” - Cardinal Henry Manning

We should pray for the conversion of blasphemers. We should also treat them with great meekness and humility, as Our Lord did.

It is important for us to recall the truth that Jesus died for all souls, including the worst of sinners. His Precious Blood is always able to wash away our sins, even if they be as scarlet. St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi once saw in a vision the Precious Blood falling down upon souls in the Confessional. This should encourage us all to approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation with great trust.

There is a beautiful story in the life of Frances of the Mother of God. She was for some days subject to a terrible fear that she had been deceived by the Devil; she imagined that she was damned. Our Lord consoled her with these beautiful words (words that should be kept in mind when reading others Scripture passages, such as the aforementioned): **‘God so loved the world as to give His only–begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish but may have life everlasting (John 3:16). If you believe in Me, you ought to believe that you will be saved.’ **

“Likewise, if any sinner were so rooted in diabolical deeds that he was standing at the very brink of destruction, he could still obtain forgiveness and mercy, if he called upon God with contrition and a will to improve.” (Jesus to St. Bridget)

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