…and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
I am constantly amused by my conservative fundamentalist friends. I am not impressed by their fear based paranoia but their inconsistency is a constant source of joy.
Take for example, the matter of evil and demons. Just this week a young woman called me, deeply concerned that her friends were warning her about read Neale Donald Walsch’s, “Conversations with God“. “They say it was written by a demon.” she told me.
What I find amusing is that the friends of the young woman, don’t realise that in doing and saying this they are placing themselves in the category of people whom Jesus says commit the unforgivable sin. How strange (and humourous) that the very people who are so hell bent on judging everything and everyone that doesn’t fit their narrow fear-based system, are in fact choosing to head for the very hell they threaten other people with!
How can I say that?
Well let’s look closely at this Sunday’s gospel.
Jesus is teaching in Galilee. Scribes from Jerusalem come to hear his teaching and judge that Jesus is performing his works of power by the power of the Prince of Demons Beelzebul. Sound familiar doesn’t it?
Jesus responds by saying that not only is the charge illogical, (how can the devil cast out the devil) but it also is blasphemous.
To call what is of God, of the devil, is to sin against the Holy Spirit. I didn’t say it Jesus did.
How is it that my literalist Bible loving friends don’t get it?
This is the same Jesus who also told his disciples not to forbid others who were healing in his name.
John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.
So why are my conservative friends blind to what they are doing? Truth is I don’t know.
Just as I can only guess why the Scribes were blind to the good that Jesus was doing, I can only speculate why my friends are so judgemental and afraid. Is it possible that we can become so fearfully arrogant of anything different from us that we end up cursing God for what is innovative and different?
When I read the Scriptures it seems that every now and then wisdom is able to transcend fear.
A good example that is contrary to the Scribes of the New Testament and the Conservatives of our day is Gamaliel who was a teacher of the law in Jerusalem when the religious leaders wanted to kill the apostles for what they were saying. Gamaliel said “I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; because if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; you may even be found fighting against God!” Acts 5:38-39
I have no idea whether or not Neale Donald Walsch, actually has conversations with God. I do know that his work brings millions of readers closer to God and transforms their lives.
So I am not going to accuse him, nor my fundamentalist friends of demon possession.
Like Gamaliel, I will see what happens and let God be the judge.