Theology of the Joshua Generation


Today, I was conducting my usual Monday morning routine – a bowl of Irish oatmeal, a short devotional, deciding how best to use my day off – when I decided to continue a new trend of reading The New Yorker’s headline article.

This week it was The Joshua Generation by David Remnick.

Overall, I found Mr. Remnick’s article to be insightful, well written, and instructive regarding the history of our new President. His storytelling prose, weaving insights from key figures in Obama’s life, was thoroughly enjoyable. The tone of the article was jubilant – “it was about damned time,” Mr. Remnick said, referring to Obama as the prophetic realization of Doctor Martin Luther King’s dream. But the article was not without a marked hint of reticence:

Yet you also heard from many people a great wariness, a kind of defense against white self-congratulation or the impression that somehow Obama’s election would automatically transform the conditions of New Orleans and the country.”

He [Obama] is a man who can be accommodated by America, but he is not my hero, because a politician, by nature, has to surrender. Where the problems that afflict African-Americans are concerned, Obama can’t go for broke. And the white people—good, decent white people—who voted for him just can’t understand. They don’t have to walk through the same misery as our children do.” – Jerome Smith, resident of New Orleans

Also, the article was not without its errors.

As much as I enjoyed Mr. Remnick’s article, I must highlight a grossly mistaken theological statement:

In his view, despair, the Biblically unforgivable sin, was at the heart of Wright’s mistake.

This statement is found on page 9 of the article, talking about Obama’s reaction to some of Reverend Wright’s statements. Biblically, despair is not the unforgivable sin. The only Biblically unforgivable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

“But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin” Mark 3:29.

What Mr. Remnick’s article does not answer is whether this is Obama’s theological misunderstanding, or a journalistic lapse.

(If someone does know, by the way, whether this is Obama’s misunderstanding, or the journalist’s, please post a comment with the answer.)

For a more accurate understanding of this “unforgivable sin,” I would highly recommend Christians and the Unpardonable Sin by Bob Wilkin.

And for a demonstration of the attitude behind this sin, I would direct you to The Blasphemy Challenge (a.k.a. “independence from the Stone Age”).

Of course, I remonstrate any readers who suggest that any particular individual in these blasphemy videos is unforgivable. Should they turn from public defiance of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and accept the forgiveness of Christ, Christ would forgive them. But I believe their current attitudes are exactly what Christ is speaking of in Mark 3:29.


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