The “blasphemy challenge” is an internet-based project started in December 2006 which invites young people to submit videos to Youtube or other video internet hosts, in which they record themselves blaspheming or denying the existence of the Holy Spirit. The first 1001 users who took the blasphemy challenge were sent a DVD of Flemming’s film “The God Who Wasn’t There.” Celebrity atheists such as Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Penn Jillette participated in the project. Behind the project is the Rational Response Squad, a group of atheists founded by Brian Sapient and Rook Hawkins.
Key to the motive behind the challenge, is the Rational Response Squad’s view of the so-called unpardonable sin, specifically blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (see Mark 3:28-29 and Matthew 12:30-32). Users who took the challenge, therefore, saw themselves as crossing a point of no return, and would “accept the consequences” if the Christian God does indeed exist.
While blaspheming the Holy Spirit is a sin, the “blasphemy challenge” fails to understand what precisely is THE blasphemy of the Holy Spirit/unpardonable sin. Denying the existence of the Holy Spirit is not the unpardonable sin. Saying certain words that are insulting towards the Holy Spirit is not THE blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Biblically speaking, THE blasphemy of the Holy Spirit was witnessing Jesus perform a miracle and attributing that power to Satan instead of the Holy Spirit. This specific blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, the unpardonable sin, cannot be committed today. The only unpardonable sin today is dying in hard-hearted rejection of the salvation that is available through Jesus Christ. God can and will forgive any sin, but His offer of forgiveness is only available in this life.
To summarize, the blasphemy challenge is essentially a statement that a person is so confident God does not exist that he/she is willing to “risk it all” by committing a sin the Bible says God will not forgive. The problem is that the Rational Response Squad completely misunderstands what the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit was, and entirely underestimates the extent of God’s love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. As ridiculous, dangerous, and unwise as the blasphemy challenge is ” there is no unforgivable sin. God can and will forgive the blasphemy challenge, just as He will forgive any other sin.
Romans 1:21-22 describes the Rational Response Squad quite accurately: “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools…”