Re: Deceptive God? from AiG...

Date: Wed Oct 02 2002 - 14:10:43 EDT

  • Next message: John Burgeson: "Re: Did Peter walk on water?"

    My thought is this -- how do we know God does not -- sometimes --
    deliberately deceive? It seems that He did so at least once (actually
    several times) in the story of the plagues of Egypt. Over and over
    God tells
    Moses to lie to Pharaoh, to tell him the people want only to go
    three days
    march into the desert to sacrifice -- rather than tell Pharaoh their real
    plan is to keep on going.

    I'm not so convinced that there was any deception. First _we_
    know the result as observers, and _we_ know where the story is
    going, but it is quite typical that us poor players who strut
    and fret our lives on the stage have little idea what is going
    on in our own play.

    Second, here again is a place where it would probably
    help to study a lot more. This is _one_ view, but I
    still feel it does a pretty good job of addressing
    the matter.

    ...Man's thoughts, his intellectual activity, the cognitive,
    conative, and affective aspects of his personality, are all
    regarded as issuing from the heart. The state of the heart
    defines, then the essential character of a person. Its
    "hardening" connotes the willful suppression of the capacity
    for reflection, for self-examination, for unbiased judgments
    about good and evil. In short, the "hardening of the heart"
    becomes synonymous with the numbing of the soul, a condition
    of moral atrophy.

    The motif of the hardening of the pharaoh's heart occurs precisely
    twenty times in one form or another within the scope of the Exodus
    story between Chapters 4 and 14. Intriguingly, the distribution of
    the motif is exactly equally divided between the pharaoh and God as
    the direct cause of the hardening. Ten times it is said that the
    pharaoh hardened his own heart, and ten times the hardening is
    attributed to God. Furthermore, it is not until the advent of
    the sixth plague that divine intervention begins. For the first
    five plagues the pharaoh's obduracy is the product of his own
    volition. This is crucial to the theological issue, for it stamps
    the king as a callous, evil-minded minded person who must bear full
    responsibility for his iniquitous acts freely and knowingly
    The pharaoh's culpability is established beyond doubt. He is not an
    innocent, blameless individual whose integrity is compromised, and
    finally subverted, by the intervention of Providence. He exhibits
    an obvious and willing predisposition to cruelty. Accordingly, the
    king's continued intransigence from the sixth plague on cannot be
    said to be involuntary, a point that is carefully made in the
    narrative by its twice stressing that the pharaoh's obstinacy
    after the seventh plague was again self-willed. He was not one
    to be constrained by moral principles, and he cannot be excused
    from criminal liability. In brief, the idea of God's hardening
    the pharaoh's heart is that He utilizes a man's natural proclivity
    toward evil: He accentuates the process furtherance of His own
    historical purposes.

    There is one other point to be made in this connection. The
    and political theory of ancient Egypt stressed the literal divinity
    of the living pharaoh. His will was law, his word absolute. By
    reinforcing the pharaoh's stubbornness, thereby making him a
    of his own irrationality, God deprives the "god" of his freedom of
    action. The pharaoh can no longer control his own will and his
    so-called divinity is mocked.
    [Nahum Sarna. Exploring the Exodus: The Origins of Biblical Israel.
    (Schocken Books, NY 1996) pp 64-5.]

    The Pharoah was an arrogant cluck who had his magicians and jesters
    all singing praises to him. If God outwitted him, isn't that the
    same for God's divine teaching when we also are headed on the
    wrong road?
    We are given the chance to listen, and I gather that the pharaoh also
    had his chance where God _could_ have changed His mind, but the pharaoh
    lived up to his ways --- like most of us when we're determined to screw
    up --- and he received the lesson he greatly deserved (God's way of
    making it clear, plain, and undeniable who has ultimate sovereignty
    over reality).

    Again, I find sometimes skeptics have made a big deal of "how terrible
    this God is for hardening the _poor_, _innocent_, unassuming, and
    _helpless_ pharaoh's heart. What kind of God could do such a
    _terrible_ thing?" .... and so on. Maybe it is just not so simple.

    By Grace alone we proceed,

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Wed Oct 02 2002 - 19:54:52 EDT