God hardened Pharaoh's heart

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  • magnilomagnilo Shipmate
    edited November 2018
    No, you’re not being unfair Gamaliel. Although the shift in my argument from God having a right to harden hearts to God having the right to murder babies isn’t one that I’ve been desperately trying to sneak past you.
  • Ok guys maybe we can move on. There are extremes in various positions, attacking those isn't the same as attacking specific individuals who self-identity with (more moderate) positions of the same name. At the same time making the same point several times in long posts is hardly helping.

    Points made. Move on.
  • magnilomagnilo Shipmate
    edited November 2018
    And writing off someone’s sincere attempts at wrestling with the issue as...
    ...cliches, proof-texting and special pleading at the problem to make it go away

    ...is more than a tad disrespectful, especially when I simply don’t see that being done by anyone on this thread.
  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    edited November 2018
    magnilo wrote: »
    And writing off someone’s sincere attempts at wrestling with the issue as...
    ...cliches, proof-texting and special pleading at the problem to make it go away

    ...is more than a tad disrespectful, especially when I simply don’t see that being done by anyone on this thread.

    Well it is a caricature, but is not entirely inaccurate is it?

    MPaul says
    I think we first rule out all slurs on God’s character.

    and
    What God does in judgement is not a license for human judgement unless he says so in scripture. And he does not do that in the Christian Era

    Which one can agree or disagree with - but it certainly looks like MPaul is saying that God does X y and z then but not now because (more-or-less) MPaul insists this is the way it is. And if you say anything else, you are basically blaspheming.

    Which certainly looks a lot like special pleading.
  • Well yes, I guess. But to be fair there are others who are leveling almost the same accusation of blasphemy at MPaul but from an errantist position.
  • Ok. So the "disrespect" goes various ways.

    Around here we call it robust discussion.
  • Saying that you find someone’s vision of God blasphemous is robust but occasionally necessary; assigning theological motives is disrespectful and generally unhelpful. Gamaliel tends to trade in the latter, while others seem to favour the former.
  • Right. Maybe you need to use Hell, because you don't seem to be moving on.
  • Fair enough. I shall cease and desist.
  • Back to the OP. How, may I ask, is the approach being advocated by mousethief, KarlLB and Marvin different from Marcionism?
  • Maybe Marcion was more correct than we've given him credit for.
  • Ah, I see. Accusing others of blasphemy from the bunker of established heresy is an acceptable form of apologetic. Ooo Kay...
  • MPaul wrote: »
    we acknowledge that the potter has rights over the clay.

    Nobody is denying that God has the right to do what He likes to us. That's what the word "God" means.

    What we're arguing about is whether the God we believe in - the God of Love, Peace, Grace and Forgiveness revealed once and for all time in Jesus Christ - is the sort of God who would do such things.
    What God does in judgement is not a license for human judgement unless he says so in scripture.

    Which scripture did Joshua read that told him God wanted him to go and commit genocide? Did he have the Book of his own exploits open in front of him so that he could know that the command was truly from God?
    And he does not do that in the Christian Era.

    Are you suggesting that God no longer speaks to us, inspires us or guides us?
    We cannot extrapolate that because the canon is closed.

    Who are you to place limits on God? If He wants to inspire another Testament who are you to say He can't? This is closing in on Bibliolatry - placing the words of the Bible above the Lord Himself.
  • magnilo wrote: »
    magnilo wrote: »
    However, I think it's also possible and desirable to engage with idea of God's sovereignty and omnipotence in a way which maintains his essential goodness without resorting to a deistic theodicy in an attempt to protect God from accusations of injustice. The question of course, is how? For some people, the answer appears to be that you can't.

    For others, like myself, the answer is more like we must keep trying even though it's incredibly difficult and mysterious. For my part, I prefer to admit that I don't currently know but am still willing to accept that scripture really is describing the actions of a good and loving God but inscrutable God, rather than write scripture off as a deeply flawed and inaccurate guide to knowing the God whom I worship.

    We absolutely must keep trying, but ultimately ISTM that when the unstoppable force of God's Goodness meets the immovable object of scripture saying He murdered (or ordered the murder of) thousands of innocent children then the only way to resolve the situation is to realise that the object isn't quite as immovable as first thought.

    This is a fair point. I don't like it; but it's a fair point.

    Thank you. Given the way some posters on this thread have been treating you, I'd like to say how refreshing it is to be discussing this matter with someone who is genuinely willing to engage with opposing arguments.

    For me this is probably the hardest passage in the entire Bible to reconcile with the concept of a God who is good and loves us all. Fortunately I am not committed to the position that the Bible is fully literal and inerrant, which means far more "moves" are open to me when wrestling with it!
  • magnilo wrote: »
    Back to the OP. How, may I ask, is the approach being advocated by mousethief, KarlLB and Marvin different from Marcionism?

    None of us are denying the place of the OT in scripture or that the God being described therein is the same God as that of the OT.

    Claiming that the writer(s) of the earlier books of the OT may have got some things wrong, or may have been writing in a more mythological rather than strictly historical genre may be a different heresy (there are so many of them I can't keep track of them all), but it's not Marcionism. Neither is struggling with the conflict between a God of Love and a God of Genocide - if Jacob can wrestle with God Himself then surely we can wrestle with a mere text!
  • magnilo wrote: »
    Ah, I see. Accusing others of blasphemy from the bunker of established heresy is an acceptable form of apologetic. Ooo Kay...

    Where did I say anyone was committing blasphemy?

    Given Marcion's impact on the NT canon, it's clearly not a heretical position to say he had some things right.

    And anyway, I've not personally made any claim to orthodoxy.
  • @mr cheesy My comment was a more general one and not specifically aimed at anything you’ve said. I’m happy to retract it if that helps. As has been already said, the OP is too interesting to get sidetracked by unhelpful tangents, including those of my making.
  • Fair enough. Are Reformed Christians acting like Marcionists for not including the Deutero-canonical books?

    ;)

    More seriously, I don't see Mousethief, KarlLB and Martin (if I understand him correctly and I'm never sure I actually do) saying that the more violent parts of the Hebrew scriptures should be excised from the canon, which is what Marcion wanted as far as I can gather.

    Rather, it's that they are approaching the texts in a different way to how you're approaching them. They are operating within a different framework to your good self and with different criteria.

    Nobody's accused you of blasphemy as far as I can see. I certainly haven't.
  • magnilomagnilo Shipmate
    edited November 2018
    Fair enough. Are Reformed Christians acting like Marcionists for not including the Deutero-canonical books?

    I’m Anglican, so I have a bible which contains those books for the purposes of edifying reading, like the other books in my theology shelf. But they don’t feel like Scripture to me.
    More seriously, I don't see Mousethief, KarlLB and Martin (if I understand him correctly and I'm never sure I actually do) saying that the more violent parts of the Hebrew scriptures should be excised from the canon, which is what Marcion wanted as far as I can gather.
    I’m satisfied with that differentiation. However, it still strikes me that excising God as an agent from certain scriptures is just a slightly more sophisticated species of the same theological trajectory. It’s certanly an attempt at solving the same problems that Marcion encountered in the OT, and in s similar way.
    Rather, it's that they are approaching the texts in a different way to how you're approaching them. They are operating within a different framework to your good self and with different criteria.
    I’m aware of that and just returning the compliment by pointing out a few problems with the method as I see it.
    Nobody's accused you of blasphemy as far as I can see. I certainly haven't.
    Fair enough but I think I’m seeing glimpses of the old Calvinist Monster God canard here and there, which is tantamount to the same thing.

  • And for the record, I don’t really mind being accused of blasphemy as part of a robust debate, but I do object to being accused of theological laziness and dishonesty.
  • magnilo wrote: »
    More seriously, I don't see Mousethief, KarlLB and Martin (if I understand him correctly and I'm never sure I actually do) saying that the more violent parts of the Hebrew scriptures should be excised from the canon, which is what Marcion wanted as far as I can gather.
    I’m satisfied with that differentiation. However, it still strikes me that excising God as an agent from certain scriptures is just a slightly more sophisticated species of the same theological trajectory. It’s certanly an attempt at solving the same problems that Marcion encountered in the OT, and in s similar way.

    Possibly. I mean, we all agree that those problems exist in scripture, so if we're not prepared to ignore them then we all have to find some way of resolving them. Marcion certainly went too far, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't go any distance at all.
  • On the face of it that's special pleading. Of course we all anthropomorphise. To an extent I'd argue that it's impossible to engage in any discourse about God without engaging in anthropomorphism.
    If we envision God in our image, we're just returning the favor, wot?
  • (kudos for Laurel & Hardy reference)
  • magnilo wrote: »
    More seriously, I don't see Mousethief, KarlLB and Martin (if I understand him correctly and I'm never sure I actually do) saying that the more violent parts of the Hebrew scriptures should be excised from the canon, which is what Marcion wanted as far as I can gather.
    I’m satisfied with that differentiation. However, it still strikes me that excising God as an agent from certain scriptures is just a slightly more sophisticated species of the same theological trajectory. It’s certanly an attempt at solving the same problems that Marcion encountered in the OT, and in s similar way.

    Possibly. I mean, we all agree that those problems exist in scripture, so if we're not prepared to ignore them then we all have to find some way of resolving them. Marcion certainly went too far, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't go any distance at all.
    Then I guess I must be either a theological optimist or simply in denial, because I’m still holding onto hope that a theological solution, which maintains the inspiration of Holy Scripture and doesn’t require the excision of God from such narratives, might be possible.
  • Why does it require the excision of God from such narratives?

    To say, 'This is how people at that time understood God,' isn't to excise him from the narrative. It's simply a different way to approach the narrative.

    Nor does a non-literal approach to certain passages obviate the idea of the inspiration of scripture. Why should it?

    I knew you were Anglican, by the way, in which case I would be very surprised to find you were a Six Day Creationist. In which case, if my surmise is correct (and I'm open to correction) then you're already dealing with a high view of the inspiration of scripture without feeling the need to be woodenly literal about it in the fundagelical sense.

    There are other options and poles between being a theological optimist or being in denial, as you put it. The last time I looked the Anglican Triad or Trilateral had three legs - scripture, reason and tradition.

    It wasn't a two-legged stool or a unicycle.

    Why the theological dualism, the bi-polarity? I could call your bluff and accuse you of having imbibed Monsieur Jean Calvin's bi-polarity as inherited from the Medieval Scholastics and the more Manichaean elements of the Augustinian tradition.

    I won't. Why not? Because I know there was more to Monsieur Calvin than that and that you can also do a lot better.

    I'll be blunt, though, I didn't find your sticky toffee analogy as sophisticated as you seemed to think it was. I suspect you find my more whishty-whishty magical Mystery tour approach equally unsatisfactory.

    If you're going to combat the Calvinist Monster God canard then you're going to have to try harder. Most of your comments so far have only reinforced that canard, not undermined it.
  • magnilo wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    magnilo wrote: »
    magnilo wrote: »
    However, I think it's also possible and desirable to engage with idea of God's sovereignty and omnipotence in a way which maintains his essential goodness without resorting to a deistic theodicy in an attempt to protect God from accusations of injustice. The question of course, is how? For some people, the answer appears to be that you can't.

    For others, like myself, the answer is more like we must keep trying even though it's incredibly difficult and mysterious. For my part, I prefer to admit that I don't currently know but am still willing to accept that scripture really is describing the actions of a good and loving God but inscrutable God, rather than write scripture off as a deeply flawed and inaccurate guide to knowing the God whom I worship.

    We absolutely must keep trying, but ultimately ISTM that when the unstoppable force of God's Goodness meets the immovable object of scripture saying He murdered (or ordered the murder of) thousands of innocent children then the only way to resolve the situation is to realise that the object isn't quite as immovable as first thought.

    This is a fair point. I don't like it; but it's a fair point.

    What, you'd prefer that the object were unmoved?

    Not prefer, I just believe that it is.
    You'd like it better if God were a Bronze Age savage?
    No, but it’s fair to say that some fairly savage Bronze Age people have believed in God.

    The issue being discussed is whether God’s actions in Exodus can be explained entirely in terms of Bronze Age anthropomorphic propaganda, or whether perhaps our objection to certain aspects of said narrative are due to similar anthropomorphising tendencies on our own part on the basis of our own cultural sensitivities and agendas.

    On the face of it, the former would appear to give God far too much latitude in terms of his conduct, the latter perhaps a tad too little.

    Most sympathetic. You believe in God the Bastard? I used to and loved Him. It's very human to. For decades. Apologized for Him here for many years. The above latter doesn't go far enough. He does nowt. Apart from will stuff since forever, incarnate or insilicate or whatever in it and yearns and what not ineffably by the Spirit. He certainly didn't do any of the nasty stuff ascribed to Him by slowly enlightening savages.
  • magnilomagnilo Shipmate
    edited November 2018
    My sticky toffee analogy wasn’t supposed be sophisticated; it was supposed to make one point simply and clearly. The point that God saying that his will was to harden Pharoah’s heart doesn’t necessarily mean that we know how God chose to effect that hardening.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited November 2018
    We know He didn't. That it wasn't His will. That He does not exercise His will in any way beyond eternally willing material stuff and incarnating in it and whatever ineffable, transpersonal willing He does by the Spirit. He does not do 99.999% of any of the anthropomorphic stuff ascribed to Him. The 0.001% epitomized by the voice at Jesus' baptism.

    Did He harden Hitler's heart?
  • magnilo wrote: »
    My sticky toffee analogy wasn’t supposed be sophisticated; it was supposed to make one point simply and clearly. The point that God saying that his will was to harden Pharoah’s heart doesn’t necessarily mean that we know how God chose to effect that hardening.

    It wasn't a bad analogy to make the point you were making, it's just that like any analogy it is only going to take us so far.

    Any analogy the rest of us were going to come up with would have equally been inadequate.

  • It seems that what we have are:

    1. It's wrong to hold Pharaoh accountable for something he didn't do.
    2. If God hardened P's heart, it would not be something Pharaoh did, but God
    3. Not letting the Hebrews go was a bad thing
    4. Pharaoh didn't let the Hebrews go because of the hardness of his heart
    5. Pharaoh is accountable for not letting the Hebrews go
    6. God can't so something wrong
    7. The scriptures say that God hardened Pharoah's heart

    Conclusion:

    When it says "God hardened Pharaoh's heart" it doesn't mean that God DID something, but that God left something undone. From which it follows that God is not at fault, but Pharaoh is, and therefore morally culpable.


    What have I misinterpreted? What have I left out?
  • I’m not sure about 2. It strikes me that God can use human disobedience as the means of achieving his own will e.g. Acts 2:23, Judas Iscariot.
  • Well, yes, and that's what comes out in the conclusion. You want "God did X" to mean "God didn't do anything to prevent X".
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    Well, yes, and that's what comes out in the conclusion. You want "God did X" to mean "God didn't do anything to prevent X".

    Is that not what you're saying in your post at 8.56 am - God did not stop Pharaoh's heart hardening. The trouble with that is that the text says that God took positive action, he hardened Pharaoh's heart, and not that he did nothing to stop this. I have very little Greek and no Hebrew or Aramaic at all, but all posts so far have proceeded on God's being active and not passive.
  • magnilomagnilo Shipmate
    edited November 2018
    Not quite. I’m not saying that God was an entirely passive observer. I do believe that a definite divine plan was at work in the hardening of Pharoah’s heart but that the ways and means of God achieving that hardening are inscrutable and mysterious, rather straightforward and obvious.

    It’s similar to the way that God used the betrayal of Judas and the vicious and evil practices of Roman state terrorism to ensure the execution of his Son. God somehow ordained something which can rightly described as a great evil by means of evil human agency. It’s as if God can piggyback human evil in order to bring about ultimate good.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    And I just can't see Jesus hardening Pharaoh's heart in order to justify the subsequent murder of an entire generation of Egyptians. Can you?

    This is the Jesus who said said that if you have seen me you have seen the father

    And to the people who rejected his claims

    You shall die in your sins

    However, the use of hyperbolic, pejorative terms is misleading. The weight of Biblical evidence clarifies that Pharoah is representative of Satanic power. He was obdurate despite the many visits by Moses enjoining him to repent and the question of God’s foreknowledge of Pharoah’s decision not to allow the Hebrews to leave, is not indicative of his causing the same.

    As established at the start of this discussion, the final hardening by God was precursed by Pharoah hardening his own heart and this fits with the concept of human sovereignty. God gave us freedom of choice and holds us responsible for our exercise of it. If we reject revelation as Pharoah did, we can be given over to become reprobates..as he was.

    As to the death of the first born, the protection of the Passover was available to all.
    You believe in God the Bastard?
    Thing is, Martin54, so do you; any God you can possibly conceive of is worse than the Biblical one.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    edited November 2018
    But that good (the Exodus) could have been achieved with considerably less bloodshed and innocent deaths if he'd instead given Pharoah a nudge when he was minded to let the Israelites leave. Instead the narrative seems to be God wanting a big drama to show how big he is.

    God doesn't come across well in this drama.

    I mean, sheesh, you can accuse me of Marcionism if you like but I've been identifying as Christian for over thirty years and never heard anything that begins to find a way to make it possible to come to any acceptance of this stuff. I'm forced to conclude that either (a) the writers got it wrong, or (b) I'm trapped in a reality with a terrible God whom I cannot escape even in death but with whom I desire no contact but whose alternative option for me is Hell. If I go with option a worst case scenario is I live in baseless optimism. If I go with option b then I think I might actually go insane.

    It's not just the Pharoah incident. It's the flood, the conquest of Canaan, Elijah's religiously inspired (and God approved) murder of the priests of Baal, it's the OT Law with its prescriptions of death, it's Achan and his whole household being killed. It's all this divinely ordered evil.
  • Well since someone bought it up, the story we have of Judas doesn't sound much like the God of grace either.

    Nor the story of Ananias and Sophia.

    It seems to me that the troubling picture we have of the deity is not solely in the OT.
  • magnilomagnilo Shipmate
    edited November 2018
    Gee D wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    Well, yes, and that's what comes out in the conclusion. You want "God did X" to mean "God didn't do anything to prevent X".

    Is that not what you're saying in your post at 8.56 am - God did not stop Pharaoh's heart hardening. The trouble with that is that the text says that God took positive action, he hardened Pharaoh's heart, and not that he did nothing to stop this. I have very little Greek and no Hebrew or Aramaic at all, but all posts so far have proceeded on God's being active and not passive.

    But here’s the thing; it’s a mistake to conceive of God’s agency as just a very big and very good version of human agency. We are passive and completely uninvolved in the vast, vast majority of events by dint of our human limitation.

    Not so with God; he is - in a sense - involved in every single event as it happens because he’s God and we live, move and have our being in him.

    I wonder, perhaps, if this is why our sinful conduct is such a very grave offence against him, even when he isn’t the direct object or victim of our conduct.

    God, by virtue of who he is and how he relates to time and creation, is implicated in the sinful conduct of humanity simply because humanity lives, moves and has its being in him. This is a very grave offence on our part.

    Human sin implicates God in all kinds of horrific evil, and for this he has every right to judge and punish us. However, mercy triumphs over judgement, which means that the ultimate solution to this problem is the mercy of God, not his wrath.

    But that doesn’t mean that God is in any way obliged to be merciful; because if there were any obligation in God’s mercy it wouldn’t be mercy, because it would be something that we can demand and presume upon.

    So, if Pharoah’s evil conduct towards the Israelites was implicating God in injustice, God is perfectly within his rights to be either wrathful or merciful to Pharoah. In this case God appears to have chosen not to have mercy on Pharoah, thereby hardening his heart and piggybacking his sin in order to bring about his will.
  • magnilo wrote: »
    Gee D wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    Well, yes, and that's what comes out in the conclusion. You want "God did X" to mean "God didn't do anything to prevent X".

    Is that not what you're saying in your post at 8.56 am - God did not stop Pharaoh's heart hardening. The trouble with that is that the text says that God took positive action, he hardened Pharaoh's heart, and not that he did nothing to stop this. I have very little Greek and no Hebrew or Aramaic at all, but all posts so far have proceeded on God's being active and not passive.

    But here’s the thing; it’s a mistake to conceive of God’s agency as just a very big and very good version of human agency. We are passive and completely uninvolved in the vast, vast majority of events by dint of our human limitation.

    Not so with God; he is - in a sense - involved in every single event as it happens because he’s God and we live, move and have our being in him.

    I wonder, perhaps, if this is why our sinful conduct is such a very grave offence against him, even when he isn’t the direct object or victim of our conduct.

    God, by virtue of who he is and how he relates to time and creation, is implicated in the sinful conduct of humanity simply because humanity lives, moves and has its being in him. Human sin implicates God in all kinds of horrific evil, and for this he has every right to judge and punish us. However, mercy triumphs over judgement, which means that the ultimate solution to this problem is the mercy of God, not his wrath. But that doesn’t mean that God is in any obliged to be merciful; if there were any obligation in God’s mercy it wouldn’t be mercy, because it would be something that we can demand and presume upon.

    So, if Pharoah’s evil conduct towards the Israelites was implicating God in injustice, God is perfectly within his rights to be either wrathful or merciful to Pharoah. In this case God appears to have chosen not to have mercy on Pharoah, thereby hardening his heart and piggybacking his sin in order to bring about his will.

    Including the death of all the first born of Egypt. I suppose the evil of human sin means God has every right to take them out, the bastards.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    Well since someone bought it up, the story we have of Judas doesn't sound much like the God of grace either.

    Nor the story of Ananias and Sophia.

    It seems to me that the troubling picture we have of the deity is not solely in the OT.

    Indeed. Which is why my alleged heresy isn't the cut and dried OT/NT Marcion version.
  • magnilo wrote: »
    Gee D wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    Well, yes, and that's what comes out in the conclusion. You want "God did X" to mean "God didn't do anything to prevent X".

    Is that not what you're saying in your post at 8.56 am - God did not stop Pharaoh's heart hardening. The trouble with that is that the text says that God took positive action, he hardened Pharaoh's heart, and not that he did nothing to stop this. I have very little Greek and no Hebrew or Aramaic at all, but all posts so far have proceeded on God's being active and not passive.

    But here’s the thing; it’s a mistake to conceive of God’s agency as just a very big and very good version of human agency. We are passive and completely uninvolved in the vast, vast majority of events by dint of our human limitation.

    Not so with God; he is - in a sense - involved in every single event as it happens because he’s God and we live, move and have our being in him.

    I wonder, perhaps, if this is why our sinful conduct is such a very grave offence against him, even when he isn’t the direct object or victim of our conduct.

    God, by virtue of who he is and how he relates to time and creation, is implicated in the sinful conduct of humanity simply because humanity lives, moves and has its being in him. This is a very grave offence on our part.

    Human sin implicates God in all kinds of horrific evil, and for this he has every right to judge and punish us. However, mercy triumphs over judgement, which means that the ultimate solution to this problem is the mercy of God, not his wrath.

    But that doesn’t mean that God is in any way obliged to be merciful; because if there were any obligation in God’s mercy it wouldn’t be mercy, because it would be something that we can demand and presume upon.

    So, if Pharoah’s evil conduct towards the Israelites was implicating God in injustice, God is perfectly within his rights to be either wrathful or merciful to Pharoah. In this case God appears to have chosen not to have mercy on Pharoah, thereby hardening his heart and piggybacking his sin in order to bring about his will.

    Yeah. But that's not good enough for some of us.

    It boils down to "it must be good because God did it, and if we don't see it as good it is because we don't see the full picture."

    Which requires a level of mental gymnastics that I'm not prepared to attempt.
  • magnilomagnilo Shipmate
    edited November 2018
    KarlLB wrote: »
    magnilo wrote: »
    Gee D wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    Well, yes, and that's what comes out in the conclusion. You want "God did X" to mean "God didn't do anything to prevent X".

    Is that not what you're saying in your post at 8.56 am - God did not stop Pharaoh's heart hardening. The trouble with that is that the text says that God took positive action, he hardened Pharaoh's heart, and not that he did nothing to stop this. I have very little Greek and no Hebrew or Aramaic at all, but all posts so far have proceeded on God's being active and not passive.

    But here’s the thing; it’s a mistake to conceive of God’s agency as just a very big and very good version of human agency. We are passive and completely uninvolved in the vast, vast majority of events by dint of our human limitation.

    Not so with God; he is - in a sense - involved in every single event as it happens because he’s God and we live, move and have our being in him.

    I wonder, perhaps, if this is why our sinful conduct is such a very grave offence against him, even when he isn’t the direct object or victim of our conduct.

    God, by virtue of who he is and how he relates to time and creation, is implicated in the sinful conduct of humanity simply because humanity lives, moves and has its being in him. Human sin implicates God in all kinds of horrific evil, and for this he has every right to judge and punish us. However, mercy triumphs over judgement, which means that the ultimate solution to this problem is the mercy of God, not his wrath. But that doesn’t mean that God is in any obliged to be merciful; if there were any obligation in God’s mercy it wouldn’t be mercy, because it would be something that we can demand and presume upon.

    So, if Pharoah’s evil conduct towards the Israelites was implicating God in injustice, God is perfectly within his rights to be either wrathful or merciful to Pharoah. In this case God appears to have chosen not to have mercy on Pharoah, thereby hardening his heart and piggybacking his sin in order to bring about his will.

    Including the death of all the first born of Egypt. I suppose the evil of human sin means God has every right to take them out, the bastards.

    Hold your horses! We’re talking about the hardening of Pharoah’s heart; God’s direct dealings with an evil despot.

    The death of the firstborn is a separate but related issue, which is perhaps even more challenging. But we shouldn’t automatically conflate the two.
  • KarlLB wrote: »
    mr cheesy wrote: »
    Well since someone bought it up, the story we have of Judas doesn't sound much like the God of grace either.

    Nor the story of Ananias and Sophia.

    It seems to me that the troubling picture we have of the deity is not solely in the OT.

    Indeed. Which is why my alleged heresy isn't the cut and dried OT/NT Marcion version.

    True. But in fairness I didn’t actually make allegations of heresy and I’ve been given a convincing explanation of the difference between marcionism and your approach upthread. That having been said, I agree that the alleged (that word again) differences between the god of the OT and the one described in the NT have been somewhat exaggerated. Which is understandably problematic for some.
  • magnilomagnilo Shipmate
    edited November 2018
    mr cheesy wrote: »
    magnilo wrote: »
    Gee D wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    Well, yes, and that's what comes out in the conclusion. You want "God did X" to mean "God didn't do anything to prevent X".

    Is that not what you're saying in your post at 8.56 am - God did not stop Pharaoh's heart hardening. The trouble with that is that the text says that God took positive action, he hardened Pharaoh's heart, and not that he did nothing to stop this. I have very little Greek and no Hebrew or Aramaic at all, but all posts so far have proceeded on God's being active and not passive.

    But here’s the thing; it’s a mistake to conceive of God’s agency as just a very big and very good version of human agency. We are passive and completely uninvolved in the vast, vast majority of events by dint of our human limitation.

    Not so with God; he is - in a sense - involved in every single event as it happens because he’s God and we live, move and have our being in him.

    I wonder, perhaps, if this is why our sinful conduct is such a very grave offence against him, even when he isn’t the direct object or victim of our conduct.

    God, by virtue of who he is and how he relates to time and creation, is implicated in the sinful conduct of humanity simply because humanity lives, moves and has its being in him. This is a very grave offence on our part.

    Human sin implicates God in all kinds of horrific evil, and for this he has every right to judge and punish us. However, mercy triumphs over judgement, which means that the ultimate solution to this problem is the mercy of God, not his wrath.

    But that doesn’t mean that God is in any way obliged to be merciful; because if there were any obligation in God’s mercy it wouldn’t be mercy, because it would be something that we can demand and presume upon.

    So, if Pharoah’s evil conduct towards the Israelites was implicating God in injustice, God is perfectly within his rights to be either wrathful or merciful to Pharoah. In this case God appears to have chosen not to have mercy on Pharoah, thereby hardening his heart and piggybacking his sin in order to bring about his will.

    Yeah. But that's not good enough for some of us.
    Speak for yourself. It’s all too easy for threads like this to become an “us and him” situation.
    It boils down to "it must be good because God did it, and if we don't see it as good it is because we don't see the full picture."
    I’m struggling to see how this is a response to what I was actually saying.

    It’s certainly one possible (and in my view ill considered) response to what I’ve said upthread, but not the one you’ve quoted above.

    To be honest, on the strength of what you’ve said this far I think it’s possible that you haven’t understood my point.

    Which is fine, but not particularly conducive to a reasonable and productive debate.

  • magnilo wrote: »
    mr cheesy wrote: »
    magnilo wrote: »
    Gee D wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    Well, yes, and that's what comes out in the conclusion. You want "God did X" to mean "God didn't do anything to prevent X".

    Is that not what you're saying in your post at 8.56 am - God did not stop Pharaoh's heart hardening. The trouble with that is that the text says that God took positive action, he hardened Pharaoh's heart, and not that he did nothing to stop this. I have very little Greek and no Hebrew or Aramaic at all, but all posts so far have proceeded on God's being active and not passive.

    But here’s the thing; it’s a mistake to conceive of God’s agency as just a very big and very good version of human agency. We are passive and completely uninvolved in the vast, vast majority of events by dint of our human limitation.

    Not so with God; he is - in a sense - involved in every single event as it happens because he’s God and we live, move and have our being in him.

    I wonder, perhaps, if this is why our sinful conduct is such a very grave offence against him, even when he isn’t the direct object or victim of our conduct.

    God, by virtue of who he is and how he relates to time and creation, is implicated in the sinful conduct of humanity simply because humanity lives, moves and has its being in him. This is a very grave offence on our part.

    Human sin implicates God in all kinds of horrific evil, and for this he has every right to judge and punish us. However, mercy triumphs over judgement, which means that the ultimate solution to this problem is the mercy of God, not his wrath.

    But that doesn’t mean that God is in any way obliged to be merciful; because if there were any obligation in God’s mercy it wouldn’t be mercy, because it would be something that we can demand and presume upon.

    So, if Pharoah’s evil conduct towards the Israelites was implicating God in injustice, God is perfectly within his rights to be either wrathful or merciful to Pharoah. In this case God appears to have chosen not to have mercy on Pharoah, thereby hardening his heart and piggybacking his sin in order to bring about his will.

    Yeah. But that's not good enough for some of us.
    Speak for yourself. It’s all too easy for threads like this to become an “us and him” situation.

    I am speaking for myself. If you didn't see that strongly implied in what I wrote, then I suggest you are not looking very hard.
    It boils down to "it must be good because God did it, and if we don't see it as good it is because we don't see the full picture."
    I’m struggling to see how this is a response to what I was actually saying.

    It’s certainly one possible (and in my view ill considered) response to what I’ve said upthread, but not the one you’ve quoted above.

    To be honest, on the strength of what you’ve said this far I think it’s possible that you haven’t understood my point.

    Which is fine, but not particularly conducive to a reasonable and productive debate.

    I see. God is the way you say because you say so.

    And anyone who says anything different is not being reasonable or productive. I understand.
  • The thing is this problem of positive influence.

    If a person drives a car into a crowd, that's obviously bad. But if we heard that a hypnotist had been able to influence the driver to cause the incident, we wouldn't shrug and say that the driver was responsible because he was driving the car.

    And your only response to that is that we can't use this reasoning because we are talking about God.

    I think we can use this reasoning. Because God is meant to be better than us. So if it would be wrong for a human to force someone else to do a bad thing, then it is wrong for God to do it.

    We don't need to make excuses for him. If this is what God is like then all bets are off; he has favourites, he changes rules depending on who is doing them, he is unreliable, he is untrustworthy and he asks people to do abominable things.

    That makes zero sense to me, hence I reject this picture of the deity.
  • magnilo wrote: »
    Not quite. I’m not saying that God was an entirely passive observer. I do believe that a definite divine plan was at work in the hardening of Pharoah’s heart but that the ways and means of God achieving that hardening are inscrutable and mysterious, rather straightforward and obvious.

    For my part, the problem is not how God hardened Pharaoh's heart but that He did it.

    I'll admit that I can understand how your interpretation can lead to the conclusion that God is not actively doing evil, merely allowing evil to happen. And if that helps you to reconcile God's Goodness with the Exodus narrative then all well and good. But for my part, I don't consider sins of omission to be significantly different from sins of commission.
  • magnilomagnilo Shipmate
    edited November 2018
    magnilo wrote: »
    Not quite. I’m not saying that God was an entirely passive observer. I do believe that a definite divine plan was at work in the hardening of Pharoah’s heart but that the ways and means of God achieving that hardening are inscrutable and mysterious, rather straightforward and obvious.

    For my part, the problem is not how God hardened Pharaoh's heart but that He did it.

    I'll admit that I can understand how your interpretation can lead to the conclusion that God is not actively doing evil, merely allowing evil to happen. And if that helps you to reconcile God's Goodness with the Exodus narrative then all well and good. But for my part, I don't consider sins of omission to be significantly different from sins of commission.
    Well it depends on what you imagine God omitting and commiting. God has the right to be merciful, and he has the right not to be merciful. Both are righteous.

    I’m saying that God’s decision to withhold the mercy of repentance from a determined despot is a perfectly legitimate and righteous way for God to behave: he omitted mercy.

    God didn’t do something evil, he abandoned Pharoah to the inevitable consequences of his own evil by not showing him mercy.

    This is what I think the Apostle Paul is getting at when he uses Pharoah as an example of Israel’s hardness towards the gospel of Christ.
    14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means!
    15 For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion."
    16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
    17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."
    18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. - Romans 9:14-18

    I’m saying that “mercy” and “hardening” are not two separate, categorically different divine acts. I’m saying that God’s mercy effects the softening of human hearts, and that the withholding of God’s mercy (which is a perfectly just act on God’s part) effects the hardening of human hearts.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    magnilo wrote: »
    mr cheesy wrote: »
    magnilo wrote: »
    Gee D wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    Well, yes, and that's what comes out in the conclusion. You want "God did X" to mean "God didn't do anything to prevent X".

    Is that not what you're saying in your post at 8.56 am - God did not stop Pharaoh's heart hardening. The trouble with that is that the text says that God took positive action, he hardened Pharaoh's heart, and not that he did nothing to stop this. I have very little Greek and no Hebrew or Aramaic at all, but all posts so far have proceeded on God's being active and not passive.

    But here’s the thing; it’s a mistake to conceive of God’s agency as just a very big and very good version of human agency. We are passive and completely uninvolved in the vast, vast majority of events by dint of our human limitation.

    Not so with God; he is - in a sense - involved in every single event as it happens because he’s God and we live, move and have our being in him.

    I wonder, perhaps, if this is why our sinful conduct is such a very grave offence against him, even when he isn’t the direct object or victim of our conduct.

    God, by virtue of who he is and how he relates to time and creation, is implicated in the sinful conduct of humanity simply because humanity lives, moves and has its being in him. This is a very grave offence on our part.

    Human sin implicates God in all kinds of horrific evil, and for this he has every right to judge and punish us. However, mercy triumphs over judgement, which means that the ultimate solution to this problem is the mercy of God, not his wrath.

    But that doesn’t mean that God is in any way obliged to be merciful; because if there were any obligation in God’s mercy it wouldn’t be mercy, because it would be something that we can demand and presume upon.

    So, if Pharoah’s evil conduct towards the Israelites was implicating God in injustice, God is perfectly within his rights to be either wrathful or merciful to Pharoah. In this case God appears to have chosen not to have mercy on Pharoah, thereby hardening his heart and piggybacking his sin in order to bring about his will.

    Yeah. But that's not good enough for some of us.
    Speak for yourself. It’s all too easy for threads like this to become an “us and him” situation.

    I am speaking for myself. If you didn't see that strongly implied in what I wrote, then I suggest you are not looking very hard.
    It boils down to "it must be good because God did it, and if we don't see it as good it is because we don't see the full picture."
    I’m struggling to see how this is a response to what I was actually saying.

    It’s certainly one possible (and in my view ill considered) response to what I’ve said upthread, but not the one you’ve quoted above.

    To be honest, on the strength of what you’ve said this far I think it’s possible that you haven’t understood my point.

    Which is fine, but not particularly conducive to a reasonable and productive debate.

    I see. God is the way you say because you say so.

    No. I’m saying that you appear to have misunderstood what I’m saying about God.

  • magnilomagnilo Shipmate
    edited November 2018
    KarlLB wrote: »
    But that good (the Exodus) could have been achieved with considerably less bloodshed and innocent deaths if he'd instead given Pharoah a nudge when he was minded to let the Israelites leave. Instead the narrative seems to be God wanting a big drama to show how big he is.
    I believe that God does indeed prefer to ‘nudge’ people in the way you describe. I think that’s what it means for mercy to triumph over judgement. It’s what I believe lies behind the miracle of regeneration.
    God doesn't come across well in this drama.
    I agree, but he comes across a lot worse in certain interpretations of it. Not that that’s excuse to soft soap it.
    I mean, sheesh, you can accuse me of Marcionism if you like but I've been identifying as Christian for over thirty years and never heard anything that begins to find a way to make it possible to come to any acceptance of this stuff. I'm forced to conclude that either (a) the writers got it wrong, or (b) I'm trapped in a reality with a terrible God whom I cannot escape even in death but with whom I desire no contact but whose alternative option for me is Hell. If I go with option a worst case scenario is I live in baseless optimism. If I go with option b then I think I might actually go insane.
    Why would you want to avoid a God whose desire to be merciful triumphs over his right to judge?
    It's not just the Pharoah incident. It's the flood, the conquest of Canaan, Elijah's religiously inspired (and God approved) murder of the priests of Baal, it's the OT Law with its prescriptions of death, it's Achan and his whole household being killed. It's all this divinely ordered evil.
    I simply don’t know, but I’m not going to give up trying to find out.
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