Theology Corner

Addressing commonly asked questions about Christianity from the perspective of a non-theologian

53. DID GOD HARDEN PHARAOH'S HEART?

In Ex 9:12, we read: “And the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart…”  Does this verse mean God may cause people to sin?  Does it mean God is sometimes the author of evil?  This verse is not a problem for Calvinists who believe that God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass.  The Calvinist believes God is the author of everything including all the sin of mankind and the pervasive evil which permeates the very structure of the universe; God decrees corruption, violence, disease, injury, disability, suffering and all kinds of evil for reasons known only to Himself.  The Traditional Southern Baptist, Wesleyan/Arminian rejects this belief and asserts the contrary position that corrupt and rebellious angels and humans, under the leadership of Satan, are the first-cause agents of all existing evil including that evil in the soul of man called sin.

An informal paradigm of Scriptural exegesis is text out of context is a pretext.  The text in Ex 9:12 must be interpreted in the context of Scripture taken as a whole.

God twice predicts He will harden Pharaoh’s heart (Ex 4:21, 7:3).  However, most of God’s prophecies, including this one, have a suppressed unless you repent attached to them.  The pharaoh began the whole process by hardening his own heart ten times during the first five plagues (Ex 7:13, 14, 22; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 34, 35; 13:15).  God is not the author of evil or sin.  There is no suggestion that He violated the freedom of Pharaoh’s will or that He manipulated Pharaoh to achieve vengeance.

In Jam 1:13-15, we read: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.  But each one is carried away and enticed by his own lust.  Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”