If God Were Arminian…

Arminians (and many like-minded believers) insist that God only does to us what we do first. I find that problematic for many reasons, not the least of which is that the Bible tells us explicitly that we love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19), and Jesus said that His disciples (and surely us, by extension) didn’t choose Him, but He chose us (John 15:16).

But how about the classic case study of Pharaoh’s heart? Arminian-minded believers insist God did to Pharaoh what Pharaoh did first. Is this true? Did God merely act in accordance to what Pharaoh did first?

Let’s test this idea. Here’s what an Arminian-minded believer would expect to see in the Exodus narrative of chapters 1-12:

  • God tells Moses to warn Pharaoh to let His people go.
    Response: Nobody, including God, wants the harsh punishment that will follow if Pharaoh doesn’t comply. God would not devise a plan so that Pharaoh would disobey.
  • Pharaoh rejects Moses and is the first to harden his heart.
    Response: God grudgingly, sorrowfully complies and hardens Pharaoh’s heart in response to Pharaoh first hardening his heart.
  • Pharaoh repents.
    Response: God and Moses do a victory lap, excitedly crossing their fingers in hopes that the repentance will stick and Pharaoh will continue down the path of repentance. Since God does what Pharaoh does, God softens Pharaoh’s heart even further.
  • Pharaoh hardens his heart yet again.
    Response: God and Moses are utterly devastated, and God has to sorrowfully go about the task of hardening Pharaoh’s heart.
  • Pharaoh hardens his heart yet again.
    Response: God has to do the painful task of killing Pharaoh’s firstborn. He and all Israel weep when He has to destroy Pharaoh’s army.

If you’re like me, you see a huge problem with this narrative.

Note that each action item above (in bold type) is what we read in Exodus. The response (in italics) is what we would expect to see of God and Moses if God were indeed in the image that Arminian-minded people cast Him. Yet not only does God not behave this way, His actions, as recorded in Exodus, are the exact opposite of what an Arminian-minded believer would expect.

  • God’s plan was to see to it that Pharaoh would disobey (Exod 4:21-23)
  • God never shows any regret about having to destroy Pharaoh, his servants, his livestock or offspring.
  • God never shows excitement at Pharaoh’s repentance. In fact, when Pharaoh repents, He further hardens Pharaoh’s heart – exactly the opposite of what an Arminian says God would do.
  • God never shows dismay when Pharaoh continues to harden his heart.

Shouldn’t we then conclude that God doesn’t think or act the way an Arminian-minded person would think?

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

2 comments to If God Were Arminian…

  • Exodus 4:21. And the Lord said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.

    Romans 9:14-18. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. 17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

    Yep, poor ol Pharaoh…who could have repented and kept God’s purpose for raising him up from happening. Or not. God had a purpose for raising up Pharaoh and hardening his heart, and God”s decreed purpose can never be defeated. Such is the soverign God of the bible. So how many Arminians (and etc) will recognize, exult, submit to, and worship the God of the bible?

  • For whatever reason, after recently reading Exodus, my thoughts came back to this blog from about 2 years prior. What struck me were the string of verses (below) from the book of Exodus, the whole “hardening” topic, and how it was God that did all of the hardening. The hardening topic is not isolated to Exodus, Isaiah 6 comes to mind as just one example, so why is it such an uncomfortable topic with some? Back to Exodus…

    Exodus 4:21-23 makes it unquestionably clear that God was going to harden Pharaoh’s heart, with no apologies, and for a specific reason – so that he would NOT let God’s people go until God was done with ruthlessly (sounds harsh, but it’s accurate) using him to accomplish his purpose. God not only stated that he was going to harden Pharaoh’s heart, but he also alluded to what he would do with the 10th plague – “kill your firstborn son” as stated in V.23. God knew exactly what He was going to do way ahead of time, and what the outcome would be, for the purpose that’s specified later in the book. Unless God was going to harden through the first 9 plagues, no chance He could have made that proclamation. The next flurry of verses referenced below (7:1-5) reinforces this fact. Then come verses 14-16, WOW. God keeps repeating Himself (this often happens in scripture when God knows that opposition will come against the text) for why he’s doing what he’s doing. God made it clear that He could have simply destroyed Pharaoh and crew quickly, but no, God had bigger plans with a greater purpose. The scripture says it all, “5 For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. 16 But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” Verse 16, of course, is the verse quoted by Paul in Romans 9 as part of proclaiming God’s sovereignty over all, including using others through hardening their hearts. Paul elaborates a few verses later by saying (a literal rendering of the Greek) “whom He wishes he mercies, whom He wishes He hardens”. God had a purpose for hardening Pharaoh including the exodus, the passover, and the framing of Christ. And, there was nothing Pharaoh could do to change God’s purpose. The other verses below all reinforce the irreversible path and purpose set forth by God. Verse 9 repeats God’s purpose again and reads: “Pharaoh will not listen to you, that MY WONDERS MAY BE MULTIPLIED in the land of Egypt.” Still, there are those who attempt to do unending violence to the language in these scriptures to protect a flawed system of beliefs regarding who God is and the attributes he holds. I have to ask “why”? To briefly digress, even though there are more verses in the bible that deal with God’s wrath, anger and hate (search and see) compared to those that deal with his love, mercy and grace, many people refuse to acknowledge those attributes that define how God defines Himself. The God of the bible must be defined by “the bible”, not what we like about the bible. So why do some refuse to acknowledge the God of the bible for who he is? If they refuse to do so, are they worshiping a false god, a god made in their own image?

    Ex 4: 21-23
    And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.’”

    Ex 7: 1-5
    And the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. 2 You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land. 3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, 4 Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. 5 The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.”

    Ex 9: 13-16
    Then the Lord said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 14 For this time I will send all my plagues on you yourself, and on your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth. 15 For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. 16 But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.

    EX 11:1
    The Lord said to Moses, “Yet one plague more I will bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will drive you away completely.

    Ex 11:4-6
    “Thus says the Lord: About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt, 5 and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle. 6 There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again.

    Ex 11:9
    Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” 10 Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh, and the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go out of his land.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




Let\'s see if you\'re really a human: *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.