Monday, December 19, 2022

It’s Iimi! God and Pharaoh

When Lilavati has some questions about Christianity, Rick hijacks the discussion by accusing God of doing evil to Pharaoh by hardening his heart. Does he have a valid point? Or has he missed the point about the battle between... God and Pharaoh 

The close-up of the meanings for the Hebrew:

Post-Comic Notes: This is more of a technical detail. I mentioned in the comic (page 9) that Iimi leans towards Molinism. This is one of the orthodox schools of thought on free will and salvation. The other is Thomism. Molinism tries to balance God’s grace as being essential contrary to Pelagianism. At the same time, it recognizes unimpaired free will as why people resist grace. In contrast, Thomism uses concepts of efficacious grace. Molinism tends to be weaker in explaining the role of God’s grace. Thomism tends to be weaker in explaining free will. The Catholic Church has not taken a side on this debate. In fact, it forbade people to condemn either of them being in error.


Molinism was an answer to the Protestant denial of free will. Briefly, men like Luther and Calvin believed that giving weight to free will would mean that men saved themselves. But (as Iimi pointed out in It’s Iimi! A Dialogue on Misconceptions) by free will, we can lower ourselves into a hole that we can’t get out of on our own. If we accept the lifeline God throws us (grace), we did not save ourselves.


The reader should be aware that the term is also used in Protestantism as a counter to Calvinism. Calvinist based Protestantism condemns it as a heresy. Not being a Protestant, I won’t address their dispute. But it has differences from the Catholic concept. So, be aware of that.


Iimi, being Catholic with a Molinist outlook, takes a view of Pharaoh being to blame for his own predicament. Some Protestant denominations do hold that God actively blocked Pharaoh from repenting. I think that fits into their concept of “double predestination” (God predestines some for salvation and some for damnation). The Catholic Church rejects that view, and I think the double predestination position is harder to defend against scandalized non-Christians who think it makes God a “monster.” As we see, this is part of Rick’s atheism. 


Of course, no human can know the mind of God or be His counselor (see Isaiah 40:13). Nothing in this comic should be seen as disagreeing with Catholic teaching that we absolutely need God’s grace to be saved and that we are to blame for our own fall, while accepting Church teaching that culpability can vary depending on the conditions of the individual sinner.

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