fredag 18 december 2015

Against Ray Ryland (and Calvin) : How God Revealed Exodus and Other Parts of Holy Writ, and What Hardening of Pharao's Heart Meant

Ray Ryland is supposed to be a Catholic priest (I don't known if he was ordained before or after new pontifical of Montini*, nor if this is certain to make ordinations invalid) and he is certainly in good standing with some bishop (or sham bishop, see previous aside) who is in good standing with Bergoglio*. He has produced a book of Apologetics. In itself this is a laudable thing.

Ray Ryland: Catholic Q&A: Essentials of the Faith Explained Kindle Edition

Below quotes are from a preview, but here is first one from the description, on Amazon:

This is a compilation of Fr. Ryland's column that appeared from 2004 through 2014 in The Catholic Answer magazine, published by Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, IN 46750. The 676 questions came from Catholics, Protestants, and non-Christians who wanted a better understanding of the Catholic faith.

Compilations are good - I encourage paper publishing compilations of my blogs. But they are good if the texts are good.

A certain topic on which Father Ryland is misleading rather than good (perhaps there aren't many of them) is the inerrancy of Old Testament. The below quotes, as said, have been copied by eye and hand after reading them in the preview. I will comment on each.

The ancient Hebrew people apparently considered that that had only one way to avoid being corrupted spiritually and morally by the peoples surrounding them. That was to destroy these peoples. So in their warfare they were striving for a good end -- to be faithful witnesses to God's revelation -- but by tragically erroneous means. Only gradually did God bring them to realize ("zic"!) that they should seek to convert, and not to destroy, their spiritual enemies.

In Holy Writ we are not told of what the ancient Hebrew people "apparently considered", but what it was commanded to do by God.

Another example of the Hebrew people's gradual embrace of God's truth is in marriage practise. We know that from the beginning of the human race God intended a monogamous, lifelong union of those called to marriage. Yet for a long time the ancient Hebrews practised polygamy. It was not until about the eighth century before Christ that monogamous marriage finally became the norm for the Hebrew people.

God had dispensations, and those who used the dispensation allowing (though not commanding) polygamy were back then not sinning.

Jesus Christ RESTORED marriage to its pristine dignity, he did not just reaffirm sth forgotten and neglected.

Also, what the standard of marriage was in OT times, monogamous or polygamous, we do not know from Holy Bible, though we are told of polygamous people (King David, King Solomon). We do not know how typical or exceptional they were in being at all polygamous. Of course they werre exceptionally polygamous even for being polygamous, these two, but we do not know how usual it was to have two wives and how usual it was to have only one. We are not given statistics. Indeed, statistics are forbidden in one passage.

Of the patriarchs, Abraham had three wives (if you count Hagar as in a way one), of which the third was only after he was a widower, Isaac one, Jacob two or four (depending on whether the servants of Rachel and Lea count as wives), Judah at least two, of which the second had been legally but not fulfilledly the wife of two of his sons, Joseph one wife (who may have been his niece and only adopted by Potiphar), Lot was intentionally monogamous and accidentally trigamous, incestuously so, of which not he, but only his misguided daughters have the blame. I think these are the only men of whom we know how many wives they had and we know there were way more. Abraham at one point had 318 men (and gematria has been done whether this refers to TIH (Cross of IHCOYC) or to Eliezer, both of which add up to 318), and Jacob in Egypt had about seventy people around him.

So, even back when stats of monogamy, bigamy and polygamy would have been feasible, they are not given.

The polygamy, though in law tolerated, may have been back then more like a royal and nobility privilege.

The Old Testament consistently ascribes directly to God everything that happens -- even at times human sin, as in the hardening of the Pharaoh's heart (see Ex 7:3-5). I believe that in the process of unfolding revelation, this was the sacred writers' best understanding of God's providence at that time.

Is this really what Ryland makes of Biblical inerrancy?

It is preposterous!

Holy Text:
Exodus 7:3 But I shall harden his heart, and shall multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt.

4 And he will not hear you: and I will lay my hand upon Egypt, and will bring forth my army and my people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt, by very great judgments.

5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, who have stretched forth my hand upon Egypt, and have brought forth the children of Israel out of the midst of them.

Own first note:
The sacred writer, in all probability (or certainty of faith, by tradition) Moses himself, is here testifying as to what God Himself told Moses!

Whatever God harding Pharao's heart may mean, it is certainly not an "incorrect but best available guess" from a writer who had not spoken to God himself.

Now to what God can really have meant, and here I let the Church speak:

Haydock comment:
Ver. 3. I shall harden, &c.; not by being the efficient cause of his hardness of heart, but by permitting it; and by withdrawing grace from him, in punishment of his malice; which alone was the proper cause of his being hardened. (Challoner - an English Catholic bishop, quoted by Haydock)

He took occasion even from the miracles to become more obdurate. (Haydock - compiler of the Haydock comment, but also author of some remarks himself)

Yet Pharao was less impious than Calvin, for he takes the sin to himself, chap. ix. 27. (Tirinus - Jacobus Tirinus (1580–1636) was a Belgian Jesuit Biblical scholar. His major work is the Commentarius in Sacram Scripturam, a Bible commentary in two volumes from 1645. Here quoted by Haydock)

Holy Text as cited by Tirinus
EXODUS - Chapter 9:27 And Pharao sent and called Moses and Aaron, saying to them: I have sinned this time also, the Lord is just: I and my people, are wicked.

And what was the reference to Calvin?
Calvin on Exodus 7:Verse 3

3.And I will harden. As the expression is somewhat harsh, many commentators, as I have before said, take pains to soften it. Hence it is that some take the words in connection, “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart by multiplying my signs;” as if God were pointing out the external cause of his obstinacy. But Moses has already declared, and will hereafter repeat it, that the king’s mind was hardened by God in other ways besides His working miracles. As to the meaning of the words, I have no doubt that, by the first clause, God armed the heart of His servant with firmness, to resist boldly the perversity of the tyrant; and then reminds him that he has the remedy in his hand. Thus, then, I think this passage must be translated, “I indeed will harden Pharaoh’s heart, but I will multiply my signs;” as though He had said, his hardness will be no obstacle to you, for the miracles will be sufficient to overcome it. In the same sense, He adds immediately afterwards, “Although Pharaoh should not hear you, still I will lay on my hand;” for thus, in my opinion, the conjunctions should be resolved adversatively I do not altogether reject the interpretation of others; “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that I may multiply my signs;” and, “He (78) will not hearken unto you, that I may lay on my hand.” And, in fact, God willed that Pharaoh should pertinaciously resist Moses, in order that the deliverance of the people might be more conspicuous. There is, however, no need of discussing at length the manner in which God hardens reprobates, as often as this expression occurs. Let us hold fast to what I have already observed, that they are but poor speculators who refer it to a mere bare permission; because if God, by blinding their minds, or hardening their hearts, inflicts deserved punishment upon the reprobate, He not only permits them to do what they themselves please, but actually executes a judgment which He knows to be just. Whence also it follows, that He not only withdraws the grace of His Spirit, but delivers to Satan those whom he knows to be deserving of blindness of mind and obstinacy of heart. Meanwhile, I admit that the blame of either evil rests with the men themselves, who willfully blind themselves, and with a willfulness which is like madness, are driven, or rather rush, into sin. I have also briefly shewn what foul calumniators are they, who for the sake of awakening ill-will against us, pretend that God is thus made to be the author of sin; since it would be an act of too great absurdity to estimate His secret and incomprehensible judgments by the little measure of our own apprehension. The opponents of this doctrine foolishly and inconsiderately mix together two different things, since the hardness of heart is the sin of man, but the hardening of the heart is the judgment of God. He again propounds in this place His great judgments, in order that the Israelites may expect with anxious and attentive minds His magnificent and wonderful mode of operation.

So, Pharao was LESS impious than Calvin
We have now seen how, insofar as Calvin says God himself MADE Pharao sin or MADE Satan take control of his actions, rather than permitted him to sin.

But it might seem Calvin was LESS impious than "Father" Ryland (I reserve Father for good Catholic priests), who actually denies the veracity of the text and denies these words were God's and also attributes to the Hebrew faithful back in those days a misunderstanding about the matter as gross as that of Calvin.

Pharao had already chosen what sin he was going to commit. God permitted him to be untroubled by grace and guardian angels about going ahead. This was indeed God judging Pharao, but not chosing for Pharao.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre University Library
Sts Rufus and Zosimus, Martyrs

* By those accepting them as Popes, Montini and Bergoglio are usually referred to as "Paul VI" and "Pope Francis".