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Eric Nguyen wrote:

Hi, guys —

Scripture states:

Exodus 4 [21] And the Lord said to Moses, "When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.

Exodus 7 [3] but I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. [14] Then the Lord said to Moses, "Pharaoh's heart is hardened, he refuses to let the people go.

Exodus 9 [12] But the Lord hardened the heart of pharaoh, and he did not listen to them; as the Lord had spoken to Moses.

In the above passages from Exodus, the Lord has hardened the Pharaoh's heart. However, it would seem that God is not the cause of the hardness of his heart. Basically, God is good, and therefore, he would not harden anyone's heart so that they can commit evil.

  • Is this true or false?

St. Augustine says that God does not cause the human being to become worse.
St. Thomas Aquinas says that God is the cause of the hardness of the heart.

  • Well, who's right?

Both of these people are saints and Doctors of the Church. Both are highly regarded to be geniuses in the theology.

Please help,

I'm really curious.


  { Why do St. Augustine and St. Thomas disagree on whether God hardens people's hearts? }

Paul replied:

Hello Eric,

I admit the passages you speak of are a bit perplexing; but is it not possible that both Augustine and Aquinas are correct?

  • Could God not have hardened the pharaoh's heart as a response to the stubbornness freely chosen by the pharaoh?

A more philosophical look at this could see God is the First Cause of all things. We, as secondary causes, freely act as extensions of the First Cause. So whenever we do anything, we could say that God is the Ultimate Cause of it occurring; yet it is our fault if we choose not to cooperate as a secondary cause with God's will.

There is a mystery here that has the First Cause and human free will working simultaneously, creating what is known as God's positive will (when we cooperate with Him) and God's permissive will (when we don't).

Regardless, in the bigger picture, that only can God, in His eternal perspective can see, He will bring about a greater good from all of it.


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