There are few things that I am REALLY loving about 2nd semester senior year other than the fact that graduation is just on the horizon. However I did happen to love last week but for a slightly odd reason. My faith got bashed...and hard! My feisty 70-something year old professor is opinionated about anything and everything. Especially Christians. The truth is this guy is very smart and very little slips by him. Unfortunately he is convinced of a few things about Christians and most of those things are four letter words that probably shouldn't be typed here. Ha!
So anywho...last Wednesday he got into a rant about Christians, their blind faith and then threw a few Bible verses around used entirely out of context. I'm getting pretty pissed also when I realize how off this guy is. The main verses he pulled out were Exodus 9:12 and Ezekiel 4:12. If you don't know them the first one might indicate to you (out of context) that God plays favorites, bullies Egyptians and hardens Pharaoh's heart so he can puppeteer him around. The second verse (again out of context) might lead you to believe that God commanded a willing follower of him to consume human excrement. Gag!!
I'm not a scholar and don't claim to be but I wanted to share the email I wrote him, followed up by some sweet hang out time during his office hours. Hopefully it might serve as an encouragement to someone who feels like they need to "prove" their faith to another or anyone doubting some hard verses. We are called to be able to give answers to those who seek and be a light in the darkness. I can't think of many places more dark than a liberal college campus, but what an honor to defend the gospel there and see the Lord show up!
I wanted to write you a quick email to give you my own thoughts in response to a few of your remarks last Wednesday.
You briefly mentioned an Old Testament reference; I think you were referring to Exodus 9:12 though there are a few other verses that make mention of the Lord hardening Pharaoh's heart. There are a few preceding verses that say Pharaoh hardened his own heart and already had an intent and will to hold the Israelis captive (Exodus 8:15 for example). In light of this I just wanted to point out that the Hebrew word "Chazaq" used in these verses translates in English to mean to embolden or encourage so he had stubborn courage to stand even in the face of frightening miracles. He simply became stiff-necked and stubborn as was the general direction of his heart intent. Basically God emboldened what was already in Pharaoh's heart and simply helped him to accomplish what he was already determined in his own will to do.
Also I wanted to point out that there is a lot of controversy over the verse you pointed out about Ezekiel being commanded to eat his own feces. Ezekiel 4:12 is the exact reference. The NIV, and many other versions, translates the verse as:
"Eat the food as you would a loaf of barley bread; bake it in the sight of the people, using human excrement for fuel."
Using human feces as fuel for the fire is very different than being commanded to consume human excrement. Certainly translations and scholarly opinions differ but I wanted to give you another way to look at that verse.
I want you to know as a Christian I was not offended by anything that you said but rather grateful for your challenge to know my faith more deeply and be able to offer up explanations beyond blind faith. I look forward to more of your classes and hopefully seeing you in person during your office hours.
But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.