Ben Shapiro is a journalist, political commentator, and by almost every standard, a very brilliant man. He is a well-educated and intelligent man. He is very bold and brave in that he is willing to publicly debate issues, and he is correct about many things. However, Ben Shapiro is a Jew, not just by blood, but he seems to believe in Jewish, religious thought.
This means that no matter how smart he is from a worldly perspective, no matter how many political ideas we might share with him, he is a man who hates the Lord Jesus. He has no peace with God (Romans 5:1), and he is an enemy of the Gospel (Romans 11:28).
At the tail end of one of his podcasts, Mr. Shapiro engaged in “biblical exegesis.”
In the link above, Mr. Shapiro attempts to provide a meaningful understanding of what it means that God “hardened Pharaoh’s heart.”
This debate comes up often in the church between Calvinists and Arminians. The specifics of the issues between those two sides cannot be mentioned here. However, what Mr. Shapiro offered as an explanation is a never-heard-of-before position. It makes no biblical sense grammatically or contextually, and it will serve as an important reminder as to how we as Christians ought to tread when indulging in political commentary, but more on that later.
Eisegesis is the opposite of exegesis. Exegesis is the process of letting the Text of Scripture determine a person’s theology.
Eisegesis is when a person’s theology determines the meaning of the text of Scripture. Typically, eisegesis is very religious. Particular religious presuppositions are forced upon the text into places they simply cannot fit. However, Shapiro demonstrates that politics can be eisegeted into the Bible as well.
Shapiro describes the process of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart as,
“God is providing Pharaoh the inner strength to carry out what Pharaoh actually wants to do so that he can see the logical consequences of his own policies.”
He made this statement after realizing that Pharaoh made really bad political decisions that hurt his ultimate plans. He mentions that Pharaoh did not follow up with his plan to practice abortion on Hebrew male children (Exodus 1:15-19). He also cites Pharaohs mistake of only increasing the labor of the Jews rather than perform a mass killing to keep them from rebelling (Exodus 1: 1-14). In light of these political decrees.
On a side note, at the risk of sounding like I am pr0-Pharaoh, Shapiro’s remarks do not seem to be fair. He did not understand why Pharaoh allowed the Hebrew midwives their excuse that they did not kill the male, Hebrew babies because the Hebrew women were giving birth so quickly they could not get to them. Shapiro wondered why Pharaoh would not just order the babies to be killed regardless. However, that is exactly what Pharaoh does in the very next verse!
Exodus 1: 19-22,
The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”
He then criticized Pharaoh for merely increasing the labor of the Jews in order to stifle rebellion, rather than perform a mass killing. This made more sense then the last, but still is not completely logical. I do not understand why a mass killing of servants is beneficial. The more slaves the better seems to be a reasonable ideal when it comes to erecting the monuments the Pharaoh’s did. If there were a way to have more slaves without fear of them fomenting insurrection, I do not see why that isn’t a reasonable goal to shoot for from a pagan dictator.
To the point, Shapiro is arguing that Pharaoh has some political policies he wants to legislate among the people of Egyot, but for some reason does not have the guts to carry them out. Thus, here comes YHWY to give him his motivation to carry out these bad policies, so that he may one day see just how silly they are.
This is not close to what the Bible means contextually.
Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, “Please let me go back to my brothers in Egypt to see whether they are still alive.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.” And the Lord said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead.” So Moses took his wife and his sons and had them ride on a donkey, and went back to the land of Egypt. And Moses took the staff of God in his hand. 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.”
And the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. 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. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, 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. 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.” Moses and Aaron did so; they did just as the Lord commanded them. Now Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron eighty-three years old, when they spoke to Pharaoh. Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Prove yourselves by working a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’” So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
The emphasis in both contexts is mine. The point I am making is hopefully obvious to all. The process of hardening Pharaoh’s heart is not, as Shapiro claims, a synergistic assistance by which God provides Pharaoh with strength to see perform his ideas in the hopes he would see the folly of his political policies when carried out to their logical conclusion, and thus providing conservatives the template for how to debate liberals.
The context is clear, this is a process by which God alone, monergistically, increases the hatred and foolishness of Pharaoh so much so that the clear evidence in front of him cannot compel his will to do what he ought to do.
God is acting on Pharaoh with the outcome that he will not release the Jewish people. This process would allow God to deliver them miraculously, rather than politically. And God’s miraculous redemption would glorify Him more and make his fame greater than Pharaoh suddenly becoming a wise a leader and being kind to the Jews.
Romans 9: 14-18,
What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
Paul makes the case crystal clear. The hardening of Pharaoh’s heart was a divine action upon the spirit of Pharaoh which played an indicative role in Pharaoh not letting the Jews go, even in light of the clear evidence of God’s desire for Him to do so via the miracles of Moses and Aaron. The evidence could not compel Pharaoh’s heart. It was hardened by God, and Paul says God has the freedom to do that kind of a thing.
It ought to come as no surprise that Shapiro would have such a hard time not abusing Exodus to serve as means to advance his political practices. For what to the Scriptures say? 2nd Corinthians 3: 4-18,
Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory. Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
The emphasis is mine to remind us that Ben Shapiro, regardless of his many political strengths, is blind. As Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, Ben Shapiro’s heart is veiled.
He has rejected his Messiah, and because of that, he is blind from the truth of the Old Testament Scriptures. He needs our prayers far more than our support. He needs our Gospel over our praises.
The rest of Ben’s podcast was very good. This statement caught me off guard. It disappointed me but it also humbled me as it reminded me of a basic truth: the Gospel transcends politics.
The revealed Word of God, His Son, and His Law, ought to be, for the Christian, the foundation to all of life. This means that politics must be subservient to the Christian faith. It can never be seen as a packaged deal. As Christians, our politics ought to be defined by the revealed Word of God.
Although politics and Christianity are not synonymous, they are interrelated in that one cannot be a Christian and avoid political consequences. Thus, Christians must be informed about how the Bible addressing politics, both as a whole, and on particular political issues.
In the world we live in, Christians then must exercise extreme caution about who they endorse, and how they endorse them.
Because politics are so important, we want to endorse and support those who see eye-to-eye with us on these issues. However, the fact remains that many people come to these shared opinions the wrong way. Many people have a couple healthy, hanging fruit on their trees, but most of the fruit is rotten, and the tree is still bad.
For example, there are extreme cases of this with men like Milo Yiannopoulos. Milo is a conservative and has many true opinions. For example, he is very much against abortion and he defends religious freedom in America. However, as an openly gay-man and professing Catholic, he does not love the Lord Jesus in any way. This causes him to be extremely vulgar and inappropriate most times. Thus, while very intelligent and, at times, very right, Milo is an unbeliever that bases his political foundations on sand (Matthew 7:24-27).
Another example of the extreme would be someone to the likes of Gavin Mcinnes. Gavin has moments of brilliance, and has many true opinions. However, he is a non-christian, professing Catholic, who cannot make a public political commentary that is not just riddled with crass vulgarity. And because he is not a Christian, his true opinions are baseless. They then are justified in the most ludicrous of ways.
A less extreme example more along the lines of Ben Shapiro would be Matt Walsh.
Few people in the business of political commentary are as brilliant as Walsh. He is an excellent writer, and has far more true opinions than most political conservatives, including nearly every conservative who ran for political office this year. However, Walsh is a Roman Catholic.
He does not just profess it, but he actually believes it. He understands Rome’s claims and he accepts them. This is a positive in that it makes him a vast improvement over the likes of Milo and Gavin. For Walsh is not only smarter, but he presents his views without the profanity and crude language that have become hallmarks for some extreme conservatives.
However, his Roman Catholicism also makes him a non-Christian. Walsh has said many brilliant and true things, but Christians need to be careful promoting and endorsing a Papist who stands opposed to foundational biblical truths.
Never forget this is a man who believes the Bible is not sufficient to function as a rule of faith for the church, that works play a role in justifying and saving a person, that the Papacy is an infallible chair, that Protestants are anathematized, that Tradition is on the same level as Scripture, that Mary was a perpetual virgin and was also sinless, that Christians ought to pray to Saints as mediators between them and Jesus, that there is a treasurey of merit that Jesus, Mary and the Saints contributed to whereby Catholics can gain indulgences from and have access to these merits, that the Eucharist becomes the literal body and blood of Jesus and to not partake in it will damn a person, that a place called Purgatory exists where people atone for the sins Jesus did not atone for, that a place called Limbo exists where unbaptized infants go, that there are venial sins and mortal sins, only mortal sins can separate a person from saving grace and penances are done to work one’s way back into salvation, that indulgences can be paid to alleviate suffering of purgatory, and many other blasphemous, unbiblical doctrines.
Many more political heavy-weights could be spoken of in this same regard. There are many well-known political agents that Christians admire who need to be examined biblically at all times. From congressmen, to congress-women, to presidential candidates, to journalists, to news anchors, many of these political heads Christians admire are Godless people at enmity with the Lord Jesus and His Gospel.
Do not think for a moment that these anti-biblical foundations will not show up in politics eventually. Be very mindful of how you promote politicians who have political opinions not grounded and rooted in the Gospel. Anything not standing on the word of God is a house built on sand, ready to collapse.