Response to Magid, Hauerwas, and Koshul

David Ford, Cambridge University

A few thoughts after reading the fascinating papers on Pharaoh’s hardened heart.

While flying across the Atlantic I hope to be reading more of Alistair McFadyen, Bound to Sin: Abuse, Holocaust and the Christian Doctrine of Sin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000). I suspect that he will have insights to offer. Shaul’s final paragraph: Maimonides on “losing free-will is the result of abusing free-will,” losing the image of God. McFadyen probes the classic Christian doctrine of original sin in order to challenge common ways of identifying “sin” and attributing blame. Especially fascinating, in view of the ostensible reason given to Pharaoh for letting the people go (to worship God) is McFadyen’s exploration of idolatry and sin.

Stan’s remark: “Anything I may be that is any good I have never chosen” links into McFadyen’s discussion of “authentic -being-compelled,’ in relation to which freedom must be redefined.” What sort of story of freewill can be told in telling about child abuse or the Shoah?

Basit on reminding – the magicians choosing to be reminded, Pharaoh choosing willful forgetfulness – and Moses praying for God to send hardness of heart, Allah being more concerned to show mercy, power, love, and greatness in the forgiveness of sins than to end sinning: all these link deeply into the dynamics of worship as the key dimension of what Basit calls “the dynamics of faith,” and the signs that point to ultimate reality.