The ultimate test of Abraham


#1

I’m not here to make anyone mad- but I do have a lot of questions…

Right now I have several questions relating to the test on Abraham’s faith:

My main problem with this scenario is that I think human sacrifice is wrong. When a parent has a child its one of the most amazing experiences in their life. They love that little person with their whole heart and soul and they anticipate that they will be able to watch that child grow into an adult and they will be there to raise and guide them. Any one, or any God that asked that person to kill their own child would be inflicting a terrible cruelty on that person and doing a terrible injustice against the child, both of whom did nothing wrong to deserve such a thing. If God took satisfaction in making a person kill their own child in order to prove a point or to satisfy a need to be loved and worshipped, that seems very wrong to me. That would not be a God who is inherently good, but one who is simply "right through might.’

The refreshing thing is, the biblical God never did require human sacrifice.

  1. Why then, would Abraham have even believed that God was asking him to do such a thing? Couldn’t Satan have been tricking him?

  2. If you heard a voice or had a vision that God was asking you to kill your own child, would you trust that it was really God?

  3. If it was undoubtedly God himself, and he was right there asking you to, would you kill your own child?


#2

The sacrifice of Isaac has more to do with God’s promise to Abraham, that he would become the father of many nations. Giving up his only legitimate heir is a sign of faith in Providence, that God would still give him uncounted descendants though his son was gone. And Abraham loved his son absolutely, but he believed that God would provide. But Abraham showed his faith, and for that Isaac was returned to him.

All life belongs to God. It is His to give, and His to take away.


#3

Interesting argument- but would you feel any differently at all about this story if God had made him kill Isaac, and allow Abraham to father more children afterwards to “make up for” the death?

Humor me for a minute- stop thinking about everything you already think you know, and try to think outside the box (this is completely hypothetical, and all leads to one question I’d like you to seriously consider)…

Let’s say a being of great strength and knowledge and power (but not necessarily “good” or “holy”) exists. Let’s say this being decides to create a world with various forms of life- maybe just on a whim. The creations greatly vary in complexity, with the most complex thinking beings (humans) having the ability to accept, reject, obey, or disobey their creator.

Let’s say this creator views its creation as some sort of experiement or diversion, and does not particularly empathize with or care about its creation, but interferes from time to time, to influence certain outcomes to its desire.

The humans, recognizing that this is their creator, and the most powerful being they know of, will percieve this being as their “God”. Does that make this being righteous?

To cut to the chase: Does might make right?


#4

Fine, I’ll bite…

The “creator” is the potter, the creation is the clay. The potter has the skills to make whatever he wants of the clay. The clay cannot censure the potter. The clay has no power to choose if it becomes a pot, a scupture, or even just be scrapped. It is said that absolute power corrupts absolutely, but a being that does have absolute power would either be totally corrupt or totally incorruptible.


#5

This was no more than a test. God had no intention of letting Abraham kill Isaac. More intriguing than what would have happened if Isaac had been sacrificed is what would have happened if Abraham had refused.


#6

1- No it was not Satan because the Bible says so. If you are a Catholic you believe the Bible and you do not meditate on alternative scenarios that could have been in the Bible.

2- No I would not trust that it was God. He commanded me that I am not to kill the innocent. If I were to do it I would disobey His commandment. Disobedience to God and the Church is the first test to see if the vision is from God or the devil.

3- Scenario not possible. See #2


#7

As did Kierkegaard in his “Fear and Trembling.” I highly recommend it. It’s a fascinating, very well-written little philosophical inquiry (though remember that the narrator is a fictional character, not Kierkegaard himself).

My main problem with this scenario is that I think human sacrifice is wrong. When a parent has a child its one of the most amazing experiences in their life. They love that little person with their whole heart and soul and they anticipate that they will be able to watch that child grow into an adult and they will be there to raise and guide them. Any one, or any God that asked that person to kill their own child would be inflicting a terrible cruelty on that person and doing a terrible injustice against the child, both of whom did nothing wrong to deserve such a thing.

Correct. Though here’s the thing: human sacrifice is wrong, but if God is telling you to sacrifice someone, it’s wrong not to sacrifice them. That’s one heck of a paradox! Resolving the paradox is one road to faith. One resolution is to simply accept it, trusting that God knows best.

If God took satisfaction in making a person kill their own child in order to prove a point or to satisfy a need to be loved and worshipped, that seems very wrong to me. That would not be a God who is inherently good, but one who is simply "right through might.’

Also correct, though there’s an important question that needs to be asked: prove a point to whom? God already knew the outcome of events; in fact, he knew what Abraham would do before he asked him. Why have him do it, then? Put simply, to prove to Abraham what he (Abraham) would do. Of course, since God is merciful, he didn’t actually require Abraham to go through with it. Once he had raised the knife, it would have been clear to Abraham what he would have done, and the actual killing would have been redundant.

1) Why then, would Abraham have even believed that God was asking him to do such a thing? Couldn’t Satan have been tricking him?

Human sacrifice was a common practice of the religions in the area Abraham lived at the time. He was probably expecting something like this at some time.

2) If you heard a voice or had a vision that God was asking you to kill your own child, would you trust that it was really God?

Of course not. God specifically said that human sacrifice was out.

3) If it was undoubtedly God himself, and he was right there asking you to, would you kill your own child?

Of course. At least, I hope I would. I doubt it would be easy, but God is always always always right, and whenever you disagree with him, you are always always wrong. Though as I said in my answer to #2, this is something of an absurd question.


#8

That is very true. Sacrifice of the first born son was quite common in some of the beliefs of Abraham’s close neighbors. Human sacrifice in other cultures and areas of the world persisted well into the 20th Century. It certainly was not common in the West, In India, the British had to stamp out the practice of placing a man’s living wife on his funeral pyre. Sacrifices for fertility of crops was also a problem in rural outlying areas of some countries.


#9

Good point! We must always read the bible in the context of culture in which it was written.If God had never asked for the sacrifice of Isaac would Abraham have seen God as a wimp?

It is important to note that out of this encounter with God, the Israelite religion forbade human sacrifice, whereas many competing religions ended up demanding it.


#10

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