Abraham Sacrifices Isaac: Not how Christian think today

Here, let me tell you two stories, and see which one you think has the better moral.

A poor man has been looking a long time for a job, and finally gets one. After a time the boss tells him he’s thinking of promoting him to a supervisory position with a big pay increase. But the poor man will have to look the other way while the boss does some cooking of the books. The poor man really needs this raise. And, he’s afraid that if he says no, the boss will find some excuse to fire him, leaving him with no job to feed his family. But after praying and thinking it over, the poor man says, “I’m sorry, but I can’t lie for you, because it’s wrong.” The boss then gives him the bigger job, because it was a test to see if he was honest. The boss didn’t want to hire a person who would lie to get ahead.

Second story: exactly the same as the first. The poor man is offered a bigger job if he’ll just lie about this one little thing. The poor man thinks it over and replies, “I trust you, boss, and I know you wouldn’t be doing this if you didn’t have good reason. So I’ll lie for you if you want.” The boss gives him the job, because he wanted to make sure his worker would do what was required.

So…in which situation did the worker do the right thing? Which situation had the better boss? Christians would say the person in the first story did the right thing; in fact this story is one of the subplots in Courageous, the movie made by the Sherwood Baptist Church, who also made that football movie about God. Christians believe it’s important to do what’s right, and right and wrong are absolute.

But this is the opposite lesson as what’s taught in Genesis chapter 22. There, God tells Abraham to kill his son Isaac and burn the body in a sacrifice to God. Abraham dutifully sets out and does it. Isaac is tied up on an alter and Abraham is about to slit his throat when God finally calls out and stops him. It was all a test to see if Abraham would truly follow God. Because Abraham was willing to do it, God commends Abraham and promises his family line will be forever blessed.

What kind of god would demand his followers do something morally reprehensible just to see if they’d obey? What kind of god would award that kind of blind obedience? And what does it say about the moral integrity of a person who is willing to obey this kind of immoral command?

If this story was written by modern Christians, it might be that Abraham refused to sacrifice his son, saying he knew it wasn’t right. He’d say a truly good God would never ask him to do such a thing. And God would reward him for that, because God puts right and wrong in everyone’s heart and expects them to do what’s right.

Christians often preach on how to hear God’s voice. How do you know you’re hearing from God and not just imagining it or hearing lies from the Devil? One way is to study the scripture. If what you’re hearing goes against the Bible, you’re not hearing from God. So hearing from God requires your own intelligence and judgment, according to that interpretation. But this seems to go against Genesis 22.

Would a Christian kill an atheist if God told them to? Would he blow up schoolchildren, or go on a murderous rampage just because he was told to by God? Most Christians would say God would never tell them to do that. They know God personally, by studying the Bible and praying to him, so they know he wouldn’t demand they do what is wrong. But according to the story of Abraham’s sacrifice, they should be willing to do something even if it’s wrong if they’re asked by God.

So…reasonable Christians, if you were told by God to go murder an atheist, would you get a gun and get all set up to do it, to prove to God that you are obedient? Would you just assume God will stop you somewhere before you actually do the deed, like he did to Abraham?

If you answer no—if you don’t think that is what God requires from you—what do you think is the meaning of that story? Why is it in the Bible?

And a final note: in my two scenarios above, which boss do you trust more? You know the second boss is a liar. He’s cheating on his accounting. BUT, the first boss is a liar too! He said he wouldn’t hire you unless you helped him cheat, but what he really meant was he won’t hire you unless you won’t help him cheat. He claimed a ‘yes’ answer would get you hired and ‘no’ would get you fired, when the exact opposite was true. Can you trust this man? When he asks you to do something, can you be sure he means it? Or would you always second-guess, question what he was telling you to see if it was a trick?

This story can be quite painful for true believers. I’ll talk about that in my next post.

Views: 276

Comment by Brendan on September 14, 2013 at 5:53am

Looks like a ginga ninja bitch slapping Leonardo DaVinici while he was bout to do autopsy/bdsm

Comment by Ron Humphrey on September 14, 2013 at 6:06am

It is amazing how many stories in the Bible are held up as wonderful by Christians, when in fact, they are really atrocious.  Another one besides the Abraham/Isaac story is Job.  I have heart Christians almost go into a swoon holding up the story of Job as being so wonderful.

Comment by Physeter on September 14, 2013 at 8:42am

I definitely used to love the story of Job. The poetry in there can be quite powerful. I'm only very slowly coming to realize what a useless waste the whole story is.

In fact, it seems to be a testament to the messed-up and damaging implications of Christianity that they can look at a story like Job and see it as a relief. "Well, God will let a supernatural entity torture us just to prove a point? And no matter what happens we can't expect an explanation? Whew, at least we know not everyone who suffers is a sinner!"

Comment by _Robert_ on September 14, 2013 at 11:01am

Imagine the learned scribes that had to put ink to scroll. They have these oral traditions and stories from all over the place and now the tribal-mob boss wants it all in black and white. At some point the boss is like "OK, now read it back to me, and it better be good. I don't want no god-dam rebels in this tribe".

Comment by Brendan on September 14, 2013 at 8:14pm

So by that story it seems like Jacob was satans favourite or was satan just working for god.

Comment by Strega on September 14, 2013 at 8:36pm

I suspect Satan is really the Holy Spirit. They are one and the same. Has anyone ever seen them in the same place at any one time?  I don't think so....

Comment by Brendan on September 14, 2013 at 9:56pm

I often wonder if the bible was written from the perspective of evil and satan is actually the hero trying to overthrow an evil overlord. Perhaps the original jews where worshiping the supreme evil and satan was the voice of hope and reason trying to show the evil of gods word? Perhaps the antagonist is in fact the protagonist.

Comment by Physeter on September 14, 2013 at 10:44pm

I often wonder if the bible was written from the perspective of evil and satan is actually the hero trying to overthrow an evil overlord.

Job actually makes a bit more sense if you read it that way, I think.


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