There are regular “God told me to do it” stories in the news.  For the purposes of this discussion I am creating a fictional one. It may seem too long to read but I think it is necessary as the points raised by it are important.

Richard is an Evangelical pastor who comes home from Sunday services to dinner with his wife and 12-year old son. They live an idyllic life in a small rural Christian community. They are financially well off and loved by their family, friends and neighbors who all hold Richard in high regard.

After dinner he decides to walk along the river bank to the town hall where he will conduct the choir in preparation for the upcoming Easter celebrations. His son begs to come along and Richard is delighted to see the keen interest he takes in the affairs of the Church.  They grin to each other knowing this means that they can bring the fishing tackle along and stop on the way back for an hour or two. His wife pretends not to understand their secret smile. She is happy as it means a few hours to herself so she can get ready for the weekly Bible study class which she loves to host.

An hour later Richard walks into the town hall and announces that God had appeared to him and demanded that he sacrifice his son to prove his love and dedication to Him. He seems very calm, even serene, as he relates the story to his parishioners.

As he walked along the banks of the river the early spring sun reflected a face upon the water.

“It is I. Richard, your Lord and Master” boomed a voice that seemed to sound from all directions. The face rose from the water and started to rise up towards the sky. “I command you to sacrifice your son so that he can join me in Heaven this very day. Do this for me and the riches of the next life will be assured for you too.”

The police soon found the smouldering wooden pyre and the burnt remains of the boy. The autopsy revealed he had been stabbed once through the heart with a fishing knife. Richard cooperated fully with their investigation. He seemed not to grasp the reality of what he had done. At least not as they expected he should have. Richard maintained his serenity throughout and never denied what he had done. He even said he was privileged to be visited in person by the God he so loved and was happy that his son was now in Heaven.

He is sent for psychiatric evaluation but “passes” the tests that three experienced professional doctors carry out. He seems completely sane and rational to them. He has no criminal record, no history of mental illness and none ever reported in his extend family. He seems to be the same “Richard” to all that know him, expect that he seems even happier than normal to them. He is also given two independently supervised lie detector tests and all his answers are reported as being truthfully answered.

I would say that Richard may indeed genuinely believe that he was actually visited by his God. He is devoid of any signs of remorse which leads many of those that know him to consider that he is speaking the truth. But I would say that Richard suffered a violent psychotic delusional episode. I think many Christians would agree with me.

However I would suggest his breakdown was induced by years of continuous fundamentalist religious indoctrination. His mental breakdown and irrational actions were a direct result of his faith in God. Christians cannot agree with me on this point. They must allow for the possibility that Richard is telling the truth.

If you are a Christian then please tell me why I am wrong to say that you must make such an allowance. You must agree that it could be possible that God really did appear to Richard and command him to kill his son.

Views: 76

Comment by Davis Goodman on March 22, 2017 at 6:45pm

Wow. Now that is faith! We should remember this guy forever. The ashes of that pyre should be turned into a monument where people can travel to in a pilgramage. They can go in fishing gear and pierce each other's backs with fishing-tackle as a symbolic show of one's uncompromising fidelity to God. And then every year we could climb up some hill and tie our children to a tree and mock burn them...as a symbolic show of our own unquestioning subservience to God. What was that guys name? I see a fast-track saint coming soon!!!

Comment by _Robert_ on March 22, 2017 at 7:07pm

I am very sure a xtian will just say that satan was posing as god.

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on March 22, 2017 at 9:06pm

On what authority can they claim it was Satan? There is a precedent for this as according to the Bible, God has asked someone to do similar? If the doctors do not find him delusional and he passed the lie detector test then on what grounds can they claim it was not their God who commanded this?

Comment by _Robert_ on March 22, 2017 at 9:34pm

On god's authority, of course.....

2 Corinthians 11:3
But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:14
No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light

Revelation 12:9
And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

Matthew 13:19
"When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road.

Comment by Strega on March 23, 2017 at 2:42pm
Circumcision not good enough any more? Maybe god was about to reroute that fishing knife to the boys genitalia, which of course is not at all a savage act of religion - and then the kettle whistled. Make that two cups, god - the boy is probably thirsty.
Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on March 23, 2017 at 6:45pm

They can try. God has a much greater history of commanding people to commit murder. Here are examples (too many to list). It is much more likely that Richard was correct in his interpretation of the vision he had. He is a lifelong Christian and a well-loved Pastor. Many of his parishioner see his “post- sacrifice” serenity as a sign of this.

If Christians are to claim that their God would never ask a man of faith to carry out such an act then they should read their Bible. God explicitly asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. It is more likely to be God and not Satan as there is no record of Satan asking anyone to kill their children.

Richard is adamant that it was God. He is absolutely certain it was not Satan. I am saying that Richard was either visited by God or he suffers from a delusion.

I want Christians to tell me what they think. If they say he was deluded then on what grounds are they claiming this? Christians tell us that they can communicate with God and that God communicates with them too. I have stated before on this site that I consider such a belief to also be delusional – just not to the same degree as Richard is. They cannot claim that the faith of the pastor Richard is delusional but that they not when they all profess to believe in the same God.

Comment by TJ on March 25, 2017 at 12:49pm

There is an obvious answer.

If you think god is speaking to you, and he is asking you do do something that will LATER be judged by your fellow man to be righteous, he was.  If "the voice" says the exact same thing, and LATER it was judged to be wrong by your fellow man, then, it was Satan, or insanity.

:D

DOH, just look at the bible vs historical examples.

:P

Comment by TJ on March 25, 2017 at 12:51pm

I wish edits of blog posts were available...

I meant to add to it being "Satan, or, insanity"

:D


[The Pope abides. You may delete me.]
Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on March 25, 2017 at 1:44pm

There is a subtle point to my story. At least subtle to a certain degree. Both Richard and the average Christian will claim that they are in direct communication with their God, They will most likely all claim to have a “personal relationship” with him. They will assert that their faith is a reasoned faith and will say that my calling it a delusion is an insult.  I will make no apology for this.

At what point did Richard, a lifelong Evangelical Christian, Doctor of Divinity and much loved pastor become delusional? Remember that three esteemed psychiatrists concur that he is not delusional. At most he suffered a bout of temporary insanity. He also passed lie detector tests which indicated he is speaking the truth.

If the average Christian is to insist that Satan made him do it but Richard insists that it was God who commanded him then how can any Christian know that they too are not dealing with Satan when they pray? Remember too that God has previous for commanding Abraham to kill his son before he continued along the road to Beersheba. Satan does not.

I am saying all those who claim to be able to converse with God are deluded. It is just that some are more deluded that others. Richard is extremely deluded, the average theist is mildly deluded.

The theist cannot claim that Richard was and that they are not. All they can do is claim Satan was involved and that makes them sound even more deluded.

Comment by Pope Beanie on March 25, 2017 at 3:04pm
(Satan weaves black ISIS flags.)

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