Thursday, November 05, 2015


I was in the late 70's or early 80's that I read the prelude to Kiergegaard's Fear and Trembling.  I suspect it was after my first son was born in 1979, but I am not sure. It may have been closer to 1982, as we chose that scene for Jesse Tree that year.  It affected me so powerfully that I could not concentrate on anything further - or perhaps I just don't concentrate well on the fine distinctions of philosophers anyway.  It has stayed with me ever since.
O Lord in heaven, I thank Thee. After all it is better for him to believe that I am a monster, rather than that he should lose faith in Thee.
Could I, if called to that extremity, ever be that father? Isaac was not a young man at the time of the aborted sacrifice.  The story of Abraham is closer to my current situation than was true then. Though I have five sons now, which dilutes the effect.

I have many times thought No, I could never get within a hundred yards of such obedience to God at the expense of any son, even if I were sure it was God's voice.  But I have also thought Of course you could.  You have done a dozen impossible things in your life simply by saying "I must," and moving forward, almost without feeling. It only takes a moment. 

To do such a thing, even if God rescued, would be to cut myself off from one and perhaps all sons for the rest of my life - the chief joys of my life, I think. Yet if it were actually necessary.  If it really were a trade that they must hate me or hate God - with whatever eternal consequences that entailed - could I find that moment of obedience, however much I rued it for years after?

Even harder: could I do it for some sons and not others?

When we reach heaven, half of us will run to Abraham to embrace him and weep.  The other half will run to Isaac to embrace him and weep. God grant that every tear be dried.


Grim said...

Perhaps the point is not to wonder what you would do in the same place. You are not the same man. God will not ask you or me to do such a thing, because he did not give us the same gifts. If we were to be asked, we would be different men.

God likewise blessed Isaac with enough faith that he did not become cut off from his father because of the incident. In this he prefigures Christ, perhaps, who understood his father's will to allow him to be sacrificed as an offering, and in spite of great fear did not rebel nor hold resentment.

The son as well as the father was given great gifts to prepare him for what he would have to endure. If you were given other gifts, it is because you were meant for different work.

Texan99 said...

This story is unbelievably hard for me. I've never come close to the kind of faith or obedience it would require.