What Kierkegaard Taught Me About Abraham.
There are a lot of things that, at least for me, are hard to understand about Christianity. When I think of these, I sometimes find myself locked in a mental battle for the what and why God would allow this. One of which that I’ve never been able to come up with a good enough answer for is why God would require Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac (Gen. 22)
To some this may seem like insanity, others an example of what it truly means to give their lives to God, but for myself I haven’t been able to find solid ground on either side. On one hand, I can’t understand why God would require someone to sacrifice a human, let alone their own child, but yet on the other I’m still driven to believe that this wasn’t just a mental lapse or the actions of an angry God.
For a large portion of my life, the best answer people have been able to give me is that Abraham should be praised because he almost did what God told wanted of him, even in the most outrageous circumstances. This answer has never given me enough to go off of, instead it just raises more questions for me- Am I enough of a Christian to do that? Why would a loving God want this? How could Abraham even think of this? Never has that answer gotten me anywhere.
I have been reading about the philosophy, existentialism, lately and came across the “founder” of it, Soren Kierkegaard. Unlike what seems to be most existentialists that continued after him, Kierkegaard was enthralled with the idea of Christianity. The idea of giving himself up to an eternal presence made him ecstatic, but even though he had such a strong faith, even he questioned what God was doing with Abraham.
Kierkegaard tried time and time again to try to justify not only God’s reasoning for this, but Abraham’s as well. Kierkegaard questioned whether or not it was God who told him this, but instead it may have been a bad dream, maybe it was something he ate, or maybe was it the devil? None of this made any sense to him, so of course he kept going on, searching for an answer.
He eventually settled on the idea that Abraham never believed that he would have to give up Isaac because of God’s promise to him in Gen. 17. “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”
Kierkegaard called Abraham a true “Knight of Faith.” He believed Abraham knew God would never break His promise to him, therefore he had no fear to place his son on the altar and slay his only descendant.
This is the best answer I’ve been able to come up with. There may be flaws I have overlooked, but it has allowed me to finally discover some type of a solution. To some this may not be a great answer, but for others it may be able to bring about some clarity, giving a better explanation to those who cannot fathom certain aspects of the Bible.