ABRAHAM STORY 6
Whatis Left Out: Abraham Story
Inhis writing, “Fear and Trembling”, Kierkegaard emphasizes thatthe decision of Abraham is morally disgusting and rationallyunintelligent. Nevertheless, he also depicts that if nothing ishigher compared to human reason, then belief in God is dispensable.Kierkegaard does not enhance a particular judgment concerningAbraham, but presents the reader with a dilemma. The dilemma is thateither Abraham is no better compared to a murderer and there is noground for admiring him or moral duties are not components of thehighest claim on the human being. Kierkegaard does not resolve thisdilemma, which leaves a religious person with completely nosatisfying way of resolving it. This dilemma is not unique to thesituation facing Abraham. Through emphasizing on the difficulty ofcomprehending Abraham’s response to the divine command, Kierkegaardstresses the difficulty of faith itself. As both the believer and nonbeliever, there is anguish that Abraham left by reviewing his story.
Accordingto Parsons, believers indicate that “God is good. Not only is hegood, he is perfectly good”. This implies that God will always actfor the best interest. In testing the Faith of Abraham, God had a wayof saving Isaac from being sacrificed by Abraham. This is because Godis powerful and can prevent bad things from happening. Parsons pointsout that “If God is all-powerful, then he can prevent evil”. Godacted through miracles to the believers, which was the chief reasonthat made Abraham believe him. Believers need to have faith in Godand expect from him as Abraham did. Dostoyevsky points out that“humanity awaits him with the same faith and same love. Throughoutthe GrandInquistor,Dostoyevsky questions the possibility of having a benevolent andpersonal God. In the case of Abraham, he believed that God was alwayskind. Therefore, believers should always have faith in God and resistSatan as Dostoyevsky indicates “We are not with thee, but with him,and that is our secret! For centuries have abandoned thee to followhim”. This shows that believers need to have faith in God andabandon Satan.
Accordingto Kierkegaard, there is a challenge to a believer emanating from theactions of Abraham. According to the story of Abraham, there is achallenge as to whether a believer can be in a position to show thekind of faith that Abraham showed. When he was called by God, he lefthis home and took his only son whom he loved. From Kierkegaard’sreading, it is indicated that “Abraham arose betimes, he had assesssaddled, left his tent, and Isaac with him”. It is tempting to abeliever to think of taking the only loved thing as a step towardsfaith. Despite Abraham knowing that he was going to offer Isaac as asacrifice, he did not conceal this to anyone, even Isaac himself.This was critical in keeping the covenant that he had made with God.It could be argued that may be if he revealed to Isaac that he wasgoing to sacrifice him, may be Isaac could have run away to keep awayfrom death. This could have meant that the sacrifice could not bemade as the covenant had been reached, a move that could have shakenthe trust amid Abraham and God. To show that Abraham did not revealto Isaac what was going to happen, Kierkegaard points out that “Iwill not conceal to Isaac whither this course leads him”.Kierkegaard shows that it was a difficult aspect to Abraham. Thequestion here as a believer is whether one can be capable of keepingit a secret to someone that one loves that there is going to be asacrifice, which has been commanded by God as a step of keepingfaith. Here believers are being challenged to do everything possibleto show their faith.
Accordingto Parsons, “God is perfectly good” (Parsons, 2011). A believercan keep by this proposition, but there is a questioning when itcomes to the story of Abraham. A believer is left questioning, if Godis perfectly good, did He have to test Abraham with his only son inorder to know his faith? In the present time, can a believer followthe steps of Abraham to the point of sacrificing own son, which maybe perceived as murder in order to qualify his or her faith? It seemsunlikely that anyone that really thinks about the actions of Abrahamcould not have acted as Abraham did in order to show his or herfaith. This is an indication that Abraham left anguish to believerssince they are left with doubts in their hearts concerning whetherthey can do what Abraham did to prove their faith. Since the act ishighly challenging, most believers are not capable of doing asAbraham did. “After all it is better for him to believe that I am amonster, rather than that he should lose faith in Thee”. “I canadmire Abraham, I am not afraid anyone might be tempted by hisnarrative light-heartedly to want to be the individual, but I admitalso that I have not the courage for it”. Even to Abraham himself,I think he could not have desired to sacrifice his only son if therewas another option from the start it is for this reason that hecould not utter a word. “Abraham cannot speak, for he cannot utterthe word which explains all”. When asked by Isaac where the lamb tobe sacrificed was, he said “God will provide Himself the lamb forthe burnt offering, my son”. This is an indication that, even toAbraham it was a difficult decision to make. If this was a difficultdecision to make in the eyes of Abraham, what about the presentbelievers?
Tothe non-believers, there is also an anguish left to them by Abraham’sstory. If a thing seems difficult to a believer, how will it appearin the eyes of a non-believer? I think it would seem to be morecomplicated in the eyes of non-believers. To a non-believer, theaction of Abraham to sacrifice Isaac without a second thought can beperceived as a complicated issue since a non-believer does notunderstand the act of faith. In the eyes of a non-believer, Abrahamcould be viewed as a murderer having no mercy even to his own son.“But Abraham prepared everything for the sacrifice, calmly andquietly but when he turned and drew the knife, Isaac saw that hisleft hand was clenched in despair”. Abraham could be seen tosacrifice his son in order to attain greatness. “Hence, no oneshall be forgotten who was great, and though time tarries long,though a cloud of misunderstanding takes the hero away, his lovercomes nevertheless”. Therefore, to the non-believers, there is achallenge of becoming believers and believing in a God that can asksomeone to do things like those that were done by Abraham in order toaffirm his faith.
Otherreligion philosophers have indicated their anguish because theywanted to emphasize a certain thing. One of such religionphilosophers is Martin Luther. In his lectures, Martin Luther haspraised Abraham because of his “blind faith”, which made him notquestion whether it was right to kill his son Isaac (Carlisle, 2010).According to Luther, Abraham acted appropriately because divineauthority is above any other claim. Another religion philosopher isImmanuel Kant. According to point of view of Kant, Abraham ought tohave reasoned that the command of killing his son was immoral andcould not have come from God. Therefore, Kant wanted to stress thepoint that Abraham actions were not morally upright and irrational(Carlisle, 2010). On the other hand, Luther wanted to stress thepoint that the actions of Abraham were moral and rationallyintelligent since they were guided by God.
Søren,Kierkegaard. Fearand Trembling,translated by Alastair Hannay (London: Penguin, 1986). Pages 41-147.
Parsons,K. (2011). A Simple statement of the Problem of Evil. Retrieved fromhttp://infidels.org/library/modern/keith_parsons/evil.html
Carlisle,C. (2010). Kierkegaard`sworld, part 3: The story of Abraham and Isaac. TheGuardian.
Dostoevsky,F. (n.d.). The Grand Inquisitor. Retrieved fromhttp://www.queensu.ca/religion/rels/undergrad/courses/rels268/RELS268DostoevskyInquisitor.pdf