In one class, we are reading through Eleanore Stump’s Wandering in Darkness, a book that explores the problem of evil through relational, non-propositional knowledge. I’m not going to explain the book here, but it’s enough to say that she tries to trace the narrative flow of several biblical stories to provide a unique defense against the problem of evil and/or suffering, and one such story she focuses on is Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac.
This famous story, in Genesis 22, is admittedly one of the most bizarre stories in the Bible, at least at face value. Critics of the Bible have jumped on this story, arguing that it shows how barbaric the God of the Old Testament is: Even though God ultimately does not require the sacrifice of Isaac (and never wanted it), the fact that he even tested Abraham in this manner is all sorts of messed up, they argue. Basically, God gave Abraham a ton of grief by pretending that he wanted Abraham to basically murder his own son, and then after Abraham is prepared to do it (under great distress, presumably), God goes, “Psyche! j/k. Trollolololol!” Generally speaking, we would find such behavior repugnant. Not only that, it seems to give justification for those wackos who do murder their own kids or blow up something because they argue that God told them to do so. How is Abraham, the patriarch of faith, any different? He got a command from God and was prepared to follow through, even though the command seemed wholly contrary to God’s promise and God’s character.