The other version of the Abraham story

Brian Johnston Bible, Culture, Leaders, Mormon, parables 57 Comments

What if Abraham had disobeyed God?

Here’s the other version of the story I dug up after breaking into secret Illuminati archives and comparing translations with those hidden in the depths of the Vatican library. I decoded the rest using a Knights Templar cipher wheel obtained from a street vendor selling souvenirs outside the US Capitol building. The final scripture becoming visible under the moonlight reflected off the roof of the chapel at Rennes-le-Château.

Genesis Chapter 22

God: Abraham, I want you to sacrifice your son as a burnt offering. I know he’s your only son, and it was really a huge deal for you when Isaac was born, but I command this. Take him up to the mountain, slice his throat and burn his body.

Abraham: Uhhhhhhh…. Are you sure Lord? That doesn’t sound quite right.

God: Yes. I am sure. Go do it. This is a commandment.

Abraham takes Isaac. They go up to the mountain. Abraham builds an altar and piles kindling around it.

Isaac: Ok dad, where’s the lamb? You said we were coming up here to make burnt offerings to the Lord.

Abraham: Sorry little buddy, the Lord said you are the sacrifice.

Isaac: What! That doesn’t sound right dad. I have faith in you though and trust you to make the right decision.

Abraham binds Isaac and places him on the altar. He raises his knife. At last minute he drops the knife and begins to weep. An angel of the Lord appears.

Angel: Abraham, why did you disobey the commandment to slay your son?

Abraham: I’m sorry. It’s just not right. I won’t do it. I accept any consequences of this decision, but I will not obey this commandment and do what I know is wrong.

God: Abraham, thou good and faithful servant. Because you were willing to risk disobedience, and because you were faithful in doing what is right, you will be blessed. From this day forth, I will be your God. You and your posterity will be my people. I want a people who think through things and make good decisions. I don’t want a people who will do evil, even if they believe I command it.

Wouldn’t that have made a cool scripture? Maybe it really happened like that, and we have an edited version from corrupt scribes. It wouldn’t be the first time it happened. Discuss…

Comments

comments

Comments 57

  1. Abraham thought the Lord was going to resurrect Isaac from the dead after the sacrifice. The apostle Paul tells us this in his letter to the Hebrews. Heb 11:17-19.

    It’s a deduction on the part of Abraham, as Paul pointed out. The Lord promised him that his seed would continue through Isaac, and Isaac hadn’t had any children yet, so the Lord was going to have to bring Isaac back to life in order to fulfill that promise.

    Another point, but I don’t have a scripture or a GA quote to back it up, is that in this instance the Lord was likely _not_ speaking to Abraham in a “still small voice.” I believe the voice was plain, clear and obvious. There was likely no doubt on the part of Abraham as to the source of the voice commanding him. The test of faith was not “is this the Lord talking to me or the devil?” The test was that of obedience, and whether or not Abraham was still going to believe that the Lord was going to keep his previous promise/covenant about progeny through Isaac.

    Now to you or to me, such a voice that the Lord used in that instance may indeed come across as a “still small voice”, and it may have been specifically due to Abraham’s extreme faith, purity and righteousness that attuned his spiritual hearing so that the “still small voice” came across as plain, clear and obvious to him.

    I can’t cite them at the moment, but there are modern apostolic quotes about all of us having to go through our “Abrahamic sacrifice” or “Abrahamic test” in order to develop or exercise the faith or to be “tested in all things” to qualify for and enter into the exaltation portion of the Celestial Kingdom.

    The crux of your post seems to imply that it’s proper to second guess the Lord. I think the lesson of the “Abrahamic test/sacrifice” is that one should not second guess the Lord; assuming you’re absolutely sure what the Lord’s will is, as was Abraham.

    Since Abraham knew the whole plan of salvation at that point, and knew that Christ was to come and be the sacrifice for sin and to redeem from the fall, and Abraham knew the relationship between God the Father (Elohim) and God the Son (Jehovah/Messiah/Christ), and knew that the animal sacrifices were in similitude of the Savior’s future sacrifice, Abraham most likely understood the symbolism of sacrificing his son.

    And since Abraham knew that God the Father was going to resurrect the physical body of Jehovah/Christ, then Abraham must have also known that the Father also had the power to resurrect Isaac.

    I know I’ve made a couple assumptions here, but I don’t think it’s out of line to assume that Abraham had at least as full an understanding about the “Plan of Salvation” as we do today.

    Others have speculated that: Isaac was likely about 33 years old, it probably took place at the time of year later to be known as The Passover, and that the sacrifice probably took place at a spot later to be known as Calvary/Golgotha.

    I’m often guilty of second-guessing God, but I don’t think it’s a virtue.

  2. Ray, the question is… If “God” is asking you to do something that seems to be against the very nature of who you have thought God to be, wouldn’t God want you to argue with Him? I.e. If you are going to ask me to murder my child, I am going to need an explanation as to why murder is now OK, since I just left my hometown because they were doing this same thing. I want to make sure I’m not hearing this from Satan, ya know? And then… if God verified himself and then still wanted me to kill my kid, I might just say god isn’t so cool after all and he can go ahead and fry me, because being in murderer’s heaven doesn’t sound like a picnic.

    I’m just saying that is what would go through my mind if I were in that situation.

  3. Clay, I agree completely that it might go through my mind (at least, I hope it would cause me at least to struggle like Nephi killing Laban), but I’m also pretty sure it would stop there. Now, God would know it went through my mind, but I don’t think he actually would have to tell me twice. I hope I would try to find alternatives (like dickering over how many righteous people need to live in the city in order to keep from destroying it), but in the end I don’t think I could tell God to take a flying leap – that I simply wasn’t going to do it.

    Honestly, I’m not sure I could follow through when I got to the alter, since I’m not positive my faith is that strong, but I’d probably commit to do it in the initial conversation.

  4. I like this version better.

    Some interesting rabbinic interpretations of the story are noted at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binding_of_Isaac I personally like the suggestion of one rabbi that Abraham’s imagination had gotten away from him, and God had to send an angel to straighten him out. I also like the suggestion of another rabbi that Abraham sought every way possible to avoid sacrificing Isaac–observing while it was God Himself who ordered the sacrifice, it was a mere angel who stopped it.

    Our LDS tradition is that it is improper to “wrestle” with God in terms of arguing with him. But that is not the tradition of the prophets of the Old Testament.

    Abraham was willing to argue with God, as was Moses after him. I like the Midrash commentary regarding Noah and Abraham (excerpted from http://rac.org/Articles/index.cfm?id=2810

    When Noah came out of the ark, he opened his eyes and saw the whole world completely destroyed. He began crying for the world and said, “God, how could you have done this?” … God replied, “Oh Noah, how different you are from the way Abraham … will be. He will argue with me on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah when I tell him that I plan their destruction… But you, Noah, when I told you I would destroy the entire world, I lingered and delayed, so that you would speak on behalf of the world. But when you knew you would be safe in the ark, the evil of the world did not touch you. You thought of no one but your family. And now you complain?” Then Noah knew that he had sinned. (Midrash Tanchuma, Parashat Noach)

  5. Boy, the whole issue of God verification is an interesting one. Given what we know, and are finding out, about how the mind works and the various ways that it can misfire in even the most sane individuals, I would prefer to err on the side of ‘cause no harm to another’.

    God would need some pretty serious photo ID before I would act in a way that I knew to be morally reprehensible. Even then, I would likely decline.

    I will say I believe the Abraham story to be a myth. I cannot fathom an omnipotent and loving God toying with his children in such a way.

  6. Hmm. To answer your story, yes, if the scriptures said that, then I’d learn an interesting lesson from them. Your post is lovely from the standpoint of prose and to get a person thinking, but I feel that there’s only so far you can go with “look at what I learn from the scriptures when I rewrite them myself!”

    Mr/Mrs Imperfection touched on something there when he said “God would need some pretty serious photo ID before I would act in a way that I knew to be morally reprehensible.” Abraham had a very intimate relationship with God. Something a little more tangible than I think I have at this point in my life. So it’s hard to draw parallels between that intimate love/bond/friendship/apprenticeship that was Abraham and God… and my life. The question I have is, if you had that same face-to-face intimacy with God that Abraham did, would your answer be different than now? I have a different relationship with God than Abraham… not necessarily less meaningful, but I act on slight promptings from the Spirit. I have never spoken to God face to face. I almost feel guilty reading Abraham’s story… like it’s really none of my business. I’m so not there yet and might never be in this life. If God tried to tell me to sacrifice my son or even to kill Laban, I would probably just weep and walk away. God knows that.

    I think the temptation for me is to look at the Abraham story and see some sort of Milgram Experiment/Stanford Prison Experiment. The difference is that God is a superior, omniscient being and therefore obedience to him is not necessarily the same as obedience to an authority figure we’re more accustomed to, like a police officer or government official. Here in the United States we applaud sticking it to “the Man.” Those who stand against authority are heroes. Even those who stand against the LDS establishment or even the General Authorities are heroes to some people in some circles. But we’re not talking about disobedience to man here… we’re talking about God, the creator/organizer of Worlds.

    So I guess I look at the Ultimate Precedent: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” For Christ, at least in this instance, the bargaining was over in the same sentence where it started. Perhaps that’s the answer? We ask God to please show us another way, to help us out of our situations, to please DO SOMETHING… and yet. If that’s not what He wants, I’ll do what He asks me. Christ did not sin in asking for a way out.

    It’s 1:00 am and I’m really hoping that when I wake up and re-read this (my) post it will make sense.

  7. I think that Abraham maybe passed with a C+ but maybe the A+ answer is telling God you will not take innocent life and if he feels that strongly about it he can get his own hands dirty. I dont worship God because he is powerful but because he is good.

    The Akedah is interesting because it is one of the few if not the only accounts of the end of human sacrifice. Abraham was nearly sacrificed earlier in his life. Abraham knew the fear and the horror of being a scapegoat. This is the same Abraham who unlike his descendants was quick to forgive, readily gave up goods and lands, pleaded the case of the innocent, searched the desert for lost souls, and even asked God to spare Sodom. This is the character of the man who I believe chose to not follow the commands of the Gods of his day and to not sacrifice Isaac. Abraham, of all the people in his day, knew how ridiculous and evil it was to sacrifice to gods.

  8. Joshua Madsen – “I dont worship God because he is powerful but because he is good.” Who decides whether or not what God does is good? You’re right about Abraham’s attitude toward human sacrifice. He had made a habit of telling anybody who would listen to him that one of the essential characteristics of the true God was that He would never condone or tolerate human sacrifice. That was the crux of this test. Abrahanm knew God well enough to know who was giving him the command to sacrifice Isaac. The command wasn’t given through any subordinate, so there was no danger that the command had been misinterpreted by or even wholly fabricated by some subordinate/church leader. The question was whether Abraham would assume that God was commanding something evil just becasue it seemed evil to Abraham, or whether Abraham would trust that God knew what He was doing and that this really wasn’t an evil command. Do we trust God or not? Do we only trust Him when His commands or behavior make sense to our llimited understandings? If so, aren’t we setting ourselves up as greater than God?

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    I just wanted to note quickly that I believe the scripture as it stands. Like all beautiful stories in scripture, we take from it what we see.

    I don’t know if Abraham was “OK” with sacrificing his son because he knew God would just resurrect Isaac right away. That seems to easy, like letting your video game avatar die because you know you can just hit the reset button. There’s no morality issues involved in that. I can accept that Abraham was on a different level of relationship with God, and he saw life from a more elevated, macro perspective. We can learn from trying to imagine what that is and how that looks.

    The tension in the as-is story between absolute obedience and morality is juicy.

  10. Imperfection wrote: “Boy, the whole issue of God verification is an interesting one. . . God would need some pretty serious photo ID before I would act in a way that I knew to be morally reprehensible.”

    What kind of “photo ID” would be sufficient? Someone who looks like the paintings of Jesus? Someone standing in midair, glowing? Someone whose voice is like thunder or speaks inside your mind? Someone who can move mountains by speaking? Someone whose presence makes you tremble and causes you to desire to worship?

    What prevents Satan from imitating any or all of these?

    It seems to me that identifying God is more a matter of faithful choice than compelling evidence.

  11. Yeah… Weeping is way cool, isn’t it? In any case, the Scriptures are full of prophets and kings being visited by “evil spirits from the Lord”.

  12. “It seems to me that identifying God is more a matter of faithful choice than compelling evidence.” -Grasshopper

    This is the problem. There are many in the world today who revere Abraham as a prophet, and through their faith believe in a God who commands them to harm others.

    Until we repudiate such tales as myth, we are stuck with the belief that God just may, at his whim, command us to kill others. There is no place for such belief in modern society.

    How many nut-jobs have committed murder and claimed God told them to do it? How do we absolve ourselves of any responsibility when we tell stories of a God who does just that?

  13. Imperfection: Obviously the ritual killing of Isaac was a similitude for Christ. Abraham was never meant to kill his son, he was meant to learn the similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son. The retelling of the story continues to teach this similitude. The similitude of Isaac’s sacrifice occurred in the evening of the 3rd day, much like Christ’s sacrifice occurred in the evening of the 3rd 1,000 year period.

    Genesis chapter XXII, Joseph Smith Translation

    14 And the angel said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him;
    15 For now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only Isaac from me.

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    Nephi has the spirit whisper to him to kill Laban = Good.

    Abraham is ready to kill his son as a sacrifice because God told him = Good.

    9-11 Hijackers have the spirit whisper to them to fly airplanes into buildings to kill people = Bad.

    Sure, we can say the 9-11 hijackers were following evil promptings and Nephi was following the true will of God. I assure you that all these groups were sure they were doing the will of God. The hijackers believed so much, they were ready to die for it.

  15. I think in telling the story you could add a bit of psychological tension with Abraham reliving the trauma of the attempt at using him as a human sacrifice earlier in his life. There’s an interesting parallel there, that God would take someone so traumatized and then have them re-enact the trauma as the perpetrator.

    I really like the rabbinic discussions DavidH mentions (#7). It’s unfortunately that so many in our church are so bone-headed in their literal readings of the scriptures and afraid to speculate a bit like in the midrash tradition.

  16. Night Owl,

    I think we each have to decide if God is good, make a choice to follow him. As Christopher mentioned, Satan can imitate. The question is why do we worship God? I choose to worship God because I believe he is good. My life’s experiences tell me that God loves and cares for all humanity.

    There is also of course the question of our understanding of God. Did God appear face to face with Abraham? Or was the command from God from a “feeling” or the cultural expectations of his day?

    I believe Abraham felt some compulsion to sacrifice his son (whether from his culture and time or from some feeling or command by God). I also believe that the biggest moral of the story is that he didnt do it and God doesnt want human sacrifice. Just as the later prophets made clear to Israel he doesnt even want your animal sacrifices and the only acceptable sacrifice is a broken heart

    Even if we assume God himself appeared, why should I obey the command to kill my son? Authority, from even God, does not make something right.

  17. I am of the firm belief that much of the bible has been changed over the years, and that before King James made his “adjustments” it was common place for those in power to manipulate the text to suit their lifestyle and further fortify their seat. I recently watched a documentary called Bloodline where they were talking about this priest in Rennes le Chatteau and he found a knights Templar tomb back in the late 1800s. He kept it a secret from the Vatican, but left clues of it’s whereabouts around the area. The documentarian seems to believe that it’s the tomb of Mary Magdalene, but I think whatever they find, I hope there’s some actual texts so that more of these biblical “edits” can be reversed.

  18. I was thinking, wouldn’t it stink to be Abraham’s son? He would kill you to obey God. Maybe if I were a better person I would be proud of my parent that they were so obedient but I think wanting to live would weigh heavily on my mind.

  19. Anyone ever hear the theory that Isaac had reached adulthood and was consenting in the sacrifice when Abraham was put to the test?

  20. Yes, Rigel, that he was not a young child is implied in the fact that he carried the wood – or at least that he would have had an easy time overpowering his very old father.

  21. The Qur’an implies that Ishmael (not Isaac) was indeed older and had a conversation with Abraham about it.

    It’s been a while since I read it though.

  22. I would note that this is the only interpretation that would keep a modern Abraham out of permanent state custody, deep sedation, intensive mandated counseling, and a recovery program for child abusers. Based on the various and sundry reasons I can think for NOT going with a “command” to kill my own son, I believe that the “Abrahamic Test” mantra used frequently in LDS culture to teach some sort of lesson (to follow the brethren, do something we’re not comfortable with, or conform in some way) is way out of hand, historically abused, and way too dangerous to take seriously.

  23. Valoel – great post! The Abraham story is so weird. I like the alternate interpretations in the above link. I care a lot less for the standard interpretation that obedience trumps all, even parental love, although Christ’s atonement would not have been possible if the Father hadn’t allowed him to be killed. So I get it. I just don’t like it. Even if I could get past my parental and human feelings, I’m just far too squeamish to inflict direct injury on another person.

  24. Hawkgrrrl :–

    Even if I could get past my parental and human feelings, I’m just far too squeamish to inflict direct injury on another person.

    I said above, “Abraham was never meant to kill his son, he was meant to learn the similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son.” I take it that when Abraham left Melchizedek rejoicing in the priesthood he now possessed, that he knew of all the prophecies of the Only Begotten Son and was in no need of further similitude.

    What I really think is that Abraham was meant to impart the lesson upon his own only begotten son in a way that could Isaac could never forget and in-fact could never be forgotten by anyone, and obviously we still haven’t forgotten it.

    That this event of ritual instruction of Isaac took place in the middle of the 3rd day, as Christ’s crucifixion was to occur in the middle of the 3rd 1000-year dispensation, is the strongest connection to the similitude and the lesson that was meant to be imparted (but which has obviously been lost from most people’s modern interpretations).

  25. The Stray Cat,

    “What I really think is that Abraham was meant to impart the lesson upon his own only begotten son”

    I guess someone else fathered Ishmael then. Does anyone out there know who that was sleeping with Hagar? I’m just sure that’s why Abraham had to make her leave, the cheating slut. Thanks Stray Cat, I always wondered how that divorce was ok in Gods eyes, now I know…

  26. Doug G. :–

    Ishmael is no less a son of Abraham, but the biblical patriarchs seem to have a thing for favorites. Jacob favored Rachel’s sons, and Abraham favored Sarah’s child. “Only begotten son by his favorite wife” isn’t too much of a stretch for the similitude with Christ. An angel even warned Hagar that her and Ishmael would be “expelled” or “cast out” from Abraham’s presence, but they are still blessed that their seed shall multiply exceedingly and they shall be a great nation.

    Genesis chapter XXI —

    10 And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight, because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah has said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.
    11 And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.

    I’m sure there’s a reasonable interpretation for Ishmael and Hagar’s calamity, but as yet I can’t give it. Maybe you can give that one a try…

  27. Doug G. :–

    Besides, if Isaac grew up not knowing Ishmael, as far as Isaac is concerned, he is the only begotten of his father. I know this from experience; I have a half-brother I’ve never met, and though I’ve grown up experiencing a sort of love for him having known about him and his story and the suicide of his mother, as far as my life went, it’s like my father had only 3 sons. I know my father had 4 sons, and maybe some day we’ll get to meet our brother, but until then it’s just the 3 of us; I think you know what I mean…

  28. I’m astounded by some of commenters here who seem to think they have a better comprehension of life, death, good, and evil than God does, or who suppose that difficult tests of faith, trust, and loyalty are something God does for his own cruel pleasure, or that it was easy for Abraham to rationalize obedience to a commandment that was so contradictory to everything he thought he knew about God, or who prefer an invented substitute for scripture to the real thing.

  29. It astounds me as well that I apparently have a better comprehension of life, death, good, and evil than God. That is why, given the known problems with biblical sources, I view these stories as ‘obedience myths’ and not actual interactions with God.

    The problem arises when we base our moral code on such myths. Certainly the earth has seen enough of ‘God’ sanctioned murder. Such absolute obedience, even unto the taking of life, should have no part in a modern culture.

  30. Stray,

    “Besides, if Isaac grew up not knowing Ishmael, as far as Isaac is concerned, he is the only begotten of his father”

    I guess if you want to look hard enough, you can find parallels in most anything. For me, the story of Abraham and Isaac is not only disturbing, but downright scary when I realize how many people today think that God would ever command such a thing. With that belief, Mountain Meadows type events become possible, Danites find strength and conviction in their cause, Governors are shot in the back while sitting at their desks, and men justify the most unbelievable evils imaginable.

    Sorry Mr. Stay, but the God I worship is smart enough to know what man would do with the kind of example the story of Abraham provides and therefore wouldn’t do it. If you really believe that Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament, can you honestly see him commanding anyone’s death? I just can’t go there, but I realize I’m quite alone in that belief in the LDS church. I don’t present this for further comment as some of us have already been down this road in a previous discussion. The arguments will be the same, in the end I’ll find myself amazed at the blind ignorance of so many posters. And then I’ll get scared…

  31. Doug

    If you really believe that Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament, can you honestly see him commanding anyone’s death?

    nope, I cant. Which is one of the reasons Jesus had to come and say, you have heard it said…. but that wasnt me and let me tell you what I want.

  32. Doug,

    It sounds to me like people just want to be stuck on the killing thing out of stubbornness (or ignorance). Yes, the old, traditional, at-face-value, and wrong interpretation of Abraham and Isaac’s event on a mountaintop could inspire blood-thirstiness in already demented minds (but so could anything misinterpreted)… But when a non-demented mind sees that Abraham was never meant to kill Isaac, and that it was an event of ritual instruction of Isaac in the similitudes of Christ, then I think that view shatters all the ph33r and scariness (and confusion over the story) in the world. YMMV

    Sounds to me like you don’t think Jehovah is Jesus Christ. YHVH is definitely the God of the Old Testament (my Lord my God), and Jesus Christ is definitely the Lord of the New Testament (my Lord my God also taught us then about our Father our God).

    To answer your question, I do not see our Lord our God commanding anyone’s death in this story. I see an event of ritual instruction, even if there is some fronting and suspense involved.

    When people lose sight of the similitudes, they lose sight of most of the meaning that can be derived from Scripture.

    “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” — II Peter 3:8

    “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.” — Psalm 90:4

  33. Joshua and Matra,

    My comments were based on some of the posts I read here rather than the actual story of Abraham and Isaac. Although I still find it disturbing, at least as you point out, God never expected him to go through with it. That’s not the case in many other Old Testament stories and one particular instance in the Book of Mormon. As I said, we already had a long debate early this year on God commanding killing. I would invite you to go back and read the threads “God’s Hit List in the Book of Mormon” or the one on whether you would be willing to kill if God commanded it.

    There seems to be many in the church who would even sacrifice their own children if they believed God told them to do it. Don’t take this the wrong way, but those people should be locked up.

    “Sounds to me like you don’t think Jehovah is Jesus Christ”

    I don’t know how to respond to this one. Several years ago I would have bet my life on Him being the God of the Old Testament. Since coming to realize just how many of our doctrines in the church are man-made, I really don’t know. He certainly could be, and that would fit in with nearly every Christian religion out there, as believing in the Trinity would still make Him the God of the O.T. Joshua may actually be on to something with his comment…

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    Excellent discussion. Please make sure to keep things civil and respectful. I think it’s getting a little more heated in some of the comments than I would prefer.

    Remember to embrace the spirit of love and sharing in our words. Thanks everyone!

  35. valoel,

    will do.

    Doug,

    It seems to me that the problem comes not from believing God is the same in the OT and NT but believing that the ancients understood God’s will to the same degree. I have a strong belief that part of the reason Christ had to come was to let us all know once and for all what God is truly like (If you have seen me…) We see through a glass darkly and I believe that how we relate to the divine is greatly influenced by our own culture and views. Maybe Joshua really felt the Lord wanted him to massacre men women and children but that does not mean, even if he claims it, that God actually did so. The best witness we have of who God is and what he is like is in Christ himself.

  36. Joshua,

    I think that even when I was fully absorbed in the faith (see Ray, I didn’t say TBM)I believed that about OT writings. Good point, thanks for your perspective.

  37. Malachi 2:13,17 — “And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand. … Ye have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?”

  38. I really like this discussion and the question that was put forward. But I think what I take away from it is more of a life lesson to myself rather than debating facts and scriptures.

    Do you follow certain beliefs because men told you, or wrote in a book that God taught “this”? Whether it was written a couple thousand years ago or yesterday I would still question any practice or belief that went against what I felt was right or not.

    The OT needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Prophets then and now can and have made mistakes and have written scriptures to appease their own conscience. Honestly just read some of the horrible things that are attributed to God in the OT and tell me that he is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

  39. Benji- so if your personal conscience is the highest test of spirituality, does that mean that God is no wiser than you? Or do you allow for the Spirit to inform your conscience and elevate your understanding to a higher level? Or do you just think it’s impossible for humans to separate their own conscience from the divine will?

  40. Hawkgrrrl,

    Very good point and no, not at all. I was making the point that we cant take all that is written as absolute and that it came from God. We have to each use our own intellect and the spirit to discern between what is from God and what is from men. I mean that’s why God gave it to us right?

  41. There’s another similitude that Abraham needed to learn, even though he already knew about the future sacrifice of Christ/Messiah.

    As a future exalted being himself, Abraham (and the rest of us who might aspire to grow up to be like Heavenly Father) neededed to learn what it is like to sacrifice one’s firstborn-in-the-spirit son and only-begotten-in-the-flesh son.

    As far as I can make out, (as JS said that we become exalted in the same manner that all exalted beings before us) all exalted beings will need to sacrifice their firstborn-in-the-spirit (who will also be their only-begotten-in-the-flesh), in order to bring about the immortality and eternal life of their spirit children.

    I also recall a scripture that the Savior said he learned everything he knows or did from his Father. Question: How did Christ know how to take upon himself and make an expiation for the sins of the world? Answer: (from that scripture I can’t seem to cite) He learned it from his Father.

    So another take on the story is: God was teaching Abraham an important facet of being an exalted being.

  42. I’ll say this, the Lord is my friend. And friends don’t ask friends to sacrifice their firstborns. Or 2nd 3rd or 4rth for that matter.

  43. Bookslinger: “So another take on the story is: God was teaching Abraham an important facet of being an exalted being.” I was thinking about this, too, as well as the fact that Abraham was then further teaching it to Isaac. Perhaps this was done as a ritualistic method of teaching (along the lines of a scripted enactment) rather than an actual “test” of Abraham’s obedience, faith, and understanding. Perhaps Abraham was teaching Isaac some timely eternal principles, since there were bastardized versions of child and human sacrifice at the time: 1) the father grieves but is willing, 2) the son is willing and obedient and trusting, 3) the son must carry his own cross (not merely a willing victim, but an active participant in his sacrifice), and finally, 4) animal sacrifice was instituted to teach pre-Christ mankind these things symbolically, so look to this experience to understand the meaning of animal sacrifice (rather than to the other sacrificial religions of the day). Again, maybe it never was a “test,” but more like an ancient temple ritual designed to teach certain principles through an enactment.

  44. Doug G said in #37

    “There seems to be many in the church who would even sacrifice their own children if they believed God told them to do it. Don’t take this the wrong way, but those people should be locked up. “

    Mr. Bookslinger, For your children’s sake, I hope you don’t feel the need to become an exalted being anytime soon.:)

  45. Scary thought, isn’t it. Even without JS’s King Follet discourse, if you take the LDS gospel’s principle of exaltation (Chapter 47 in Gospel Principles, though Chap 47 may have reference to some quotes from that discourse), and just repeat/extrapolate Heavenly Father’s relationship to Christ onto the spirit children of Heavenly Father, it boggles the mind. It is perhaps too solemn for blog conversation. Though perhaps it is included in the instruction to ponder the solemnities of eternity.

    Even with just Biblical references, C.S. Lewis and other Christian thinkers were able to extract the principle of exaltation/deification. So we don’t even have to rely on extra-canonical stuff like the King Follet discourse to draw our minds to the possibilities of what goes on in the eternities.

    There is so much left un-said in Genesis. It makes me wonder what was removed by scribes and record-keepers in the millennia between Moses and the compositors of the currently known oldest copies of the Old Testament.

    Did Moses himself redact/summarize things? Did Moses write Genesis soley through revelation? Or did he have records handed down to him that he redacted, similar to Mormon? I don’t have the cite handy, but one of the modern prophets or apostles (I think it was Spencer Kimball) said that Moses had physical records handed to him from which he created the summary we know as Genesis.

    There’s much cultural and verbal shorthand in Genesis. (What does it mean by “the earth was divided” when it describes the days of Peleg? Was that a political division, or were land masses physically divided via geographical movement or division of the plates of the earth’s crust? )

    I think it safe to assume that Abraham’s knowledge of and closeness to Heavenly Father and Jehovah/Christ became equal to that of any other prophet, including Enoch, Noah, Melchizedek, Moses and subsequent O.T. prophets. He not only knew Jehovah face-to-face, I would think he also knew Heavenly Father face-to-face.

    Hawkgrrrl: I think you’re saying that not only did Abraham believe that the Lord would resurrect Isaac, it’s possible that Isaac believed so too; and that it’s possible that both Abraham and Isaac knew in advance that the experience was to be a symbolic teaching exercise.

    Another parallel is our (us spirit children who came to Earth to receive bodies) willingness to “die spiritually” by leaving the presence of Heavenly Father in the pre-mortal existence, (one of the definitions of spiritual death is to be outside of the presence of God) with faith that God would both resurrect us physically, and “resurrect” us back to spiritual life by bringing us back into his presence.

    Another parallel is Adam’s apparent willingness to die (spiritually and physically) by partaking of the fruit, with faith that God and Christ would physically resurrect him and Eve, and spiritually resurrect them (bring them back into God’s presence.) Though Genesis and the Book of Moses don’t make it clear to me “how much did they know and when did they know it” in regards to Adam and Eve’s understanding of the overall plan.

    This all takes my mind to the Atonement. It is necessary for us to comprehend the Atonement as much as possible (and eventually at some point in the future eternities to fully comprehend it) and forgive everyone who offends us on this earth; because if you end up as an exalted being, you’ll have to forgive billions of your spirit children through the Atonement of your firstborn spirit child.

  46. Bookslinger – “I think you’re saying that not only did Abraham believe that the Lord would resurrect Isaac, it’s possible that Isaac believed so too; and that it’s possible that both Abraham and Isaac knew in advance that the experience was to be a symbolic teaching exercise.” Actually, I was suggesting that perhaps this was like an early temple rite, not a literal event in which his life was in danger or would require resurrection, but more like playacting to teach principles through symbolism using a script.

  47. if you end up as an exalted being, you’ll have to forgive billions of your spirit children through the Atonement of your firstborn spirit child.

    Do we ever ask ourselves how absurd some of our atonement theories adopted from St Anselm sound. I am going to forgive my children by demanding another of my child suffer including being tortured and murdered. These theories come from a sacrificial mindset. Peter Abelard showed the absurdity of Anselm’s ideas hundreds of years ago and yet we still want to believe that God engages in a form of child abuse and is so incapable of forgiving us that one of his children must be tortured and killed to satisfy his blood lust.

    I hope that if I end up God that I will simply forgive my children. I hope that when I send my own son to the vineyard they will choose to follow him and not kill him. Justice is not an offended God who needs to be appeased or some intelligences who demand fair play and rule over God, or some arbitrary universal laws that are based upon violence in retribution. Justice is simply you are what you are as Alma explains the law of restitution. If you are a jerk you will remain a jerk. The atonement doesnt appease an angry God or some law but gives us faith, faith to repent and change, which is the bringing about the bowls of mercy. We are the obstacles to our own forgiveness and change. We are the ones who demanded Christ die.

    Or at least thats how I see it today

  48. Brigham Young said:

    “What a pity it would be, if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken the influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually.” (JD 9:150)

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    I always loved that BY quote. I keep it close to my heart. Former leaders of the Church just amaze me at times. It’s the LAST thing I would ever imagine BY saying (because of his personality), but he did and it’s true.

    #55 Interesting perspective.

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