Yesterday I was listening to an older episode of the radio show “Philosophy Talk” where the hosts explored the philosophy of Soren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard found in Abraham a model of the ideal man in his approach to knowing by faith. For Kierkegaard the ideal moment is when Abraham is willing to sacrifice his son to God. This is a sentiment shared by Jews, Christians, and Muslims worldwide. For all of us Abraham is the “father of the faithful”, but this concerns many.
In fact, it was one of the important points of contention during the show. Did Kierkegaard suggest something of beauty and value by suggesting that sometimes we need to move beyond reason or did he open the door to the horrible fundamentalism that led to events like 9/11? On what grounds could Kierkegaard use Abraham as an example (or the Apostle Paul, or James, etc…)?
Why is Abraham not just another nut job? Why would God tell him to kill his son? Why would Abraham believe that it was really God saying this? If someone did something like that today would we say this is faith or insanity?
It appears that the Qur’an burning “church” feels that God has told them to do what they are doing. In a recent Washington Post story (here) there is a quote from one of the associate pastors of World Outreach Center where he compares the church to Abraham:
“God is leading us right up to the moment,” Sapp (an associate pastor) said Wednesday of the Koran-burning plan. “It’s no different than Abraham and his son. God didn’t tell him, ‘Go right up to the point where you might sacrifice him.’ He wanted him to be fully committed. We’re prepared to do what we’re called to do.”
For many Christians there is the assumption that we can hear God’s “voice” in some manner today. We speak about being “led by the Spirit”. How do we condemn Terry Jones while exalting Abraham? How do we know one person is not hearing God while someone else of faith is?
I think this is something that the more “charismatic” of us must think deeply about. What would be the difference between what we hope happens amongst our congregations and what is happening in Florida? Do you suggest any guidelines?