I Reject the "Abrahamic Test"

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Ann
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Re: I Reject the "Abrahamic Test"

Post by Ann » 30 Apr 2014, 15:56

I'm not the sharpest knife in the doctrinal drawer, so I'll just say at the risk of looking simple that I don't understand likening anything we experience to the Abrahamic Test - real or symbolic. For a gay person, how does putting intimacy and authenticity on the altar resemble the A. test? What's the ram? In the polygamy scenario, who's Abraham - Joseph, Emma, everyone? The story's getting a little muddled then. And, again, where's the ram? When we're enduring the difficulties of life - sickness, death, disappointment, violence, betrayal, we call it mortality and opposition in all things. When we're telling other people what God requires, we call it an Abrahamic test.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

Old-Timer
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Re: I Reject the "Abrahamic Test"

Post by Old-Timer » 30 Apr 2014, 20:54

I never use this story as something to liken unto me. My response would be, "Hell, no," so there is no good moral in the traditional view for me.

The failed test view has a really good message for me, so I go with it.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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On Own Now
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Re: I Reject the "Abrahamic Test"

Post by On Own Now » 01 May 2014, 07:42

Everybody will see the story a little differently. I have no problem with someone ELSE seeing it as a general example of a test of faith wherein the Lord filled in what made it all OK. I don't love it as that kind of story, but if others do, fine. This is not a uniquely LDS theological viewpoint. It is a common Christian interpretation. In fact, the writer of Hebrews clearly saw it and presented it that way.
By faith, Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. --Hebrews 11:17
Likewise, I see value in looking at it as a test that Abraham failed, yet the Lord still came to his aid... that's an interesting way to look at it and it's fine by me.

Yet, for me, myself, not accounting for anyone else or arguing that my interpretation is the correct one, I do not see it as a story about Abraham/Isaac at all. I tend to see myself in all such allegories. A better example is the Good Samaritan. Sometimes I see myself in the man beaten down in the road. Sometimes I see myself in the passers-by, sometimes I see myself in the Samaritan. Each way I look at it, it teaches me something about myself and my context in a world of human beings.

What I see in the story of Abraham/Isaac has nothing to do with ritual human sacrifice or succumbing to the will of God in the face of impossibility. What I see, and only what I see, is myself being given a chance at a second life by the atonement. Rather than a life that would have come to an end in meaninglessness, 'God' has provided a way for me to rise up and live. I probably see this because I have a heavy orientation toward Paul's "New Life" teachings, so I project that everywhere. But it works for me, and frees me from having to bog myself down into why "Abraham", a person that I believe didn't exist, would be willing to sacrifice his son "Isaac", another person that I see as fictional, at the command of "God" who I don't believe gave such a command to these fictional characters. But, New Life is, to me, the single most important aspect of the Gospel and it is strongly represented in this story.

And as Paul said (speaking to the gentile Christians of Galatia):
Now you, my friends, are children of the promise, like Isaac. --Galatians 4:28
- - -
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ― Carl Jung
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"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." ― Romans 14:13
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Minyan Man
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Re: I Reject the "Abrahamic Test"

Post by Minyan Man » 01 May 2014, 09:19

Ann said:
I'm not the sharpest knife in the doctrinal drawer,...
I thought I was the only one that felt this way.
This has been an interesting post. I've been thinking about it all week.
As written, I do not like this story. I never have.
I have difficulty with the role of JC & the need for him to be a sacrifice too.

The best courses I had in college were the ones that challenged what I thought I believed.
You were forced to defend your belief or modify your belief.

This is what I come away with this story:
1. God doesn't test us. He allows things to happen to us & around us.
2. We have a choice about how we are going to react. Sometimes we react well & sometimes we react not so well (Badly).
3. We have the opportunity to learn from the challenges in life over time. (This life & the next.)

Imagine trying to write a lesson or story that teaches a moral principle that lasts for 3000+ years.
Imagine trying to relate that lesson or story to a variety of cultures from nomadic tribes in the desert to our generation where people have walked on the moon.

IMO life is not a "pop" quiz where judgement & learning happens in a single moment of time.
Thanks turin.

Ann
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Re: I Reject the "Abrahamic Test"

Post by Ann » 01 May 2014, 16:15

On Own Now wrote:
What I see in the story of Abraham/Isaac has nothing to do with ritual human sacrifice or succumbing to the will of God in the face of impossibility. What I see, and only what I see, is myself being given a chance at a second life by the atonement. Rather than a life that would have come to an end in meaninglessness, 'God' has provided a way for me to rise up and live. I probably see this because I have a heavy orientation toward Paul's "New Life" teachings, so I project that everywhere. But it works for me, and frees me from having to bog myself down into why "Abraham", a person that I believe didn't exist, would be willing to sacrifice his son "Isaac", another person that I see as fictional, at the command of "God" who I don't believe gave such a command to these fictional characters. But, New Life is, to me, the single most important aspect of the Gospel and it is strongly represented in this story.

And as Paul said (speaking to the gentile Christians of Galatia):
Now you, my friends, are children of the promise, like Isaac. --Galatians 4:28
Thanks for this, On Own Now.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

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turinturambar
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Re: I Reject the "Abrahamic Test"

Post by turinturambar » 01 May 2014, 16:33

I'd like to share a chilling poem. It was written by a young man who died in the trenches in WWI.
Parable of the Old Man and the Young

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
and builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretchèd forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

Wilfred Owen
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

(New Testament | 1 Corinthians 13:2‎)‎

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SunbeltRed
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Re: I Reject the "Abrahamic Test"

Post by SunbeltRed » 26 Jun 2014, 14:15

Sorry, new here and reviewing older threads.

I really like the the thought of Abraham failing the test...resonated with me especially in light of my recent viewing of the movie "Noah".
However, it seems that the Abrahamic Covenant is based on Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son. Any thoughts about how he could have 'failed' but still received such a great promise?

It doesn't specifically say he received the promise because he passed the test, only because he was willing to not hold anything back from the Lord. So perhaps he would have been blessed either way and the lesson for us is that as long as we are doing what we think is best we will be blessed?

-SunbeltRed

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Re: I Reject the "Abrahamic Test"

Post by Old-Timer » 26 Jun 2014, 17:12

However, it seems that the Abrahamic Covenant is based on Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son.


Setting aside completely the question of whether or not the story is historically accurate to any degree, that certainly is the message that the writers wanted to convey, and it is a very powerful one for many, many people. However, just to consider, that same Abraham argued with / reasoned with / challenged the Lord / whatever when the Lord said he was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah - and he wasn't chastised one bit for those actions. Maybe he learned his lesson with the incident with Isaac.
Any thoughts about how he could have 'failed' but still received such a great promise?


1) It is a mythological story, so the promise was a given no matter what.

2) There was no way for him, personally, to escape his upbringing and culture, so he was blessed for what he was able to offer - his willingness to follow what he perceived to be the will of God, even if he was mistaken. The key, in that scenario, wasn't that he was willing to sacrifice his son; rather, it was that he was willing to do what he thought was right and what he thought God wanted - and he was open to being corrected and stopped before he could go through with it. In other words, maybe he was blessed for having an open heart and being willing to admit he was wrong in the end.

This is all speculation, but we do have "as far as it is translated correctly" to use as a way out of literal interpretations we don't like. It's liberating, and I apply the same principle to all scriptures.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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SilentDawning
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Re: I Reject the "Abrahamic Test"

Post by SilentDawning » 26 Jun 2014, 18:43

I like the interpretation that he failed the test too -- but still got some reward for trying to do the right thing. It's consistent with the concept of a merciful God.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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SunbeltRed
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Re: I Reject the "Abrahamic Test"

Post by SunbeltRed » 26 Jun 2014, 19:06

Ray,

Great comments!

So up until a few weeks ago I didn't feel the freedom to say to myself that the story of Abraham might only be metaphorical. Whenever I heard that we would have to face our own Abrahamic test I would always think "I'm screwed, my faith is not that strong".

I was kind of asking my question because I started really liking the idea of making a comment at church about maybe Abraham failed the test (as it seems to come up a lot). I think it would be innocuous enough to not take away from anyone else but perhaps cause a bit of a stir. And was trying to think about how to respond to the Orthodox response which would be, why did he get the promise he did.

Appreciate the thoughts.

-SunbeltRed

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