Re: Abraham

Paul Arveson (
Wed, 10 Apr 96 10:39:38 EDT

In message <> jeffery
lynn mullins writes:
> On Tue, 9 Apr 1996, Paul Arveson wrote:

> > The text of Genesis itself does not describe the thoughts that must have
> > gone
> > through Abraham's mind in this experience. So Kierkegaard fills them in
> > for us,
> > in Fear and Trembling. Read it, positivists!
> >
> The above was ascribed to me, but it is a dialog between Bill Hamilton
> and Glenn Morton to which I replied to a small part of what Bill wrote,
> and what I wrote is not included in the above. However, I would like to
> know who is being called a positivist and why. Is it a positivist stance
> to stand against the blind leap of faith with no object that Kierkegaard
> expouses?
> Jeff

Jeff: I apologize for the name-calling, which was not directed toward anyone
in particular, but generally to the attitude I sometimes see here, of people who
want to base all belief on sight, all scripture on historical evidence, all
faith upon reason. I don't think that approach is biblical. It is inherited
from the deism of Locke, perhaps.

> P.S. I think that Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac because he knew that
> God would raise him from the dead, because God promised that a nation
> would come from Isaac and from this seed would come blessings to the
> nations, and God had always been faithful. Faith is based upon the
> experience or knowledge of the past trustworthiness of God; it is not
> blind, and it is not a metaphysical force.

I will defer to Kierkegaard as to the thoughts Abraham might have had. I know
how easily Kierkegaard is generally dismissed among evangelicals like us. And I
don't mean to defend everything he stands for. But I take note of the
historical context in which he wrote: a subculture similar to our own (only
larger), in which Bible scholars wrangled incessantly over tiny points,
insisting that scripture had to be interpreted in a particular way, or else the
faith would collapse. The biggest things depended on the smallest things. This
is also similar to the culture of the Pharisees, which Kierkegaard noticed. So
instead of entering the fray, he reacted by creating a new genre, a new way to
approach the problems of interpretation. I believe he was sincere, he was not
trying to be heretical, but whenever someone tries to approach orthodoxy in a
new way he is bound to create controversy. (There are those among you who have
experienced this!) And of course the followers often abandon the founder's
intent, but that's not the founder's fault.

There would be no need to change approaches if the existing orthodox approach
worked (i.e. if it provided truth that is meaningful, objective, and unified).
But from the discussions in ASA, it appears that people are not satisfied that
this has been achieved. So I predict that more creative (radical?) approaches
will emerge. I don't know what form they will take, but I know many minds are
restless and won't be satisfied with past pat answers.

"Abraham went out, not knowing where he was going." Heb. 11:8

Paul Arveson, Research Physicist
(301) 227-3831 (W) (301) 227-1914 (FAX) (301) 816-9459 (H)
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