Monday, November 7, 2011

2011.11.09 God Talk and the Akedah

I don’t know why theology has always fascinated me. I suppose it’s a mystery I can’t grasp and can’t stop trying to, anyway.

Some Christians I imagine think that the idea of grace/free will cooperation for the good started with them, or at least the New Testament Jesus. But it’s more ancient than that.

I’ve been reading Bruce Feiler’s book Abraham, a fascinating and beautiful read. He writes about what I call the story of the gasp heard round the world, the story in Genesis 22 (called the Akedah in Hebrew) about the near-sacrifice or the binding of Isaac, as most Christians call it—and use it to condemn the God of the Old Testament as if there were two Gods.

Abraham heard God ask him to give his son Isaac as a burnt offering apparently to TEST the solidity of Abe’s faith.

There have been many interpretations of this theological horror story. Who would do such a thing? What kind of God is this? Where was the mother? This is Holy Scripture?

My own favorite is that Sarah arranged with God to provide a ram for the burnt offering so Isaac, at the last-gasp minute, would escape unharmed but with a lifelong case of serious post-traumatic stress disorder. Abraham I thought had obviously made an incorrect discernment of God’s will.(My rational was obviously me trying to save God!)It happens all the time, and to the most prayerful of u, I'd say. Poor Abe.

But Feiler points out that in the story God does NOT ask Abe to kill his son but to OFFER him. Early Jews referred to the event as the OFFERING,not sacrifice or binding.

Think of the Offering in Church. Good season to think of what you can offer to help God create peace and justice.

“A potter doesn’t test defective jars, they would break. He only tests sound ones.” Such is the basis for a Talmudic interpretation that suggests that Abraham was testing God,not the reverse, see if "His" promise of continuing and multiplying Abe's line were the real deal.

Now that’s a role reversal.

The consequence of such a flip is that God is brought down to earth rather than Abe being elevated to heaven. Abe is the actor and God the reactor.

The theological boundaries are confused— or are they?

Feiler suggests that ABRAHAM BECOMES GOD’S PARTNER. They belong to each other.

“Their mutual trials completed, their love consummated, Abraham and God have now been irreparably fused.”

This is chilling and thrilling theology, a scandal to some: through trauma, God and Abraham became partners forever—humanity and divinity conjoined and blessed to work together to mend the world.

The New Testament will take that union into the flesh of Jesus.

All of this is POWER WITH, NOT POWER OVER theology—from way back. Talk it up
!

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