I had a revelation about the last three blog posts I’ve written, specifically about how they are all connected.
One post was on deconstruction and reconstruction of faith. One was on why I am not a classical theist. And the third was my creative proposal for what Abraham should have said to God in Genesis 22 (instead of his silent attempt to sacrifice Isaac).
I have come to realize there are multiple connections between these blog posts. I was aware of some of them at the time, but other connections seem to have been subconscious.
Deconstruction and Reconstruction of Classical Theism and Abraham’s Silence
I already understood that I was “deconstructing” classical theism and the traditional interpretation of Abraham’s silence.
My “reconstruction” of the former was to suggest that a relational view of God was more faithful to Scripture than a view of God as unmoved by anything outside of the divine nature.
My “reconstruction” of the latter was to argue that Abraham should have protested God’s command for him to sacrifice his son and prayed for Isaac, rather than silently attempting to obey the command (that was the basic argument of my book Abraham’s Silence).
God’s Relationality as the Basis for Critiquing Abraham’s Silent Obedience
In Abraham’s Silence, among the reasons I gave for why Abraham should have pleaded with God for his son was the prominent biblical pattern of vigorous prayer (found in the lament psalms, Moses’s intercession for Israel, Job’s protests, Abraham’s bold intercession for Sodom, and Jesus’s teaching on prayer in the New Testament).
This understanding of prayer is grounded firmly in a relational view of God—a God who is impacted by the human dialogue partner, in distinction to the the immovable God of classical theism.
I guess that this view of God is so ingrained in me that I didn’t have to consciously think about it.
(Neo)Platonism and Abraham’s Silence
Then, some comments by Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat in response to my blog about classical theism suggested a further connection between the three posts—namely, Neoplatonism, or at least the traditions of Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy that preceded Neoplatonism proper.
It was in those traditions of Greek philosophy that we get the idea that God is unaffected by emotion or by any outside influences.
And if humans are made in the image of this God, then we would naturally valorize (in Sylvia Keesmaat’s words) “the strong silent male who doesn’t demonstrate any emotion when asked to do something that should tear his heart out, and who believes that God is not open to dialogue and challenge.”
This is remarkably similar to how Abraham is thought of in many traditional interpretations of Genesis 22.
So—wonder of wonders—it actually looks like there is some coherence to my thinking about disparate subjects (even when I am not aware of it).
Thank you, Richard. I read this
Glad to have helped you figure out what you are “really” saying, Richard! : )
Me too. 😎
Haha. Can I jump on that pile with Sylvia? On God’s relationality and the “strong silent male” stereotype, I wish Richard had mentioned the lousy father-son relationship between Abraham-Isaac. Did lack of love = lack of protest?
I do mention this in the book.
Yes. I just thought it also applied to that category in your blog post. A rhetorical question.