‘Kill Me a Son’: The Beautiful Scandal of Abraham’s Sacrifice
by Glen Scrivener
As Abraham lifts the knife above Isaac, many Christians reach for the scissors, at least mentally. We want to pull a Thomas Jefferson and snip out the story from our Bibles.
In Genesis 22, God commands Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son. Many conclude that this, surely, is an embarrassment to modern sensibilities, an affront to our common humanity. It’s an unbridgeable barrier to faith for any right-minded enquirer, isn’t it?
Bob Dylan retells the story like this:
Oh God said to Abraham, “Kill me a son”
Abe says, “Man, you must be puttin’ me on”
God say, “No.” Abe say, “What?” (“Highway 61 Revisited“)
“What?” isn’t Abraham’s response in the Bible, but Dylan is putting words to our alarm: You must be puttin’ me on! Child sacrifice? In a holy book? What should we make of such a story?
I love Genesis 22. It is perhaps my favorite chapter in all the Bible. I don’t want to get out the scissors; I want to get out the magnifying glass. Because if we train our eyes to see what’s there, this chapter becomes not a barrier to faith but an almighty boost.
But we need to begin with some basics…