If God told you to sacrifice your child, would you?
Jerry Shepherd believes that “The confession that Christ is Lord has to mean something.”
He then goes on to explain:
“And for me, one of the things it means is calling him Lord even when I don’t understand his ways, and, yes, even upon occasion, when my moral sensitivities are taken aback. But if I only call him Lord when he agrees with me, then I might as well just drop the pretenses and start conducting my worship services in front of my mirror.”
This kind of statement preaches well, that’s for sure. And it’s true, so far as it goes. But in the present discussion over biblical moral atrocities, it doesn’t go far at all.
Here’s a picture of what Jerry is suggesting. You’re mountain climbing with a guide when he advises you to “Let go of the rope!” It doesn’t make sense, because if you let go of the rope you’ll tumble into the swirling mists and no doubt to certain doom on the rocky crags far below. But this is the moment of truth. Do you trust your guide, or not? Trusting your guide, and submitting to his direction, means willingness to accept what he says, even when it doesn’t seem to make sense.
And so you close your eyes, let go of the rope, and discover that there is a rocky ledge hidden in the mist just two feet below. There, wasn’t that easy?!
Similarly, Jerry is suggesting that if we’re going to trust Jesus as our guide, we have to accept his directions as well, even when they don’t make sense.
But it is precisely here that the analogy breaks down.
Consider another analogy. You have been having trouble raising your kids and so Nanny McPhee has agreed to leave helpful post-it notes around the house providing you with daily advice. If you really trust Nanny McPhee, you’ll follow her advice. After all, she is the most capable nanny around.
So you begin faithfully following her advice. “Be consistent with your rules.” “Establish your authority.” “Apologize when you make a mistake.” “Do not be overbearing.” And gradually you see the advice begin to work its magic.
But occasionally you find interspersed in the advice from Nanny McPhee advice like the following. “Bash your child’s head in with a hammer” and “Feed the baby to the dog.”
Would you follow that advice? Of course not.
Here’s the crucial point. By not following that advice, you wouldn’t be in any way intending to question the capability of Nanny McPhee. Instead, you’d likely be thinking one of two things. Either Nanny McPhee didn’t write those messages at all. Or if she did, she didn’t mean what they say. And so it would be positively perverse to suggest that a person who doesn’t follow that advice is refusing to trust Nanny McPhee. They trust her fully. But based on their knowledge of who Nanny McPhee is, they have excellent reasons to believe she would never command such things.
Jerry Shepherd has claimed that anybody who doesn’t accept biblical reports that God commanded the slaughter and mutilation of infants as devotional sacrifices to himself at face value doesn’t trust God.
That prompts a question for Jerry. If he heard a voice speak to him, identifying itself as God and commanding him to sacrifice one of his children, would he do so? If he wouldn’t even consider whether he ought to start sharpening his knife, then maybe he should just start conducting worship services in front of his mirror.