Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
"We Have Apostolic Tradition"- The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary #2
01/28/2009 - James SwanCatholic apologists often let us know how crucial it is to have an infallible magisterium and church Tradition in order to interpret the Bible correctly. With so many Catholic apologists now commenting on sacred scripture, I thought it would be interesting to provide their commentary on the Bible. Let's see how they've been able to rightly divide the word of truth. I'll post their interpretations as I come across them.
In this MP3 clip, Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin was asked if the offering of Issac by Abraham in Genesis 22 was in accord with "reason":
Jimmy Akin Interprets Genesis 22
Instead of consulting "Tradition," Akin first consults the philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard (so much for consulting the Church Fathers). Ironically, Kierkegaard wasn't a Roman Catholic, but was raised a Lutheran. Akin explains Kierkegaard's interpretation of the offering of Isaac as "If God says Abraham should offer Isaac on the alter, then it's morally legitimate for Abraham to do that." In case this interpretation isn't satisfactory, Akin provides another: "He [God] is also showing Abraham and his descendants that you shouldn't commit child sacrifice because God stops him [Abraham] from actually slaying his son.... There could be an object lesson here that child sacrifice is ultimately not what God wants."
The most interesting aspect of Akin's answer on this passage is his lack of mentioning Christ, as well as the ram caught in the thicket. Rather than locating my old copy of Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling, notice how others in church history like Augustine have interpreted the passage:
"And on this account Isaac also himself carried to the place of sacrifice the wood on which he was to be offered up, just as the Lord Himself carried His own cross. Finally, since Isaac was not to be slain, after his father was forbidden to smite him, who was that ram by the offering of which that sacrifice was completed with typical blood? For when Abraham saw him, he was caught by the horns in a thicket. What, then, did he represent but Jesus, who, before He was offered up, was crowned with thorns by the Jews?" [source]
"But let us rather hear the divine words spoken through the angel. For the Scripture says, "And Abraham stretched forth his hand to take the knife, that he might slay his son. And the Angel of the Lord called unto him from heaven, and said, Abraham. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, and hast not spared thy beloved son for my sake." It is said, "Now I know," that is, Now I have made to be known; for God was not previously ignorant of this. Then, having offered up that ram instead of Isaac his son, "Abraham," as we read, "called the name of that place The Lord seeth: as they say this day, In the mount the Lord hath appeared." As it is said, "Now I know," for Now I have made to be known, so here, "The Lord sees," for The Lord hath appeared, that is, made Himself to be seen. "And the Angel of the Lord called unto Abraham from heaven the second time, saying, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord; because thou hast done this thing, and hast not spared thy beloved son for my sake; that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess by inheritance the cities of the adversaries: and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice." In this manner is that promise concerning the calling of the nations in the seed of Abraham confirmed even by the oath of God, after that burnt-offering which typified Christ. For He had often promised, but never sworn. And what is the oath of God, the true and faithful, but a confirmation of the promise, and a certain reproof to the unbelieving?"[source]
Was the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham in accord with "reason"? Akin is right, there is an object lesson here. If one keeps in mind the entire Bible has Christ as it's central focus, one has found the "reason" for Genesis 22.