The story of Abraham offering to sacrifice his son as a burnt offering in Genesis 22 makes sense only if it is literally true, a Southern Baptist seminary president said at a recent preaching conference.
“If this is merely a story, if this is just a literary artifact of ancient Israel, if this is to be interpreted as some sort of parabolic account, if this did not happen in space and time and history, if God did not do exactly what it says in this text that he did, and if Abraham did not do exactly what this text says that he did, if this is just a narrative, then it is an immoral, horrifying narrative,” Albert Mohler said in an audio message posted on his website Nov. 3. “If it is, however, the truth, then we are saved.”
Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., preached on the same subject on campus at an “Expositors Summit” Oct. 28-30 featuring John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif. A seminary news release Nov. 5 said audio and video from the summit will be soon be posted online.
In an abbreviated version preached at a local church on Sunday, Mohler described the chapter, which has long troubled both Jewish and Christian theologians, as a test of biblical authority. “This is one of those tests of whether we believe this is genuinely the word of God,” he said.
After delivering the second Spurgeon Lecture on Preaching at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Nov. 5, Mohler said in a video interview that he regards his Oct. 28 sermon on “The Binding of Isaac” as “one of the pinnacle messages of my life and ministry.”
“There’s certain texts of Scripture that I have reserved — even as I have taught them at some level — I’ve reserved them for some great homiletical project in which I’m just going to pour a year of my life,” Mohler told Midwestern President Jason Allen. “So I basically poured a year of my life into that message.”
The passage is historically significant for Midwestern, established in 1958 in Kansas City, Mo., and one of six seminaries owned by the Southern Baptist Convention. Ralph Elliott, the first member elected to join Midwestern’s first faculty as professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, wrote a 1961 book The Message of Genesis, arguing for a historical-literary approach to interpreting the first book of the Bible.
Elliott argued that the Moses did not write Genesis, that the first 11 chapters are parables, Noah’s Flood was local and that God did not command Abraham to sacrifice his son. “God does not test a man of faith with a command to do something that is morally wrong and contrary to the character of God,” he said of the story of Abraham and Isaac.
Elliott said such stores have value for religion but are not to be taken as literally true. While Elliott described his argument as a moderate view, it upset conservatives in the Southern Baptist Convention.
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SOURCE: Baptist News Global