Challenge: Would You Obey God if…?

Posted: January 3, 2012 by Amy Hall in God Has Spoken, God is Real, Weekly Challenge

Have you heard this one yet?

If God told you to kill your child, would you do it?

I think you’re going to have to ask a few questions of the atheist (or whomever is challenging you) before you can answer this one. But the trick is to make your response as concise as possible, because people are rarely open to hearing in-depth answers to “gotcha” questions. How would you get him interested in your answer? How would you diffuse the “gotcha!” bomb? Take your best shot, and be sure you’re here on Thursday to hear Brett’s answer.

(Photo from The Brick Testament)

Comments
  1. Adrian Urias says:

    oh snap. This one is hard.

    ummm…

    If God told me to give something back that he gave me, would I? Yes.

    Yeah, I got nothing for this one, though I have heard similar questions before. Look forward to hearing the response on Thursday!

    • That’s a kind of “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” question.

      This would be a hard question for me if I were the type that thinks God talks to us extra-biblically.
      But since I’m not, then the question is moot.

      I dunno how you Pentecostals and charismatics are going to answer this question though. Good luck…

  2. Albert says:

    I would first tell them, “Sure! In a heart beat!”

    Then after the bombard me with horrible obscenities and condemn God for being cruel and hating me for even considering do it I would ask him, “Why if God, the creator of all things, including my son, wanted me to do this, would it be a bad thing to do?”

    My son came from him. God is in charge of all that he made. God made life so he has the right to take it. Who are we to say that it is wrong? Who are we to say that my son will be better because of doing this? Perhaps I just saved his soul instead of allowing him to live a life that would have ended him up in hell. This is all a God perspective. And the person asking this wasn’t looking for a real answer, they are looking for a chance to beat down on God as a morally evil giant that does whatever he pleases.

    And my answer to that is, if he is God, he CAN do whatever he pleases. Who and I do try and stop him? As if I could.

    We need to first look at the premise that God is all powerful. And if he is all powerful, he has the ability to bring back my son to me. So me taking my son’s life, if God tells me to do it, shouldn’t be a big issue.

    I say all of that to say this. I would have to be for sure that it was God telling me to do this. It would have to be crystal clear that God told me and not something I imagined he told me. And if God is involved He would make sure I knew it was him and no one else.

  3. Mackendy L says:

    How would I know if this is God talking? The question is a contradiction to what is taught in the New Testament.

    Thats all I could think of

  4. Jane Clark says:

    No. I would take whatever consequences were coming for a potential disobedience, realizing that it is possible for me to be mistaken. If God wants to kill my child, He will have to do it Himself.

  5. Rob L. says:

    I would employ the Columbo Tactic…What do you mean by God and proceed from there. If He’s the all-powerful, all-knowing and all-present God of scripture, what’s the problem?

  6. Amy Hall says:

    Rob, I think that’s heading in exactly the right direction.

    The first question I would ask: “Do you mean, what would I do if I ‘thought’ God told me to do it, or what would I do if the real, living, perfectly good, righteous, just, wise Creator, Ruler, and Judge of the universe actually told me to do it?”

    I think that question might clear up some hidden assumptions in this challenge.

  7. I like where Amy is going.

    If God’s voice was loud and clear, and I had no doubt in my mind that this is what God Himself is asking of me, then I would have to do it in obedience. Simply because I love God more than my own son.

    I don’t believe that this is in God’s character to ask me to do this, so I’m not really worried about this scenario ever playing out. But then again, the next question shot at me might be, “if it’s not in God’s character then why did he ask Abraham to do it?” which may put me at a “gotcha” moment… help please?

  8. Sola Scriptura.

    God hasn’t commanded me to kill my child anywhere in the Bible, so this question seems a silly hypothetical, like asking “What would you do if a green eyed space dog from the Moon came and ate your homework?” Not gonna happen, nor is God going to command you to kill your child — or give you any other specific personal command or revelation.

    In other words, the question is bogus from the outset. It doesn’t need to be answered, it needs to be chopped down.

    • Amy Hall says:

      It’s definitely a “gotcha” question. The answer to the question itself isn’t nearly as important as the way you answer it and the direction in which you steer the conversation. I suspect the people who ask this question view the biblical God as an evil, barbaric tyrant, and they view Christians as mindless followers who will be twisted by religion. I think those are the two elements atheists are trying to prove just by asking the question.

      This is why you have to clarify what you mean by “God” and explain why you obey Him as a matter of course. It’s all rooted in His character and our trust in Him, His wisdom, and His goodness. Hebrews says that Abraham obeyed God in this because 1) he trusted that God fulfills His promises (and He promised to give Abraham descendants through Isaac), and 2) He trusted that God is able to raise the dead. Because of those two things, Abraham knew Isaac’s death couldn’t be the final outcome of his actions, so there was no struggle to harmonize the command with God’s character.

      But this question the atheist is asking is ultra-weird because there’s no context for us in which we could imagine God commanding us to kill our child. So we automatically assume God wouldn’t ask us to do so and reject the question. But I think it’s a good opportunity to talk about God’s character. If a perfectly good and wise God actually did ask me (and we have to stipulate that He really is asking, and we’re not mistaken), I would do it because He is good and wise and trustworthy. I just don’t see this ever happening in my situation, so the question seems silly.

      It would be a good idea to ask as many questions as possible–ask about the scenario, ask about what they mean by “God,” etc. If they offer a scenario that’s obviously not something a good God would command, then correct them on their view of God. Just keep bringing them back to the idea that God is the good, wise, ruler of the universe.

  9. It needs to be understood that God’s command to Abraham to sacrifice his child is exceptional. He doesn’t ask anyone else to do this. He didn’t even let Abraham go all the way with it. So the chances of God telling me to sacrifice my child don’t seem very high.

  10. Rob L. says:

    It’s important for the person asking the question to understand or at least acknowledge we’re talking about the Creator, the actual One, not an imaginary one. That’s what Amy is getting clarification about.

  11. greeklogic says:

    This is a great! Getting on the same page about what is ‘god’ and why they are asking the question is crucial.

    The critical connection between this question and the Son of God dying for them cannot be overlooked either. Perhaps there us something deeper behind the question than how unjust God is for telling Abraham to sacrifice his son. Maybe they are concerned about God’s unjustness for killing His own Son.

    So my question for Brett would be, ‘How do you get from that question to Jesus?’

    Great discussion!
    – Macellarius Sus

  12. Amy Hall says:

    Okay, after thinking about this a bit, here’s a concise strategy:

    1) Ask, “Do you mean, what would I do if I ‘thought’ God told me to do it, or what would I do if the real, living, perfectly good, righteous, just, wise Creator, Ruler, and Judge of the universe actually told me to do it?”

    If he says the second, then:

    2) Ask, “Can you think of a possible scenario where a perfectly good, just, wise God would have a sufficient and right reason to ask me to kill my child?”

    If he says no, then:

    3) “Then why are you asking the question?”

    If he says yes, then:

    4) “Then why should I disobey?”

    I think you might even be able to skip the first question and go directly to the second.

    • Wow, you’re good! I love that!

      The part that I’ve been struggling with the most is why would God put Abraham in that situation, but after giving it some thought I do see how God is glorified.

      First, Abraham was used an example for us to trust God even when it goes against what we would naturally do.

      Secondly, God would never want Abraham or us to sacrifice our own children for His benefit, but is willing to let His Son die on the cross for our salvation. I will never understand why He loves us that much, but it’s a beautiful and humbling picture of God’s love for us.

  13. tlogical says:

    Yes, I would kill my child if God told me. But how do I know God told me? Because of the limited nature of the situation with Abraham to his time, place, and situation, I cannot claim from that particular part of Scripture support for such an action in my own time, place, and situation merely based off the account. No other part of Scripture would give license to such action.
    This leaves me receiving direction from God outside of Scripture. The only time that occurs is in the instance of special revelation, which is just as special as it is rare. Therefore I would tend to seriously doubt any such “revelation” occurred. There simply is no basis for me to kill my child.

  14. This discussion has been great. I don’t have much more to add to the questions Amy laid out, but I think there is something else to note. Most of the time, the person asking this question is an atheist (not always, but I haven’t met any non-atheist skeptics who use this argument). The purpose of there question is not to hear a genuine answer, but to try and get you to come to the realization that God is evil and unworthy of following.

    My first question would be, “Would it be wrong for God to ask that of me?” If he answers yes, I would then point out that it seems he stands in a position of authority by which he can cast moral judgements, something I believe is impossible in a world without God as the standard of morality.

    He may think my God is evil, but in his naturalistic worldview, on what basis can he say anything is evil?