I have been reading Saying No to God by Matthew Korpman. The general thesis of the book seems to be that God invites us to stand up to Him and argue with Him as part of our relationship with Him. I think I generally agree with that viewpoint. However, I’m not yet half way through the book, and after the second chapter I almost stopped reading because of one assertion.
The assertion in question is in the chapter titled “Abraham Didn’t Believe God.” In this chapter, Korpman tries to convince the reader that Abraham never believed that God wanted him to kill Isaac. I find numerous problems with Korpman’s arguments throughout the chapter, but I will focus on this single point, since I absolutely cannot accept it. While discussing Abraham’s unfulfilled sacrifice of Isaac, Korpman states,
Many have long attempted to suggest that Abraham trusts that God has the ability to resurrect Isaac back from the dead after he kills him. Ignoring how gruesome that idea is at face value, the historical reality is that this is simply not possible. The idea of resurrection, historians are aware, did not exist for either Abraham or the Israelite authors of Genesis. It was an idea that first appears in the prophet Daniel and only became popular at the time of Jesus. Entire books exist to demonstrate why we know this with absolute precision. As such, scholars can confidently rest assured that whatever Abraham is doing when he suggests that he and Isaac are returning, it isn’t due to resurrection.
I have a couple of big problems with this statement. First of all, it’s simply ridiculous to assert that the idea of resurrection did not exist for Abraham. There is no way that you could prove that from scholarship… Second and more importantly, Paul, in his inspired letter to the Hebrews states,
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.” He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type. Hebrews 11:17-19
So indeed, “many have long attempted to suggest that Abraham trusts that God has the ability to ressurect Isaac.” In fact, Paul attempted to suggest that. And I believe Paul over the entire books that exist which would suggest otherwise. This argument of Korpman’s makes me wonder if he discounts this statement of Paul’s because of advances in scholarship or if he just wasn’t aware that the argument originally comes from Paul. After reading a good chunk of the book, I think it must be the latter. If he was aware this argument for resurrection came from Hebrews, I think he would have at least mentioned it and felt he needed to justify his statement against it. Therefore, the rest of Korpman’s book loses significant credibility for me.
It’s fairly clear to me that Abraham did believe God. Most of all, he believed God’s promise that “in Isaac your descendants shall be called.” He believed that no matter what God had him do, God would fulfill that promise.