Knight of Faith - Abraham and Isaac

Abraham and Isaac

Johannes de Silentio believes that Abraham is one such knight of faith. In the Book of Genesis, God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham dearly loved his son, but although bemoaning this fate, Abraham obeyed this command faithfully. Just as he was about to commit the act, an angel stopped Abraham and rewarded him with his son and his steadfast faith. In the same paradoxical act of committing murder, which would humanly kill off his son, Abraham believed, through virtue of the absurd, he would still have his son alive and well. Abraham was willing to risk everything for God. He was willing to act and in his action he received the highest good, his eternal happiness.

If I, acting, am truly to venture and truly to aspire to the highest good, then there must be uncertainty and, if I may put it this way, I must have room to move. But the greatest space in which I can move, where there is space enough for the most rigorous gesture of infinite passion, is uncertainty of knowledge with regard to an eternal happiness, or that choosing it is lunacy in the finite sense-see, now there is room, now you can venture. Therefore eternal happiness, as the absolute good, has the remarkable quality that it can be defined only by the mode in which it is acquired, whereas other good, just because of the mode of acquisition is accidental or at any rate relatively dialectical, must be defined by the good itself. Money, for example, can be acquired by work and can also be obtained without work, and in turn both are different in many ways, but money still remains the same good. Knowledge, for example, is acquired differently according to talent and outward circumstances and therefore cannot be defined by the mode of acquisition. But nothing else can be said of eternal happiness than that it is the good that is attained by absolutely venturing everything. Any description of the gloriousness of this good is already an attempt, as it were, to make various modes of acquisition possible-an easier way, for example, and a harder way, which shows that the description is not describing the absolute good but only fancies doing it and essentially is talking about relative goods. Venture everything. There are no anecdotes to tell how Peter became rich by working, and Paul by playing the lottery, and Hans by inheritance, and Matthew by monetary reform, and Christopher by purchasing a piece of furniture from a secondhand dealer. But in another sense the discourse is long, indeed, the longest of all discourses, because to venture everything demands a transparency of consciousness that is acquired only very slowly. Right here is the task of the religious discourse. Concluding Unscientific Postscript, Hong p. 426-427

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