Quotation of the Week

Whatever God knew, Abraham at any rate did not know that his obedience could endure such a command until the event taught him: and the obedience which he did not know that he would choose, he cannot be said to have chosen. The reality of Abraham’s obedience was the act itself; and what God knew in knowing that Abraham “would obey” was Abraham’s actual obedience on that mountain top at that moment. To say that God “need not have tried the experiment” is to say that because God knows, the thing known by God need not exist.

From C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain


  1. May not be Lewis at his most accessible, but lots here.

    Since it’s a just a quote, hard to know what you think about it.

    Could you take a shot at translating it?

    I’d love to hear what prompted the post and why you think the quote is important to what’s what in your life and the lives of others.

  2. Doug shared the quotation with me this week and we were ruminating a bit on it together. I guess i found it provocative and threw it up here for that reason…

  3. That’s a crazy, dense quote. Makes me reluctant to state that I know English as a language when I read that much content that is basically articulated in two sentences…

  4. To say something is provocative may say little more than that somebody is the provoker and that somebody is provoked about something.

    Re Lewis’ quote and in your collective ruminating, who may be provoking? Who may be provoked? About what?

    I’d still love to hear why you thought it was potentially provocative.

  5. I guess what struck me was this thought of why we go through some of the stuff that hits us: what is being accomplished in it, how it relates to our relating to God, etc. The whole idea of testing, which can seem so disturbing at times…why does God really have to do that? And what is the role of faith and deeds; this idea that our obedience is that which is seen and not simply how we “feel” or what we “believe”. It’s a very different picture of conversion than what we often hear…

  6. Yes, Erika. The interplay of at once being given such huge responsibility in this whole thing while at the same time knowing full well that God is ultimately in control. What Lewis does so well here is leave the complexity of the relationship rich and full – is God affected by us and our decisions; are we simply pawns moving about…

    My particular favorite line is that last line and I think its implications on how we live are immense.

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