Human Sacrifice and the Eucharist

These are the liberal’s objections. The religious man, who wants to offer prayer and sacrifice, has questions of his own. What shall I offer to God, and how should I offer it? It must be a sacrifice worthy of the All-Holy One, and it must be so connected to me as to make the offering to be a gift of my very self. And who am I that I should dare to offer myself to God? I am a “sinful man”, a “man of unclean lips”, one unworthy even to enter into the divine presence. Pious men of every religion have always felt their inadequacy for such an exalted task. God Himself must make His own worship possible. “God Himself will provide the victim for the holocaust” (Gen 22:8), Abraham told his son, speaking a deeper truth than he knew. In every religion, men believe that their cult was established by God Himself; they know their offerings please the Lord because He told them they would. To address man’s unworthiness, a second act is added to the ritual: the purification rite. The worshiper’s sins are washed away and he is made pure. Sacrifice and purification can happen in either order or simultaneously. A priest may ritually wash himself before offering sacrifice, or an animal may be sacrificed and its blood—which is now sacred, having become a thing of God—used to consecrate and purify the people or their temple.

Abraham and Isaac

Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Isaac is a perfect instance of a sacrificial act. It clearly shows the basic truth that all sacrifice is ultimately human sacrifice. The ram that Abraham ultimately slaughters is offered “in place of his son” (Gen 22:13). Killing an animal would be meaningless without this identification. Liberals are typically scandalized by this story; it seems wrong to them that Abraham should be blessed because he was willing to commit murder. Yet the Jews have treasured this story for millennia. Why? Is it because it proves Abraham’s devotion to God? This is certainly true, and the Bible itself draws attention to it, but there is more than this. When Abraham offered his son to God, binding him upon an altar with the intention of slaughtering him, Isaac became God’s property, a sacred thing, a thing “set aside” for God. That God decided to leave Isaac alive does not change his consecration, and the people of Israel, who are the seed of Isaac, are also a thing set aside for God. So this episode is one of the many acts in the Old Testament in which the covenant between God and “His people” is affirmed and renewed. Only as a people set aside for God can Israel be a light to the nations, because a thing offered to God becomes a conduit to God. In this way also, Isaac is the prefigure of Christ—also sacrificed by his Father—who, as the supreme sacrifice to God, becomes the supreme conduit to the Father, the ultimate “sacred thing” which removes sin and renews communion with God.

3 Responses

  1. […] and Isaac By bonald From my Human Sacrifice and the Eucharist (also called In Defense of Human Sacrifice): Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Isaac is a perfect […]

  2. […] relevance here is my discussion of the symbolism of blood in Human Sacrifice and the Eucharist: A religious ritual is a symbolic act, and as such it makes […]

  3. […] to the profound meaningfulness of the offering of body and blood, what I have called the “symbolism of blood“.  He pointed to the boyhood ritual (which he’s seen in several cultures) of two […]

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: