To test god
From Steven Erikson’s “Toll the Hounds”:
“I tried to tell him what I am sensing from the Redeemer. Sir, your friend is missed.” She sighed, turning away. “If all who worship did so without need. If all came to their saviour unmindful of that title and its burden, if they came as friends—” she glanced back at him, “what would happen then, do you think? I wonder…”
Seerdomin glared at the god, who now offered a faint smile. After a moment, Seerdomin hissed and stepped back. “You ask this of me? Are you mad? I am not one of your pilgrims! Not one of your mob of would-be priests and priestesses! I do not worship you!”
“Precisely, [Seerdomin]. It is the curse of believers that they seek to second-guess the one they claim to worship.”
“In your silence what choice do they have?”
The Redeemer”s smile broadened. “Every choice in the world, my friend.”
From Dan Simmons’ The Fall of Hyperion:
With a sudden clarity which went beyond the immediacy of his pain or sorrow, Sol Weintraub suddenly understood perfectly why Abraham had agreed to sacrifice Isaac, his son, when the Lord commanded him to do so.
It was not obedience.
It was not even to put the love of God above the love of his son.
Abraham was testing God.
By denying the sacrifice at the last moment, by stopping the knife, God had earned the right—in Abraham’s eyes and the hearts of his offspring — to become the God of Abraham.
Sol shuddered as he thought of how no posturing on Abraham’s part, no shamming of his willingness to sacrifice the boy, could have served to forge that bond between greater power and humankind. Abraham had to know in his own heart that he would kill his son. The Deity, whatever form it then took, had to know Abraham’s determination, had to feel that sorrow and commitment to destroy what was to Abraham the most precious thing in the universe.
Abraham came not to sacrifice, but to know once and for all whether this God was a god to be trusted and obeyed. No other test would do.