Then it was Elijah’s turn. Stepping onto a large boulder, he slowly pivoted to gaze upon the prophets of Baal. Before him were 450 sweating, bleeding, exhausted leaders of the most prominent religion of that region and time.
Surprisingly, rather than calling down fire from heaven, rallying the Israelites around the true God, and eliminating the false teachers, Elijah said, “Gentlemen, I have come to realize that while we may have our differences, we have much to offer one another in our understanding of life. As a matter of fact, God has infused a great deal of truth into your religion, and it would be rather arrogant and unloving for me to claim otherwise. Let us unite around our common goals and demonstrate to the world that while we may have different traditions, we are all, every one of us, children of God.”
Few of us could imagine such an ending to the great encounter on Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18. But listening to some of the rhetoric swirling around Christian circles today, one gets the impression that perhaps Elijah got a little carried away. Couldn’t Elijah have made more progress with dialogue than the sword? Shouldn’t he have looked for common ground rather than differences and used loving affirmation rather than confrontation? Not if he wanted to be consistent with the will of God.