Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | January 23, 2019

Elijah Does Apologetics

(4 Minute Read)

The BibleScienceGuy Debating Evolution

The most hostile formal debate in which I ever participated was a one-on-one university debate against a biology professor.

We faced off in front of over 100 faculty and grad students, almost all of whom were intensely opposed to my creationist position.

10 Against 1

The Creation-Evolution university debates I’ve done have ranged from 1-on-1 to 5-on-1. I was always the 1. Counting people either pro or con in the debate audiences, the ratios have typically been as large as 10 to 1 or worse against me.

For reports on two of the debates, click these links:
What is Intelligent Design?
Bible vs. Evolution Debate

Ten against one seems overwhelming, but the Bible records the account of a debate in which the numbers were almost 1000 against 1.

However, in a debate the important thing is not the number of people against you, but rather whether you’re on the right side or not.

It’s better to be in a small minority arguing for the truth than with an overwhelming majority arguing for a lie.

It’s better to make a weak argument for truth than a strong argument for error.

1000 Against 1

The Bible records the account of Elijah’s debate in 1 Kings 18. His opponents were 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah, along with the king of Israel himself, King Ahab. Much of the nation of Israel witnessed the contest, as Elijah had requested all Israel to gather at Mt. Carmel, and King Ahab had sent a message to all the sons of Israel (1 Kings 18:19-20).

Most of the people watching the contest were not on the Lord’s side with Elijah. Elijah confronted the crowd about hesitating between two options; their response was only silence (1 Kings 18:21). No one supported him. Elijah was standing alone against King Ahab plus 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah plus a vast number of watching Israelites. Amazing courage!

The debate started with King Ahab’s charge that Elijah was the troubler of Israel (1 Kings 18:17) — presumably because it was at Elijah’s command that a drought had plagued Israel for 3½ years (1 Kings 17:1).

Elijah disputed this charge and identified King Ahab as the one who troubled Israel. This was because Ahab had forsaken the Lord and had followed Baal, the false god of the Canaanites and Phoenicians. Baal had been introduced to Israel by Jezebel, King Ahab’s wicked queen.

Today Christians are often charged with being troublemakers and divisive. Standing for truth will always be divisive, because standing for truth divides truth from error. The real troublers are those like King Ahab who lead people astray into error. Today our country and world are full of troublers. Those who teach and promote the theory of evolution are troublers because they lead people astray from the Great Creator.

What Was the Debate Issue?

Elijah clearly and simply identified the key issue for Israel. Namely, whoever is the True God, follow Him.
And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a word. (1 Kings 18:21)

What Was Elijah’s Objective?

Elijah had a clear objective in his confrontation with Ahab and the prophets of Baal. He wanted to make clear who was the True God.
Then it came about at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that Thou art God in Israel, and that I am Thy servant, and that I have done all these things at Thy word. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that Thou, O LORD, art God, and that Thou hast turned their heart back again.” (1 Kings 18:36-37)

What Was Elijah’s Primary Debating Tool?

Elijah’s basic tool in his debate was reason applied to evidence.
His reasoning was, “If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.

What could be more reasonable? How can you find fault with this simple, logical argument?

Elijah used evidence to show that Yahweh, and not Baal, was God.

A weak argument for truth is better
than a strong argument for error.

What Was Elijah’s Evidence?

Elijah’s basic piece of evidence that convinced his hearers was a miracle.

First, he showed that Baal was not God by letting the prophets of Baal spend all day calling on Baal to send fire to their altar — with absolutely no effect. Despite spending hours and hours calling on Baal, leaping about their altar, and cutting themselves with swords and lances until the blood gushed out on them, nothing happened. There was absolutely no response from their supposed god Baal. (1 Kings 18:25-29)

Next Elijah saturated his oxen (sacrificial offering), wood, and altar with water. He even filled the encircling trench with water. When he called on the Lord to “let it be known that You are God in Israel,” then immediately the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. (1 Kings 18:36,38)

A stupendous display of power from the true God in this impossible challenge impressively proved Elijah’s point!

Aggressive Apologetics

Elijah practiced aggressive apologetics. Here’s the strategy he implemented for his contest on Mt. Carmel. Can you figure out the pertinent phrase that this Rebus puzzle represents? Try to solve the puzzle before you look at the answer below.

What Was the Debate Conclusion?

The crowds heard Elijah’s logical reasoning and saw the True God answer Elijah with miraculous evidence of fire from heaven. The people of Israel were totally convinced.
When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God.” (1 Kings 18:39)

In this debate, the losers lost big. The evil prophets were not able to convince anyone in the crowd of their position. Furthermore, Elijah executed his defeated opponents, the false prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:40).

Elijah’s debate on Mt. Carmel was a do-or-die debate to the death. The stakes could not have been higher.

What Is Today’s Debate?

Like Elijah’s debate, the stakes in religious debates are often high. All my debates were life-and-death debates, even though the losers in my debates were not executed. (Not all aspects of Elijah’s debate need to be emulated.) The life-and-death consequences of my debates were not immediately evident, but we were arguing life-and-death issues.

Fundamentally, the debate issue was, Is There A Creator God or Not? Allegiance to the Creator God means eternal life. Denial means eternal death. Following the Great Creator or rebelling against the Great Creator is a life-and-death issue.

Elijah’s example of applying logical reasoning to miraculous evidence is still a good strategy to follow for today’s debates on Is There A Creator God or Not?.

For such debates, I suggest focusing arguments on two major miracles:
1. Creation. The evidence of design in nature shouts the existence of a Creator.
That which is known about God is evident within men; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:19-20)
See Evidence for God – Design for the Design Argument for the existence of the Creator.
Click Evidence for God for a list of the Argument from Design posts.

2. The Resurrection of Jesus
The New Testament apostles based their Gospel message on the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. See for example, one of the Apostle Paul’s reasonings: 1 Corinthians 15:1-24.
See History’s One-Two Punch for a defense of the Resurrection.

Apologetics is the defense of the Christian faith using evidence, reason, and logic. The Apostle Peter places the responsibility to do this with gentleness and reverence on every Christian.
Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence. (1 Peter 3:15)

Questions to Ponder

1. Have you ever stood alone to defend a principle or a truth? Tell us about it.
2. What measures in defense of truth could make an impression on a present-day skeptic?

Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.

Rebus Puzzle Answer: The best defense is a good offense.
[The best “D”+fence is egg+hood off+fence]
(Click Rebus Puzzles for links to blog articles with a Rebus puzzle.)

For Christ and His Kingdom.

This is the first post in the series on Apologists in the Bible. An apologist is one who gives a logical argument in defense of faith in God.
Read the sequels:
2. Peter Does Apologetics
3. Paul Does Apologetics
4. John Does Apologetics
5. Jesus Does Apologetics
6. Job Gets a Dose of Apologetics
7. Matthew Does Apologetics with a Sword
8. David Does Apologetics with a Sling
9. Luke Does Apologetics with a Pen

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
“for the defense of the gospel”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16)
Wednesday January 23, 2019 A.D.

For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:11)

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  1. As far as being in the minority, I just remember what Matthew 7:14 says. 😉
    For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.


    • Good thought – thanks.
      The verse I like to think about in such situations is Mark 8:28 where Jesus said,
      “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

      Liked by 1 person

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