And Elijah came to the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word. (1 Kings 18:21)
Especially compared to Christians of the modern era, the ancient patriarchs who are universally admired, like Abraham, Elijah, and Moses, were pretty badass. I’ve heard sermons where pastors called us to be more like these guys. We were called to truly have faith and believe in the power of the Gospel and to believe like these men believed. But if you want faith like the fathers, there’s a price.
They didn’t just believe in what they were saying, they actually believed it.
One of the things that we know about these guys is that they didn’t just believe in what they believed, they actually believed it. It seems like a meaningless distinction, but it’s important if you consider that the Bible writers didn’t just make up the things in the Bible for no reason, and they didn’t write it because they thought it was a good idea, or beneficial, or any other secondary reason. They wrote it because they believed it was true.
They believed that the sun revolved around the earth, that a bat was a bird, and that the world was created by a deity speaking things into life and making a dust man and a rib woman. These are not oversimplifications of their beliefs, these are the beliefs themselves.
They asked for things proportional to their claims.
Central to their beliefs was obviously the belief in a deity that was the most powerful, most complex imaginable being in all of the universe who had created everything that existed simply by speaking. They believed that he was the beginning and the end, and that he held the keys to life and death in his hands. And commensurate to that belief were the things that they asked of him.
The paltry miracles that Christians settle for nowadays would probably be appalling to an ancient. Go ahead and tell Elijah that you prayed for an A on your paper and you got it. That dude called fire from the FUCKING SKY when nobody believed him about God. Abraham believed that it was totally cool to get woken up in the middle of the night by a voice that told him to sacrifice his son, and went and tried to do that. Moses stood at the edge of the waters of the Red Sea with literally no other option than to split the sea.
In a similar fashion, you do not see a widespread proliferation of Christians asking ridiculous things of God, even though they claim him to be ridiculous things. They don’t generally accept challenges from atheists to ask God to heal an amputee, and say they’ll renounce their belief in him if he doesn’t. And they weep at funerals instead of just asking God to bring people back.
As Ursula from The Little Mermaid taught me, “If you want to cross a bridge, my sweet, you’ve got to pay the toll.”
In short, Christians rarely put their beliefs into the realm of testable, provable, observable to all. They rarely put God to the test in the way that Elijah did on Mount Carmel with the prophets of Baal. To me, there is one glaring reason, among others, that they don’t do these things.
It’s because they know they would be wrong.
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