The Reverend Bill Keller has challenged the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to a prayer/animal sacrifice contest, modeled after Isaiah's challenge to the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18.
Here is Mr. Keller's youtube challenge. (You can skip the preaching by going to 7:50, where the challenge begins.)
Mr. al-Baghdadi, ... I have a challenge for you. If you read in the Bible in the book of First Kings, chapter 18, verse 16 through 39, you'll read about the God of the Bible's prophet Elijah, who challenged the prophets of Baal to see whose god would answer by fire. Like the prophets of Baal, you also follow an imaginary, false god you call Allah. I serve the god of the Bible, the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the great "I am", the creator of the universe and all that is in it.
I will come to Iraq, Syria, any location you desire. We will each take an unblemished animal, cut that animal into pieces, put those pieces on wood, but not set fire to the wood. Once prepared, you have one hour's time to call on Allah to rain down fire on your offering. If at the end of that hour, Allah has still not answered your pleas, I will call upon the one true god of the Bible, Jehovah-jireh; not to just bring down fire on my offering, but yours as well.
Mr. al-Baghdadi, if your god Allah does not answer you and my god answers my pleas, you will resign as the leader of ISIS. You will retire from your life of terror. You will encourage your followers to live in peace and I will be free to return to the United States. If your god Allah answers your pleas by fire and my god does not, I will renounce the Christian faith and you're free to kill me or do whatever your like. ...
The world will be watching with great anticipation to see whose god is truly god, the god of Islam or the god of the Bible....
Well that would be fun to watch, now wouldn't it?
Still, I think al-Baghdadi has the advantage here. Christians are a bit out of practice on animal sacrifice, whereas Muslims sacrifice hundreds of millions each year at Eid al-Adha.
But did you notice that Mr. Keller changed the 1 Kings 18 contest rules? If al-Baghdadi wins, he can kill Mr. Keller; if Mr. Keller wins, al-Baghdadi gets to go free (after renouncing his life of terror). That's not what happened in the Bible. Here's what Elijah told his followers to do after he won the prayer/animal sacrifice contest:
Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there. 1 Kings 18:40
Mr. Keller ended his reference to 1 Kings 18 with verse 39 because he is embarrassed by the next verse, in which Elijah slaughters the 450 prophets of Baal without giving them the option of converting, as even al-Baghdadi probably would do. Because neither contestants is as cruel as Elijah or the god of the Bible.
Still, the whole thing would be fun to watch! I'm betting that neither god could spontaneously combust the bloody mess of animal parts. What would happen then?
Maybe they could settle it all by arm wrestling. Or maybe they'd admit to themselves and their followers that neither of their gods exists.
In any case, I'm hoping al-Baghdadi takes him up on it, and the whole thing is shown on youtube. Wouldn't that be great?