Hugh’s News & Views (The Elijah Complex)



Elijah was a great oral (non-writing) prophet of God who lived around 860 B.C. His ministry was carried out during a time of great apostasy from the Lord and His law. I Kings 18 tells of the contest (debate) Elijah entered with the prophets of Baal who were leading the people of Israel into idolatry. Elijah challenged the Baal prophets to a showdown on Mount Carmel in which either Baal or the Lord would be shown to be the true God. Long story short, Baal was shown to be nothing, the Lord was shown to be everything, the people fell on their faces and repeatedly declared, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!,” and the 450 prophets of Baal were summarily executed by Elijah (I Kings 18:39-40)

The New Testament writer James tells us, “Elijah was a man of like passions with us” [ASV], or “with a nature like ours” [NKJV] (James 5:17). In other words, Elijah was human and subject to all the foibles of humanity, including the tendency to become discouraged. Following the glorious defeat of the prophets of Baal, Elijah became despondent and thought he was the only one who was faithful to the Lord. He said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life” (I Kings 19:14). But God had a word for the discouraged prophet. The Lord said to him, “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him” (verse 18).

Elijah’s mind-set has been referred to as “the Elijah complex.” It refers to those who think that they are the only ones who are faithfully serving the Lord. The fact is that today (as in Elijah’s day) there are many good and faithful servants of the Lord. Not everyone has abandoned the Lord’s army for the army of Satan. Not all who wear the name of Christ have become unfaithful. Not all churches of Christ have “thrown in the towel” when it comes to pleading for a restoration and practice of apostolic Christianity in the present age. Not all preachers, elders, and congregations have become liberal. As in Elijah’s day, there still are many “whose knees have not bowed to Baal”! There are multiplied thousands who are committed to being the church of the New Testament and fully dedicated to the Lord in both their personal and congregational lives!

At the same time we must realize that the faithful people of God have always been in the minority. Only eight souls were saved from the massive, world-wide flood – Noah, his wife, their three sons, and their wives (Genesis 7:13; I Peter 3:20). Just ten righteous souls would have spared the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:32-33; Genesis 19). Of the thousands who left Egyptian bondage under the leadership of Moses, only two above the age of 20 – Joshua and Caleb – were eventually permitted to enter the promised land of Canaan (Numbers 32:11-13).

Jesus warned that “wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in through it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Christ went on to say, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). The sad reality is that most people will not have the interest or be willing to take the time to learn the true way of the Lord as set forth in the New Testament. False teachers and false teaching will confuse many and cause them to be lost (Matthew 7:15; Matthew 15:8-9; I Thessalonians 5:21; II Thessalonians 2:9-12; I Timothy 4:1-5; II Timothy 4:2-4; Jude 3-4; et al).

One is not guilty of the Elijah complex to point out the preceding matters, and I have to wonder why some elders, preachers, Bible professors, and congregations seemingly never get around to addressing the above matters, the related texts, and how they apply to the contemporary religious scene. Do they not believe that all Scripture is inspired of God and is profitable? With the old apostle, “I marvel” (Galatians 1:6).

The great preacher and Bible scholar, Moses E. Lard, over a century and a half ago, with clear insight as to what was happening among the people of God at that time, said: “He is a poor observer of men and things who does not see slowly growing up among us a class of men who can no longer be satisfied with the ancient gospel and the ancient order of things. These men must have changes; and silently they are preparing the mind of the brotherhood to receive changes. Be not deceived, brethren, the Devil (sic) is not sleeping. If you refuse to see the dangers till ruin is upon you, then it will be too late. The wise seaman catches the first whiff of the distant storm, and adjusts his ship at once. Let us profit by his example.

“Let us agree to commune with the sprinkled sects around us, and soon we shall come to recognize them as Christians. Let us agree to recognize them as Christians, and immersion with its deep significance is buried in the grave of our folly…. Then the door of heresy and schism will stand wide open, and the work of ruin will begin. Let us agree to admit organs, and soon the pious, the meek, the peace-loving, will abandon us, and our churches will become gay worldly things, literal Noah’s arks, full of clean and unclean beasts. To all this let us yet add, by way of dessert, and as a sort of spice to the dish, a few volumes of innerlight speculations, and a cargo or two of reverend dandies dubbed pastors, and we may congratulate ourselves on having completed the trip in a wonderfully short time. We can now take rooms in Rome, and chuckle over the fact that we are as orthodox as the rankest heretic in the land.

“Though we thus speak, and though we see the future not in the most enchanting light, we yet have hope. Many noble men are left. Many true hearts are still ready to be offered up on the altar of one Book, a pure faith, and faultless practice. In God and these we put our trust” (Lard’s Quarterly, April 1865).

Hugh Fulford

July 17, 2018