Saturday, August 2, 2014

Bible “Contradictions” and Confidence in the Face of them

The most potent way to attack Christianity is to attack its foundation – the Bible. As a result, it is easy to find lists of alleged Bible contradictions on line, which draw its detractors like honey draws bears. There is even an atheist bible listing an assortment of contradictions with predictable scorn.

When I debated Rabbi Yossi Mizrachi in 2007 – you can find this debate on UTube – he zeroed in on the question of contradictions, claiming that if he could find just one contradiction, this would prove that the New Testament could not possibly be the Word of God.

I accepted his challenge because, in theory, I agreed. I even agreed that there were many seeming contradictions. However, if the NT is God’s actual words, we should expect no less. If, instead, we could easily get our mind around Scripture so that it all made perfect sense, we would have every reason to suppose that this book was actually the word of man and not of God.

Admittedly, Scripture contains many perplexing passages, some of which yield way to understanding under closer scrutiny, and others remain resistant to our attempts to harmonize them. This shouldn’t surprise us. Even the Apostle Peter acknowledged that much of what Paul had written was difficult to understand (2 Peter 3:16). Nevertheless, this fact never caused him to be skeptical about Paul’s writings. After all, the miraculous workings of the Spirit had clearly validated Paul and the other Apostles (Heb. 2:3-4).

Therefore, we shouldn’t be overly troubled by the fact that we too are perplexed by some passages of Scripture. After all, scientists are perplexed by their “contradictory” scientific findings. Should this be a reason to jettison the entire scientific enterprise? Of course, not! Instead, these perplexing findings rightly serve as goads to provoke further research to understand our world.

Consequently, I regard these Bible “contradictions” as mysteries to be solved (or marveled at) rather than as indictments. Of course, the atheist will say:

  •  Well, science has provided us with great and tangible benefits. It has proved itself, while Scripture has merely misled.

I think that we can make a similar claim about Scripture. Here is a brief list of proofs, each containing storehouses of evidence:

1.     Transformed Lives and Cultures

2.     Personal Authenticating Experiences

3.     The Non-Human Nature of the Scriptures

4.     Internal Consistency

5.     External Verification

6.     Wisdom for Life of the Word

7.     Validating Miracles

8.     Fulfilled Prophecy

However, I must warn you – even if you become skilled in the use of these various proofs, it doesn’t mean that you will pave inroads into the hearts of others. These hearts are already committed to their own carefully chosen paradigms and find the Christian revelation highly offensive.

However, I hope that these thoughts might make you more confident that you are on the right road and have a light to shine upon this resistant world.

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