Are There Contradictions In The Bible?

 Are There Contradictions In The Bible?

“There have been prophets and students who handle the Bible like a child’s box of bricks; they explain to us the design and structure and purpose; but as time goes on things do not work out in their way at all. They have mistaken the scaffolding for the structure, while all the time God is working out His purpose with a great and undeterred patience.” Oswald Chambers


The following article is based on the belief that God for the most part, does not give over- whelming evidence or proof of his existence in order to create faith[1].  The norm is that God hides or veils himself to protect mans free will.  God does this so that men might freely enter a love relationship with him without being mentally compelled by overwhelming proof.  God does not like shotgun weddings.

The answer to the question, “Are there contradictions in the Bible?”, would depend on a few things; one’s definition of contradictions and the way one looks at the Bible.  If a person approaches the Bible from a  particular point of view which  carries  certain human presuppositions, one could find what they might call contradictions.  However, from another point of view they might be called anomalies.[2]  One of these determining viewpoints is to approach the Bible as if it was totally divine; absolutely perfect, similar to the way we think of God.  This is the position of the fundamentalists of the 18th and 19th century and it was the view that the skeptics of the enlightenment know and rejected and attacked, and may I add, rightfully so.  It still is the view held by many fundamentalists and the skeptical educated class that criticizes the literalist and the Bible.  The sad thing is that for many in the educated class, it is the only view held and even known by most, making them as one dimensional as the fundamentalists whom they reject.

The problem with a fundamentalist view of the Bible is that it overlooks the Bible’s origin as being both human and divine.  In holding to this view fundamentalists approach the scriptures in a one-dimensional way; they often only look at the outward form and ignore the inward substance.  In my thinking, the scriptures should be viewed much the way we view Jesus, who was both human and divine.  Jesus the man (the outward form) could make mistakes, get sick, and hurt himself.  The Scriptures tell us that in every way He was human but without sin[3].  When skeptics say Jesus was a man they are right, they err when they say he was just a man.

You could say that God was hidden in the man Jesus and revealed himself gradually as God lifted the veil, showing his glory, or divine nature to the disciples.  Case in point is the wedding at Cana where Jesus turns water into wine and the scripture tells us, “He showed his glory.”  His resurrection from the dead was the final unveiling of his divine glory, and his transformation into something other than human.

As Jesus was very much like all men on one level, but on another level he was highly different. For example, when Jesus spoke things happened.  People’s lives were changed and they began seeing things on a new level of awareness.  Using this example the Bible is a lot like Jesus.  On one level (in its outward form) it is like other books.  However, on another level the Bible seems to have the ability to create faith and the power to change lives.  Like many books it seems to bear the spirit of its author, and its authority is based on that Spirit.

The difference between the Bible and other books is the Spirit that it bears; it is the spirit of Jesus Christ and his Father.  Jesus said, “My words are spirit and life.”  If you take the Spirit out of the scripture you no longer have the word of God but simply a book; a book that can do the very opposite of what it was intended to do, i.e. give faith and life to humanity.

Let’s make a comparison study with science.  Science is the study of the physical reality and has developed many theories about reality based on observation.  Most good theories are based on the best known knowledge at the time.  However, we need to remember that knowledge is human, which means it is imperfect and incomplete and is constantly changing.  In science when they come across some inconsistency, which seems to contradict their theory, they do not throw out the entire theory, but they set the irregularities aside and look at  them later, believing that when they have more knowledge they will be able to explain it.  These things set aside are often called anomalies[4].  Anomalies are pieces which seem to belong to the puzzle but at the time cannot be fit in.  When we are putting a jigsaw puzzle together we do not throw out every piece that does not immediately work.  No, we set them aside believing in faith they will fit later as we progress.  We often find that some pieces are so hard to fit we must wait until the very last minute to make them work.

Just imagine how hard it would be to put together a difficult puzzle without the completed puzzle picture on the box as a guide.  Trying to understand the Bible without having a picture passed down by the community of believers, is like trying to put together a puzzle without a picture.  To make things even harder just think if someone had mixed your puzzle up with another puzzle and you had bystanders telling you that there isn’t any picture and you should just give up.  This is exactly what is happing today.  People believe that they can put together the puzzle of the Bible without the picture and then when they get stuck they blame the puzzle (filled with contradictions) or they just quit giving up all hope of understanding it.

One of the views of the Bible that gets people into the puzzle predicament is approaching it with the idea that it is simple or easy to understand.  This idea has been propagated by many fundamentalists who often have an anti-intellectual point of view and other believers trying to get people to read their Bibles.  The truth is the Bible is as simple to understand as the one that it attempts to explain, i.e. God.  Then add the limits of our culture, language and our finite minds and you begin to see the problem.  However, this does not mean that you have to be a Bible scholar to understand it, but it does mean you must be diligent in your study and it might mean that you will have to ask an expert for some help to understand it.

You will not get to know the Bible by just reading it a few times and to be fair to the Bible, I would say that it would be very presumptuous to say that there’s contradictions in it when one does not know it and it author well[5].  Even if there are contradictions, those contradictions would have to be qualified.  One such qualification would be, does the Bible contradict itself or does our interpretation have contradictions in it?  I had one man tell me that he found a contradiction and when we turned to it, it was not God talking, but Satan.  You surely could not call the words of Satan God’s word, yet often in the Bible you find Satan’s words and the words of men mixed in with God’s word, for example, read the Book of Job.  How do you tell the difference? Very simply, know the context of the passage you are reading.  It is only after you know the textural and the cultural context that you are prepared to understand the text.

What does the Bible claim for itself?  It claims to be a sufficient guide to God.  It says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17).  In the work of growing and perfecting the soul it claims to be perfect (Ps 19:7).  I believe this because I have seen it in others and have experienced it myself.  When a person accepts the Scriptures as the bearer of God’s spirit the Scriptures will change their life.

We are back to the question, are there contradictions in the Bible?  My response is based on the above; you will find in the Bible what your worldview allows you to see and what you are looking for[6].  If you are looking for God you will find Him.  If you are looking for the human with all its contradictions, you will find that as well.  It all depends on your point of view, disposition and what you are looking for.

[1] In view of this it would be improbable for God to give us a book that is beyond question or criticism. Such a book would rob man of his free will and would in itself become an idol. Faith is like a hunch, a hunch becomes faith when you are willing to act on it.

[2] Anomalies are something that deviates from the norm or from expectations. In science what seem to be contradictions or inconsistencies are called anomalies.  In religion they are called errors or contradictions.  This is one example of the bias of the secular mind.

[3] For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. (Heb 2:17)

[4] All scientific theories have anomalies otherwise they wouldn’t be a theory but rather, a fact.  However, some theories have more anomalies than others, e.g. the theory evolution has far more problems to solve than some theories in physics.

[5] A proper understanding of the Bible only comes to the pure in heart, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God”. Therefore, seeking God begins with the heart and not the head.

[6] If you are looking through a dirty lens you will see dirt. “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matt 6:22-23).

Open Letter to a New Atheist (Revised with Endnotes)

Open Letter to a New Atheist (Revised)

I understand your questions about the Bible.  For Christians with my mindset, the Bible is a book that is both human and divine.  Because it is human, it is not perfect in the sense that it is totally without error. In space and time, nothing can be perfect in that sense.  If there were something that was perfect, man would have turned it into an idol, which some have done with the Bible.  When the Bible says  “the word of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul”, it simply means that it is sufficient to revive or energize the spirit of man.  The Greek word  téleios was and is translated ‘perfect’ by many Bibles.  However, this can lead to a lot of God talk.  By God talk I mean many extreme ideas and talk, which religious folks get into.  A better understanding and translation would be complete, sufficient or mature.  Jesus said, “be perfect even as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  If you were to understand the word perfect as meaning ‘without fault or sin’, this would be impossible.  If one reads the context carefully they would see that Jesus is simply saying that we should treat  everyone equally; and that  means to love all men.

The problem with the fundamentalist is not that they believe the Bible to be the word of God; their problem is that their God is too small and their reading of the Bible is shallow and vulgar.  Though they say that they believe it to be the very words of God, they don’t treat it that way.  They don’t even stand up when it is read publicly.  However, this is not the Bible’s problem, as I have said humanity will poison everything it touches.  In spite of this, I do believe the Bible to be perfect in its ability to accomplish God’s intent for it, i.e. fulfilling his purpose.

The God, which I believe in, is so large that he must accommodate man at every level of contact with him.  When humanity was young and immature, God dealt with him as a parent would deal with a small child.  He surely would not  have had Jesus  enter into humanity in a cannibal’s village; they could not have understood him and would have had Him for dinner.  God had to nurture and bring man to age before sending Jesus into the world.  The Bible says he used religion and law as a schoolmaster to bring us to a place of faith and living by the Spirit and not by the law (Bible).

A mature Christian lives by the Spirit of God and not by the Bible as a fundamentalist.  For the Christian, everything is moving toward téleios or completion, when you read the Old Testament Scriptures, you’re dealing with God’s interaction with primitive man. They were not ready for the teaching of Jesus and it would have been impossible for God to speed up the process of  preparing them without violating his nature, the laws of natural development and their free will. If he had intervened in some overwhelming way, he would have been criticized for that by some today.

I do not know for sure why God had the Israelites destroy some of the inhabitants of the land, but I think I have an idea.  It is not as if he did it in an arbitrary fashion.  For He told Abraham 400 years prior to telling Joshua to destroy them, that he could not destroy them because they were not wicked.  However, when Joshua came on the scene, something had changed.  They had become exceedingly wicked.  They were offering up their children to false gods by burning them alive and were practicing animal sex.  In view of this, I would suspect that their whole tribe was riddled with disease of every kind. Remember, they had no cure for these diseases during that period.   If the Israelites were to intermingle with them rampant disease could have destroyed the Israelites.

It does not come from wisdom to judge another people’s culture and especially ancient ones, for we were not there.  If we had been there we probably would’ve done the same things.  Sometimes, there isn’t a choice between good and evil.  Sometimes,  it is simply a  choice between two evils.

In World War Two,  our leaders had a  choice to either invade Japan and lose 300,000 soldiers, which could have severely crippled our nation or to drop the atomic bomb on Japan.  They did what they felt they had to do and they did it without any divine guidance.  Could it be that God sometimes has to do something that makes him unhappy?  Christians simply believe and trust that He knows the  circumstances better than anyone and therefore, is just in all of his dealings with man.  Also remember that any position can be framed to make it look good or bad.  The question is, is the person who is framing it deliberate in his effort to be correct  and reasonable?  To place our standards of morality on to the ancient Israelites and God is  neither correct, nor wise.  It may not even be moral.  All I am saying is be careful about how you frame your judgments of people.  It is not as easy as some would like us to believe.  By the way, I find many atheists to be more judgmental than Christians; they seem to have an exaggerated opinion of their moral standing.  In this way they seem to be somewhat like the secular Pharisees.  They, like the Pharisees, seem to put the emphasis on negative morality, the immoral things that they do not do, and very little emphasis on what they ought to be doing.  Just something to think about.

There is a lot, and I mean a lot, of misinformation about how the Bible came together and most  of it is based on nonsense. I will try to find some condensed scholarly information for you[1]. It is strange that men who knew the apostle John, like Clement of Rome[2], quoted John’s gospel in the second century,  since according to some, it didn’t exist.  That is truly amazing.  The writings of the early Christian fathers are a collection of old books and writings from the second and third centuries, which is well before the canon was officially accepted.  Now here is the truth, those writings are filled with quotes from the Gospels and other New Testament documents.  Were they quoting from books that did not exist or has someone given you bad information?  I have personally read many those sourcebook which numbers in the hundreds, so my knowledge is not hearsay.

Who do you think spreads all the disinformation about Christianity, the Bible and the U.S.?  Do you think it could be Lenin’s useful idiots?  For example there was a book that came out in 2013 that was being promoted by progressive radio and even public radio entitled “Zealot”.  It is a book that tried to raise questions about Jesus’ own self understanding.  The promoters  had presented the book as being written by an unbiased author.  Now, here is the truth.  The author is a Muslim and associated with left-wing organizations that have their roots in communism.  His media company called, “Aslan Media” gets its fiscal sponsorship from the Levantine Cultural Center who are also partners with Code Pink.  He also sits on the Advisory Board of NIAC, the National Iranian American Council. Both Code Pink and the NIAC get their funding from George Soros, who I believe is an evil man and a socialist[3].

Jesus said the whole world lies in the Evil one and that he was a liar from the beginning. The world is filled with lies and disinformation, I would suggest that you be careful about what you hear and believe. LD


[1] I now have a series of videos on my website, The Reliability of the New Testament (Introduction).

[2] [a.d. 30-100.] Clement was probably a Gentile and a Roman. He seems to have been at Philippi with St. Paul (a.d. 57). There has been some scholars who have questioned the authenticity of some of the writings bearing his name. However, for my discussion the authenticity is not the question. It is the fact, that the writings bearing his name makes reference to the New Testament documents.

[3] I had one atheist respond, who seem to believe that a Moslems could be unbiased about the self understanding of Jesus. I find it amusing to have an atheist take the side of the Moslem who they believe is wrong about God and yet he is right about Jesus. Could it be a case of “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”?