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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
 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.
 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.
 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)
 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.
 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.
 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).