“The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.” (Prov 18:17 NIV)
A recent graphic produced by “Fast Company” seeks to chart what it sees as contradictions in the Bible. Matt Perman provides a good short response but the critics are not. All their allegations of error in the Bible are based on some error of their own. Their mistakes fall into the following main categories.
* Assuming that the unexplained is not explainable
* Presuming the Bible guilty until proven innocent
* Confusing our fallible interpretations with God’s infallible revelation
* Failing to understand the context of the passage
* Neglecting to interpret difficult passages in the light of clear ones
* Basing a teaching on an obscure passage
* Forgetting that the Bible is a human book with human characteristics
* Assuming that a partial report is a false report
* Demanding that NT citations of the OT always be exact quotations
* Assuming that divergent accounts are false ones
* Presuming that the Bible approves of all its records
* Forgetting that the Bible uses non-technical, everyday language
* Assuming that round numbers are false
* Neglecting to note that the bible uses different literary devices
* Forgetting that only the original text, not every copy of scripture, is without error
* Confusing general statements with universal ones
* Forgetting that latter revelation supersedes previous revelation
Along similar lines, here is a quick way to make mistakes regarding alleged contradictions:
* Always read a text or passage completely literally in isolation and never take into account the social, historical, literary and cultural context in which it was written
* Have a wrong concept of how God should have done things and then throw the rattle out of the pram when he does things differently – this is otherwise known as setting up a straw man and then knocking him down.
* Assume that God dictated it rather than using men in the social, historical and cultural context of the day.
* If there is a difficult passage never consult a commentary written by someone who understands the social, historical, literary and cultural context.
* Never compare scripture with scripture to find the meaning of difficult texts
* Never use different bible versions, never check out the Greek or Hebrew
* Always assume that if you cannot understand something then it cannot ever be true
* Ignore the fact of progressive revelation
* Never try to understand the human-divine nature of Jesus or the Trinity – never consult a theologian who can explain these difficult concepts.
In the video below, Dr. R. C. Sproul answers a question about alleged contradictions in the Bible.
Dr. John Piper provides a brief response to the charge of contradictions in the Gospels in the video below.
For further study in this area I recommend:
Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties by Gleason Archer
The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation by Thomas Howe and Norman Geisler
When Critics Ask by Norman Geisler