Dealing With Bible “Contradictions”

The Jefferson Bible was supposed to solve problems,
but it created a few of its own

“Haste makes waste,” right?  Or, are there exceptions?  There’s the saying that “Cleanliness is next to godliness”, but what does that saying really mean?  The saying “God helps those who help themselves” is often criticized by those who say that God helps those who cannot help themselves.  However, sayings are generalities created to make a specific point.  To intentionally take sayings out of context is to deal with common wisdom and language dishonestly.

Same goes for particular Bible verses.  I’d been meaning to give a pointer to a resource, but it’s been pushed back a few times.  Perhaps that is a good thing, for this is a good introduction to my next series of articles.  It is a series based upon a theological construct of fantasy concocted by twisting Scripture.

Take the familiar Proverb:

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Pr 22:6

Does this mean that every child that departs from the faith, lives promiscuously, gets in trouble with the law or experiments with drugs is the fault of the parents?  Be for real!  We all know that is not the case.

So, does this disannul this verse?  Should Jefferson have snipped this passage out of the Bible?  You know, skeptics certainly have jumped on this verse as an example of a promise that was broken.

No, it is all in the context.  It is a proverb, a saying if you will.  It is a generality which will tend to be true.  It is not a promise.  There are a lot of promises throughout the Bible, but it is important to identify which are promises and which are not.  Even if it is a promise, you must be careful about identifying to whom it was made.

Yet, this doesn’t stop skeptics from pulling out this verse and others like it to say the Bible is not infallible.  In fact, they will pull out this and other “contradictions”, many of which can easily be dismissed by common sense, to try to discredit the Bible.

RC Sproul wrote “How Do You Explain Discrepancies in the Bible?”  He concentrates on supposed contradictions between the four Gospels, as that is a common target for skeptics.  For example, did only one angel appear at the empty tomb or two?  If this cannot be reconciled, it certainly casts doubt on the Bible being inspired.

A good friend of mine in seminary was very troubled by these issues and quoted one of our professors who said, “The Bible is filled with contradiction.” And I said, “Why don’t you go home and I’ll meet you here tomorrow at one o’clock. You come back with fifty contradictions. If the Bible’s full of them, then that should be an easy task.” The next day at one o’clock I met him and I said, “Do you have your fifty?” He’d been up all night and he said, “No, but I found thirty.” And we went through each one of them, rigorously applying the principles of logic and symbolic logic. To his satisfaction I demonstrated to him that not one of his alleged contradictions in fact violated the law of contradiction.

He follows up with the comment that his friend could have picked much more difficult passages, so I certainly hope that any one of us could have done the same.

However, twisting Scripture isn’t just the realm of the skeptic, is it?  Far worse is when a professed “believer” twists Scripture to justify what they already believe.  IOW, they engage in eisegesis vs exegesis.  The former is reading meaning into the text rather than allow the text to render its own meaning.

In almost every case, it is done by taking things out of context.  That is why context is paramount and is at different levels.  It usually involves latching onto one verse that says more or less what you want it to say and then deliberately interpreting all other Scripture in light of a preconceived model.

Unfortunately, there are many preconceived models.  However, there is one in particular that has escaped from the mainstream mostly nonevangelical world and threatens to infect the COG movement as well.  As with other heresies, I fear it will serve to pull away the unprepared and unwary.


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