Share your thoughts and/or questions on how to defend against the "supposed Bible contradictions" debated by skeptics and unbelievers.
As Christians, we should strive to be ready to defend our faith and our Bible when the time inevitably comes. The best place to begin is reading the Bible. In order to effectively defend God's word, we should become lifelong students of it. Next I would suggest immersing yourself in quality resources that will help you to better understand the arguments made by skeptics and unbelievers. Books like Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions - vol. 1 & 2 and the many other fine apologetics titles published by Master Books will give you a good understanding of how to respond biblically the the "contradictions." Finally, we need to pray. Pray that as we're immersing ourselves in God's word and other resources, that He would help us to soundly learn and understand what we're reading. Pray for boldness, pray for courage, and pray for His leading that as we encounter skeptics and unbelievers that we are ready to respond not only with confidence, but also with a heart full of grace and love towards those who do not yet know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
-Shaun Tabatt, Bible Geek Gone Wild
Here are some Biblical contradictions that I've heard as well as some contradictions in God's character.
1. "The Bible says we can only live 120 years, then how come people have lived to be older than that? The world's oldest person is 127."
And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” (Genesis 6:3)
2. "Genesis 1 and 2 disagree about the order in which things are created."
3. "How come God is so different from the Old Testament to the New Testament?"
EXO 15:3 The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.
ROM 15:33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
4. "God says "Do Not Murder" and then commands the Israelite's to slaughter entire cities."
These are just a few of many supposed contradictions that I have heard.
Justin Mooney said:
It might be helpful to think of "taking a human life" as not always being "murder." We could then define murder as something like taking life without a morally sufficient reason, which will nearly always be the case for a mere human.
I like your reasoning there. I've haven't heard it explained that way before. Well said!
The biggest contradiction I usually hear about is that the Gospels don't match 100%. They were written by 4 different people with different personal experiences. If they matched to-the-letter I would question them more because 4 people don't experience the exact same thing. The events can be the same but perspectives are different. As long as the core message is the same, which it is, I don't see the problem.
One addition I would make to the question is that there are believers (many of them nominal) that also latch onto these supposed contradictions.
This is actually a very complex issue and varies from individual to individual, but the foundation of the argument always needs to be that the Bible is not just a book written by men and assembled by men, but that it is the very Word of God, breathed out by Him, and that it is living and active, sharper than any sword forged by human hands, and that it is profitable for teaching, correction, rebuke, reproof, etc. This declaration will always get a reaction of some sort from the person raising the objections and this helps us to frame our argument better.
The basic answer is that there are no true contradictions, only perceived ones that those wishing to demolish their own or other's faith in God will latch onto as a weapon. Dealing with individual contradictions is relatively easy when you approach God's Word with the proper attitude.
I agree with Jennifer K. I am trying to give my daughter the tools she needs to defend her faith. She gets a tremendous amount of contradictory information from her own stepbrothers, and for her to be able to stand firmly on her faith and answer sincerely is very important.
There are websites dedicated to finding contradictions in the Bible, but there are also ones that are dedicated to answering them. Though nothing replaces personal study, these could be a good place to start. Many of these supposed contradictions appear so when we take preconceived ideas to the text, then fail to allow the text correct them. My worry is when people give up too easily in their study.
God, a man of war of of peace: Exo 15:1-4 Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him. The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name. Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea.
God's nature is life, love, peace, truth etc., so therefore, He could be described as a man of war when opposing all the is contrary to Himself. He is at war with everything that opposes Himself. "And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels," Rev 12:7. Can God be at peace with Satan?
Genesis chapter 2: v4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.
Some say that this chapter contradicts chapter one. Notice how chapter two makes the creation of man the primary study, so the the language changes from heaven to earth to earth to heaven. This could be down to literary style, very similar to a psalm or a proverb which will often say the same thing in two different ways. The Bible will speak from various perspectives God's, angels, humans; for and against, even from Satan and his angels.
How many possessed, one or two?
Mat 8:28 And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.
Mar 5:2 And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,
Luk 8:27 And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs.
If Mark and Luke only mentions the one who primarily speaks, does the disqualify Matthews extra details?
Notice how Luke gives more background information on this individual in verse 29. Both Mark and Luke also goes on to show how he responded to Jesus after he was healed. This could be why they only mentioned him. Time itself should also be a consideration. Sometimes people try to make events the same moment, when they are not. Also what is the main point that the writer is trying to get across.
Most people who claim contradictions have never read the entire context of the Bible; but are repeating pet phrases that they have heard somewhere else. The Bible will defend itself when taken in context.
I've been able to use the lessons taught from AiG to deal with many supposed contradictions. What a blessing this ministry has been to those who hold to the truth of the Bible, that you don't have to check your brain at the door as they say to be a Christian.
Like in many areas, breaking through the myths and traditions to get to the truth is key. I'm surprised as the traditions people in the church even cling to (about Bible teachings, not just creation/evolution) that aren't supported in Scripture.
I agree that a solid knowledge of Scripture is needed to defend the faith and address Biblical "contradictions." However, I'm not sure that all-out, in-your-face debate is a great way to engage non-believers one-on-one. I've seen too many hard feelings develop and doors closed to relationships that could have possibly produced fruit in the future. That's not to say that we should remain quiet...just that "debates" can sometimes end up getting heated and believers need to be careful to faithfully represent our Lord. Any defense should be confident but gently made.
Certainly, non-believers are blind to the Truth in Scripture. They lack spiritual discernment. Only with the help of the Holy Spirit will you ever be able to convince skeptics of Scriptural Truth.