Posted by: Tim | November 15, 2010

“Contradictions” in the Bible

Click here for an excellent article by Matt Perman on alleged contradictions in the Bible.

(h/t Tim Challies)

I wrote an article about the same subject about a year ago. I’ve pasted an excerpt below, and you can read the whole thing by clicking here.

Exerpt:

In my own reading and study of the Bible, I have had questions and come across things that initially appeared to be contradictions. Sometimes I have been able to find a solution through further Bible study, prayer, and common sense. At other times I have used the work of scholars who have researched the question or alleged contradiction in detail.  Time after time, my confidence in the Bible has been justified as I have found good answers that give reasonable explanations.

Maybe you have questions about the Bible, or concerns about alleged contradictions. I encourage you to investigate your concerns, and if you would like some help finding answers, I welcome your questions. I think you will find that there are good answers, and that the Bible is indeed reliable. You may also discover the transforming power of God’s Word, and your life may never be the same.

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Responses

  1. Hey Tim,
    Thanks for sharing this. I have a question regarding war. Did anything change after Christ came to earth in terms of the permisibillity of war and violence among God’s people? Obviously if one reads the Old Testament there are many examples of God endorsing violence to wipe evil influence and rebellion against him from the earth. Yet in the New Testament and indeed throughout the Old as well, there are countless examples of God’s mercy and love in the face of horrible evil. Christ exhorts us to turn away from violent behaviour physically and mentally so how do these seemingly two different perspectives add up? As a Christian I can say “Yes I trust that God is wise, all knowing, loving and merciful and somehow this works out”, but how do I truly comprehend this and explain it to others who would point to it as a contradiction.

    Cheers,
    Ben

    • Hey Ben, thanks for reading my blog and for the question.

      Some Christians (many Anabaptists, for example)taken the position that war is always wrong and thus Christians should not fight in wars. Many nations provide non-combat opportunities for conscientious objectors like these.

      I would argue that war is justified at times. On Sunday in the sermon I spoke some about God’s oft-repeated call in the Bible for leaders to stand up for the rights of the weak and the powerless. I think there are times where obeying this command for justice may involve armed conflict. WW2 is a good historical example of such a war.

      I think it is also important to remember that this age will end with Jesus leading the armies of heaven into battle and defeating his enemies, as described in Revelation 19.

      To give a bit of balance though, I do think we are in different times than the OT. In the OT, Israel fought physical battles as God’s people, as you mentioned in your comment. In the NT, our primary war as God’s people is not against flesh and blood but against spiritual powers (Eph 6).

      Also, I think that the NT is fairly clear that we should accept suffering for the sake of Jesus, in the same way Jesus accepted suffering on the cross – which would mean not fighting back but accepting unjust persecution.

      Combining all of these thoughts, I could imagine a situation where Christians were willingly accepting persecution, as God teaches we should do, and a government declaring war to stand up for these oppressed Christians, also as God teaches we should do! I don’t see any contradiction as personal suffering for the sake of Christ is different issue than standing up for the weak and powerless.

      Hope this helps. Just my quick thoughts. What do you think? You must have been thinking about it some as well.

      Blessings,
      Tim

  2. I have a question, it’s not about contradictions.

    I have been reading in Leviticus for a few days, and have been contemplating the word “Holy”, it is mentioned over 80 times in Lev. I have searched the internet, gone to my concordance, and cross referenced scripture to find the meaning of the word.

    What do you think of when you hear the word “holy”?
    I have not yet figured out exactly what it means – I have grown up with the word, attended Prairie, so heard it a lot there, but have not really been able to define it in a concrete way, maybe you can help me – everything I come up with does not seem to fully encompass the word. (This is going to be my next topic for my blog by the way).

    • Hey Joanna,

      Sorry for the slow response time – That’s a good question: What do I think of when I hear the word “holy”?

      I think of at least five other words/phrases – “set apart”, “common”, “pure”, “sanctified” and “saint”.

      I think of ‘set apart’ as the basic meaning of holy and I think of ‘common’ as the opposite of holy. So when God is said to be holy, it means he is ‘set apart’ from all others. He is totally unlike anything that is common. When the utensils/furniture in the temple/tabernacle are said to be holy – they are extremely special as opposed to common – sort of like using the finest china instead of the everyday dishes. One of the things the tabernacle teaches us is how hard it is for unholy(common) people like us to approach a holy God. You have to be a high priest, you have to wear the holy garments, you have to go through the purification rituals that make you holy, and you can only come into the Most holy place (Holy of Holies) on the Holiest day of the year (Day of Atonement). It’s all about being ‘set apart’ and not ‘common’.

      The way God is set apart or not common is that He is without sin, whereas we are unholy – ie common – because we have sin. We are called to be holy – set apart, uncommon, without sin – but of course we cannot do this ourselves and need the cleansing blood of Jesus to wash away our sins and make us holy in God’s sight. That’s where the word ‘pure’ comes in. When we are pure we can approach a holy God (Blessed are pure in heart, for they shall see God” Mt 5:8).

      The other two words – “sanctification” and “saint” are both from the same Greek root word as holy, which is not obvious when translated into English. So to be ‘sanctified’ is to be ‘holy-ified’ or ‘made holy’, and a saint is a ‘holy one’. I find it helpful to know this when reading the Bible, as it connects verses with the word sanctification or sanctify, with the word ‘holy’ (For example “Sanctify them in truth, your word is truth – John 17:17). When the Bible talks about our sanctification, it is talking about the process God uses to make us holy.

      Anyways, that’s what I think of when I think of holy.

      Hope all this helps!
      Blessings,
      Tim

      PS I’ve tried to visit your blog but it won’t let me in – is their a password I need to have?

  3. Thank you so much for your thoughts! This was extremely helpful for me, hope you don’t mind if I use some of your ideas in my blog.

    http://joannacarter.blogspot.com/

    Thanks for the chat this morning. Have a wonderful day with your family.

    Joanna

    • glad these thoughts are helpful…yes please feel free to use it for your blog
      Blessings!
      Tim


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