How to answer tough questions

The Bible Is Full of Contradictions and Errors

Assumptions

  • The Bible is easy to read and understand. Its problems are clear.
  • The Bible was written to us just as much as to its ancient audiences.
  • If the Bible were divine it wouldn’t have mistakes. It would be perfect in every way.
  • The Bible probably is not divine. It was written by flawed human authors.

Talking Points

  • Ask discerning questions:
    • How much of the Bible have you actually read?
    • Name some contradictions in the Bible (many skeptics cannot). If the person is able to name any apparent contradictions, see below.
  • We must take the Bible on its own terms, not ours.
    • Ancient: The Bible was written by ancient authors in an ancient context to an ancient audience. The Bible was not written directly to us. We can only understand its true meaning when we understand what the original authors intended to say. The ancient world did not have the same standards of measurement and precision that we have. They were more interested in capturing the “true essence” of a person or situation than in precise details.
    • Examples:
      • In the story of the feeding of the 5,000, three of the gospels report that 5,000 men were present. Only Matthew adds “women and children.” The true essence of the situation is the miracle that feeds a large crowd, not necessarily the precise demographics of the crowd.
      • Report of the empty tomb: Mark reports a young man was sitting in the empty tomb; John reports two angels. Again, minor discrepancies show the essential truthfulness of the accounts. Consider a parallel example: Four people attend a concert and each writes an account of it afterward. The details of the four accounts may differ according to point of view, selectivity of material, etc. Yet, the four “portraits” of the concert round out the picture and capture the essence of the event. Again, this “essence” is what the Bible intends, and it should be read that way.
  • The Bible displays amazing coherence and unity, written in several cultures by 40+ authors over a period of 1400 years. From beginning to end, several major themes tie together:
    • That God is creator. This is seen throughout Genesis 1-2, Ps 148:5, Matthew 19:4, Rev 4:11.
    • That sin is universal to all human beings: Genesis 3:16-24, John 3:16-23, Romans 3:23
    • That the plan of salvation begins with God’s chosen people – the Jews, and extends out to the Gentiles through Jesus. Genesis 12:1-3, Isaiah 53, Romans 9:5, Revelation 1:5-7.
    • That salvation includes holy living – first in the Old Testament as obedience to his commands, then in the New Testament as a thankful response to his grace. Exodus 20:2-17, Leviticus 11:44, Ephesians 2:4-10.

Additional Resources

What are some things you believe to be true, that might not have abundant amounts of evidence, yet are still aceepted as true?

Share your thoughts in a comment below.

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