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Monday, July 23, 2012

Biblical Contradictions?

One of the many reasons people choose to not believe the Bible is what is perceived by them as contradictions in the Bible.  The reasoning is simple: If the Bible contradicts itself, as many believe it does,  the Bible then, can not be the word of God.  If the Bible is not the Word of God, then people do not have to believe its contents, for it would be no more than a created manuscript with man made stories and those who choose to believe it to believe its contents are fools for doing so.  This sought of logic have be presented before all who testify that the Bible is the word of God.  It has created an impasse that denies anyone who wishes to believe what it says is true to dismiss it, and thereby that person does not receive the invitation of a loving God.  A God that wants to save him.  For this reason I have chosen to write this article, in order to demonstrate that the Bible is not full of contradictions and by doing so prove that the Bible is the Word of God. The way that I have decided to do this is to first, define what a Contradiction is and what a Contradiction is not. Secondly, based upon the discovery of the definition of a contradiction we will look at a sample of the many proposed and alleged contradictions and see if they measure up to what a contradiction is. Finally, After the alleged sample contradictions have been explained and clarified. An extraordinary opportunity will be presented to those who did not before believe the Bible to be the word of God. More on that later.

So what is a contradiction?    Contradiction Defined: noun; a statement or proposition that opposes (contradicts) or denies another statement or itself and is logically incongruous.                          (Source: Dictionary.com)

So a contradiction, based upon the definition mentioned beforehand, as it relates to the Bible is two biblical statements made about a single subject that are opposite to each other.  For example here are two non-biblical statements that contradict each other:

1) The ball is the little boy's
2) The ball is not the little boy's

The two non-biblical example statements above contradict each other and obscure the determination of the possession of the ball.  Is it the little boy's or is it not the little boy's?  It is unclear.  That is what contradictory statements do, they blur the issue, or subject, leaving it wide open for speculation and conjecture. Since were talking about God's Word, it is very important that His Word does not have any contradictory statements, for God is not the author of confusion. Since God is not the author of confusion it is important that his words and statements are clear concise directives or instructions about life.

Now that we clarified and defined what is a contradiction, we also need to know what a biblical contradictory statements are not:

1) It is not a scribal error, which also means a typo-graphical error. When a letter or a word may not have been written correctly, but the meaning and message of the text remains intact.

2) It is not a mathematical error, where numbers don't add up, but the meaning and message of the statement remains intact.

3) It is not a grammatical error, where the rules of grammar appears to be ignored, but the meaning and the message of the text remains intact.

The point is this, errors are not contradictions.  Since the Bible was co-authored and translated by humans, mistakes may appear.  The important thing to consider is  that do any of these man induced mistakes or errors create a contradiction in the statements that we are comparing. Also do these mistakes change the meaning or the message of the statement to the point that it now says the opposite of what it said before and thereby blur the meaning of the text leaving it subject to speculation and conjecture.  Now let me make it clear that if the message of the Bible is inerrant, that inerrancy is not reflected by human mistakes in translating it or transmitting it.  The Bible is inerrant in purpose and in its message.

What is also not a contradiction is two biblical statements that appear to oppose each other, when each statement speaks about the same subject, but they're each from the two different covenants respectively in the Bible.  Why? Because even though they are about the same subject and may appear to oppose each other, they each were presented to two different audiences under two different set of circumstances. The statement from the Old Covenant in the Bible represents the administration of God's Law, the New covenant represents the administration of God's Grace.  Therefore, of course, a verse from the Old Covenant, also known as the Old Testament, will appear to contradict a  New Covenant, Also known as the New testament, verse on the same subject.  God designed it that way. (Read Jeremiah 31:31-34) According to the prophecy in Jeremiah, the New Covenant that God was going to make with Israel was not going to be according to the one He made with them in the wilderness. Therefore, we must understand that the New and Old Testament was purposely designed by God differently from each other.  This means that  because of the presupposition of each Covenant represented in the bible, some biblical statements will look contrary one to another until we understand that one statement was made at a different time under a different covenant to a different audience in contrast and comparison to the other statement  made to  another audience on the same subject. It is like making an opportunity presentation to one group of people looking for work and later making another presentation opportunity to a group of people looking to invest.  The subject is opportunity but because the audience is different so need be the presentation of opportunity must be made different.  Does that   mean that presentation of opportunity contradict each other? No because they are made to two different groups of people under two different conditions. 

So what is a Biblical contradiction?  Two biblical statements on the same subject, within the same covenant, that are opposite to each other.

Now that we are on clear what constitute a legitimate biblical contradiction, let us look at a sample of what many believe are contradictions in the Bible. Why only a sample, why not all of them?  The reason that we only need to look at a sample of these alleged  biblical contradictions represent the many creative presentations of the other biblical contradictions that people have come up with.  These so called biblical contradictions fall in several different categories.

1) A misunderstanding or misreading of the context of the contradiction.
2) Mistaking a typo graphical error for a contradiction
3) Disregarding the applicable Covenants in the alleged contradiction
4) The subject is not the same between the two Biblical statements being taken as a contradiction
5) The original audiences of the alleged contradiction are not the same.
6) Mistaking a general number statement and a specific number statement as a contraction
7) Misunderstanding the historical context of the alleged contradiction.

Now the alleged biblical contradiction may fall into more than one category depending how it is presented. This is why we only need a sample, but if you need a particular alleged biblical contradiction address I suggest that you visit http://www.bible.ca/islam/islam-bible-contradictions-refuted.htm and http://www.mikeschristiancorner.com/contradictions.html. which are pages that contain answers to just about every so-called biblical contradiction that have been brought up by people.  Now if an alleged biblical contradiction falls into one these categories then it is obvious that what was presented as a contradiction is not a contradiction. If the biblical statements are not a contradiction, then the Bible is the word of God and a wonderful opportunity awaits the unbeliever once he accepts that he was wrong and the Bible is right.  More on that later.

Sample Biblical Contradictions:

1. The Order of creation
Text in discussion Genesis chapters 1 and 2
Here is the order in the first (Genesis 1), the Priestly tradition:

Day 1: Sky, Earth, light
Day 2: Water, both in ocean basins and above the sky(!)
Day 3: Plants
Day 4: Sun, Moon, stars (as calendrical and navigational aids)
Day 5: Sea monsters (whales), fish, birds, land animals, creepy-crawlies (reptiles, insects, etc.)
Day 6: Humans (apparently both sexes at the same time)
Day 7: Nothing (the Gods took the first day off anyone ever did)

Note that there are "days," "evenings," and "mornings" before the Sun was created. Here, the Deity is referred to as "Elohim," which is a plural, thus the literal translation, "the Gods." In this tale, the Gods seem satisfied with what they have done, saying after each step that "it was good."

The second one (Genesis 2), the Yahwist tradition, goes:

Earth and heavens (misty)
Adam, the first man (on a desolate Earth)
Plants
Animals
Eve, the first woman (from Adam's rib)



How orderly were things created?
#1: Step-by-step. The only discrepancy is that there is no Sun or Moon or stars on the first three "days."
#2: God fixes things up as he goes. The first man is lonely, and is not satisfied with animals. God finally creates a woman for him. (funny thing that an omniscient god would forget things)



How satisfied with creation was he?
#1: God says "it was good" after each of his labors, and rests on the seventh day, evidently very satisfied.
#2: God has to fix up his creation as he goes, and he would certainly not be very satisfied with the disobedience of that primordial couple. (funny thing that an omniscient god would forget things)

(source:http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html)

The two alleged biblical contradictory statements presented above come from the Book of Genesis Chapters one and two.  It  is presented as though there are two creation accounts in the Bible.  This presentation is based upon the idea that God made everything, but he made man first.  This is an misunderstanding of the text and not a contradiction. Why? First of all, Genesis chapter one and  chapter two is one creation account not two different accounts.  The Chapter one is an overview of the order of creation, whereas in chapter 1 verse 26 we have a summary story of the creation of mankind, chapter two in Genesis gives us more detail on the creation of the sexes of mankind that occurred on the sixth day of creation.  

The person who presented this so called contradiction does not understand that God is not linear, he has no beginning and has no end, neither is he bound to time which explains why God is able to take desolate raw earth before any vegetation was created and any water to wet the ground on the third day and on the sixth day complete the creation of the human race. Only God can transverse time and space and make things happen.  So it is understandable that unbelieving people find these two passages contradictory, because they are viewing it from a linear point of view.  However, God is not subject to linear time.  God is eternal and because he is eternal he can walk up and down time and intervene in the affairs of mankind as he so wills it.  That being said Chapter one is a overview  of creation, chapter two is what happen when God made the sexes on the day he made man.  God does not fixes things up as he goes.  He made every thing good and perfect, it is man who fell in the Garden, it is God who sent his Son to redeem mankind from his fallen state.

Another point is the issue that the presenter of the biblical contradiction pointed out is that light and darkness existed before the Sun and Moon was created.  This is also a misunderstanding of the context from a unbelieving perspective.  The Bible says that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).  So If God is light, why would he need a Sun or Moon to make light?   The Sun and Moon were created to govern the times and seasons on the earth. God is the source of the Sun's light, and the Sun is the source of the Moon's light.  So God being light, created light from his being and introduced into a dark and void earth. His light and began time, then He placed in service the Sun and the Moon to govern it.

So is this sample biblical contradiction really a contradiction? No.  It is a misunderstanding of the text. The so call two creation accounts is really one creation account with a special emphasis on what happened on the sixth day.

Lastly the finial misunderstanding of the presenter of the contradiction  is about the plurality of  God's name. Elohim is not expressed as "the God's", it is a plural of the Deity of whom we call God. The bible declares "Hear O, Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord" (Deuteronomy 6:4) the word translated in Deuteronomy 6:4 as "God" is the Hebrew word Elohim which is plural. Why wasn't translated "the Gods" like the presenter of the contradiction suggested?  Because the word Elohim does not just represent the fragmented plurality of God, it represents His plurality contained in one entity.  Elohim is not the only name used to describe God there are several others in the scriptures, but you can wrap them all up in one Hebrew word: Elohim. or God, the Lord.

So this sample alleged contradiction falls under category number 1. Which is misunderstanding or a misreading the context of the contradiction.  This is why it is important to read the context of the supposed contradiction correctly before labelling it as such. Many passages in the Bible are like this one but they too are not contradictions.

2.Does every man sin?

1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 

vs.

1 John 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

(source:http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html)

First of all the present of this so-called contradiction has the subject correct but these passages is not written for every man,  It is written to Christians, that being said what the Apostle John was attempting to relate to the believers is how to handle sinfulness.  If believers practice what John teaches in chapter 1 in his first letter to the believers they will fulfill what he states in chapter 3 in the same letter.  The real question is not does every man sin, but rather does every man live in sin. The context of 1 John 3:9 is speaking to that issue, he is setting a parameter for believers to use in order to discern who is a sincere believer and who is not.  A true believer in Christ, has departed from the life of sin.  It does not mean that he does not have the capability to sin, it just means that the believer in Christ has made it a point to live as sinless as possible. The key word in 1 John 3:9 is the word "commit".  This word "commit"means to pledge oneself to a issue.  In this case some one who has pledged himself to a sinful life. So in this light, John is not talking about   believers in Christ not being able to sin, for every person on the planet has the ability to sin against God, he is talking about people who are pledged to a life of sin, to them sinning is apart of the human character.  The Apostle John is telling believers in Christ that they are capable of living  a sinless life. Some people who are determined to live in sin, which is an offense against God.  John is saying if you are truly born again,  born of God your life is not a pledge to sinful living. A For a believer in Christ to not offend God, the Christian cannot live in sin, that is if he is truly  a Christian. The context of 1 John 1:8 is again dealing with every Christian man, it is dealing with Christians who have made the mistake of sinning that if they repent and confess their sins they do not fall short of the glory of God, no matter what sins they unintentionally do. That they are impervious from living a life committed to sin.  Simply because Jesus saved the Spirit of mankind from the bondage to sinfulness by the redemption of His flesh  and by His resurrection from the dead. By saving the spirit of  mankind, Jesus saved every soul that believes in him. However, Jesus did not yet save the bodies of men.  So believers are left to work out their own soul's salvation through their unredeemed  flesh.  1 John 1:8+9 teaches believers how to deal with unconfessed sins that they may have committed unintentionally.  So are these verses contradictory? Nope.  Why? Because they are not talking to everyone in the world, they are talking to everyone in the church. If the Christian follows the instruction of 1 John 1:8, he will fulfill what it says in 1 John 3:9.  The two verses do not contradict each other, they support one another.  The writer of this non-contradiction makes the misapplication of the text to everyone, perhaps in his opinion and his perspective everyone around him is a Christian.

3. Judging

1 Cor 2:15 "The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment:" (NIV)

vs. 

1 Cor 4:5 "Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God."

(source:http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html)

Here again is another misapplication of the texts in discussion.  The subject is Judging but the important details are left out because the critic of the Bible did not include the context of what was written for each verse.   If we read 1 Corinthians 2:15 in its context we will discover that the spiritual man makes spiritual judgments about spiritual things through the use of the sacred scriptures.  1 Corinthians 4:5  when read within its context is speaking about making judgments about things outside of the spiritual context.  Here one form of judging has nothing to do with the other. So is it a contradiction? Nope. The author of this so-called contradiction apparently don't like to read the Bible in context, which is the problem with many people who read the bible.  Hey, I did the same thing when I first started to read the Bible as an unbeliever.  I had questions like this also, but I was determined to understand the holy scriptures, because if God was real there was a lot things he had to explain.  Those things was and are explained in the Bible.  The more I read the more I understood,  but it was not I became a believer in Christ did the scriptures really opened up to me.  So I encourage every truth seeker, seeker of God and inquirer to keep reading the Bible and most importantly get understanding,  because the things that happened in the Bible happened because back then things were different but they laid the groundwork and foundation to what is happening now.

These are only sample contradictions, if you want to read the other contradictions visit the websites that are given as sources on this page.  







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