Alleged Bible Contradictions: 5 Questions to Ask Before You Answer Objections
Eye on Apologetics
Anyone who takes a minute to google the phrase “Bible contradictions” will find links to a number of lists. These lists contain purported contradictions in the Bible. It is the onus of the Christian who encounters objections to the Bible which are drawn from such lists to be ready to answer these allegations. Prior to doing this, it would be prudent to give preliminary consideration to the following questions.
What is the academic virtue of this list? Some lists are comprised of nothing more than unexplained short questions or statements, each of which is followed by a list of verses. These lists are extremely persuasive to uncritical minds. If you have more than a minute to sift through the google results you will find that some of these lists have similarly worded “contradictions.” The same intellectual deficiency that finds the (above) sound-bytes satisfying doesn’t usually have any qualm with “borrowing” from the shoddy research of others.
It should be stated that the academic shortcuts of skeptics and atheists do not sufficiently put the issue to rest. This question is very helpful in gauging the 1) academic integrity and 2) intellectual engagement of the person objecting to belief in God’s word. Worded differently, this question could sound like the following.
- Is this alleged contradiction well thought out?
- Has this objector studied this topic personally?
- Is this objector merely repeating what they just googled?
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What kind of a contradiction is being alleged? There are different kinds of contradictions which are alleged as impugning the internal harmony of the Bible. Possible examples include alleged contradictions between:
- Two Bible verses (or passages)
- A single verse (or passage) and a group of verses (or passages)
- A doctrine and a Bible verse
- A doctrine and another doctrine
- A Bible verse (or passage) and extra biblical history
- A Bible verse (or passage) and science
If verse A is alleged to contradict verse B you will want to formulate your response in terms of clarifying the context of each verse, offering alternate harmonious interpretations, etc. However if the allegation is that verse A contradicts the doctrine of God’s eternal nature (for example), you will want to probe for what the objector’s understanding of God’s nature is. Do they understand his nature as presented in the Bible, or is it sub-biblical somehow? You may also want to investigate the relevance of verse A to the subject matter. Perhaps it was read in isolation from it’s context and does not speak directly to the objector’s concern…