Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What about the Contradictions?

I found an interesting article by Dr. Craig Blomberg about what appear to be (or even actually are) discrepancies in the Bible. It starts off by stating the challenge put forth:

"Skeptics often charge that the Bible’s historical books hopelessly contradict each other. And if that’s the case, they charge, then the Bible cannot be trusted in anything it says...On the surface, the Bible’s historical books can appear to disagree. These range all the way from very minor variations in wording to the most famous apparent contradictions."

So what should we do with these issues? The thing that we shouldn't do is to ignore them.

Dr. Blomberg gets right to the point:

"But once you allow for paraphrase, abridgment, explanatory additions, selection and omission—acceptable techniques even in many of today’s writing styles—the books are extremely consistent with each other by ancient standards, which are the only standards by which it’s fair to judge them."

Even further Dr. Blomberg quotes Simon Greenleaf of Harvard Law School:

"There is enough of a discrepancy to show that there could have been no previous concert among them; and at the same time such substantial agreement as to show that they all were independent narrators of the same great transaction."

And he also quotes German scholar Hans Stier:

"Every historian is especially skeptical at that moment when an extraordinary happening is only reported in accounts which are completely free of contradictions."

What I think is important to keep in mind in situations where we are facing a challenge from someone about contradictions in the Bible is that the issue is rarely the issue. Generally the real issue is not that there are difficulties in the Bible. When I have engaged someone in the past regarding these difficulties they had not rejected either the God of Christianity or the idea of God in general because of them. Rather these objections were being raised as a support for their presupposition that the God of the Bible does not exist. So while it is profitable and important to be able to answer these challenges, we need to keep in mind that when someone raises these challenges that there are usually bigger challenges lurking behind.


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