Thursday, July 27, 2017

Yes, the Bible is full of contradictions (But I love it anyway)

If we're going to talk about the Bible, we have to be honest; there are more than a few errors in the Scriptures. In fact, there are errors, mistakes and contradictions all through it.

This is the truth.

Before I list a few of those contradictions and errors, let me first say this:

I love the Bible.

I not only love the Bible, I also study it, treasure it, and thank God for it.

Why? Because even though it's not perfect, it does point us to Christ. It is also chock full of incredible wisdom, insight and profound truth.

But, no, the Bible is not perfect.

However, God is and we can know a lot about Him through the Scriptures.

Thankfully, we don't need a perfect, inerrant, infallible Bible to know and worship a perfect, inerrant and infallible God.

So, the sooner we just admit that the Bible has a few mistakes and errors and contradictions, the sooner we can move on to discover the truth, wisdom and insight it still holds for everyone.

Now, here are a few errors, mistakes and contradictions in the Bible:

God does NOT command burnt offerings to be sacrificed:
"For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices." (Jeremiah 7:22)

God DOES command burnt offerings to be sacrificed:
"You shall make an altar of earth for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen; in every place where I cause My name to be remembered, I will come to you and bless you." (Exodus 20:24)

The Earth remains forever:
"A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever." (Ecclesiastes 1:4)

The Earth will be destroyed by fire:
"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up." (2 Peter 3:10)

Elijah ascended into Heaven:
"As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven." (2 Kings 2:11)

No one except Jesus ever ascended into Heaven:
"No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man." (John 3:13)

Israel had 800,000 men and Judah had 500,000 men:
"And Joab gave the number of the registration of the people to the king; and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men." (2 Sam. 24:9)

Israel had 1,100,000 men and Judah had 470,000 men:
"Joab gave the number of the census of all the people to David. And all Israel were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword; and Judah was 470,000 men who drew the sword." (1 Chron. 21:5)

David captured 1,700 horsemen:
"David captured from him 1,700 horsemen and 20,000 foot soldiers; and David hamstrung the chariot horses, but reserved enough of them for 100 chariots." (2 Samuel 8:4)

David captured 7,000 horsemen:
"David took from him 1,000 chariots and 7,000 horsemen and 20,000 foot soldiers, and David hamstrung all the chariot horses, but reserved enough of them for 100 chariots." (1 Chronicles 18:4)

So, this is just a quick list of contradictions and errors in the Bible. A lot of them are just numbering mistakes. Others are historical inaccuracies about who did or said this or that. Honestly, nothing too "out there" except perhaps for the question of whether God required sacrifice or not. (That's another blog article for another day).

My point is not to weaken your faith in the God of the Bible. My point is to speak the truth and admit that there are a few errors in the Scriptures which we should simply admit to and move on.

The Bible is not perfect. The Scriptures are not error-free. 

But God is perfect, and Jesus perfectly reveals the Father to us, and we can know Him directly by the indwelling Holy Spirit who abides within us.

If we run around claiming that there are no errors in the Bible and no contradictions, then we look foolish. What's worse, we also set our weaker brothers and sisters in Christ up for a fall. Whenever someone points out one of these errors to them they will no doubt lose all faith in the "inerrant and infallible" Scriptures and possibly even in the Lord Himself.

But, if we are honest with one another and admit that our Scriptures are "mostly" reliable (at least about the things that matter), then we're at least dealing with reality and being realistic about the Bible. 

As my friend Brian Zahnd says, "What the Bible does inerrantly and infallibly is point us to Christ."

Now that we have Christ, we also have the Holy Spirit which lives within us and leads us into all Truth so we can recognize error and walk in the light as He is in the light.

The Bible points us to the Truth, even if it (sometimes) does so inconsistently.

Being "God-breathed" does not necessitate perfection. Humans are also "God-breathed" and we are prone to all sorts of mistakes. Thankfully, that doesn't mean God abandons us, or refuses to abide within us. 

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that the surpassing greatness of this power is from God and not from ourselves" (2 Cor. 4:7)



*Did this article challenge you or bless you? If so, why not share it with your friends on social media?


A J MacDonald Jr said...

Why should we believe "God is perfect, and Jesus perfectly reveals the Father to us" when you say "The Bible is not perfect. The Scriptures are not error-free"? Perhaps the parts of the Bible that lead you to believe "Jesus perfectly reveals the Father to us" are erroneous and uninspired writings? Who's to say what's inspired and correct in the Bible and what's not? You? Me? Is it the Church? Is it the voice of Jesus? Who's to say when the voice of Jesus is inspired and correct and when it's not? The Bible? The Church? Since the Bible contradicts itself, shouldn't we expect the Church and the voice of Jesus to contradict themselves, too? Could we write another blog post titled: "Yes, the voice of Jesus is full of contradictions (But I love it anyway)"? Seems like you're throwing the Bible out with the 'flat Bible perspective' bathwater. I can't see any good coming from your approach, here, to the Bible: "In fact, there are errors, mistakes and contradictions all through it."

Heather G said...

I think you would like Peter Enns' stuff.

Keith Giles said...

AJ - You've been a faithful follower of this blog for awhile now and I appreciate your comments very much.

First of all, yes, I know that this post provokes all sorts of questions [as you've demonstrated for us here].

This is why we call it "faith" not "certainty". The opposite of "faith" is "certainty", not "doubt".

No, as I've shown, the Bible is not error-free. We should't pretend it is. There is no power in that, nor is there any honesty or truth to it.

Your Bible [and mine] is flawed. Just like people. Yet God still loves to pour His Spirit into us [and the Scriptures] in spite of this fact.

Who's to say what is inspired or not? Well, each of us who abides in Christ has the Holy Spirit living within - the actual "Word of God" dwells inside of us. So, we can use discernment when we read the scriptures - or anything else - to determine what is true or not true.

This is exactly what Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would do: "He will lead you into all Truth"

This is a gift directly from our Lord. Let's use it!

Can we get it wrong? Of course we can. But we can - and do - get it very wrong, even when we assume the Bible is perfect. So, there's really no difference is there?

Whether you assume the Bible is perfect or not, there is still the chance to get it wrong [or right].

Yes, the Bible does contradict itself - at times. Not always. I have pointed out a few examples here, but this doesn't mean the entire Bible is always contradictory. I never said this, nor do I believe that.

When it comes to what we know of Christ, I see no contradictions. [Yes, there are contradictions regarding the specific details of the resurrection, but all agree it happened and evidence for the resurrected Christ is the boldness of the Disciples, the empty tomb and the failure of Rome or the Jewish leaders to produce the body to silence those who testified that He was alive.]

I would caution you, and everyone who follows Christ, not to put your hope or your faith in a Bible that cannot be wrong, but in a Christ who is faithful and true.

If your hope is in a perfect Bible, then it's all-too-easy to poke holes in that foundation. But if your hope is in a perfectly true Jesus who reveals the Father and has the words of life, you'll never be disappointed.

I guarantee it.

Daniel House said...

Thank you Keith! This statement in your blog sums it up, "But God is perfect, and Jesus perfectly reveals the Father to us, and we can know Him directly by the indwelling Holy Spirit who abides within us."

My prayer is that all that seek to follow Christ will realize that the Holy Spirit will teach them through imperfect books and imperfect people. He has been doing that for years. He chooses to work through fallen people and a fallen world to reveal a perfect God, who is redeeming both fallen creation and humanity through His son.