Are there any major biblical contradictions?
Are there any major biblical contradictions? The Bible is often referred to as an inerrant book, free from any major contradictions or discrepancies. This claim has caused many discussions and appraisals of the various translations of the Bible, all aimed at discrediting the Bible through revelations of error and discrepancies. Bible skeptics have pointed to three types of major Bible errors: doctoral, ethical, and historical.
Biblical Contradictions: Doctoral Contradictions - One area often targeted by Bible skeptics is the supposed doctrinal contradictions that can be found in the Bible. There are certain verses in the Bible where it appears that God, Jesus, and others contradict their earlier teachings. Some the major contradictions skeptics point to are Jesus' teachings on Himself. In John 10:30, Jesus tells us that He, "and the Father are one" but in John 16:28, Jesus appears to tell us that He is separate from the Father and will be returning to the Father.
These two verses seem to show two conflicting views that Jesus has of Himself. Both of these verses show the "oneness" of Jesus and the Father in essence, attributes, and will but for the moment, not the unity of person. Jesus is still God but has come as a man in order to die for our sin and as He said, one day after His resurrection, He would return to the Father. It is up to us to make sure with doctrinal discrepancies that we read and understand the context of the verses in light of the whole passage, paragraph, or section to eliminate any misunderstandings of the verse.
Biblical Contradictions: Ethical Contradictions - Skeptics also point to the apparent contradictions in the ethical views of God from one passage to another. Skeptics are quick to point to passages where it appears that God changes His mind from an earlier passage or statement. For instance, in Matthew 7:1, God tells us not to judge others unless we want to be judged, but in John 7:24, God tells us to not judge according to appearance.
These two verses appear to contradict one another until you look at the deeper meaning of each verse. Matthew 7:1 deals with judging others on whether they are saved or are to be condemned for what they do. The second verse in John 7:24 deals with making a quick judgment about someone based on what they look or act like. There are many other verses like these in the Bible, but as with apparent doctrinal contradictions, we need to look closely at the verses and find the deeper meaning before we jump to conclusions.
Biblical Contradictions: Historical Contradictions - Bible skeptics often point out the alleged historical contradictions in the Bible. For instance, for many years, it was thought that the stories of David in the Bible were nothing more then fables. But recently, an ancient text was found that refers to David as King of Israel. There are many more cited historical contradictions in the Bible. For instance, there are questions surrounding the location of Moses' crossing of the Red Sea. Many skeptics feel it was impossible because of the depth of the Red Sea. They think he may have crossed the smaller, more shallow Reed Sea.
Historical discrepancies are a lot harder to look at because they are just that: history. But with each new archeological discovery, what was once thought to be a story or an inaccuracy is being proven true. A good example of this is the Battle of Jericho, which was long believed to be exaggerated and inaccurately positioned in the timeline of the Bible. New evidence found in the archeological digs of 1997 seem to show the existence of Jericho and of a wall that collapsed around 1400 B.C. These discoveries align with the Biblical account of Joshua's march and conquest of Jericho.
While all apparent Biblical contradictions -- doctrinal, ethical, or historical -- have not been cleared up, Christians expect that as more knowledge is gained, each contradiction will disappear. However since the Bible is the Word of God and full of His wisdom for our world, we can always expect that there will be those who try to discredit it to make it appear untrue and worthless. We as Christians believe that God is not a God of contradictions, so we feel that when properly understood, His Word will not contradict itself but will show the truth as God has revealed it.
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