Objections to Reasons for Faith in the Bible Part II
by PastorErick | 11/28/17, 11:23 AM
Chances are you’ve heard this one many times before. A skeptic simply says, “I don’t believe in Christianity because the Bible has all sorts of contradictions in it.” Now I’ll be the first to admit that (at least at first glance) there does seem to be some errors in the Bible.
That said, the vast majority of these supposed discrepancies have been acknowledged, wrestled with and ably responded to by very capable scholars throughout the church’s history. What are some of these responses?
Where are the errors?- Yes, the first response is a very specific question back to the person making the claim. “Where specifically are the errors in the Bible?” As is often the case when people make the claim that “Science disproves the Bible” (see Friday’s post), most of the time, people are just repeating what they heard in a freshman philosophy course. Very rarely can someone actually point to examples of error in Scripture. That said, if a person actually does bring up some discrepancy, remind them of this:
The “errors” are fairly easy to resolve- Of the apparent errors in the Scriptures, you can be fairly certain that whatever the issue is it has has been dealt with over and over…. and over again. The apparent contradiction between creation accounts? Yes, endless responses. Errors in agreement about numbers in ancient Israel? Yeah a bunch of people have dealt with that too. “Contradictions” in the gospel accounts of the resurrection? Oh my goodness yes, there are TONS of responses! Even the most recent books by guys like Bart Ehrman (with his slew of books challenging the veracity of the New Testament) present nothing new. There has been no new research unearthed; it’s merely the same objections repackaged for today. This is why most Bible scholars (Christian or not) are not surprised/scandalized by any of the challenges: They’ve heard it all before and many have found the critics to be wanting…
There are some copyist errors- It doesn’t do us any good to pretend otherwise. We can acknowledge to those who challenge the Bible that yes, in some cases there are discrepancies based on errors in transmission. But these errors have no effect on any area of historic Christian doctrine and usually have to do with small matters (like the difference between “their” and “there”). Remember, the various Jewish Scribes and Monks who transmitted Scripture weren’t “inspired” by the Holy Spirit, only the original authors, so as careful as they were (like dude, insanely careful to be precisely accurate), sometimes they slipped up.
Failure to understand writing genre and historical context- If there is one area of misunderstanding I have come across constantly it is this one. A lot of skeptics strangely assume that the Bible is simply one book, failing to recognize that within this one book are 66 different writings. Some of these writings are historical narrative, some are apocalyptic, some are poetic, some are epistolary, and some are a mixture (depending on the context: for example, parables are a form of poetry/storytelling within the context of the larger narrative of Jesus’ life). When people fail to distinguish between the genre of writing, that can lead to all sorts of problems. For example, an apparent contradiction might be these two verses:
Matthew 7:8 tells us, ‘seek and you will find’,
but Proverbs 1:28 says, 'they will look for me but will not find me’.
Oh No!!!! How do we reconcile such a discrepancy?!? Well, of course, the books are two different styles of writing, addressing two very different audiences about different circumstances. Matthew is Jesus inviting people to Him, Proverbs is pronouncing judgment on people for rejecting God. No contradiction, just different environments, and genres….
Well, there could be much more said against the claim that the Bible is full of errors, but at least for now this post gives us a few responses to this common complaint….
- 31 - Reasons for Faith in the Bible Part I: Jesus Said So
- 24 - Reasons For Faith In Jesus’ Resurrection Part V: The Uniqueness of the Resurrection
- 17 - Reasons For Faith In Jesus’ Resurrection Part IV: The External Evidence
- 10 - Reasons For Faith In Jesus’ Resurrection Part III: The Birth, Rapid Expansion and Martyrdom Of The Early Church
- 03 - Reasons for (Christian) Faith Part II: The Counterproductive Gospel