Blog Archive

Followers

Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the www.comereason.org Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

Powered by Blogger.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bible Contradictions - Why Responding "Show Me Some" Doesn't Work

"What about all the contradictions in the Bible?" If you share your faith or even if your vocal about believing the Bible to be true, sooner or later you will hear this response. "How can you believe something that has so many contradictions in it?" The objection is designed to be a smokescreen, a showstopper. However, it shouldn't worry the Christian too much. You see, the Bible is in all probability the most scrutinized book in history. I know of no other written work that has been subjected to the sheer volume of critical examination as the Bible from supporters and detractors alike. Yet, the Bible has endured. The various mistakes that people claim for it are usually easy to answer and have been answered for many years.


One thing, though.  One must know how to answer the objection. In books and sermons, I've heard preachers talk about how to face this challenge. Usually, the advice they give is something along the lines of "If someone claims that there are too many contradictions in the Bible, you should hand them your Bible and say 'OK, show me some.' That's usually enough to stop them."

Now, there is some truth that this may catch the objector off guard. As I mentioned above, many times a person throws out this question to simply stop the conversation. They don't know any Bible contradictions; they've simply heard other say the same thing and they're parroting the question to play what they think is a trump card. So, when you ask them to point some out, you're just calling their bluff.

However, what if they're not bluffing? What if a person is really asking you to reconcile biblically-stated facts that seem to be in tension with each other? Maybe the objector isn't sincere in his desire to see the supposed contradiction solved, but what if others are also listening? What if they actually point out a couple of examples to you and hand you your Bible back—what do you do then?

You see, bluffing is fine if you're playing poker, but not for Christians sharing the most important message of life. It's not what the Bible itself commands us to do. As1 Peter 3:15 tells us, we always need to be ready to give a defense for our faith. Jesus did so when he was questioned by the skeptics of his day, the Sadducees. Luke 20 offers some clear examples of him doing so. The Bereans in Acts 17:11 were called noble because they didn't take Paul's claims at face value, but checked them out. So we had better check our Bibles honestly before we go off and offer a smug answer to someone else. If we're merely throwing out the "show me some" statement, then we're guilty of the exact same stall tactic as the skeptic. Neither of us knows what we're talking about, we're just trying to block the other person's parry. But if they are informed and you don't know the subject matter, then you endanger your witness as well as your own reputation.

I'll be looking at the idea of so called biblical contradictions in the next few posts and the larger principles of how to treat passages that appear in tension.  I hope you'll join me so you can honestly answer the contradiction claim when it shows up.

17 comments:

  1. How about also, famous failed prophecies, like 'the soon return of Christ.' It failed in their day, and now it is almost 2,000 years later.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That prophecy has not failed. It is already over and done with in 70 A.D. The rapture also happened in 70 A.D. Except for the apostles that were killed all other apostles were raptured. Daniel is told to seal his prophecy's that would happen 500 years later. But John is told not to because the time is near. Plus Jesus said some of the apostles would still
      be alive when he returns.

      Delete
  2. Bernie, Have you heard of Partial-Preterism?

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Bernie, Have you heard of Partial-Preterism?"

    No, but I can imagine what it means. Still trying to struggle with Christ's imminent return, correct?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi, Bernie!

    I assume that you are defining the word "imminent" to mean "soon". However, it means “likely to happen at any moment; impending.” When we speak of the imminence of Christ’s return, we mean that He could come back at any moment. It has nothing to do with happening soon, just suddenly, out of the blue, without warning. That's imminence.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks. I'll try to explain what little I know. Its been years since I looked at Partial-Preterism (PP). PP teaches that a food number of the prophecies found in the New Testament - particular Matthew & Revelation - have already been fulfilled.

    Now with respect to Christ's return PPs will claim that while Jesus still will return in a final and ultimate sense, He also came in a different sense after shortly after His resurrection. He came in judgment. The launch point for their case is usually Matthew 24:34.

    “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Mt. 24:34).

    The claim is that when Jesus said "this generation," He was referring to the people right there and then, not some future group. If that is right, then you have to ask just what did that generation see take place?

    ~ As I said, I looked at this stuff years ago so things are a bit hazy for me. The people I consulted were R.C. Sproul and Kenneth Gentry. Its actually quite fascinating and the stuff about Jesus returning in judgement made a lot of good sense.

    Ok. God Bless,
    ~ Raj

    ReplyDelete
  6. Curious to know why the Bible contains thousands of contradictions and what they tell us about the Bible's compositional history, authors, audiences, and the historical circumstances that produced it?

    The Bible's texts contain contradictions, period. This is the textual data, and has been recognized for 300 years by the scholarly community, clergy and laymen alike.

    You strike me as being more concerned about defending your faith, thus apologetics, rather than defending, or even knowing about, the Bible's many texts, authors, audiences, historical circumstances that prompted these 70+ writers to write what they did over the 1,000 year period of texts no contain in this so-called "Book"--- a label of a centuries later readership that had their own agendas and historical concerns. Who are you really advocating for? The writers of these texts BEFORE the "Bible" was ever created, or their readers living centuries later and knowing nothing about the texts, authors, historical and literary contexts within which these texts were produced. Let's be honest to the texts. That's my challenge.

    http://contradictionsinthebible.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually no, there are no contradictions in the bible. Translators have introduced some as have scribes within some manuscripts but there are no contradictions in the text proper. I have dealt with a broad range of alleged ones and whole books have been written addressing virtually all of the ones asserted by skeptics including "contradictions....com". I wonder if they have the answer a fool "contradiction" on this site.

      Delete
    2. Totally false. I have seen many of the alleged contradictions of skeptics and they are almost always a result of a contradiction of a persons expectations rather than a true contradiction.

      Delete
  7. Well, you can start your challenge of being honest with yourself. First of all, it's disputed just how many authors there are, so "70+" is little more than a guess, even considering the fact of multiple authorship of some books. And how in the world do agendas and historical concerns thereby falsify what people say? By that criteria, I guess you ought to toss your western civ book out the window. Lastly, Christianity doesn't depend on whether Ezra got his census numbers right--it's about Jesus' death and resurrection, but I assumed you already knew that, didn't you?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Check http://bibviz.com/ There's all the contradictions and all the evil summed up...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The bibviz list has been refuted

      Delete
  9. Great post! I think another thing about the "show me some" response is, it's also a potential show-stopper if we use it. Meaning, if we respond with it, shut the skeptic up - we potentially ended the conversation. We were not really winsome, more "won the fight". We won nothing, if that happens. Being ready to give a reason for our faith is to be done in love. Winning souls for Christ is more important than the argument. So, while sometimes asking that question could be necessary - it should always be done with as sensitive a nature as possible, as respectful as possible, and from a spirit of love. Jesus called out his skeptics - but ALWAYS because he loved them, not to "win an argument". :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I think that when you understand the genre of the Gospels, then that puts most of the supposed contradictions to rest:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dgz-uPiVGc8

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't yet seen the video but that is a true and good point in general.

      Delete
  11. But, if you have dealt with allegations of Biblical contradictions before, and you know the majority of the typical ones atheists resort to, then wouldn't "Show me some." be a good answer? Wouldn't refuting those allegations right there serve as a better witness?

    If they have the ability to simply look up more, then so should you have the ability to seek aid in how to answer them.

    Most of the time though there are consistent traits to these allegations, where you can respond to almost all of them with one of only a few types of responses. Even if you don't provide a perfect refutation, it can often be good enough to simply discredit the alleged contradiction.

    Of course, if you don't know enough about these things to go refuting these allegations then you make sense in your post. I guess I am spoiled by internet discussions where I have the entire world wide web at my fingertips to research a response if I don't already have one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes but it all depends on ones own ability. One should not just blindly say show me unprepared thinking that they will not come back with some difficulty one or several of which you may or may not have heard. If you they do and you are caught off guard it can backfire. My exprience is that most alleged contradictions are easily answered and not contradictions at all but wishful contradictions. There are a few other difficulties in scripture that require more analysis and a theoretical explanation which is sufficient to show that there are possible answers and not knowing or being sure of the answer is not the same there not being one.

      Delete

Come Reason brandmark Convincing Christianity
An invaluable addition to the realm of Christian apologetics

Mary Jo Sharp:

"Lenny Esposito's work at Come Reason Ministries is an invaluable addition to the realm of Christian apologetics. He is as knowledgeable as he is gracious. I highly recommend booking Lenny as a speaker for your next conference or workshop!"
Check out more X