- even prophets show interest in correct biblical understanding
“They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read.” – Nehemiah 8:8
- Jesus corrects wrong scriptural understanding
“So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'”
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” – John 6:30-33
- It is important to understand the difference between: Exegesis (Good): Draw meaning out of text, Eisegesis (Bad): Read one’s ideas into the text.
- Context is necessary and without it something can easily become a pretext.
- A proper/complete view of biblical study is key to an accurate understanding of what the text says
- Developing a reflex to research and not to doubt is mandatory for any sound pursuit of Truth.
This post serves as a practical extension to the topical discussion on the “Validity of the Bible”. Beyond understanding the tools, approaches, and broader questioning of the Bible the attached documents address more specific examples of “apparent contradictions”. By no means is this a comprehensive listing but it serves as an example of how to use the tools introduced in debunking the false contradictions thrown against the Bible.
Some of these tools include a proper understanding of context (single most important tool), the audience, the metaphor types, different types of writing etc.)
Additionally, I provide some simple ways for you to remember the structure of the scripture (courtesy of Tony Costa). You may wonder how these fit into the discussion on “Bible Contradictions” but I have found a sound understanding of the entire Bible and developing the ability to navigate it and thoroughly recognize its structure accelerates one’s ability to study and explain God’s Word to others.
Beyond structure, it is important to look at a few examples of these “contradictions” and see how quickly many of them can be dismissed and how others simply require understanding and research to properly address the concerns.
On a separate note, I have personally found very few debates on these contradictions with non-believers stem from an honest pursuit of the Truth but that doesn’t take away from the importance of the topic as we must be prepared to explain and understand why we have faith in God and can trust His Word. Secondarily, as apologists (we are all called to be one – 1 Peter 3:15), it is our job to remove any obstacles that are in front of people. I have come across a great allegory that illustrates the role we play.
Apologetics is like a field. In the center of the field is a garden. This garden has one door and that door is Jesus. There is one path that leads to that door. Inside the garden is eternal life in the presence of God. Outside it, however, in the field, are rocks, boulders, thorns, thistles, valleys, hills, and many false paths that lead nowhere.
The apologist resides in the field and points people to the true path so they can find the Garden. The apologist seeks to remove the intellectual thorns and emotional rocks that prevent people from finding the truth path to God. Also, there are many people who are walking false paths (cults, philosophies, etc.) who will never reach that garden. The apologist gently guides the person, removes the obstacles, and points in the direction of the Garden. When people arrive there, it is between them and God on whether or not they enter.
Picture yourself as a laborer in the field. It isn’t your job to save anyone. It is your job to point the way. You aren’t the only one in the field. Getting them to the Garden is not your job. They get there. You simply help them. (source: http://www.carm.org/apologetics/illustration.htm)
Suggested Reading(s): B = Basic, M = Moderate, A = Academic
Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart;
William Klein, Bloomberg;
- When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (M)
- When Skeptics Ask: A Handbook on Christian Evidences (M)
Jr., Gleason L. Archer;
- New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Zondervan’s Understand the Bible Reference Series) (A)