Countering Claims of Contradiction

A number of solid evangelical blogs have lately commented on the recent graphic by Sam Harris, noted atheist, regarding supposed contradictions in the Scripture. Rather than attempting to weigh in at length on the discussion, I thought it might be helpful to simply gather some of the responses together for those who are confused by the claims or engaging those who use such arguments to attempt to discount the authority of the Bible.

The best defense against these claims is simply to know the fundamental rules of interpretation. Consider the context. Consider the genre. Consider the nature of words and language. Consider the Christian meaning of inerrancy.1 The vast majority of claims of contradiction simply require diligent study. If, however, you superficially read the Bible and lazily apply a strict and wooden hermeneutic 2 then you will easily grow confused, discouraged and skeptical.

Rather than approaching the Bible with such intellectual indolence, humble yourself under the text and diligently apply yourself to the duty and delight of study. In doing so, hold fast to great hope that God will grant understanding (2 Timothy 2:7).

We should not be disheartened by the difficulty of some texts, given that the Bible itself has confessed this very complexity (2 Peter 3:16). Rather than discourage us, paradoxes in the Scripture should instead humble us as we cry out to God for help (Psalm 119:18) to see the intricacies of His revelation.

2 Peter 3:15–17 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.

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