Honest analysis of supposed bible contradictions reveals God's perfect character
From chapter 23 of Losing Faith In Faith: From Preacher To Atheist by Dan Barker:
PAUL SAID, “God is not the author of confusion,” (I Corinthians 14:33), yet never has a book produced more confusion than the bible!
Listen to what Paul wrote earlier in that letter to the Corinthians:
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
We can see then, that God, in his wisdom, has chosen to reveal his qualities to those who receive His Spirit in such a way that is foolishness to those who would rather set their minds on material things. The confusion presented is that of Mr. Barker and others who give glory to God’s creation but not God. They do not even give thanks to their creator. Paul wrote in his letter to all of Rome, about such men, “who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” He says, “Professing to be wise, they became fools.” Why should God grant knowledge of Himself to any such ingrate? Paul says rather that, “as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind.” So we see that God does not force obedience on those who harden their hearts against Him. He instead longs that each of us would humble ourselves and be saved. Towards this end, God has revealed Himself in His son Jesus to make clear the only way to be saved.
Mr. Barker goes on:
There are hundreds of denominations and sects, all using the “inspired Scriptures” to prove their conflicting doctrines.
Yes, and even Satan himself uses the inspired Word of God to “prove” his false doctrines. The following is from Matthew’s account of the Lord Jesus:
Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:
‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’
‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”
Should we be surprised that what God intended for good, men will use for evil? No. Men corrupted by selfish desires will speak many lies to exalt themselves.
Mr. Barker then asks:
Why do trained theologians differ? Why do educated translators disagree over Greek and Hebrew meanings? Why all the confusion? Shouldn’t a document that was “divinely inspired” by an omniscient and omnipotent deity be as clear as possible?
Trained theologians will become like their teachers. Some bible college and seminary professors seek praise from others rather than the approval of God. They will explain away passages of scripture that make them uncomfortable. That, or they will come up with an “educated man’s” re-interpretation based on a claimed “intimate understanding” of ancient culture. They use this facade to save their reputation while proposing that a passage of scripture really means something wildly different than how it plainly reads. For example of the plainness of scripture, I encourage you to read the third chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans in several different translations. By this comparison it becomes clear that there is generally not much disagreement between Bible language scholars as to meanings. And doing this for Romans 3 shows that God has made the only way to be saved abundantly clear. Those who point to another way do so to their own destruction.
Next Mr. Barker says:
“If the trumpet give an uncertain sound,” Paul wrote in I Corinthians 14:8, “who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.” Exactly! Paul should have practiced what he preached. For almost two millennia, the bible has been producing a most “uncertain sound.”
No doubt, some of Paul’s writings are easier to understand than others, but taken as a whole, God has used his writings and the rest of the scriptures to make His desire for mankind known, and to show how that is to be accomplished in Jesus. To see this, try taking up my aforementioned challenge: Compare a passage of scripture in several different translations and see if they are not generally in agreement. Mr. Barker, claiming that Paul’s writings are not understandable, defeats his own argument by quoting Paul. Mr. Barker obviously understands that, with this argument, Paul was wanting the Corinthians to speak in an edifying way. Thus, at least these words of God through Paul, he clearly understands, but he still blames the Bible:
The problem is not with human limitations, as some claim. The problem is the bible itself. People who are free of theological bias notice that the bible contains hundreds of discrepancies. Should it surprise us when such a literary and moral mish-mash, taken seriously, causes so much discord?
By “People who are free of theological bias”, Mr. Barker must mean “people with a materialistic bias”. There is no such thing as a bias-free individual. I have a bias towards acknowledging the wise creator of our universe. I have a bias towards worshipping God’s Son who became a man. He became the only man to live in perfect obedience to God, and then gave his life into the hands of sinners as payment for my wrongs and those of the whole human race. Mr. Barker has a bias towards denying this creator and savior. Discord is not caused by the Bible itself, but by man’s rebellion against God’s Word. Listen to the wisdom that God gave James on the source of discord:
What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Read more.
After this, Mr. Barker goes on to present a list of what he says is a “brief sampling of biblical contradictions.” We must assume then, that the athiest has chosen those which are the toughest to refute. But, with the Lord’s help, that is exactly what I will do in follow-up posts.