Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Answering the Objections - The Bible

In youth group we have started a series on answering objections about Christianity. One of the teens asked if I would put my notes on my blog. So here they are. (Just a note. I have been perusing the internet for material. This is not my material, it is the material of a fellow blogger Nathan Paylor who has done a wonderful job of compiling information together for teens. You can view his blog here.)

Answering the Objections
Objections concerning the Bible

Objection 1: “The Bible is full of contradictions.”

Don’t let anyone say this to you without them giving you evidence of the “contradictions.” “They’re out there” or “All you have to do is look” is not evidence.

How do you deal with seeming contradictions?

1. Are the contradictions really contradictions?
A logical contradiction is “x = y” when in reality x ≠ y. For example; one person says “Terry is a guy” and another says “Terry is a girl.” There is a contradiction here. Either Terry is a guy or a girl. Terry cannot be both.
Some people might want to point out what they assume are these kinds of contradictions. We have to be careful though. Many times these so called contradictions are not contradictions at all. They are two different accounts with one giving more or less detail. For example, the Gospels give two different accounts of who visited the tomb after the Resurrection. Do these two accounts cancel out each other? No, one has more information and one has less.
2. Are the contradictions problematic? (Do they present a problem as to whether Scripture is true or not?)
We would be wrong to say that there are no contradictions at all, but so called contradictions are either not well thought out or they are superficial, meaning they don’t affect the overall message of the Bible.
What is the overall message of the Bible? God loves the world. He sent his Son. He and his Son are one. Jesus spoke about God’s kingdom. Jesus died for mankind. Jesus said no one can enter the Kingdom of God without his help (his sacrifice).
We must ask ourselves “Does this contradiction pose a problem to the message of Scripture? If a “contradiction” does not present a problem with the overall message of Scripture then it is not a reason to disbelieve the message. It is most likely a superficial “contradiction” that can be explained by other means.
3. Do the contradictions affect how we should view the Bible?
A question to ask would be “So what does your contradiction prove?” The real attempt being made by pointing out “contradictions” is to undermine the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture. Inerrancy is the belief that the Bible was without error in the original manuscripts. Inspiration is the belief that God directed the writing of it through the Holy Spirit. He did not dictate what is says but he prevented mistakes, contradictions and guided them in articulating his full message.
We have to realize that we do not have the original manuscripts of the Bible. The Bible has been copied over and over. Some minor mistakes have been made as a result of such copying. Even so, it is amazingly accurate for being copied over and over. We have several manuscripts that span huge amounts of time and it is safe to say that the Bible has not suffered from being copied from generation to generation.
The Bible has been translated from one language into another. Translating is a difficult task. Languages contain words which convey meaning. Words are a type of symbol used to indicate an object, convey an idea or describe something. Different cultures have produced different words. A meaning behind one culture’s word may be similar to another culture’s and yet it may be different because it either symbolizes something fuller or lesser. This makes translation a difficult task.
The Bible also contains eye witness accounts. No two people see things exactly the same. Something may be described one way by one person and another way by another person. This doesn’t mean there is a contradiction it simply means two people saw the same thing from different perspectives. If anything, both accounts give us a wider perspective.
When people try to point out contradictions that do not affect the overall message of Scripture they are in reality identify superficial contradictions. They are in reality ignorant of what Scripture truly says or they are merely making an excuse not to believe that the Bible is the Word of God. There are no major contradictions that cause us to doubt that Scripture is in deed the Word of God.

Don’t allow “contradictions in the Bible” to be an excuse for someone to dismiss Christianity. It is not. We need to challenge those who use this excuse, but on the flip side this doesn’t give us an excuse not to answer the so called contradictions. There are plenty of resources out there that have dealt with any contradiction someone can come up with. Christianity has been around for quite a long time. There is not contradiction that has not been addressed at some point in time.

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