Question of the Week: How do you respond to the claim that the Bible contradicts itself?
The key to addressing this question is to first clarify what is meant by contradiction. Most people use the word without understanding what it actually is. An additional detail is not a contradiction. A difference between two details is not a contradiction. And most importantly, misrepresenting two passages are not a contradiction. A contradiction is a violation of the first law of logic. If two things said in the same way and in the same sense cancel each other out, they can’t both be true. Once you pick up the bad habit, 99% of the “contradictions” end up just being confusion or deception on the part of the person claiming they are irreconcilable.
Example 1: Additional Detail
Was Jairus’ daughter dead or alive when he asked Jesus to heal her?
Luke 8:41-42: She was still alive and died along the way.
Matthew 9:18: She was dead and Jairus asked Jesus to raise her.
Answer: Matthew and Luke are two different people noting the same event. The only differences are the additions to detail Luke provides. Matthew remembers Jairus’ daughter died and asked Jesus to raise her. Luke includes the detail that she was sick and asked Jesus to heal her, then when a messenger told him she had died, he asked Jesus to raise her. (Where Matthew’s account starts)
Example 2: Difference Between Two Details
What was Sodom’s sin?
Luke 10:10-12: Inhospitality?
Jude 1:7: Sexual immorality?
Genesis 19:1-5: Sexual immorality?
Jeremiah 23:14: Adultery and Lies?
Answer: Where do any of these exclude the others? Are Sexually Immoral people always Hospitable? Are liars always hospitable? Are adulterers always honest? Are inhospitable people always sexually moral?
Example 3: Misrepresenting Two Passages
Does the Bible say to honor parents or to dishonor them?
Luke 9:59-62: Don’t honor parents
Exodus 20:12: Honor Parents
Answer: The saying, “Let me bury my father” doesn’t mean his dad died. He was saying that he’ll follow Jesus after his dad dies at some point in the distant future. Even if you didn’t understand the reference, it wouldn’t be reasonable to conclude Jesus was commanding someone to dishonor their father. The only objective command Jesus made was to follow Him.
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