The Big Question 43: Does the Bible Contradict Itself?
Mar 18, 2019 1059
Does the Bible contradict itself?
Well, people who believe that the Bible was inspired by God would say, “No, the Bible doesn’t contradict itself.” Meanwhile, people who try to discredit the Christian faith come up with lists of apparent contradictions. That kind of looks like hard evidence to me. So, who’s right?
I guess that first of all, I’d have two questions. The first one would be, what does a contradiction look like? Because I think that many of the apparent contradictions that people point out in the Bible aren’t really contradictions.
And the second question is, if we were to find a contradiction what would it mean? Because I think that what a contradiction meant would depend on how you read the Bible.
So let’s look at what a contradiction might look like. You remember the guy called Judas, right? The one who betrayed Jesus? Well the Bible says two different things about how he died.
In Matthew’s account, it says that Judas hung himself, while in Luke’s account in Acts, it says that he fell to the ground and burst wide open. Just because Judas’ death is described in two different ways doesn’t mean that we have a contradiction here. In the case of what the Bible says about how Judas died, it could be that he hung himself and the rope snapped and he fell burst open. Or it could be that his attempt at hanging himself didn’t work so he went and threw himself from a cliff. Or maybe there are other options. A contradiction would be if one account said that Judas hung himself, and the other said that he didn’t hang himself.
But what would it mean if we did find a contradiction? Remember I said that that depended on how you read the Bible? I know that some people think that Christians are all the same, but they’re not.
There are many Christians who see the actual Bible they hold in their hands as actually the very words that God wanted written down. If you were to find a blatant contradiction, not just a difference in perspective, that might be a significant problem for them.
However, there are also many other Christians who see the Bible as God’s message to humanity, expressed by inspired people in their own words and in terms of their own cultures and circumstances. They can allow for immaterial errors that might have come through perhaps even in the transmission process of thousands of years.
As for me, I’m not impressed by contradictions. I’m impressed that a book written by over 35 people during a time-span of up to 1,500 years can be so consistent!
And my personal bottom line is that the Bible never contradicts itself in its central message about the love of God for us, and in its offer of eternal life through Jesus Christ.