Let’s face it. There are aspects of God’s Word that are very confusing. Some passages are just plain weird and others seem contradictory. For those of us who believe that the Bible is God’s inerrant word in the original manuscripts (an important qualifier), this is troubling.
If God’s word is perfectly true, then what do we do with apparent inconsistencies? Furthermore, why didn’t God just communicate things more clearly in the first place? Certainly he knew these issues would be cause for disbelief, argument and interpretive error. Why invite confusion?
I’m sure he has his reasons.
Some problems resolve through careful exegesis and better understanding of ancient cultures. Our English translations are the worthy products of teams highly skilled scholars, but they are not perfect. Even scholars disagree. That’s why it’s a good idea to read challenging passages in multiple translations and to consult commentaries representing different opinions.
But, I don’t think God allowed ambiguity so that we will read more scholarly opinion.
Perhaps difficult passages of Scripture offer us an opportunity to examine our own hearts and our false constructions of God.
Jesus himself appeared to create a contradiction when he healed people on the Sabbath. One good example is when Jesus healed a man who had been blind from birth by the Pool of Siloam.
Jesus could have healed that man on any day of the week, but he intentionally healed him on the Sabbath knowing that it would be viewed as a violation of the fourth commandment. Sure enough, “Some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.’ But others asked, ‘How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?’ So they were divided.” (John 9:16)
Did Jesus, the Son, contradict God the Father?
Jesus did not break God’s Law; he broke the Pharisees’ interpretation of God’s Law.
There was no contradiction; only misinterpretation.
The Sabbath was always intended to be the one day each week that God’s people experienced rest, equality and shalom. It was to be a day lived in the Kingdom of God, an important feature of which is wholeness. Therefore, far from violating the Sabbath, Jesus brought the very heart of the Sabbath to the people he healed.
These Sabbath healings were opportunities for the Pharisees to examine their perceptions of God. Some apparently did. Others could not imagine that God would behave outside of the lines they had drawn for him.
The Pharisees thought that God should fit within their construction of the law. Jesus wanted them to see that there was room for them in God’s heart.
When it seems like God is contradicting himself perhaps He is challenging our constructions of who God is with who he actually is.
Do you find parts of the Bible confusing and/or inconsistent? Have you ever seen God in a new way after wrestling with difficult Scripture?
“I and the Father are one.” John 10:30
I love this post. I have been asking the same question as I started reading the Bible diligently and meditating every day on it for the first two hours of my day, starting last November when He told me to start doing so VERY CLEARLY! I realized after pondering the Cain and Abel story over and over that He wanted me to give Him the “fat of the lamb” and the “first born” hours of my day, like Abel did and Cain didn’t. When am I at my best? When I wake up and am well-rested. Anyway, I have seen so many contradictions in the Bible (and Christians who Bible-thump me with them) and put it to God: what is the truth here? And He told me that as long as we are in the flesh, we will be presented with those, but do we hear Satan’s lie or do we GO TO HIM to seek the truth, which Eve obviously chose not to do. I listened to Satan (the world’s wisdom) for most of my life, including the belief that contradiction in the Bible meant I should not believe and throw the baby out with the bathwater: that I should throw the truth out with the lies. King David reminded us that peace comes from “MEDITATING” on His Word and Law all day long. Jesus reminded us to ask and receive, and what people often forget who write books like “The Secret” is that he meant that we are to ask GOD for the TRUTH when we run up against seeming contradictions. If the Bible is the absolute truth and end all, do we really need constant guidance from God (to “walk with Him” as it is said in the OT) in the form of a personal moment-to-moment relationship? I’ve met many a Christian who reads the Bible, they say, but they are looking for laws and limitations and reasons to judge others, and not a relationship with God — grace. Knowing truth from lies is the greatest blessing there is and we can only get that by having a personal relationship with God, the Christ, the LORD, the Holy Spirit, the Elohim, and our soul, which Jesus made safe again. Wow, you got me writing, dear Judy, but I see that in you I have found a fellow seeker and friend who meditates on His word and law all day and night, like King David. Thanks for posting and being a support out there. I find it very hard to find people, even pastors, who will discuss their personal struggles and questions, whether for fear of blaspheming, or because they value superficial religion over the personal relationship with God. Amen, sister! Your thoughts are with God, Sheri
Thank you so much for your thoughts, Sheri. You have encouraged me this morning. I was just writing in my journal about how easily we can become confused and lose track of truth in this world. Even within the church it is difficult to discern God’s way from the human twists of legalism (adding requirements to the Gospel) or theological liberalism (reducing God, his truth and his power to accommodate our desired behaviors.). “do we really need constant guidance from God (to “walk with Him?” Yes!! I sure do! Thanks again, Sheri, and may we seek and follow Him well!
I would share your lovely post if I could to WordPress. I got off Facebook (I was worshipping my “self” a bit too much, lol) and have stayed away from Twitter. Is there a way for me to reblog you on my WordPress??
WordPress does have a reblog feature. Feel free to reblog this if you’d like:)
Sorry! I only see Facebook and Twitter, but no icon for WP. If I figure it out, I certainly will. I just reblogged others and could easily see an icon under their blog.
Oops. I guess I haven’t updated those share buttons in a while. Should work now – sorry about that!
Others have already expressed my thoughts on your points about Scripture, so I will touch on a side point, Judy. Jesus showed us that brining sabbath rest to others is always timely. I’m so glad he does that for me too, now and eternally!
Wonderful thought, Tim. It makes me ask myself how Christians today, following Jesus, can also bring Sabbath rest to others in all kinds of times and places, I join you in gratitude for his rest today and forever!
I really liked this post. You changed my mind around about how I thought of the Bible. I like the idea that what we think are “contradictions” in our world and limited understanding – are not contradictions in God’s world and unlimited understanding.
“There is no contradiction, only misinterpretation.” There’s something to chew on! So glad I found your blog.
So glad you did too! Thanks!
You are not alone here Judy! There is the distinction like in the parables; Jesus used them purposely to confuse the Pharisees/ unbelievers. In today’s society I believe the same is true. When people are veiled they don’t understand any of it. And God isn’t too interested in revealing it to them unless or until they seek him. There is so much to the Bible and In it, we can become overwhelmed with what we don’t know; for instance every number mentioned has a purpose. In some cases that might be scary! More than what we don’t know in the Bible is God wants us to know HIM and to trust him that he knows what he wrote!
That’s an excellent point. Jesus’ described that phenomenon by quoting Isaiah, saying that (my paraphrase) some will see and some won’t because if they did see they might believe. A perfect illustration of one of the Bible’s head-scratching passages! Thanks for adding that perspective. And I love your reminder that even with all that we don’t understand, we can hang onto that which he HAS made perfectly clear. Thanks!
You take a unique approach here! Appreciate your thoughts. On my blog I try to tackle issues that make people doubt, and the biblical innerrancy issue is on my list. Haven’t gotten to it yet. : ) “Furthermore, why didn’t God just communicate things more clearly in the first place?” – a former believer (now atheist) that I interact with has this issue. If there is a God, his revelation should have been clearer! This is one reason he has rejected faith.
Hi Laura, While I sympathize with those who struggle with the inerrancy/clarity of Scripture, I guess that’s another way that our difficulty understanding Scripture reveals our hearts. There is always room for faith…or doubt. And, I have to admit, I wish he had been a little clearer on a few issues:) Thanks so much for your thoughts!
“Perhaps difficult passages of Scripture offer us an opportunity to examine our own hearts and our false constructions of God.” I hope so. Very wonderful post. I so respect your openness and intelligence with faith. Diane
Thank you for your kind and encouraging words, Diane.
“…Do you find parts of the Bible confusing and/or inconsistent?…?
Kenneth Hagin memorized two-thirds of the New Testament, but one time the Holy Spirit shined His light on a verse and revealed a new revelation to Hagin. Hagin replied, “I never knew that was there.” The Holy Spirit spoke to Hagin’s heart and said, “Most of the New Testament, you have not really seen as yet.”
If the Bible were perfect, we wouldn’t rely so heavily on the Holy Spirit to enlighten us. It would not have the life it now does as we seek Him.
Exactly. It is amazing how much of the Bible we don’t really see – I “see” new things all the time. Thanks Larry!