Biblical Contradictions

It is one of the things atheists and cynics use all the time to attack Christians.  The Bible has contradictions.  Most Christians go on the defensive and scream, at least to themselves, “No there aren’t!”  But of course there are.  Anyone who reads the text honestly will see them.  Right at the beginning we have God creating everything day by day, and humans are last.  Right after that it shows Him making Adam and his wife, she doesn’t get a name till after the fall, then everything else for them.  Later in the Book of Kings it says the Lord sent a plague, but in Chronicles it says that Satan sent the plague.  That is quite a contradiction, unless you think Satan is the Lord.  Even in the gospels there are inconsistencies.  In John, Jesus cleanses the temple at the beginning of His ministry, while in the others He does it towards the end.

I am not here to tell you how to reconcile all the contradictions in the scriptures. That is entirely up to you.   How you reconcile the conflicts in the Bible is likely how you reconcile, or don’t reconcile, conflicts in your life.  Make no mistake the Bible is a book of conflict, and not a book of easy answers.  (It was to provoke conflict in the mind and soul, but unfortunately we use it to provoke conflict with others.)  There are texts of great wisdom, revelations of the infinite, and passages of great love and compassion.  There are also texts filled with divine pettiness, cruelty, and injustice.  The Bible can be a mirror, and how you read it says much about your view of the world, yourself, and God.

I see the contradictions and conflicts as a necessary dissonance.  If we avoid the paradoxes, dilemmas, and inconsistencies we will remain unwise.  They are there to trip you up, and like a Zen koan to create great doubt.  You are supposed to struggle with spiritual texts.  If you don’t do the struggling yourself, and let someone else give you their answers, you will cease to grow.  You will stagnate.  Stagnate water can be poisonous, toxic, and deadly.  So is someone whose religion is allowed to stagnate.

The Bible tells the stories of regular people.  People full of contradictions and inconsistencies.  These stories teach us the pattern of redemption.  Sometimes the spiritual journey is one where you must take two steps backwards before you can walk three steps forward.  The Bible is the same way, but that doesn’t mean it is a poor map.  Keep struggling with the text.  Wrestle with the Lord in prayer.  Eventually your inner eye will become enlightened and will find the way.

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