Contradictions in the Bible? (Part 1)

Steve Wells, author of The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, claimed that the Bible is “unworthy of belief” because of its numerous contradictions and false prophecies.  He is not alone. Dan Barker, in his book Losing Faith In Faith—From Preacher to Atheist, noted “People who are free of theological bias notice that the bible contains hundreds of discrepancies…. The bible is a flawed book.” Dennis McKinsey wrote The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy, in which he claimed:

“Every analyst of the Bible should realize that the Book is a veritable miasma of contradictions, inconsistencies, inaccuracies, poor science, bad math, inaccurate geography, immoralities, degenerate heroes, false prophecies, boring repetitions, childish superstitions, silly miracles, and dry-as-dust discourse. But contradictions remain the most obvious, the most potent, the most easily proven, and the most common problem to plague the Book.”

Parents and grandparents must realize that one of the ways atheists and skeptics recruit our children is by convincing them the Bible is full of contradictions. Over the next few weeks I want to turn our attention to some of these alleged “discrepancies.” It will become very apparent that with a little research and serious study, every single alleged contradiction can be explained. We need to reassure our children that the Bible can withstand the skeptics’ innocuous charges—indeed, the Bible is inspired.

A good example of an alleged contradiction can be found in 1 Corinthians 15:4-5. Regarding Jesus Paul wrote: “and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.” However, Bible students recognize that in Matthew 27:5 we learn that “He [Judas] threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself” (before Jesus’ resurrection).  And we know that Acts 1:26 informs us that Judas’ replacement came after Jesus ascension into heaven: “He [Matthias] was numbered with the eleven apostles.” So why did Paul say He was seen by twelve when there were only eleven living at the time?

Can this discrepancy be explained? Certainly! Consider for a moment how many teams are in the Big Ten conference. Or how about the actual measurements of a 2 X 4. Those familiar with the Big Ten conference know that there are actually more than 10 teams in that conference. Furthermore, carpenters know that a “2 X 4” does not actually measure 2 X 4. While we recognize these items by descriptive terms, the terms do not accurately define their present numbers. The term for this is prolepsis. It is the assignment of something, such as an event or name, to a time that precedes it. There once was a time that the Big 10 conference had ten teams, and a 2X 4 was precisely that. In Paul’s letter to the Christians in Corinth he was simply referring to the group commonly known as the twelve apostles.

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