Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Thinking Critically About Biblical Criticism
03/10/2011 - Tur8infanThese days books alleging Biblical contradictions are seemingly seeing a resurgence in popularity. Many of these books, it seems, are recycling old alleged Biblical contradictions - contradictions that Christians answered hundreds of years ago. Yet these books are not presenting the answers, only the alleged contradictions. One is reminded of the words of Arnobius, who died in the 4th century, just after the council of Nicaea.
Arnobius (d. 330):
All these charges, or to label them for what they actually are, these diatribes, have long ago been answered with all the detail and accuracy required, by men who are masters in this field and who are entitled to know the truth in the matter; and no single point of any question has been passed over without being subjected to rebuttal in a thousand ways and on the strongest grounds. Therefore, there is no need to linger longer on this part of the case. For neither is truth unable to stand without supporters, nor will the fact that the Christian religion has found many to agree with it and has gained weight from human approval prove it true. It is satisfied to rest its case upon its own strength and upon the basis of its own truth. It is not despoiled of its force though it have no defender, no, not even if every tongue oppose it and struggle against it and, united in hatred, conspire to destroy faith in it.Ancient Christian Writers, Arnobius of Sicca, The Case Against the Pagans, Vol. 7, Book 3, Chapter 1 (Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1949), p. 192.
Part of our response can be like that of Arnobius. Yet Christian apologists need to try to think critically about these criticisms and to be prepared to give an answer, even if it has been given before.
With respect to alleged biblical contradictions, one approach is simply to address seriatim the string of alleged Biblical contradictions that are thrown out by the Bart Ehrmans of the world.
There's another approach that may prove handy. That approach is to point out the flawed methodology of skepticism that is being employed. In the following series of posts I've identified four issues that, if presented in separate gospels, would likely lead to the charge of contradictions amongst the gospels. However, in each case, the text in question comes from the same book: 1 Samuel. In various ways, the seeming contradictions are resolved, either by showing that the different accounts simply bring out different aspects, or showing that the different accounts are actually of different events.
1. A King for Israel: Blessing or Judgment?
2. The Crowning of King Saul - Private or Public - Initiated by Samuel or the People?
3. How did "Is Saul Also Among the Prophets?" Become a Parable?
4. When and At Whom did Saul Hurl His Javelin?
The point of those posts is, I hope, to provide some examples that my fellow apologists can bring up to help to show people how easy it can be to allege contradiction simply based on differences in accounts.