7 Thoughts on Bible Contradictions.

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Given Christianity, do contradictions prove it false?

Firstly, the Christian might respond by arguing that this is not a challenge against the truthfulness of Christianity; rather, it is a challenge against Biblical Inerrancy. Christians differ on the doctrine of inerrancy as some hold it as a primary doctrine while others view it as secondary (1). It is also true that many skeptics assume contradictions, they haven’t actually read the texts themselves. The Christian can argue that the Bible does not have to be free of contradictions in order for Christianity to be true. This is not me minimizing the importance of the Bible, or biblical authority, but simply stating the reality of the situation.  It means that even if we grant the skeptic his claim, it just doesn’t logically follow that Christianity is false.

Secondly, skeptics can be  very uncharitable when reading the Biblical text. They no longer attempt to remain objective as possible, but instead look for contradictions. Sometimes they even find them where none exist. Take one skeptic’s challenge (chart depicted) where he lists over 60 000 alleged discrepancies and contradictions in an interactive chart (2). This is absurd considering my Bible is, give our take, 1200 pages. Are there really 50 to 60 contradictions per page? Many of the contradictions, the Christian can show, are not actually contradictions. However, other Christians readily accept the Bible is full of errors and contradictions given its diverse nature of texts (C.S Lewis, Peter Enns and Thom Stark would agree with this point). Either way, errors or not errors, many skeptics are very uncharitable and grossly unfair in their exegesis. At most the skeptic would be attacking the doctrine of inerrancy, not the truthfulness of Christianity.

Thirdly, most alleged contradictions are not actually contradictions, but differences. A difference is when two or more independent accounts describe the same event with nuances, but do not contradict each other. According to scholar Mike Licona who has compiled 60 pages of differences between the gospel accounts: “Many of the alleged contradictions are actually differences and not contradictions.” He goes on to say, “…there were certain literary liberties that were allowed, time compression, lack of precision when it came to minor chronological details such as the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness, Matthew and Luke – one of them inverts the second and the third. We wouldn’t regard that as a contradiction, we would say that that is a difference.”

When we realize this basic fact we can disqualify a good percentage of alleged contradictions. William Lane Craig having considered this writes:

“In fact, when you look at the supposed inconsistencies, what you find is that most of them—like the names and number of the women who visited the tomb—are merely apparent, not real. Moreover, the alleged inconsistencies are found in the secondary, circumstantial details of the story and have no effect at all on the four facts as I’ve stated them” (3).

Fourthly, the skeptic must be careful not to commit a fallacy. To simply dismiss a text because of errors, and contradictions would fall victim to the fallacy of the excluded middle. This is when one dismisses an entire text because he finds an error in it. This skeptic is limiting his options by only choosing between either A (that there is not one error in a text, therefore we can trust it) or B (that we must reject the entire text because we find an error in it). However, there are other options. For instance, option C could be that even though there are errors in a text we can still trust it as historical. To either be forced to choose between option A or B, and exclude option C, or other options, is simply not the case when it comes to historical method. It is through historical analysis that we can establish Jesus’ resurrection as the best explanation of the data. In fact, a text can be full of these errors but still be reliable and valuable when reporting historical information.

Fifthly, the Christian can argue that, as an act of God in history Jesus was still raised from dead even if we never had the Bible with or without its contradictions. A Christian’s faith is not dependent on the Bible, but on Jesus’ resurrection from the dead – the very center of Christianity.

Sixth, regarding the inspiration of scripture, many Christians would argue that only the originals are error free, should there be errors and/or contradictions in our translations (4). This is noteworthy as many alleged discrepancies are based on the translations of Hebrew words to English. Many Hebrew words have several meanings that may all apply – for instance, just see the debate over the Hebrew word yom in the Genesis creation account, and how it has produced over a dozen theories of how to read Genesis. Other alleged errors are scribal lapses since our texts come down to us via scribes copying earlier manuscripts, and so on – in such a process a slip of the pen, or a sleepy state of mind could accidentally change a word or two without the scribe being aware of it. These, some apologists argue, could account for some contradictions and errors (especially when numbers are involved).

Seventh, whether a skeptic like it or not, even if you take away the inspiration of the gospels/Bible they still remain historical documents that require historical analysis. As long as the important, central details agree such as the Jesus’ death via crucifixion, his empty tomb, the postmortem appearances to the disciples and skeptics alike, and their willingness to suffer and die for the proclamation of the risen Jesus – these are central details, and they are attested to in all our gospel sources, Pauline epistles and by other ancient historians.

I think these several points are sufficient for the Christian to dispel the argument that the “Bible is full of contradictions, and therefore we can’t trust it, and Christianity is false.”


1. Patton, M. 2009. If the Bible is Not Inerrant, then Christianity is False… And Other Stupid Statements.  Available.

2. Mehta, H. 2013. An Incredible Interactive Chart of Biblical Contradictions.  Available.

3. Craig, W. 2006. Is There Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus?  Available.

4. Vela, T. Book Review of Disproving Christianity.

13 responses to “7 Thoughts on Bible Contradictions.

  1. You have generated a rather dizzying circular argument simply to say that the Bible is so chock full of errors because it’s a collection of bronze- and iron-age people’s writings about hearsay events cobbled together by the Council of Nicaea hundreds of years later. Yet, you seem to think it’s true because–ready for this?–it says so.

    I fear your arguments are specious all the way down. Wake up.

    • Born again Christians (it’s important to denote that first part) read the Bible not solely, or even primarily, to blindly believe what it says. Christianity (in the born again christian sense) is 1. a relationship with Christ 2. A whole life involved commitment.

      Put simply a born again Christian “tests” the words of the bible in their life. I, myself, came across this mindset when reading through the prophets section of the bible.

      Malachi 3:10 “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.'”

      Note that God didn’t just say “Do this because I said so”, but encouraged them to test what He said to see if it is actually true. Having read and understood this brought me to the point in my life where the Bible, for the first time, had actual value and impact on my life.

      So no, born again Christians don’t believe things in the Bible simply because the Bible says it, they believe it because the events in their life proves it to be true; and it is at that point where you can actually understand the meaning of each individual scripture.

  2. I agree that to discredit things completely based on a few significant problems is not a good road to take.

    I disagree that Jesus being resurrected is the best possible explanation. There is too much evidence that points to the possibility that Jesus could have survived the crucifixion to jump straight to supernatural explanations.

    The biggest problem is suggesting that God of the Bible is all-powerful, all-knowing, and/or loving. A larger scale contradiction that I have yet to hear any sort of explanation on is the definition of love in 1 Corinthians. The God of the Old Testament fails big time to live up to the Biblical definition of love.

    • “The biggest problem is suggesting that God of the Bible is all-powerful, all-knowing, and/or loving.” – – What you missed to mention is that God is also HOLY and JUST which means he cannot condone or be indifferent to sin but rather JUDGES it. I would want to know what particular passages of scripture make you think that shows God as not loving.

  3. As a perfect god I would hope he could manage his book and keep it error free. If his expectations are that we follow his word it would be the least he could do really. If we are such a flawed creature why are we the appearent sole keeper of his “divine” word? A sleepy scribe is lacking on his behalf if you ask me.

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  5. Tim Bergen, Tim Bergen, Tim Bergen, really Tim Bergen? Seriously? You are reiterating an aged hackneyed comment unworthy of response. However, you as an image bearer of God, who suppresses truth in unrighteousness, that’s Romans 1:18. You, Tim Bergen, the person, you are worthy of a considered response because you are not simply the output of an evolutionary process that never had you in mind with no considered purpose but rather a precious, valued and purposed human being with value, an dignity. You must repent, it’s a command not an invite, Acts 17:30. Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household. Acts 16:31. Deny God’s existence is akin to you arguing with me that words don’t exist, you’ll need to employ words to achieve. It’s an absurd and self refuting position. If you do not repent and turn to Christ to beg his forgiveness you will simply get what you have earned and that is justice for your sin. The wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life, Romans 6:23/ Please, you must turn to Christ, He is your only hope, only escape, only one worthy of your time treasure and talent. Please abandon these absurd and vacuous arguments and turn to Him who is the foundation of the very senses and reasoning (Colossians 2:3).you employ to posit misinformed received wisdom.

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  7. I am an atheist. I read this entire article. It is just an attempt to rationalize away many things that you just can’t.

    I can grant that the bible is a historical text. It is a historical text written by very uneducated, primitive men. It documents some of their history and superstitions and tall tales. If you take it as that, there isn’t really any issues with reading it and accepting it as just that.

    The problem comes when you try to make a case for it being the word of God. The bible makes its own claim that it is the perfect, inerrant word of God. The bible makes this claim. So it is fair to hold it to this very strict standard. Yes, it is only an attack on the bible and not Christianity. However, Christianity relies very heavily on the truthfulness and accuracy of the bible.

    If you are a Christian, where are you getting your beliefs from, if not from the bible? It is the book that is claimed by its followers to be the word of God. Unless you are claiming that you hear gods voice and have a direct line of communication, then you are basing everything you know about God by the bible or what someone else had read in the bible.

    Pointing out the countless errors in the bible does not necessarily disprove Christianity, but it does call it very much into question. These are not simple inconsequential errors either. Yes, some are obvious translation errors, but many are not at all.

    When you make a claim that a book is written by a perfect, all powerful, all knowing, supernatural creator of our entire univers, and given to us as his word, you do not get off by making the same allowances that you do with other historical texts.

    Maybe it’s just me, but a perfect God who created all of us and created all our languages should be able to accurately communicate his will to his own creations much better than this.

    So yes, showing how incredibly flawed a book is, does call into question the existence of its perfect author.

    Maybe I just have a higher opinion and higher standards for a God that I would choose to worship?

  8. If you actually read the contradiction chart instead of just staying closed minded, there are over 60,000 cross references, not contradictions you lepton.

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  10. I would encourage you to do some real research. You would discover that there is no “REAL” historical proof of Jesus what so ever. The only mention of him is the fact that his followers mention him…. The bible is not… let me repeat NOT a historical document.. it has been proven to be inaccurate about several historical events. The fact that christians believe in it and follow it is no different than any other religion. There were religions before christianity and there have been a lot after.. it’s most humans nature to seek out some one or some thing to believe in. But to suggest the bible is historically accurate and proof that Jesus rose from the dead, and that no one should question that because there are no contradictions… well that my friend is completely ABSURD!

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