Sometimes when I read the Bible it sounds like it contradicts itself. Does it?


Much has been said over the centuries concerning apparent contradictions in the Bible. Josh McDowell and Don Stewart offer the following comments in their book “Answers to Tough Questions Skeptics Ask About the Christian Faith”:

“Certain passages at first glance appear to be contradictory, but further investigation will show that this is not the case.

“One of the things for which we appeal with regard to possible contradictions is fairness. We should not minimize or exaggerate the problem, and we must always begin by giving the author the benefit of the doubt. This is the rule in other literature, and we ask that it also be the rule here. We find so often that people want to employ a different set of rules when it comes to examining the Bible, and to this we immediately object.

“When facing possible contradictions, it is of the highest importance to remember that two statements may differ from each other without being contradictory. Some fail to make a distinction between contradiction and difference.

“It must also be stressed that when a possible explanation is given to a Bible difficulty, it is unreasonable to state that the passage contains a demonstrable error. Some difficulties in Scripture result from our inadequate knowledge about the circumstances, and do not necessarily involve an error. These only prove that we are ignorant of the background.

“While all Bible difficulties and discrepancies have not yet been cleared up, it is our firm conviction that as more knowledge is gained of the Bible’s past, these problems will fade away. The biblical conception of God is an all-knowing, all-powerful being who does not contradict Himself, and so we feel that His Word, when properly understood, will not contradict itself.”

A helpful resource on this topic is the book “How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth” by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart.