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“Christianity is full of errors and contradictions.”

“It’s just a bunch of nonsense.”

I’ve heard that before. In fact, it’s pretty common, and I’m willing to bet you have heard something like that too. My favorite question to ask is: “Oh, really? Show me where.” A majority of people get a little less confident at that point. But there are some people who are ready to point out some very troubling passages in the Bible. Does Scripture really have contradictions? Are there really errors? mistakes? How could God mess that stuff up?! Is Christianity false?! Before we start tearing down our “Hillsong United” posters and throwing away our WWJD bracelets, let’s examine some of these claims. One thing you should always remember is that people can be wrong. People are going to have ideas and opinions that are not fully thought through, so instead of just taking things at face value and believing everything we hear, we should test them to see what holds true.

1 Thess. 5:21 “but test everything; hold fast what is good.”

Common Errors/Contradictions in the Bible:
1. God is love/God hates people
2. Genealogies in Matthew/Luke don’t match
3. Genesis 1 and 2 give different accounts of creation
4. Genesis 7 says 2 of each kind of animal AND 7 of each kind
5. God has been seen but can never be seen…(?)

In order to be fair to both sides, I’m going to give the Claim and the Response

1. God is pure love/God hates people

Claim– You talk about how much God loves everyone. The New Testament is all about love. 1 John 4:8 says God is love, and Malachi 3:6 says God never changes. But then Psalm 5:5, Hosea 9:15, and Leviticus 20:23 (to name a FEW) all talk about God how much God hates certain people! That’s not the God of the New Testament, that’s not your Jesus, and that’s not a God I want to follow.

Response– I see what you mean, but before we talk about the contradiction, let’s talk about “A God I want to follow,” because that always seems to come up with this claim. If God is actually God, and heaven and hell are real, then you should want to follow Him even if you don’t agree with everything you see. If God is GOD then he’s obviously a lot smarter than you, a lot better than you, and has a better sense of justice than you do, human. Let’s make sure that we don’t put our own fallible, prideful selves above God, if He exists. Now concerning a God that loves and hates at the same time…is that really a contradiction? If we are created in His image, then are like Him, similar to Him. Have you ever been so mad at your boyfriend/girlfriend/brother/sister/friend that you just hated them? Well, not really, I mean you love them. But I mean, man, sometimes you just hate them! Ugh! Why is that? Because they’re not acting how you want to them to act? Because they’re not doing what they are supposed to? Hm. Maybe we should define what hate means. In Hebrew, the word for hate (sane), has been translated into English as: detest, enemy, foe, hate, turned against, unloved, hatred, hating. So what is hate? Hate is the feeling you experience when something or someone is not in line with what you believe should BE. When something is not right. So when God hates people, it is those people who are turned against Him, who are not doing what they were created to do. When God hates people, it is because they are wicked. Should God hate? Yes. He’s all knowing, just, and good. Now I know, everyone sins, no one is perfect, so does God hate all of us? Well, yes, if we were all living in wickedness, defying God and destroying his creations (us, the earth, animals). God hates that. But does he still love the whole time? Absolutely. Romans 5:8 says that “God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:10 says that we were His enemies. Christ died for his enemies. So can God hate you? Yes. He hates YOU that does evil, not YOU that does good. What I mean by that, is that when we talk about the “self” we do not always mean the same thing. For instance, if I love you (which I do), but you are really bothering me, you just are bitter, you intentionally annoy me, you hurt my feelings, I may say I hate you, but I don’t hate YOU (the whole self), I hate YOU, the part of you that is bad, the part that is mean. When I do something I don’t want to, that I don’t normally do, I would say, “That’s not me.” It’s not the ME that I really am, the one that I want to be, and the one that I’m supposed to be, it’s the sinful ME that I don’t like, that I hate. Still with me? I hope so. So there is this contradictory, dualistic aspect of hate/love that we can see in our own lives, so why should it be any different for God? God loves you, but he hates the YOU that sins, that disobeys Him, that hurts other people. Why? Because he knows what’s best for you, and it grieves Him when you are not being the best YOU that He made you to be. Ephesians 4:30

Not all the answers are going to be this long, I promise.

2.Genealogies in Matthew/Luke don’t match

ClaimMatthew 1 has this big genealogy of Jesus, and so does Luke 3, but the problem is that THEY’RE NOT THE SAME. Matthew says the father of Joseph is Jacob, Luke says the father of Joseph is Heli, and Matthew has 28 generations between Jesus and David while Luke has 43! Your own authors mixed that up, obviously Luke thought Matthew was wrong, but Matthew would probably say Luke is wrong, and you expect me to believe the Gospels know anything about Jesus? Please. This is not “God-breathed.”

Response– You’re very right. Matthew has 28, while Luke has 43, that’s very good counting, but where you’re wrong is your assumption of what “father” and “son” mean. This is why it’s important to not just have knowledge about your English Bible, but the original Bible, in the original languages. In Matthew, the word used in the Greek word is γενναω (ghen-nah-o), which means “to cause to arise, to father, to be begotten.” So in the Greek, it doesn’t even say “Jacob the father of Joseph,” it says “Jacob gave rise to Joseph.” It means that Joseph descended from Jacob, who descended from Matthan, who descended from Eleazar…” blah blah blah. The same notion goes for Luke, which uses the word υιος (hwee-os) which can mean son, yes, but also descendent or offspring. That’s why you see a lot of repeat names when you compare both of them. Why the confusion? Raymond Brown, a Biblical scholar, points out that Matthew is using two well-known genealogies of the time, one from Abraham-David, and the other up to the Babylonian exile. Well, Matthew notices they both have 14 names. So he uses three pairs of 7 in his genealogy; 7 is the number for completion (think 7 days of creation), so Jesus is a symbol of completion (for a much more elaborate explanation, click here). For Luke, his genealogy focused on having Jesus as the son of God, which is why it links him to Adam, who of course came from God (for more click here).

3. Genesis 1 and 2 give different accounts of creation

Claim- Anybody who believes in the Genesis account of creation is a fool. First of all, the Bible has nothing to do with science, but more importantly Genesis 1 and 2 contradict each other. Genesis 1 says man came last, but Genesis 2 says man came before plants and animals. The text is pretty self-explanatory, and the only explanation is that the Bible doesn’t make sense.

Response– As far as science and Genesis goes, maybe you should read this page first. Now, if we’re going to read the text properly, we should be careful about what we say the text DOES and DOES NOT say. Now what the text does not say, is surprisingly a lot. In Genesis 1 we have a pretty clear order of events, a clear “daily” ordering of events. Genesis 2, however, does not give such a clear order of events. In fact, there really isn’t a clear ordering of events in timeline at all like there is in chapter 1. When it says that “no plant had yet sprung up,” it says this in reference to when God used a “mist” to water the Earth. You can clump verses 2:5-6 together, and then look at v 2:7 as separate, THEN God created man. It says that God HAD created a garden in the East (Eden), made trees grow out of the ground, and then put Adam inside it. Trees take time to grow, and it doesn’t say God “poofed” them or just created them as is, it says he made them grow. So the trees had to have grown before Adam was made in order for them to grown in the garden. As far as the animals are concerned, people say v2:18 and 2:19 proves animals did not exist before Adam. But v 2:19 says that God HAD formed out of the ground all the animals, as in BEFORE. It doesn’t say when, but it implies before the existence of man. No discrepancies.

4. Genesis 7 says 2 of each kind of animal AND 7 of each kind

Claim– Just one more place where the Bible says one thing, then says another. Genesis 7 says two of each kind of animal and then 7 of each kind. It can’t be both. Whoever wrote this didn’t know what he was talking about.

Response– There is a big misconception that Noah only brought two of each kind of animal. This is probably because of Sunday schools emphasizing the “two by two” of animals entering the ark. So is it 2 or 7? It’s both. “WHAT?!?!?!” I know, calm down, shh…. It first says two of each animal, but then later God commands him to take more of the clean animals. It says 7 of every clean animal, and 2 of every unclean animal. What’s an unclean animal? Check it out here if you really want to know, but it’s not important for right now. The confusion comes from verses like Genesis 6:19-22 where it says “bring two of every animal/bird (some versions say kind, but that’s a word added in translation to make better sense in English).” This is the first commandment to Noah (the second comes in 7:2). Then verses like 7:8-9 that says that the animals entered the ark “two by two.” But all those two verses are saying is that the animals were split up into pairs. If you have 7 goats, then you have 3 pairs of goats and then one extra one. Of course, the Old Testament wouldn’t be complete if there wasn’t a sacrifice. And that’s exactly what scholars say that 7th animal was for: sacrifice. “But what about 7:1-5??? It says ‘pairs.’ ” Yes, but not in the Hebrew; it only says “seven sevens.” Why do scholars sometimes add it? It makes more sense in English I guess, but its not in the original. So you really only have 7, not 7 pairs, of clean animals, and 2 of the unclean.

5. God has been seen but He can never be seen…(?)

Claim– You have verses like Exodus 33:20, 1 John 1:18, and 1 John 4:12 that say no one has seen God, and no one CAN see God, but then you have a ton of verses where people see God!!! Genesis 12:7, Genesis 17:1, Exodus 3:16, Numbers 12:7-8, Job 42:5, and Amos 7:7-8 just to name a few. Direct contradiction; no way the Bible can be taken seriously.

Response-This is a pretty simple answer. God’s true self, his true essence, cannot be seen. We don’t even have to use Scripture for this because we have brains. If God created the universe, and is omnipresent, then he can’t exist within our universe or be restricted to any type of form or shape. So when God “appears” to people or Moses looks at a burning bush, no one is actually seeing God’s true form, they’re seeing either a messenger of God, or an instrument of God. And when Job says “now my eyes have seen you” he’s speaking metaphorically. As in he understands God, he is closer to God. Now I heard from one of my college professors, “Well you can’t pick and choose whatever you want to be literal or metaphorical in the Bible; it’s either all literal or all metaphorical.” Really? The beauty of literature is its ability to describe things beyond the mere words used. Words can paint pictures (speaking metaphorically, of course), so why should restraints of literal/metaphorical usage be put on the Bible and nothing else? Or did Shakespeare actually think the Earth was one large, flat stage?

Let’s be real here

These are not the only “errors” or contradictions in the Bible, just 5 common ones.  So even if these get answered, there are a whole lot more to answer to as well.  But if these can all be answered, should we worry a great deal about the others?  No.  A lot of the “errors” are very small, and easily argued.  But some are not; some people argue that small mistakes (i.e.wrong dates, misquoted passages from the OT) really do exist, and they ARE errors, but they do not take away from the legitimacy of the Bible in any way.  Scribes, when copying the book (some argue) undoubtedly messed up, and what we have now is slightly erred, although the original may have been perfect.  Some people say “Biblical inerrancy” means no errors (big or small), and some say “Biblical inerrancy” means it is error free in general, but little tiny errors don’t matter.  What do you think?  Study the text for yourself, make your own decision, and make sure that whatever you believe is Biblically based as well as rational.

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