“Everybody Knows the Bible Contradicts Itself”
If my memory serves me correctly, it was 1969. I was a sophomore at Camelback High School in Phoenix, Arizona sitting in a social studies class. Our regular teacher was absent that day. In her place was a college student-teacher who was fulfilling his college requirements for a degree in secondary education from Arizona State University. We were in the midst of a class discussion when a young lady interjected her comments, prefaced by the words, “The Bible says….” She was abruptly interrupted by the teacher with these words: “Everyone knows that the Bible contradicts itself. In one place it says ‘an eye for an eye’, while in another place it says ‘turn the other cheek.’ So we won’t be using the Bible in this discussion.”
Looking back on that event over 50 years later, I shudder to imagine the extent to which destructive seeds of doubt were sown in the hearts of numerous young people regarding the divine authenticity of the Bible and Christian morality. Such a dismissive, cavalier attitude on the part of a person placed in a position of authority no doubt wielded a monumental impact on juvenile minds. Yet his surface, superficial treatment of Scripture betrayed an abject ignorance of the Bible as well as what can only be described as extreme prejudice. “Prejudice” is defined as “an unfair and unreasonable opinion or feeling, especially when formed without enough thought or knowledge.”1 The teacher had pre-judged the Bible, having come to a conclusion that was based on inadequate evidence. It was the Sixties—a time when sinister forces were operating to overthrow the founding principles of America. As Bob Dylan’s 1964 song declared: “The Times They Are a-Changin’.”2
Since that time, attacks on the Bible and the Christian religion have intensified and become common place throughout the public educational system of the nation. For decades now, many professors, instructors, and teachers at every level of schooling have been brazen and fearless in their relentless assault upon the religious and spiritual moorings of America. Their hostility toward God, the Bible, and Christianity have come to thoroughly permeate and dominate public education. Their skepticism has burgeoned into acceptance of ideologies that forthrightly reject the Christian worldview, including atheism, Marxism, and eastern religion. In the meantime, no telling how many millions of Americans—from childhood to adulthood—have lived their lives since then, having rejected Christianity based on such flimsy misinformation foisted upon them via the flawed beliefs of their mistaught teachers.
But “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Legion have been the skeptics over the last 2,000 years who have maintained that the Bible contradicts itself. An innumerable host of alleged discrepancies have been brought boldly forward and foisted upon an unsuspecting audience. Yet, scores of volumes have been written over the centuries that provide logical, decisive refutation of all such allegations leveled at the Bible. They have all been adequately answered and the Bible fully exonerated—providing yet additional proof of its own divine origin.3
The nature of human existence is such that all human beings are under obligation to weigh the evidence and arrive at the truth. All are fully capable of doing so—and all will be held accountable for doing so. Those who lack the will or interest to do so will be judged accordingly. Jesus stated forthrightly: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). Paul enjoined: “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). And as John insisted: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Whether that young student-teacher realized it or not, he functioned as a false prophet that day in that Phoenix school classroom. It was the responsibility of all who listened to him to do as the noble Bereans who “searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
By the way, what about the alleged contradiction touted by the student-teacher before the classroom filled with vulnerable, naïve youth? Even a casual, surface analysis of the Bible shows that the “eye for an eye” allusion refers to the Lex Talionis4 of the Old Law which were designed to limit the amount of punishment by making it fit the crime (Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21). Hence, these laws were built into the Hebrew civil law code for the purpose of regulating civil society in 1500 B.C. The latter allusion, “turn the other cheek,” is a reference to Jesus’ remark in the Sermon on the Mount in which He was teaching the necessity of not being vengeful or retaliatory when a person is mistreated by another person (Matthew 5:38-42). Incredibly, the two references have nothing to do with each other, apply to completely different circumstances, and in no way constitute a biblical contradiction. Using them to level such a lame accusation demonstrates, to say the least, gross rhetorical incompetence.
1 Cambridge Dictionary, https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/prejudice.
2 Bob Dylan (1963/1964), “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” Bob Dylan Newsletter, https://www.bobdylan.com/songs/times-they-are-changin/.
3 See the three volumes in The Anvil Rings series at https://store.apologeticspress.org/collections/books/products/apbkel0001.
4 “The lex talionis gave permission for mutual injury”—Edward Young (1964), An Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), p. 111; See also Bruce Metzger and Michael Coogan, eds. (2001), The Oxford Guide to Ideas & Issues of the Bible (New York: Oxford University Press), p. 543; William Miller (2006), Eye for an Eye (New York: Cambridge University Press), p. 65.
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