This is a popular objection to Christianity, and one that I myself have encountered numerous times during my conversations with non-believers. I’m sure the other authors have as well. And if you have, the challenge often becomes this: how do we deal with it? And if you haven’t heard this objection before, you may be a bit intimidated by charts that often flow through social media, such as this one:
It’s tempting to do as I once did, and attempt to go through and refute or explain every single supposed contradiction. I’m not going to do that in this post. While some are challenging to think through, many of the supposed contradictions are quite easily resolved. But there’s a more effective, and a more consistent, way to approach this problem than telling the one objecting that his or her first premise is based on errant information. It is this: the Bible does not have to be free of contradictions in order for Christianity to be true.
This is not the same as saying the Bible is outside of our Christianity, or that we don’t need it in any way. It doesn’t even mean that the Bible is full of contradictions as the charge claims. It simply means that even if we grant the objector that his or her claim is true, it does not then follow that Christianity is necessarily false. That’s bad logic.
Allow me to explain my claim a bit. The understanding of the skeptic is that Jesus’s claim to be the son of Jehovah, and our faith in that fact, is based solely on scripture. Discredit scripture, they think, and the entire system is then discredited. But the crux of our faith is based not on scripture, but on Jesus himself. This is a very important distinction, because there are numerous kinds of proofs we could point to in order to show the historicity of our ultimate proof of the claim that Jesus is God, the resurrection. For proof of the resurrection, we could point to the historicity of Jesus himself, how the body was never found, that other prophecies of Jesus came true, and that multiple eyewitness accounts record the resurrection for us.
“But wait, there you go pointing to the Bible again!”
Yes, I am pointing at the Bible – but necessarily an inerrant Bible. Even if you take away the claimed inspiration of the gospels, they still remain eyewitness accounts. Now let’s say you have four eyewitnesses of a murder. All four of the witnesses describe the same man killing the victim by slitting his throat. However, there are some discrepancies in their testimony – one describes the killer as six and a half feet tall, the other 6’4″. One says he was wearing black, another thinks it was dark blue. You would not think any of these witnesses were inspired by God, but would you doubt the crux of the matter, the important details that they agree on, because of the ones they don’t?
Moving beyond discussion of eyewitness testimony, there is an even more important fact: that the murder took place, whether those four men were there to see it or not. You see, even if the eyewitness testimony is discredited, the murder happened. It is an objective fact. If Christ did indeed rise from the dead, then He did so regardless of whether it was recorded accurately or not. Discrediting one source of proof may make it more difficult to prove that it did indeed happen, but it does not then follow that Christianity is false because of this – it simply means there is less evidence to support its being true. The burden of proof is still on the one making the claim that Christianity is false to prove why that is so.