Introduction

American Atheists (atheists.org) provides an indictment against the Bible, claiming it is contradictory.[1] The article, adapted from a piece by Frank Zindler, includes fifteen contradictions dealing with the internal consistency of the text of Scripture. Most errors in the article are of a simple contextual or categorical nature, but I expect a response to them may prove helpful to some. One minor problem with the article (which only becomes relevant once, I believe) is the author utilizes the King James Version. God has done many glorious things with this translation over the past several hundred years, but it has several errors which I will not gloss-over. I will be utilizing the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. One major problem with the article is, as I have already noted, the author’s failure to recognize basic contextual and categorical distinctions.

From the outset, notice the distinction between contradiction and antinomy. I define contradiction as, “Two statements which cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense.” I define antinomy as, “Two statements which are superficially contradictory yet reasonable and consistent upon further analysis of context and category.” Contradiction demonstrates what your reading isn’t logical. Antinomy demonstrates what your reading isn’t on your level. Contradiction means the text is fallacious, antinomy means you can’t wrap your mind around it. A simple contradiction requires two statements which are equivalent in all respect, except that one denies what the other affirms. A simple antinomy will seemingly deny what another statement affirms, but in such manner that both statements are nonequivalent – there is some contextual or categorical distinction between them.

Analysis

First, “the Sabbath day” (Exodus 20:8, Romans 14:5).[2] When Paul says, “One person esteems one day as better than another,” he is probably talking about the Sabbath. The Sabbath was law under the Mosaic Covenant, but in the New Covenant Paul says Sabbath keeping changes. The Sabbath is not simply a ceremonial law which passes away with the Old Covenant (Colossians 2:16-17), it is a creational principle (Exodus 20:11) fulfilled and expanded in the eternal rest God’s people have in Christ with the New Covenant (Hebrews 4:1-11). Paul allows Christians to either keep the Sabbath as Old Covenant members did or to consider all days of the week the same (Romans 14:5) – both practices are permissible, as long as God is honored and worshiped (v.6). Several “contradictions” in this article are of similar nature to this one: a failure to recognize the administrative distinctions between the Old and New Covenants. Which is to say: just because God commanded something of a particular people in the past, does not mean a particular people in the future are obligated to obey said command.

Second, “the permanence of earth” (Ecclesiastes 1:4; 2 Peter 3:10).[3] Ecclesiastes is a poetic work, which immediately makes its literal statements suspects of careful evaluation. The meaning of “forever” (1:4) must be determined by verse 4a, “a generation goes… comes.”[4] The author means my one, solitary life cannot affect the stability of the earth. Life goes on regardless of my coming and going. Therefore, 2 Peter 3:10 and other references to the earth passing away are not contradicting this poetic expression.

Third, “seeing God” (Genesis 32:30; John 1:18).[5] Jacob says he saw God, but in what form? God took the form of a man (Genesis 32:24-25). God is only invisible when He has not revealed Himself to us in material form, for His substance is Spirit (John 4:24). Therefore, John 1:18 does not contradict Jacob’s testimony. In fact, this passage (vv.1-18) concerns the glorious reality God has revealed Himself to us in the flesh, in the person of Jesus Christ (vv.14-18).

Fourth, “human sacrifice” (Leviticus 18:21; Judges 11:29-34).[6] The law prohibited sacrificing children to Molech. Jephthah did not sacrifice his child to Molech. Therefore, these texts are not contradictory. However, I will give further commentary on latter, in order to make plain the ethical factors involved. Jephthah’s daughter died because Jephthah made a foolish, brash vow to God. This story demonstrates the seriousness of covenants, not the glory of child sacrifice. Further, his daughter was not sacrificed. Sacrifices carry themes of propitiation, expiation, atonement, etc. Sacrifices appease God/gods, especially when we sacrifice to someone. The Mosaic sacrificial system and sacrifices to Molech are Old Testament examples of sacrifice. God never required the death of His people in order to make atonement, though Molech did. God always provided the sacrifice Himself (Genesis 22:13) and eventually would become the sacrifice Himself (Philippians 2:5-11).

Fifth, “the power of God” (Judges 1:19; Matthew 19:26).[7] The apparent conundrum is God was with Judah, yet Judah was unable to defeat an army of iron chariots (Judges 1:19). If God can do all things (Matthew 19:26), why can’t He give Judah victory here? First, God nowhere expresses intent on defeating this army at this particular instance. Second, He does actually hand over the army of iron chariots (Judges 4:1-24) as Joshua had promised (Joshua 17:18). There is no semblance of contradiction.

Sixth, “personal injury” (Exodus 21:23-25; Matthew 5:39).[8] These texts represent the distinction between civil (Exodus 21:23-25) and personal (Matthew 5:39) procedures. God gives government a sword with which to quell wicked men and uphold justice (Romans 13:1-7). He does not give this sword to individuals for personal vengeance, which is what Christ refers to in Matthew.

Seventh, “circumcision” (Genesis 17:10; Galatians 5:2).[9] Circumcision was the sign of the Old Covenant, between God and His people. When Christ came, He inaugurated a New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Matthew 26:27-29) which came with a new sign (Matthew 28:18-20; Colossians 2:11-12). Therefore, God wanted His people to transition to baptism, and those who refused were in sin. The Judaizers were such group of people, who Paul warns against in Galatians. To “accept circumcision” (Galatians 5:2) after hearing the Gospel of the New Covenant, would be to do things your way instead of God’s. Hence, “Christ will be of no advantage to you.”

Eighth, “incest” (Genesis 17:15-16; 20:11-12; Leviticus 20:17; Deuteronomy 27:22).[10] First, God never approves of the marriage union between Abraham and Sarah. After they are married, God clearly wants them to remain so – but this is not to say it was a good idea to begin with. God blessing them is not a stamp of approval upon every decision they made. This demonstrates there is no contradiction here, but I will continue. Second, the Mosaic Law certainly prohibited marriage to full or half siblings. Before this, however, we find no such prohibition. The practice was not as risky as today or even in Moses’ time, due to a purer gene pool. Further, it was at least temporarily necessary for population growth.

Ninth, “trusting God” (Job 2:3; Proverbs 12:2).[11] Job’s trust in God was not in vain (Job 42:10). God is not obligated to give ease and comfort to us, yet those who trust Him will have joy after suffering (Philippians 3:8-11), as Christ Himself experienced (2:5-11; Hebrews 12:2).

Tenth, “the holy lifestyle” (Ecclesiastes 9:7; 1 Corinthians 7:30).[12] Solomon (who I take to have written Ecclesiastes) is explaining the brevity of life, saying life is too short to live unhappily and unfaithfully. Paul does not contradict this to the Corinthians, but admonishes them to not live as though this present state is eternal. Live like your time will end soon, as though “the present form of this world is passing away,” (1 Corinthians 7:30). Earthly affairs should be dealt with open hands, ready to meet Christ. Paul clearly was not calling them to abandon joy, as he calls them to and exemplifies it elsewhere in 1 Corinthians (12:26; 13:6; 16:17).

Eleventh, “punishing crime” (Exodus 20:5; Ezekiel 18:20).[13] Exodus 20:5 (cf. 34:6-7) explains at least two truths. First, sin has generational consequences. This is manifestly true. Second, God is involved in the administration of these consequences. However, this does not mean subsequent generations cannot break the cycle of sin through repentance. God clearly allows that (Exodus 20:6). Ezekiel, therefore, by no means contradicts this truth. Just because the poor decisions of your parents have left you in a bad spot, that doesn’t excuse you from making good decisions.

Twelfth, “temptation” (Genesis 22:1; James 1:13).[14] No English translation of the Bible is perfect, including the King James Version, which reads “tempted” in Genesis 22:1. The Hebrew word is nsh and is never translated “tempted” in the ESV. It means “to venture; to put someone to the test; to give experience, train.” All veritable Hebrew lexicons agree (CHAL, TLOT, BDB, GHCLOT), this word should not be translated “tempted.” This is important because testingand tempting are very different concepts. Tempting is an attempt to corrupt, testing is an attempt to manifest. David tested (nsh) his armor (1 Samuel 17:39) but Satan tempted Christ (Matthew 4:1-11). Daniel’s diet was tested (Daniel 1:12-14) but Eve was tempted (Genesis 3:1ff; 2 Corinthians 11:3). The testing of the Lord is a thing to be desired (Psalm 26:2; James 1:3), but He never tempts (v.13).

Thirteenth, “family relationships” (Exodus 20:12; Luke 14:26).[15] Honoring parents is a holy duty reflected in the New Testament (Ephesians 6:1-2). Seeing disharmony between this and Christ’s word in Luke 14:26 is to fail in recognizing various types of speech. Hyperbole (an exaggerated claim not meant to be taken literally) is used frequently in Scripture. Christ did not literally mean to hate your parents, for He loved His own (e.g. John 19:26). In this monologue (Luke 14:25-33), Christ is explaining the cost of discipleship. Following Christ requires we renounce all that we have (v.33), submitting it to Him to do what He wills with it.

Fourteenth, “resurrection of the dead” (Job 7:9; John 5:28-29).[16] Job is considering the stifling power of death. He specifically is contemplating how a dead man cannot return to his home, and how his home eventually forgets him (Job 7:10). However, this does not mean Job thought God could not or would not exercise power over death (42:2). Therefore, the anguish of Job is not contradictory to the promise of resurrection.

Fifteenth, “the end of the world” (Matthew 16:28; Luke 21:32-33; Romans 13:11-12; James 5:8; 1 John 2:18; 1 Peter 4:7).[17] These texts will be taken in two groups. First, the New Testament calls Christians to live anticipating Christ’s return (James 5:8; 1 Peter 4:7; 1 John 2:18), labelling the entire church age the “last days” (Hebrews 1:2). This does not require Christ to return circa. 200 AD, but only that “our salvation [is] nearer than when we believed,” (Romans 13:11-12). Second, at least two texts reference the span of one generation. Matthew 6:28 says the generation of Christ would see Him coming “in His Kingdom.” Christ is visible in numerous ways in His New Covenant church, His Kingdom. The church became the sole Covenant body by which God interacts redemptively with man in 70 AD, when the temple was destroyed. Christ’s predictions in Luke 21 (also Matthew 24) are apocalyptic and truly came to pass in 70 AD.


I pray this analysis was informative, yet not too winded. One of the glories of Scripture is its internal consistency. Man is a true author of Scripture, but Almighty God is the ultimate Author. His Authorship shines through every page.


[1] https://www.atheists.org/activism/resources/biblical-contradictions/ accessed December 4, 2019.

[2] “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,” (Exodus 20:8). “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind,” (Romans 14:5).

[3] “A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever,” (Ecclesiastes 1:4). “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed,” (2 Peter 3:10).

[4] Also, “forever” does not always mean, “with no end,” but can also mean, “a long time,” (e.g. Genesis 9:12; Hebrew olam).

[5] “So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, ‘For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered,’” (Genesis 32:30). “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known,” (John 1:18).

[6] “You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord,” (Leviticus 18:21). “Then the Spirit of the Lord was upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh and passed on to Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he passed on to the Ammonites. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, 31 then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.” 32 So Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them, and the Lord gave them into his hand. 33 And he struck them from Aroer to the neighborhood of Minnith, twenty cities, and as far as Abel-keramim, with a great blow. So the Ammonites were subdued before the people of Israel. 34 Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah. And behold, his daughter came out to meet him with tambourines and with dances. She was his only child; besides her he had neither son nor daughter,” (Judges 11:29-34).

[7] “And the Lord was with Judah, and he took possession of the hill country, but he could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain because they had chariots of iron,” (Judges 1:19). “But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,’” (Matthew 19:26).

[8] “But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe,” (Exodus 21:23-25). “But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also,” (Matthew 5:39).

[9] “This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised,” (Genesis 17:10). “Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you,” (Galatians 5:2).

[10]  “And God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her,’” (Genesis 17:15-16). “Abraham said, ‘I did it because I thought, “There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.” 12 Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife,’” (Genesis 20:11-12). “If a man takes his sister, a daughter of his father or a daughter of his mother, and sees her nakedness, and she sees his nakedness, it is a disgrace, and they shall be cut off in the sight of the children of their people. He has uncovered his sister’s nakedness, and he shall bear his iniquity,” (Leviticus 20:17). “‘Cursed be anyone who lies with his sister, whether the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen,’” (Deuteronomy 27:22).

[11] “And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason,’” (Job 2:3). “A good man obtains favor from the Lord, but a man of evil devices he condemns,” (Proverbs 12:2).

[12] “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do,” (Ecclesiastes 9:7). “And those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods,” (1 Corinthians 7:30).

[13] “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,” (Exodus 20:5). “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself,” (Ezekiel 18:20).

[14] “After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am,’” (Genesis 22:1). “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one,” (James 1:13).

[15] “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you,” (Exodus 20:12). “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple,” (Luke 14:26).

[16] “As the cloud fades and vanishes, so he who goes down to Sheol does not come up,” (Job 7:9). “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment,” (John 5:28-29).

[17] “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom,” (Matthew 16:28). “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away,” (Luke 21:32-33). “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light,” (Romans 13:11-12). “You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand,” (James 5:8). “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour,” (1 John 2:18). “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers,” (1 Peter 4:7).

5 thoughts on “An Apology Concerning the Internal Consistency of Scripture

  1. it’s always curious to see the acrobatics that Christians go through to avoid admitting their bible has problems. They add their own assumptions to the bible.

    For instance “First, God never approves of the marriage union between Abraham and Sarah. After they are married, God clearly wants them to remain so – but this is not to say it was a good idea to begin with.” The bible never says that it is disapproved by this god either. The presupposition here is a Christian needs to excuse this god from approving of incest.

    ” And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22 and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.””

    “7 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God,[f] who is at the Father’s side,[g] he has made him known.”

    well. “21 And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22 and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”

    That one bible translation is considered better than other is evidence that there are only humans doing any of this, and its all nonsense. IF there were a god that wanted people to understand, the easiest way would be to make one language that everyone understood, and then everyone could read what it really meant, rather than Christians fussing over who uses what bible and all claiming that the holy spirit guided them with no evidence at all.

    You’ve done quite a job at ignoring context, adding to the bible ideas that are never mentioned and ignoring what the words mean before they are translated. This is why I think a lot of people are leaving Christianity because of the deceit they know is going on.

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      From what I can tell, you’ve objected to three issues in this article. 1) My answer to the Abraham/Sarah incest case (“eighth” objection in article), 2) my answer to the seen/unseen God case (“third” objection in article), 3) my preference on Bible translations, which I assume comes from (“twelfth” objection in article).

      1) “The bible never says that it is disapproved by this god either.” First, it is a non sequitur to assume one must approve of something because he doesn’t openly object to it. Second, I also did not excuse the possibility God actually approved of their tying-the-knot. Whether or not God was pleased with their marital union in Genesis is irrelevant to all laws against incest because these laws came after Abraham and Sarah. So, contrary from feeling a need “to excuse this god from approving of incest,” I am simply allowing the text to speak for itself. If you had read all of this “eighth” objection charitably, you would have seen this.

      2) The only commentary you’ve provided on my answer to the “third” objection is this: “well.” You haven’t provided references either, but I assume you think Exodus 33:21-23 contradicts John 1:17-18. My best reconstruction of your argument is this: John 1:17-18 says no one has seen God, yet in Exodus Moses saw God, so clearly the Bible contradicts itself. As one who champions getting the “context” right, I’m sure you will know about the progressive revelation of God and theophanies of the Old Testament. Other theophanies include: Genesis 18:1-2, Judges 13:3-6, Daniel 3:25. Not only does John says no one has seen God, but also the Son has made Him known. John is not denying the validity of theophanies in the Old Testament – he is explaining what exactly these theophanies were. According to John, God is Spirit (John 4:24), which is immaterial and by nature cannot be seen. John’s point is God in fact has been seen in history, but only through the mediation of the Son, Who became incarnate. The basic conclusion is, you are taking John’s statement in John 1:18 as absolute and pertaining to all categories, which is foolish – as you know, because you understand well the importance of “context.”

      3) On the issue of Bible translations: I’m not certain what you mean by, “there are only humans doing any of this.” If by “this” you simply mean, “translating the Bible,” then I absolutely agree with you, and that’s why no single translation is perfect. I can’t think of a single translation committee who has claimed “the holy spirit guided them” to translate the Bible as they did, so I’m not sure where you’ve gotten that idea. Further, I also take you to task on the claim Christians fuss “over who uses what bible.” There are fundamental sects of Protestantism which believe the King James Version is the only viable translation of the Bible, but other than that I have not encountered much fussing. We poke each other about it, respectfully and playfully, but you’re going to have to provide some sources for Christendom being filled with “fussing over who uses what bible,” because I think you’re exaggerating. Yes God very well could have done things like that: one language and no translations. However, He is under no obligation to do things like that, so your critique seems flat. Finally, you seem to think without one universal language no one can “read what it really” means, that somehow the Bible’s teaching is lost in translation. This is not the case: for example, there is no serious English translation of the Bible which, if taught fully, would bring you to a different faith and practice.

      Well, for all my “acrobatics,” such as “ignoring context” and “adding” ideas to Scripture, it seems you are the one somersaulting over the text. If you would like to take a break from the flipping and twirling (which is impressive, mind you), I will be down here with my English Breakfast tea (although I prefer Lapsang Souchoung, a new discovery of mine), ready for a descent conversation.

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      1. If my comment was a non-sequitur, then so was your claim that your god disproved of incest. This god never objects to it and allows it to happen repeatedly, see Lot and his daughters. As for your new claim that “Second, I also did not excuse the possibility God actually approved of their tying-the-knot. “ that seems to be wrong since is what you did say: “First, God never approves of the marriage union between Abraham and Sarah. After they are married, God clearly wants them to remain so – but this is not to say it was a good idea to begin with.” This didn’t seem to be “irrelevant” to you at all.

        I do not read “charitably” aka interpreting your words for you in the best way possible, I read what you write. All this means, in this context, is that you want me to agree with you, not notice the failures in your argument.

        It seems that you were unable to read the verse after “well” in my comment to your 3 objection which is from Exodus. I’m sorry you are unfamiliar with it. Moses has repeatedly seen this god, per your own bible. Please do explain how Moses isn’t seeing this god in this verse. The claim of a “progressive revelation” is something invented by Christians, and yep, the OT did have various theophanies. The author of John is denying the OT appearances of this god. There is no reason to assume that the author of John’s version is any better than the OT’s version. You need that as a certain type of Christian since your version is that this god is only spirit. However, the OT has this god as being physical “9 Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. 11 And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.” – Exodus 24 The author of John’s words are absolute, only you don’t want them to be since they contradict other parts of the bible “18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” You claim it is a non-sequitur to claim that something is there when it isn’t written down. Surprise, your claim fails your own rules. There is no mention of exceptions. There is nothing “foolish” about what I’ve said. But do continue to call me a fool. That always goes well for a Christian.

        Yep, there are only humans translating the bible, and indeed no translation is perfect. They could be, if this god was what you claim, but they aren’t. As for the holy spirit guiding translators, you’re right, that can’t happen since there is no HS. But plenty of Christians claim that their interpretation of the bible comes from the HS. “Therefore, the Spirit’s initial work involves turning a person into one who has many of the necessary presuppositions to begin to interpret the Scriptures.” – The Expositors Seminary; “Can a non-Christian grasp the content of the Bible? Yes and no.
        Yes, if we mean the text can be understood by employing a sound approach to literature—to the basic grammar, context, and content of a passage. But an unbeliever cannot fully appreciate and take to heart the truth of the Bible. God’s Spirit helps Christians discern the spiritual realities of the text and then apply them to their lives” – Jonathan Morrow The best is here: “http://rosetta.reltech.org/TC/extras/Minton-HS.html” Of course we have the folks at Biologos trying this excuse “That said, the Holy Spirit does not provide an unambiguous interpretation of every given text. Every time we read the Bible we have to interpret what we read. Interpreting just means making sense of a text—it is not a special skill reserved for difficult passages. The ways we go about making sense of the Bible will be influenced by our frames of reference and cultural expectations. Sometimes these can interfere with our ability to hear the intended meaning of the biblical authors.” The intended meaning? There is no real way to tell unless you think something magical is happening.
        I’m going to guess you might claim that there is a difference between interpretation and translation but that isn’t necessarily true since words can have various meanings. Which out of them do you pick and why?
        You can take me to task on the Christians disagreement about bibles and versions. There are Christians who belive that the KJV is the only right one and they are as Christian as you. You want to claim that they are “fundamentalists” but from outside, they aren’t any different. I’ve not seen Catholics and Protestants “respectfully and playfully” poke at each other about anything, including their bibles. When I was growing up, I got to see just how nasty Christians can be to each other and a quick tour around the ‘net shows that is still going on. Here’s a lovely example: http://www.bible.ca/cath-overview-false-teaching.htm
        It’s always good to see a Christian insist that their god “is under no obligation to do things like that” like make the bible understandable, etc. You know, reducing the killing between sects in the past is just too much for this god, eh? It’s easy to say my god doesn’t have to do that, rather than considering your god can’t do that since it doesn’t exist. The bible’s teaching is lost in translation since Christians don’t agree on how to be saved, what this god approves of or not, and what the bible actually means in the more bizaare books like Revelation. You use the wiggle words “serious” and “taught fully” to excuse your bible’s failures to be clear, with both words indicating that you consider only your own version to be serious and taught correctly.
        A decent conversation? You mean one where I agree with you and don’t point out your mistakes? That’s what you seem to mean. I’m an Earl Grey gal myself.

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      2. 1) “If my comment was a non-sequitur… not notice the failures in your argument.”

        Even after I pointed you back to the article, in which I never claim God disapproved of Abraham and Sarah marrying each other, you still are insisting I have written to the contrary. Those reading this thread will be able to see the error. No civil, productive dialogue can happen when we are quick to twist and misinterpret the statements of others: when we read uncharitably. But further, even an uncharitable reading of what I have written (as you claim to have done) will provide you with no evidence I definitely think God hated the marriage of Abraham and Sarah. For your convenience, I will provide you with a detailed commentary of what I originally wrote.

        “Eighth, ‘incest’ (Genesis 17:15-16; 20:11-12; Leviticus 20:17; Deuteronomy 27:22).[10] First, God never approves of the marriage union between Abraham and Sarah. After they are married, God clearly wants them to remain so – but this is not to say it was a good idea to begin with. God blessing them is not a stamp of approval upon every decision they made. This demonstrates there is no contradiction here, but I will continue.” Now in this comment, I mean to accomplish two things. First, Genesis never says God approves or disapproves of Abraham and Sarah’s marriage. This is manifestly true, and if you can find a verse in Genesis where God says, “I’m glad you two got married,” then I will retract the claim. In this assertion, note that I nowhere claim to know whether or not God actually approved or disapproved of their marriage, I simply state that the text is not clear. Second, the fact that God blessed Sarah does not mean He approved of their initial marriage (Genesis 20:11-12). This second point seemed to be the reasoning behind the article I was responding to, so I wanted to address it. So: in light of a lack of clarity in the text and the faulty logic of the Genesis 20:11-12, I claimed “this demonstrates there is no contradiction here, but I will continue.” The reason this answers the question of contradiction is because for there to be a contradiction between Leviticus 20:17/Deuteronomy 27:22 and Genesis 17:15-16/20:11-12, we would need an equivalent yet opposite statement from God, or concerning God, that He loves something in Genesis which He hates in Leviticus/Deuteronomy. We don’t have that because, again, Genesis doesn’t make any claim for or against. To say there is a contradiction here is conjecture – assumption. And we all know what assuming does… // “Second, the Mosaic Law certainly prohibited marriage to full or half siblings. Before this, however, we find no such prohibition. The practice was not as risky as today or even in Moses’ time, due to a purer gene pool. Further, it was at least temporarily necessary for population growth.” Now, I do need to correct something, which probably has made my comment less-clear than necessary. If I could rewrite this article (maybe I’ll edit it later), I would take-out the statement “this demonstrates there is no contradiction here, but I will continue” – not because I think it is wrong, but because I believe my second point is much stronger and most fundamental to the issue. The issue is this: the law against incest was given in the Mosaic period, hundreds of years after Abraham. Therefore, the law was not binding on Abraham. Yet further, this means it is absolutely possible that God actually did approve of Abraham and Sarah’s marriage to begin with. I allude to this possibility when I comment that incest “was at least temporarily necessary for population growth.” So I have already granted that, at least somewhere in the past, God must have permitted incest. When did He later condemn it? A solid case could be made that it did not change until He gave the Mosaic law, and as I also mentioned in my comment, may have to do with an ever more complex/corrupt gene pool. Yet this statement is conjecture, I readily admit. My point is this, and I hope I am clear this time: I am perfectly fine saying God permitted incest at a certain time in history. Further, it wouldn’t ruffle my Biblical feathers if God was fine with Abraham marrying his half-sister Sarah. I’m completely fine with these things, because I know God has just and good reasons for all He does, and further because I know God has a right to do, say, and think whatever He wants to.

        Perhaps you can help me understand something: do you have a problem with incest?

        //

        2) “It seems that you were unable to read… always goes well for a Christian.”

        Moses and others indeed saw God, “per [my] own bible” and the further references I gave you. Exodus 24 is another one. You’re quoting texts to me that I’ve already told you exist, as if I should be embarrassed by them. I will try to explain my position more clearly, because I may not have been so clear before. What I mean by “progressive revelation” is that God has not revealed Himself fully all at once, but over time has revealed Himself more and more. For example, that God is triune was not explicitly revealed until the inter-testament period, when God the Son became incarnate. With this incarnation in mind, John explains that God in His substance, being Spirit, has never been seen. The Father has never been seen, but the Son has – because the Son has made Him known. You’re taking Pentateuchal terms and contexts, equivocating them with Johannian terms and contexts, then putting both Moses’ and John’s explanation of experiencing God on equivalent plains. This is a good example of how to take texts out of contexts. So you say, “…the OT did have various theophanies. The author of John is denying the OT appearances of this god.” Where does he deny theophanies? Where does he deny that God had revealed Himself – verbally, miraculously, visually – to His people in the Old Testament? He certainly does not deny this. John embeds seven “I Am” statements of Jesus (John 6:35-48; 8:12; 9:5; 10:7, 11-14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1-5) which are references to God’s own name given to Moses (Exodus 3). This was Christ identifying himself with the God of the Old Testament – the Jews understood this (John 8:59) and John did too: “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am,” (v.58). John believed Isaiah saw Christ’s “glory and spoke of him,” (12:41). He believed Moses wrote of Christ (5:46), that “as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life,” (3:14-15). You’re claim that John denied the theophanies of the Old Testament is unsupported. John clearly took these theophanies at face value, acknowledged that God is Spirit and therefore cannot be seen (4:24), and explained that visible manifestations of God in the Old Testament were just that: God graciously condescending to us to reveal Himself in a way that we could understand.

        “There is no mention of exceptions. There is nothing ‘foolish’ about what I’ve said. But do continue to call me a fool.” – Right, but I never said there were exceptions nor did I call you a fool. It is always difficult to have a conversation when we don’t actually read what the other is writing. I said, “You are taking John’s statement in John 1:18 as absolute and pertaining to all categories, which is foolish.” John gives no exceptions to the principle, “No one has ever seen God,” but he also does not apply that principle to all categories. He clearly believes that God is visible in some way, because “the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” John believes that in the incarnate God the Son, we see the father (1:1-5, 14; 1 John 1:1-4). John looks at the Old Testament and acknowledges the theophanies, as I have explained above. What John does is distinguish between what we see of God and what we don’t see. In all of man’s visible experiences of God, he has never truly seen God in His substance and essence: he has never truly and actually seen God. What he has seen are manifestations, revelations of God in visible form, chiefly culminating in the incarnation of God the Son, Who is the “image of the invisible God,” (Colossians 1:15). To take John as believing otherwise – as if he is denying the category of theophany in the Old Testament – is indeed “foolish.” However, my calling this “foolish” is not the same thing as calling you, as an individual, a fool. I have not done that, because I believe it’s in both of our best interests to keep the conversation civil.

        //

        3) “Yep, there are only humans translating the bible… out of them do you pick and why?”

        I’m a bit confused by this section, because I never said all translations are perfect, nor have I claimed the Holy Spirit directs translators to make them infallible. The Holy Spirit’s role in Biblical interpretation, as I understand it, is not so much a matter of the mind as it is of the heart. As the quote you gave from Morrow explains, “an unbeliever cannot fully appreciate and take to heart the truth of the Bible.” So in the conversation we’re having right now, for example: I believe you and I can discuss the meaning of the text truthfully and that you’re capable of understanding it, as I am. However, you have a severe bias against the text: you hate God. It is in your best interest that the God of the Bible does not in fact exist, because in such case you would be accountable to Him. You would owe Him your worship and obedience. Further, you would be in trouble, because you most certainly have not worshiped and obeyed Him. If the God of this book is real, then you have a weighty problem on your hands. This is the incredible bias you come to Scripture with: you can’t really afford for it to be true. Yet your hatred for God makes itself known anyway. You should know that He is a gracious God, always willing to extend mercy to those who have dishonored and disobeyed Him.

        I assume you’re asking which translation I pick and why. I prefer the English Standard Version, but a close second is the New American Standard Version. I have found these two translations to be most consistently accurate in translated New Testament Greek. In regards to Old Testament Hebrew, I would also include the King James Version: it’s language is outdated (so I don’t recommend it to others), but it’s OT translation is actually pretty consistent and accurate. When it comes to translations (of any sort, Biblical or not) there are two philosophies: dynamic equivalence or word-for-word. Some translators favor to communicate the intended meaning of a sentence or clause, at the expense of representing the words. Other translators favor translating from one language to another as word-for-word as possible (obviously it isn’t possible to do an exact word-for-word translation between any two languages). I favor a strongly word-for-word translation, but one which always has in mind the dynamic structure and meaning. So for example, whereas a dynamic equivalence would interpret an idiom found in the text and translate it as something we would say today, I think the idiom should be translated as is. The New International Version has served many people well, but I don’t favor it because it is dynamic equivalence. As far as English translations of the Bible are concerned, many translations only exist for the sake of making money – it really is a shame. We don’t need as many English translations of the Bible as we have. The Christian Standard Bible (formerly HCSB), for example, is quite unnecessary and my cynical opinion is it was produced by Baptists (I am a Baptist, mind you) for tribal and monetary reasons. In conclusion: I read and study with the English Standard Version, but I sometimes come across translation choices within which I disagree with.

        //

        4) “You can take me to task on the Christians… Here’s a lovely example: http://www.bible.ca/cath-overview-false-teaching.htm”

        I live in the southern United States with many whom I call “fundamentalists” – I might be one too, actually. So I did not mean the term in a dismissive, demeaning way. Also, I agree with you that Christians can be “nasty,” to one another and to non-believers. I have never claimed otherwise, and I agree with you that it is a problem. Of all people on earth, Christians should be the kindest, most joyful, most generous – because we have experienced the grace of God in forgiving and cleansing us of our wicked sin.

        //

        5) “It’s always good to see… what you seem to mean.”

        First, on a smaller note, the Bible is very understandable. If children can comprehend its text and message, I think that qualifies as understandable. The Bible’s teaching is not “lost in translation” – disagreement among professing Christians does not mean the text is obscure (although, there certainly are some difficult things to interpret in the Bible). Second, you seem to have a habit of thinking only in the category of power and ability, and as if you are the arbiter of what God should and should not be doing. If something has happened in history you don’t like, God is clearly in the wrong for having allowed it to happen. However, you are not God and God is not a mere creature. He has fashioned all things according to His good pleasure, and He has every right to do with His creation as He sees fit. While the Bible is understandable, that does not mean God is obligated to make it so: that God has revealed Himself to man with clarity is an immense grace. Third, you utilize the word “version” as if you believe all of Christendom has different Bibles, but this is a misunderstanding of inspiration and translation. When we speak of the infallibility of Scripture, we are referring to the original autographs themselves, not to translations. Christians have different translations of the Bible, but there aren’t actually many variant Bibles (unless you dip into cults, such as Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses).

        I’m fine with having my mistakes pointed out. I’ve published probably a dozen retractions over points someone took me to task on, then I realized they were right/I was wrong. I enjoy the utility of frank, respectful dialogue. It makes us all sharper. This marks twice I’ve replied, so manifestly I’m willing to talk and disagree. What remains to be seen is if you can provide an argument without borrowing from my worldview.

        //

        6) “I’m an Earl Grey gal myself.”
        Now here, amidst the flying armadillos and flailing arguments, we have found some common ground. While not my favorite, Earl Grey is easily in my top 3 when used for a London Fog.

        Like

      3. Well, that was certainly a pile of apologetics. Again, we have your god showing its displeasure if it didn’t agree with something, so your excuse that it allows somethings to happen that it doesn’t like doesn’t meet with your god’s modus operandi. Those reading this thread will see one more Christian who wants to insist his version is the only right one. You want to pretend that only your interpretation is right, and then you falsely claim that I have twisted something. That is very dishonest.

        It’s always curious when a Christian tries to play the “but they didn’t say it exactly like this so it isn’t true” card. As above, we know that this god acts when it doesn’t like something.
        It’s also interesting to see you make a common Christian claim that since this god didn’t give the laws, then things weren’t “really” wrong. That does quite a job at showing that the common Christian claim of objective morality is wrong. If it was wrong per the laws, and this god is a source of objective morality, then it would always be wrong. As for your silliness claiming a “purer gene pool” that depends on the false claim of a flood, which cannot be shown to have happened as claimed in the bible. Presupposition on top of presupposition. And nope, not needed for population growth at all.

        Both of your claims are baseless so taking one part won’t make a difference. You have tried to make a claim, and now try to claim that would be just peachy for you if I was right. Oh my, what a way to try to cover things up. Now you ask me if there is a problem with incest. Nope, unless one wants to consider the genetic problem with it. I’m guessing that the only reason you asked is to complain about how atheists can’t have morals. All we have from you is anything that God does is fine with you, the might equals right morality of a Christian in play where there are no objective morals at all, just obedience.

        You said people have not seen this god. That was a false statement per your bible. You keep making up new excuses why you are still “right”. Nothing new in that from a Christian apologist. You take things out of context, ignore what people actually wrote and why, and then decide your Christianity is the only true one. And yep, John denied what people in the OT wrote, that no one has seen this god when Moses et all saw this god. Again, great acrobatics, but based on a very poor attempt to re-write what people wrote to make it fit what the authors of the NT wanted to claim, and what you want and to apologize for how the bible fails.

        Now, you want to falsely claim I didn’t read what you wrote. That is also dishonest.
        You called me foolish despite your attempts to claim otherwise (it’s always so funny when Christians try to lie to themselves and their god that they really didn’t do what they did) and you tried to claim that there were exceptions when there were none, with your attempts to claim that somehow “categories” are involved. We see nothing to say that all categories weren’t involved, aka no exceptions were mentioned. We have nothing to show that that the author of John believes what you claim. Again you add things that are not there. You make the false claim that the bible says we haven’t “truly” seen this god. It’s just one more attempt by your to rewrite what was said.

        Christians make many claim about how the Holy Spirit affects them so your version is just like theirs, not to be accepted as any more true than theirs. There is also the problem with the nonsense of claiming that only Christians can understand the bible, when all of you disagree on what it says.

        Now, we have you claiming, falsely again, that I “hate” this god. I don’t since I don’t hate imaginary characters. You need to claim that so you can try to ignore my points. You claim a bias that isn’t there. I couldn’t care if your god existed or not, for I wouldn’t worship such a petty god. I’m not accountable to any god since again, even Christians can’t agree on what this god wants and doesn’t want. There is no reason anyone owes a god, real or not, worship or obedience. That’s just your baseless opinion.

        If the claims of the bible are real, well, we would have to figure out how we can figure out which version is real since again, Christians don’t agree. Which set of Christians are in hell? As for this god being a “gracious God”, you might want to read Romans 9 to see just how ungracious it is when it makes some people unable to ever accept it. And dishonoring a omnipotent and omniscient being? What a poor creature if a mere human can affect it.

        The KJV’s translations are consistant and accurate? Ah, no they aren’t but Christians are attached to that version. I agree there are those two parts of translation and the first is where biblical translators claim that they “know” what it should read like rather than what it says. For instance, when some translators try to claim that the word slave is servant, when that is not what the bible says at all, and is only an attempt by a Christian to make their god seem less vile. You also make accusations about other Christians and their motives which is common.

        Christians do like to declare that each other aren’t really Christians. That Christians aren’t “kindest, most joyful, most generous” shows that the religion fails. Most Christians would claim that their actions don’t mean that the religion is bad, but that’s what happens, your actions demonstrate the emptiness of the claims of the bible.

        Children don’t comprehend the bible, only what they are taught about it in a very expurgated way. Again, Christians don’t’ agree on the message of the bible at all, considering the various types of hatred declared as biblical by Christians.
        Disagreement between Christians means that the text is indeed obscure, that’s the definition of obscure text when people don’t agree on what it means. I can indeed be an arbiter of what this god should and should not be doing; just like Christians declare themselves to be that arbiter.
        If this god has objective morality, and is omnipotent, then yep, this god is responsible for allowing something to happen that would not be considered good by it. If we aren’t to keep slaves, then we should never have kept slaves. You again rely on a might equals right morality, nothing different from someone who supported any tyrant. You try to excuse your god on all its failures (assuming it is real). There is no clarity, only you who assumes that your version is the “clear” version, something that each Christian does and who can disagree with you.

        Not all Christians claim that only the originals were infallible, so again, you seem to think that your Christianity is the only right one. You call other Christians cults, but your version is no more true than theirs. None of you can do what is promised for baptized believers in Christ as savior.

        No one is borrowing from your worldview. Christians love to claim that but again, the idea of being good, of doing unto others, etc has been around for far longer than your religion.

        For a London Fog, I do prefer an oolong. I’ll have to try it with Earl Gray.

        Like

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