As a family, we have many friends that come from different religious backgrounds, or aren’t religious at all. Because we’re very open about our faith, and because we often try to encourage people to come to church with us, we often get into religious discussions/debates with people who don’t share our faith.
The first thing that I want to say is that the Christian community has become entirely too insular – as a group, we’re too willing to stick to ourselves and live in our own little echo chamber. In my eyes, this is a huge mistake. Christianity at its core is a missionary religion – it is the duty of each Christian to try and spread the word of God. To be able to do this, we must always work at being open to those who don’t share our beliefs. If we don’t talk to them, and if we don’t explain why we believe what we believe, what hope do we have of ever convincing anyone?
When discussing faith with people of different backgrounds, one of the most common objections I hear is that the Bible is full of contradictions. So today, in this blog post, I will try and outline how I respond to this assertion that the Bible contradicts itself.
The first thing I often say in response to this challenge is “You’re completely right”. Let’s face it – the Bible is indeed full of contradictions. It’s undeniable. One just needs to look at this page to see that this is the case.
Then I go on to explain why this is the case. The first thing that I point out is that the Bible was written by men. That’s right – I’m not someone who believes that the Bible was written by God. The Bible was written by men, who tried to record the best wisdom of the time, as they understood it. Even if the Bible was written by God, through the years, it will have been translated so many times, into so many different languages, that what we read in English today probably doesn’t come close to resembling the original documents.
I then go on to say that even if the Bible weren’t full of contradictions, different people would still read it differently. There are many people (that I consider ignorant) who read ‘homosexuality is an abomination’ in the Bible and use that as an excuse to justify bigotry. They forget that Jesus was always the one who was willing to embrace sinners when nobody else would. It was Jesus who said ‘Let the one without sin cast the first stone’. It was Jesus who said that we should ‘turn the other cheek’, and indeed it was Jesus who set the example that we should try our best to love everybody – regardless of what sinful thing they’re doing, to the point where Jesus loved even the cruel men who crucified him. The current bigotry towards homosexuals is not in keeping with the examples Jesus has set.
Anyways, the point is – the Bible is essentially just a book of words. People read it how they will, and ten people will interpret it ten different ways. The best thing a christian can do is try to follow the examples set by Jesus himself – to love everyone, to not judge people, to embrace sinners (because we’re all sinners), and to improve the world through love – not hate. Anyone who lives by these maxims can consider themselves a good christian, regardless of what the bible says about specific behaviors. People who point to specific sections of the bible to justify their behavior are missing the forest for the trees. It’s not about the letter of the law – it’s about the spirit of the law, and the best way to follow the spirit of God’s law is to try and follow the example of the Jesus himself.
My point is – yes, the Bible is full of contradictions, but I believe to some extent, God did this on purpose. It’s a reminder that the Bible is fallible, and the most important thing about being a Christian is not what it says in a 2000 year old book – instead, the key to being a true Christian is to act as Christ would. The contradictions don’t weaken Christianity – they strengthen it, because they suggest that the religion is not build on rigidity, but rather on fluidity, with love as the central premise.