Countering Alleged Bible Contradictions II

11 . God is the author of evil

"Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?" [Lam 3:38]

"Now therefore say to the people of Judah that those living in Jerusalem, 'This is what the LORD says: Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan for against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and actions." [Jer 18:11.

"I form light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I the LORD, do all these things." [Is 45:7]

"I also gave them over to statues that were not good and laws they could not live by." [Ez 20:25]

"When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it? [Amos 3:6]

God is not the author of evil

[1 Cor 14:33/ Deut 32:4/ James 1:13]

Now, in Deut 32:4, we read that God is just. None of the above verses teach that God is unjust. Paul is speaking about God in the context of Church gatherings - that in such gatherings, God is a God of peace, not confusion. None of the above verses speak of such Church gatherings. James teaches that God does not tempt anyone with evil. None of the above verses teach that God tempts with evil. (I think Ez 20:25 is best understood in light of Romans 1). Thus, no obvious contradictions in this set.

12 . God gives freely to those who ask

[James 1:5/ Luke 11:10]

God witholds his blessings and prevents men from receiving them

[John 12:40/ Josh 11:20/ Is 63:17]

Joshua 11:20 says nothing about some asking, and God refusing to give. Is 63:17 says nothing about someone asking, and God refusing to give. John 12:40 says nothing about someone asking, and God refusing to give. In these three verses, it is mentioned that God "hardened the hearts" of someone. If someone never asked, and will never truly ask, it is not a contradiction to harden one's heart, yet give to those who DO ask.

13 . God is to be found by those who seek him

[Matt 7:8/ Prov 8:17]

God is not to be found by those who seek him

[Prov 1:28]

"Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they shall not find me." [Pr 1:28]

Here, the context has been ignored. First of all, it is wisdom which is speaking. Those who laugh, scoff, and refuse wisdom are not going to magically find it when calamity strikes. If one wishes to identify wisdom with God, the same principle holds - those who scoff, reject, and laugh at God are not going to find God when calamity strikes. After all, if they look, they look through the filters of selfishness (ie, "save my butt"). Instead of calling on God or looking for God, they should be repenting. But those who live a life of scorning God are not those who repent when disaster strikes. Thus, no contradiction.

14 . God is warlike

[Ex 15:3/ Is 51:15]

God is peaceful

[Rom 15:33/ 1 Cor 14:33]

"The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name." [Ex 15:3]

(Is 51:15 has nothing to do with war)

"The God of peace be with you all. Amen" [Rom 15:33]

"For God is not a God of disorder, but of peace." [1 Cor 14:33]

It seems clear that God reveals Himself as a God of Battles in much of the OT. So what of these NT teachings? This "contradiction" is premised on equivocation, where the NT references to peace are interpreted to be the antomym of 'war', when this is obviously not the case. In Romans, Paul seems to be speaking of peace in a subjective, existential sense - a relationship with God brings a sense of peace. In Corinithians, Paul is speaking about the activity of Church congregations - they should be orderly and peaceful, not full of confusion and contention. No obvious contradiction here.

15 . God is cruel, unmerciful, destructive, and ferocius

[Jer 13:14/ Deut 7:16/ 1 Sam 15:2,3/ 1 Sam 6:19]

God is kind, merciful, and good

[James 5:11/ Lam 3:33/ 1 Chron 16:34/ Ezek 18:32/ Ps 145:9/ 1 Tim 2:4/ 1 John 4:16/ Ps 25:8]

The first set of scriptures say nothing about God being cruel (this is a subjective call). They deal simply and bluntly with God's judgment. Thus, we have a both/and situation here. Yes, God is merciful and full of compassion. Yet, those who reject his mercy and compassion will find that His judgment in unrelenting and ferocious - that is His nature.

16 . God's anger is fierce and endures long

[Num 32:13/ Num 25:4/ Jer 17:4]

God's anger is slow and endures but for a minute

[Ps 103:8/ Ps 30:5]

The verse in Numbers and Jeremiah do not teach some general truth that 'God's anger is fierce and endures long." This is the critic's personal interpretation. In Jeremiah, in RESPONSE to Judah's great sin, God's anger is kindled (which itself, implies that it is slow to occur) and will "burn forever." I view this as a hyperbole (like "walking a thousand miles"). Put simply, God's anger against Judah would endure long. In Num 32, God's anger burned against Israel because of their sin and he made them wander in the desert 40 years. In Num 25, we read that God had Moses slay those who sought to contaminate the Jews with pagan ideals in order that his fierce anger may turn away from Israel. Since there is no contradiction between a fierce anger, and an anger slow to rise, this is an irrelevant verse.

So let's focus on duration. Above, we saw that God's anger lasted long (in human terms) in SPECIFIC cases as the RESULT of sinful behavior. What of the Psalms? First, let's keep in mind that we have now entered the territory of another genre - poetry. As such, it's going to be hard to make an unequivocal contradiction. Anyway, in Ps 103, we simply note that God is slow to anger. Nothing in Jer or Num contradicts this. In Ps 30:5, it appears as if David is speaking from his personal experience with God in saying that God's anger lasts only a moment. And what is a 'moment' in poetical terms anyway? And could this teaching be yet one more proverbial way of saying that God is far more gracious than angry? That is, when all is said and done, what is revealed is a God who is slow to anger, quick to forgive, yet who can indeed demonstrate a fierce anger when provoked by great or ubiquitous sin. I see no obvious contradiction here.

17 . God commands, approves of, and delights in burnt offerings, sacrifices ,and holy days

[Ex 29:36/ Lev 23:27/ Ex 29:18/ Lev 1:9]

God disapproves of and has no pleasure in burnt offerings, sacrifices, and holy days.

[Jer 7:22/ Jer 6:20/ Ps 50:13,4/ Is 1:13,11,12]

The first set of Scriptures explains where God institutes sacrifices, etc., among Israel. Nothing in the second set contradicts this. In Jer 7:22, we read, "I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices," The author of this supposed contradiction conveniently left out the next verse: " but I gave them this command: "Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people." This is obviously not a disapproval of burnt offerings, but a disapproval on emphasizing such offerings to the exclusion of obedience in all areas. Jer 6:20 speaks of the incense in Sheba, hardly contradicting the first set. The verse in Psalms is lifted out of context, as the LORD clearly says, "I do not rebuke you for your sacrifices." (Ps 50:8). The verses in Isaiah are also lifted out of context. God rebukes the people for the sacrifices because they represent religious hypocrisy. Is 1:15-17 clearly demonstrate this.

18 . God accepts human sacrifices

[2 Sam 21:8,9,14/ Gen 22:2/ Judg 11:30-32,34,38,39]

God fobids human sacrifice

[Deut 12:30,31]

The account in Gen 22:2 has been the subject of a great wealth of religious speculation, but the fact remains that Isaac was not sacrificed. The account in 2 Sam is misnamed as a "human sacrifice." It looks far more like an execution carried out by the Gibeonites because Saul had previously persecuted them. The verses in Judges do not obviously indicate that Jephthah offered his daughter as a "human sacrifice" and if He did, there is no indication that God "accepted it." No contradictions here.

19 . God temps men

[Gen 22:1/ 2 Sam 24:1/ Jer 20:7/ Matt 6:13]

God temps no man

[James 1:13]

Gen 22 refers to testing; 2 Sam says nothing about God tempting; In Jer 20, the prophet Jeremiah is simply complaining. Just because in a moment of desparation, he accuses God of deceiving him, does not mean that God DID deceive him. Mt 6:13 is part of the Lord's prayer, "lead us not into temptation." The prayer simply inquires of God that helps us keep our distance from temptation (hardly an example of God tempting men!!). The only possible hope of a contradction in this set is to equate testing with temptation. But is testing identical to tempting? For example, let's say God wants to test someone's honesty and puts them in a room with a lost wallet. Is this tempting? I think not. To truly tempt, God would have to whispher, "Pick it up, keep it, no one will know, etc." No clear contradictions here.

20 . God cannot lie

[Heb 6:18]

God lies by proxy; he sends forth lying spirits to decieve

[2 Thes 2:11/ 1 Kings 22:23/ Ezek 14:9]

In this case, we need not even consider the scriptures. As "sending forth lying spirits" is not the same as actually lying yourself.

But, MaryAnna White notes:

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1 Kings 22:21-22 Lying spirit - Here, of course, God does not lie directly nor approve of nor sanction man's lying. One could argue that all that happens on earth is permitted by God - He could stop it if He saw fit. He even permitted Satan to cause Job to suffer - a much more interesting case. But that does not mean that He is the source of all such things. They just afford Him opportunities, as here, to accomplish what He is after. As they are useful to Him, He permits them to continue for a season. Like Judas. Eventually, those instruments no longer useful, all such spirits and men will be judged by being cast into the eternal lake of fire. That is neither approval nor sanction, but merely proof of God's sovereignty. -- MAW

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The basic point is that by allowing the spirit to lie, God is not Himself lying. After all, God allows us all to lie, but He is not a liar for allowing us to lie.

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