Archive for September 10th, 2008

“Does The Bible Contradict Itself?” by Jack Kinsella

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

The Christian faith stands or falls based on the truth of the Scripture. Christianity has no plan “B”. Should the Bible somehow fail, Christianity fails with it.

The Bible claims of itself that is 100% accurate, 100% of the time. It is, as 2nd Peter 1:21 tells us, the product of holy men who “spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

Therefore, if Noah didn’t build an ark, if Jonah wasn’t swallowed by a big fish, if David didn’t slay Goliath and if Jesus wasn’t born of a virgin, then our faith is in vain and we are yet dead in our sins.

So whether or not the Scriptures are reliable is a very big deal. That said, now I am going to say something some of you will find shocking. There are no contradictions in Scripture, but there ARE discrepancies. They are superficial and largely irrelevant, but they are there.

We’ll examine them in a moment, but for now, let’s examine WHY they are there. The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek. According to the Bible Society, the Bible has since been translated into 414 different languages, as of 2003.

“Comment vous applez vous?” It’s French, but in English, it means, “What is your name?” But literally, what it really means; is “What you called you?” So of course, there are linguistic discrepancies between translations.

Heck, there are discrepancies in translation between the KJV and the NIV, not to mention the other English versions.

Compare Acts 8:38 side by side in a KJV and an NIV. (The NIV omits Acts 8:38 and leaves a hole).

Now I am going to shock at least some of you again. I personally prefer the KJV, and at one time, I was a big “King James Only” guy. I took the dogmatic position the other versions are perversions of the perfect Word of God.

Until I compared the KJV with the original text. The KJV is faithful to the original in the same way that “Comment vous applez vous” doesn’t actually say “What is your name?” but means “What is your name?”

Some of the other English translations are translated from different original manuscripts; the KJV from the Textus Receptus, NIV, NASB etc. the Sinaiticus or Vaticanus texts, and some simply translated from Old English into New English.

Since we can now multiply that by 401 more languages, of course, there are discrepancies. Still the Bible is the inspired Word of God. If God didn’t want those discrepancies, they wouldn’t be there.

In point of fact, those minor discrepancies are a reason TO believe, not a reason for doubt.

For one thing, it destroys any suggestion of collusion between the various writers. It also shatters the suggestion that the Bible was a counterfeit. We know certain things about eyewitness testimony.

For one, no two people ever describe an event EXACTLY the same way. If they do, it is because they were coached.

If there were perfect agreement in every detail between Isaiah and Moses, between Peter and Paul, or between Matthew and Luke, the skeptics would zero in on it as evidence of a forgery.

Real people, especially those separated by great spans of time, don’t write in harmony with other writers, and if there were perfect agreement, it would naturally generate suspicion of collaboration.

So these apparent contradictions and discrepancies serve to refute these kinds of objections by their very existence.

Secondly, these apparent contradictions stimulate Christians to deeper Bible study — they literally force man to search the Scriptures. There are few motives for study more powerful than that of trying to reconcile an apparent Bible contradictions.

Believers cannot be satisfied with easy answers. The writers were fallible men, but they were inspired by an infallible God.

Although the contradictions seem to be apparent, upon greater study, one finds invariably that they exhibit a deeper agreement than appears on the surface — which reveals in greater detail the whole counsel of God.

When a believer solves one of these so-called contradictions on their own, it is a faith-affirming and joyful event.

But the same discrepancies that are to a believer, evidence of its Divine inspiration are, to dedicated unbelievers, evidence to the contrary.

Take, for example, the Commandment; “Thou shalt not kill.” (Exodus 20:13)

But in the very next chapter, we read, “He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.” (Exodus 21:13)

Taken at face value, that is an irreconcilable contradiction contained in the King James Bible, together with most of the other translations.

God tells man, “Thou shalt not kill,” and in the very next breath, orders man to put transgressors to death.

How does one put someone to death without killing them?

The Hebrew doesn’t say “Thou shalt not kill.” That is what the English translation says. Consequently, in English, Exodus 21:13 is a direct contradiction within God’s Word. But God isn’t English. (Or even American)

The Hebrew says, “Thou shalt do no murder’ which not only eliminates any apparent contradiction but rather, serves to explain Exodus 21:13 as part the whole counsel of God, which is, if you commit murder, you shall be put to death.

The Apostle Paul says, “for by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

James says, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” (James 2:24)

Is this not a contradiction? And not just a minor one, either. Are we saved by grace, or by works? The contradiction evaporates with study and by applying context to both passages.

Salvation is by faith, as Paul says. And saving faith is inevitably expressed by a person’s works. James says, “I will show thee my faith by my works,” not, “I will substitute faith with my works.” In context, the meaning is obvious and the contradiction collapses.

1st Samuel 15:29 tells us that “God isn’t a man, that He should repent.” But in the same chapter, we also read, “It repenteth Me that I have set up Saul to be king.” (15:11)

Another contradiction. Or so it seems. God is immutable. He cannot change, or change His mind. God cannot ‘repent’ but since men do change, God seemingly must, and does, repent of individual actions with individuals.

God cannot change His mind about sin and unrighteousness, yet when we repent and are saved, God blesses and rewards the same sinner. There is no contradiction. God didn’t change. We did.

If anything, that PROVES God does not change. God hates the sin and loves the sinner, as He always has. God knew Saul would fail Him, but when Saul did, God had to change the way He dealt with him.

If not, then God really WOULD have changed His mind.

In the study of Scripture, a text without context is a pretext — that is to say, taken out of context, one can make the Bible say anything. “Judas went out and hung himself — thou do likewise.”

Two parts of verses out of context, and we can make the Bible appear to be advocating suicide!

King David was just about the most depraved sinner among all the Patriarchs of Scripture. David committed adultery with Bathsheeba, and then had her husband, Uriah, murdered so he could marry her.

Yet the Scriptures call David a man after God’s own heart. Does that mean God is a murdering adulterer? Or that He approves of murder or adultery? Clearly not. A contradiction? Only out of context.

When most people are caught in the act of sin, they get defensive; they get angry, attempt to justify themselves, or just outright lie and deny it. When David was confronted with his sin, he repented, confessed his sin, and sought God’s forgiveness. (2nd Samuel 12:13, 24:10)

In his Psalm of contrition, David writes, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight: that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou judgest.” (Psalm 51:1-4)

It is man’s heart that God looks at — in the context of man’s words or deeds.

One of the most often cited ‘contradictions’ by skeptics I’ve encountered is that of the superscription on the Cross.

Matthew 27:37: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”
Mark 15:26: “The King of the Jews.”
Luke 23:38: “This is the King of the Jews.”
John 19:19: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”

So we have four different Gospel writers, but only two inscriptions are virtually identical; Mark’s “The King of the Jews” and Luke’s “This is the King of the Jews.”

The other two, Matthew’s and John’s are similar to each other but different from Luke and Mark. A contradiction?

Read John 19:20 with me. “This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.”

So, how many inscriptions were there? Three — all in different languages. “What you called you?” is different than, “What is your name?” — but it means exactly the same thing — IN FRENCH.

So it depends on which translation of the inscription each Gospel writer used. Isn’t it interesting that between them, they managed to use all three?

The discrepancies in Scripture are only discrepancies in translation — they don’t exist in the original languages.

The ‘contradictions’ are not contradictions at all, but rather the result of sloppy scholarship on the part of the skeptic. The Bible remains the inspired word of God, fully inspired and full authoritative.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2nd Timothy 3:16-17)

There are many more reasons to believe than there are to disbelieve. We’ve detailed only six — there are plenty more.

But there is only ONE reason to disbelieve. Paul writes,
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind . . .” (Romans 1:28)

The dedicated skeptic doesn’t want to believe. God gave all men free will, so if he doesn’t want to believe, God isn’t going to make him.

Instead, God provided all the evidence necessary and says to us all, “Choose this day Whom you will serve.”

“But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)

Maranatha!

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Maryland Court Refuses to Allow Voters to Decide on Gender Identity Law

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

It looks like your folks in Maryland are stuck with law. You have my sympathies.

Baltimore residents have lost their battle against an ordinance protecting transgendered people.

Under the controversial “gender identity” law, a man would be allowed to walk into a women’s restroom or shower room claiming he believes himself to be a woman, essentially opening the door for rape or sexual molestation. In July a lower Montgomery County court agreed more than 900,000 petition signers had the right to see it on the ballot to choose whether to overturn it — but it was appealed.

“A group that supports rights for cross-dressing transsexuals came into court at the last minute and raised a number of technical objections, many of them quite far-fetched,” says Alliance Defense Fund attorney Jordan Lorence.

But the Maryland Court of Appeals apparently did not see the objections in that light, and ruled that the measure will not go on the ballot. Consequently, says Lorence, voters are “stuck” with the transgender discrimination ordinance. “And there’s nothing they can do about it unless they start all over again to gather signatures,” the attorney laments.

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“Why Do They Hate Sarah Palin So?” by Andrew Tallman

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

I assume it is unnecessary to answer the logically prior question of whether or not they hate Sarah Palin. The level of vitriol flung at her over the past week and a half by critics in every liberal outlet ranging from The New York Times to Air America is particularly awe-inspiring given that this is all the longer they’ve even known her name. Ordinarily, such hatred takes years to cultivate. The force and acceleration of their vehemence virtually demands psychoanalysis. Since this sport is in vogue, I’ll give my diagnostic skills a shot at the trophy.

Preface: There Is a Pathology

The natural first reaction of a Palin-hater to this column is to deny the hatred. They will say it’s her politics, her religion, or possibly the whiff of scandal some have managed to ladle upon her. But if they’re honest with themselves, they’ll have to admit three simple facts.

First, the reasons they give aren’t the reasons they hate. If they didn’t have these, they’d manufacture others. There’s an old story about a man asking to borrow his neighbor’s lawn mower and being told, “No, I’m making potato soup.” “What does that have to do with me borrowing your lawn mower?” the incredulous man replies. “Nothing, but if I don’t want to loan you my lawn mower, one excuse is just as good as another.” Likewise, Governor Palin is not hated because of whatever reasons they offer. These are afterthoughts to an animosity which is embarrassed to admit it was born prior to reason. Hence, refuting them will prove futile.

Second, even those who persist in asserting such reasons as their motive will have to admit that all of them put together still can’t justify the disproportionate vigor of their attacks upon her. To use an aging phrase, this is the politics of personal destruction; a nuclear response to what their own arguments admit is a merely conventional threat.

Third, no one can hate this deeply this quickly. Conservatives generally despise certain political figures such as Bill Clinton, Teddy Kennedy and John Paul Stevens. But it’s taken us years, sometimes decades to detest these people. Similarly for liberals, contempt only begins to describe their feelings toward George W. Bush, Rick Santorum, and Antonin Scalia. But, again, at least such a sentiment has developed over time. It took Sarah Palin less than a week to receive treatment these men have taken years to earn. Such an immediate mauling of someone’s character says far more about the predators than about their prey.

So, what explains this pathology? I have two mutually compatible theories.

Theory 1: The Cult of Personality

Barack Obama is the left’s messiah. Their hopes, their dreams and even their patriotism are at this point invested in him. He cannot be criticized. He cannot be joked about. And he most certainly cannot be mocked. All such response to him (perfectly normal with any other politician) is viewed as blasphemy rather than politics. Not only is the left salvifically invested in him, they secretly fear they have been too rash to the altar call. Calm reflection proves Barack Obama isn’t ready to be president yet, but who can resist the hope beyond hope that he’s more than just a golden voice reading a teleprompter?

So when little Sarah Palin comes along and castigates him with condescending satire, they react as any devastated schoolgirl with a crush would. Her speech stated every major flaw with his candidacy. Not just honestly, but with a Reagenesque comedic flair. And since their deepest fear is that everything she said about him is right, the only option to reconsidering their betrothal was to destroy her.

It’s pretty simple. If we disagree, you correct me. If I am silly, you ignore me. But if I articulate your own fears in attacking something you cherish irrationally, you excoriate me … as cover. As Robert Pirsig explained in his lovely novel on motorcycle maintenance, no one jumps up and down screaming that the sun will rise tomorrow. Highly emotional responses indicate fear and uncertainty, not the opposite.

Sarah Palin’s on-target reductio of Barack Obama turned their messiah into a joke, earning the very predictable treatment a heretic deserves. Disabusing people of a savored fantasy always does.

Theory 2: Her Non-Feminist Feminism

I used to marvel at the rudeness so often publicly shown to parents with many children. But then I saw how the very existence of such families exposes the guilt and self-doubt others feel about their own decisions to stop having children. The surest way to avoid dealing with these stifled concerns is to assault the character or intelligence of parents who dare to expose them with their large families.

So, too with Sarah Palin and the left. Her very life rebukes them.

She has five children, two of them after the age of 40. When her infant son was diagnosed with Down syndrome, she chose life. And when her own daughter was discovered pregnant, she helped her choose life, too. Without ever saying a word about being pro-life (to say it would have been superfluous), she demolished all the common arguments used in favor of abortion and family planning, totemic doctrines of the left.

But it’s more than just doctrine. It’s that so many people on the left have condoned abortions, helped others obtain abortions, or even had abortions themselves in the very same circumstances under which Sarah Palin chose life. Honest people are an affront to liars. Law-abiders are an affront to criminals. And the woman who has made pro-life “choices” is a stinging affront to modern feminism, which has spent decades trying to convince women that an unwanted pregnancy is like a disease and the unborn child something like a parasite.

They must demonize her because her choices so clearly condemn their own. Make no mistake, when your example disproves someone else’s deeply internalized rationalizations, they will try to destroy you. After all, the only other option would be to repent.

Conclusion

In “Beyond Good and Evil,” Nietzsche said, “Anyone who has looked deeply into the world may guess how much wisdom lies in the superficiality of men … let nobody doubt that whoever stands that much in need of the cult of surfaces must at some time have reached beneath them with disastrous results.” His critique of religion so perfectly fits probamaism that one is forced to conclude the latter is but a new flavor of the former.

There may be other pathologies at play here, but these explain both the left’s tsunamic response and why it struck last Thursday morning. It was the speech, stupid.

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Andrew Tallman is the host of The Andrew Tallman Show and a columnist. Andrew’s show is heard daily on KPXQ in Phoenix. Contact him at andrewtallman@kpxq1360.com.

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