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Some Disturbing Questions

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If anyone has answers to these questions for me, please let me know.

I’ve been thinking about this for years. I guess it’s time to figure out the answer to this question: Is it important for the Bible to be without error? If so, then how do we account for some of the other questions I will list below. If not, then how do we know which issues/doctrines ARE in error and which ones are not?

I will say up front that I WANT to believe that Jesus is who I have previously believed Him to be… the way, the truth, and the life. But more than that, I want to make sure that what I’m believing, what I’m basing my life upon, is TRUTH. And if parts of scripture can not stand up to examination or if it contradicts itself, then can it be considered Truth?

I’m asking these questions not to aggressively seek out errors—indeed, I hope to find that the scriptures are true—but to determine for myself these things: First: Can I still believe in all of scripture (and thus, Jesus) if there is real error to be found? Is it a house of cards? And second: If all of thes extra-Biblical devices are needed for a true and accurate reading of what is in a Bible, then how is the average person ever expected to arrive at a conclusion of truth? When the Bible seems to contradict itself, do we just gloss over that and presume that some else has figured out a reasonable apologetic? Do we presume that it’s because we don’t understand the nuances of Greek and Hebrew that the author intended? Do we say when such issues as slavery and the place of women in society are culturally addressed that ALL of scripture should be filtered through the lens of that culture as well?

If we as intelligent readers—though non-scholars of the Bible, languages, and culture—find these things that weigh heavy on our hearts and lead us more to doubt than to belief in inerrancy, what are we to do with that? In an area as important as our soul hangs in the balance, should we leave it up to others to determine for us how to reconcile these things? If a simple reading is not enough to explain these things which nag at us, should be giving up our jobs and becoming full time Bible scholars? (And it seems to me that even lifelong Bible scholars haven’t come into agreement on many issues of importance.)

I feel like I’m drowning in doubt. It bothers me that these hard thoughts and musings that I’ve had all my adult life are still unresolved and still nagging at me. Every time I try to take seriously applying scripture to my life, these questions/contradictions haunt me. Part of me just wants to believe that God is Love, Jesus is Lord, and the Bible has the answers about spiritual life. But a bigger, more persistent, part of me wants to pursue truth. And because of that, I will look at hard questions.

• If the Messiah was supposed to come from the line of David, and both Matthew 1 and Luke 3’s geneologies show the line coming through Joseph, how is Jesus in the line of David?
If Joseph had nothing to do with the flesh and blood of Jesus, then how can he make a Davidic claim? And if Jesus was actually the son of Joseph and, thus, in the Davidic line, then His birth was not from a virgin.

I realize that there is Biblical scholarship that goes on which expounds and explains lots of things that are confusing in scripture, but if the whole point of including the lineages in both books was to “prove” Jesus’ right to claim a Davidic throne to the reader, then it seems they (or the Holy Spirit) would have made things more clear, rather than more confusing. I mean, even Joseph’s father (if we are going to say that Joseph’s line should even be considered) is called Jacob in Matthew’s version and Heli in Luke’s version. What do we make of that?

What is required for eternal life?
I posed this question in an earlier blog, but basically asked it in terms of what is required to a “Christian?” One might give a simple answer of “faith in Jesus as your personal Savior.” I say simple because it omits repentance and works and being born again and baptism and following Jesus, and keeping the commandments and so on. (You will find all of these are answers to the questions in the Bible about how to obtain eternal life.) And then this answer even hangs on which “Jesus” one is referring to… must He be virgin born, second person of a trinity, bodily resurrected, etc.?

So as you can see, there is no simple answer. And one would think that scripture’s authors would have made this the most simple answer of all! Perhaps they themselves did not know the answer?

Where did evil/sin come from?
It seems there are two options:
1. If God created everything, as the Bible says (John 1:3), then God also created evil. Which raises another question… how and why does a perfectly good God generate evil?
1a. If God did create/generate evil, then He is not perfectly good.
1b. If God did NOT create evil, then something else did.
2. Something other than God can create, and the Bible is wrong when it says that God created everything.

How do we reconcile the God of the Old Testament with the God/Jesus of the New Testament?
Here’s where I just can’t grab hold of the “essence” of the Trinity. OT God and NT Jesus—if they have the same essence/spirit—do not approach people, the world, enemies, humility, war, or even the Jews in remotely the same way! And if God is supposed to be the same now and forever, how do we account for this drastic difference? We don’t let people get by that easily! Look at David Dukes in the 1980s… a former KKK leader who said he’d changed his ways and was running for office… no one believed him at all. There’s even a saying that the leopard doesn’t change his spots. If we don’t buy it with people, why are we so ready to do it with God, whom scripture defines as having “no shadow of turning.”

And on that note, the God of the OT actually “changed his mind”—or at the very least “thought better of it”—several times. Most notably in His planned destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (until Abraham intervened), His destruction of the Jews (until Moses intervened), etc. And what about what He did to Job?!? Poor Job… a pawn in God’s desire to “show Satan” something? Why was that necessary? Is God so insecure that He has to flaunt His power by destroying everything His most loyal subject loved, to prove it to Satan?!?!

(These have always really bothered me, but only for different details, not to throw a specific doctrine into dispute.)
Why do the gospels vary so in their recollection of what happened on Easter morning?
• As to who visits the tomb—John says Mary Magdalene; Mark says Mary Magdalene and the other Mary; and Matthew and Luke have these plus other women, both differing in the other women that they name.
• Luke says the tomb was open when they got there. Matthew says it was closed and tells how an earthquake and angel moved it away, an out-of-the-ordinary event that you’d think Luke might have mentioned!
• Who was at the tomb? Matthew says an angel. Mark says a young man. Luke says two men. John says two angels. And different authors have them inside the tomb, while other have them outside the tomb.
• In Matthew, Mary Magdalene recognized Jesus. In John, she did not.

Now like I said, these discrepancies do not necessarily cast suspicions on any important doctrine. What it does to is cast suspicion on the “eyewitness” accounts of events in scripture. First of all, the writers who report this were not even at the tomb, so what they are hearing is at least secondhand (if not more) accounts of the event. And if they can get this so out of alignment, what else is out of alignment because of faulty memories and hearsay?

And considering how long the books were written after these events supposedly took place, memory becomes less and less reliable.

I have to go now. I’m sure I’ll have more to write about later.


Written by blogicalinks

December 14, 2006 at 5:58 pm

Posted in Seeking

5 Responses

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  1. These are some tough questions and honestly put. Reading the Bible is a dicey proposition. It’s almost impossible to read it without hundreds of voices clamoring for interpretive priority. I like how you are giving yourself permission to ask questions and are resisting easy answers.

    Do you mind if I add you to my blogroll so that I can check back with you and see how you travel?


    January 11, 2007 at 8:57 am

  2. I’d like to try and share with you some thoughts on these questions as they are very similar to some of mine. The answer may be a bit longwinded though…


    January 20, 2007 at 4:04 pm

  3. […] were free from the influence of the culture of their times. (I have another post on here “Some Disturbing Questions” from December, so I will not write this all again. Feel free to see some specific reasons as […]

  4. Sorry for the delay and these are weighty Qs so i am somewhat ‘shooting from the hip’ here
    Is it important for the Bible to be without error?
    It is important that the bible be an honest account authentic and sincerely written by people who were personally involved (wherever possible) with the events that they narrate and who believed that what they were writing was the truth.
    If the Messiah was supposed to come from the line of David, and both Matthew 1 and Luke 3’s geneologies show the line coming through Joseph, how is Jesus in the line of David?
    In many third world countries, marriages take place within a somewhat closed circle of families who are interrelated to some extent. This serves to conserve the ownership of lands and livelihoods as much as possible. I think that both Mary and Joseph were Judeans and probably quite closely related in blood. The delineation of Joseph’s lineage therefore will largely parallel Mary’s own genealogy.
    What is required for eternal life?
    Following Jesus.
    Where did evil/sin come from?
    We are squarely responsible for bringing evil to this world. Further back, the bible hints at satan’s rebellion against God. God’s way is to allow freedom of choice and when we choose to go against God, we create and participate in evil.
    How do we reconcile the God of the Old Testament with the God/Jesus of the New Testament?
    The God of the OT is in many respects tha same God. Where there is a discrepancy I see the hand of politics as much as anything…
    Why do the gospels vary so in their recollection of what happened on Easter morning?
    Eyewitness accounts usually have this problem especially when the eyewitnesses have not ‘straightened out’ their stories by talking to each other. The so-called ‘synoptic problem’ (that runs throughout the gospels) is one of those really authenticating things about the NT.


    February 11, 2007 at 9:48 am

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