Yesterday I inserted myself into a conversation between Lisa Robinson and Scott Lencke on Twitter concerning apparent contradictions/discrepancies in the Bible and the doctrine of inerrancy. It’s a hefty subject and Twitter doesn’t afford one the space to say all that they’d like, so I’m gonna share one my issues with the way discussions like this are generally carried out.
Scott’s main point of contention was that the Bible is a “library” in that it is a collection of books, so we shouldn’t be surprised or bothered when we find contradictions. Each author has his own thing to say and his own way of saying it. Scott says that he’s happy with contradictions/tensions because it means that he doesn’t have to ”try & reconcile everything. [He] can freely, but not blindly, accept Scripture.”
That sounds nice and open and honest (I’ll leave the “blindly” part alone, which sounded a little condescending), but it also strikes me as a bit lazy, which I’ll explain below, and also somewhat humanistic in the sense that it focuses on the many human authors and doesn’t account for the one divine author. When I jumped into the conversation my point was that talking about contradictions in Scripture takes their existence for granted. Lisa brought up Article XIV of the Chicago Statement:
We affirm the unity and internal consistency of Scripture.
We deny that alleged errors and discrepancies that have not yet been resolved vitiate the truth claims of the Bible.
Scott said he didn’t like this point, presumably because it starts with the presupposition of inerrancy, and then seeks to reconcile apparent contradictions and discrepancies according to the understanding that Scripture is the word of God, and since God cannot err, neither can his word. But taking apparent contradictions as actual contradictions without at least trying to reconcile the discrepancies is to operate according to the same basic kind of presupposition, namely that Scripture is the words of different men, and since men can and do disagree, so can their words.
I don’t really care if one holds to inerrancy or not; but I’d like to see either position argued for. Simply assuming the existence of actual contradictions because some things seem contradictory is lazy. Not trying to reconcile apparent contradictions because the Bible has a bunch of human authors who can disagree if they want is lazy too. Take the time to see if there is a way to reconcile the problem and then draw your conclusion. If there’s not then what have you lost? If there is then you’ve gained all the more.