Well-known atheist Sam Harris, a man Douglas Wilson calls an “indignation impresario”, is the author of Letter to a Christian Nation and founder of Project Reason, an organization seeking to “encourage critical thinking and erode the influence of dogmatism, superstition, and bigotry in our world.” Or, just cross out those last seven words and write “Christianity”.
Project Reason has assembled 439 contradictions in Scripture, complete with a colorful red grid to keep the reader entertained. Actually, there are only 437, as a couple contradictions are listed twice—but we all know that 439 looks much more insurmountable than 437.
Many of these apparent flaws deal with numbers and statistics in the Old Testament or questions about the nature of God that do not take into account context, genre, and imagery. That is, Harris is the kind that would accuse sportscaster Marv Alberts of lying when he shouts “Lebron James is on fire”, refusing to believe that Marvelous was speaking more of Lebron’s three-point prowess and less of his proclivity to smolder.
Nonetheless, there are a number of legitimate questions that do cause some Christians to squirm. “Who hardened Pharaoh’s heart?” “Who tempted David to tempt Israel?” “Is it OK to take oaths?”
The Reason Project should at least be commended for providing ample Scripture references with their objections. Paul said the Bereans were noble for eagerly “examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11). In this series of blog posts, we’ll endeavor to be like the Bereans by searching the Scriptures in order to answer a handful of “contradictions” that carry the most weight.
#359 | Is all Scripture inspired by God?
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16)
To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. (1 Cor. 7:12)
Now concerning the betrothed, I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. (1 Cor. 7:25)
Jesus spoke about divorce before Paul began writing his epistles (Matthew 5; 19; Mark 10; Luke 16). Scripture’s rule of thumb is that spouses should not divorce, and Jesus confirmed this in Matthew 5:32, which is why Paul could quote this verse in 1 Corinthians 7:10. “To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband.” That’s line is right from the Master’s mouth.
Jesus, however, was speaking to a Jewish crowd married to Jewish spouses with Jewish beliefs. Some of them went to Deuteronomy 24 in hopes of finding a loophole out of their marriage covenants and Jesus was the master of closing loopholes. So while Jesus did speak about divorce, he didn’t address everything about divorce. What happens if William’s wife Barb loves her wedding ring as much as she did twenty-five years ago but refuses to join Bill or his Jesus Freak friends at 10th Presbyterian Church? Jesus never addressed that matter, so Paul must say “I, not the Lord”—though everything Paul said was God-breathed and escorted with apostolic authority (Gal. 1:12; 1 Thess. 2:13). He was one of those “holy men” who spoke as they were moved along by the Holy Spirit (2 Pt. 1:21).
Verse 25 is the same idea. What happens if Khadija is having misgiving about tying the knot with Abu, seeing how dangerous it is to be a Christian these days? People like to debate the identity of the “betrothed” or “virgin” in verse 25, but where there is no dispute is that Jesus never addressed this specific issue. Thus, Paul can say: “I have no command from the Lord” (v. 25).