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Contradictions in the Bible

Question time last week, from Isaiah 46:

"How can it say in v9:

'Remember the former things, those of long ago'

when it said in chapter 43 v18:

'Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past'?"

Great question. The old chestnut, 'The Bible is full of contradictions' is normally made by people who've never read it. (I generally reply to that, 'Can you show me one so we can talk about it?') But here's one staring us in the face!

The question of contradictions in the Bible cuts deep: if it has any contradictions, it is undermined. It cannot be the word of God; it's only the word of man. On the other hand, if the unity of the Bible can be seen, it is a huge testimony to its status as the word of God - and therefore must be taken more seriously than anything else in the world.

What about this example, then? I think the answer is fairly simple, after a little thought, and boils down to context. In chapter 43, God is appealing to people trapped in the past, always looking over their shoulder at the great things God used to do. He's saying, 'Don't get stuck there! I'm still alive and well! You think I'm just history? Well then, watch! - Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past: see what I'm doing now.'

In chapter 46, God's proving that other gods are false. And one point he makes to prove it is the point from history: which other god, through history, has foretold what he will do and done it? Which other god has shown its power throughout all those generations? 'Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am god, and there is none like me.'

All the time, in normal conversation, we say things that would be contradictory taken out of context. That's normal. Though people often do contradict themselves - because we're lying, or exaggerating, or forgetful, or fickle.

One of the things that most encourages me to keep believing the Bible is the word of God is that the more I read it, the more the 'contradictions' go away. But with any work of man, the more you read/watch it, the more contradictions you find. It's good that the Bible is not simple. It makes us think. It raised questions to us that often take years for us to get answers to. But it all adds up. Keep reading, and discussing it together, and you'll see!