This is another edited post, originally birthed on a thread at The Beautiful Heresy. It is in response to a newcomer and their questions about UR and the discrepancies and inconsistencies we find in the Bible. Go to any skeptics/atheist site and you will find lists of them. Trying to reconcile them literally will lead to twisting scriptures or ignoring scriptures or explaining them away because everything really cannot be made to fit. This is such an important issue in how we see God. If we get him wrong in the OT then nothing really fits after that. My prayer is that everyone seeks his leading with an open mind and open spirit....
A long time ago on the Tentmaker forum someone posted (about scripture) that you can read the Bible in the King James, the NIV, the Concordant….but unless you read it in the spirit, you’ll never hear Abba speak. I always remembered that. It is alarming and scary to read about the tamperings, the missing chapters, the JPED theory of the OT etc. etc. etc. You can go to any atheist site and find hundreds of discrepancies pointed out as proof that the Bible is worthless. I so disagree, but truly, Jesus did not promise that he would send us a book, leather bound with 66 chapters to lead us into all truth. He promised us the Holy Spirit…the comforter…..and through his guidance and leading he will (eventually) lead us all into all truth. I also heard (or read…can’t remember) someone say that Jesus is the Living Word of God. The Bible is the written word of God. Since we know that Jesus was fully man and fully God (so that there were aspects of humanity in his Living Word) so also we should expect to find aspects of humanity in the written word.
I don’t for one moment believe that all the atrocities in the OT were ordered by God. I believe he was ultimately responsible, because, truly, the buck stops with God but he didn’t whisper in Joshua’s ear….”hey….see Jericho over there…..this is what I want you to do”. There are several theories about the who and the why in the OT….but it is too broad of a topic to go into in this post. (There are several articles on this blog about that very topic. Most of them are under the tags of OT/Sacrifice/Girard)
I find those who insist that scripture is inerrant, still discount, dismiss or explain away verses that do not fit their theology. They might not admit they do…but it seems apparent to me. I can tell you my method. I filter everything through Jesus, the image of the invisible God, if you’ve seen the father, you’ve seen me. We have four gospels that tell virtually the same story….with minor variations. A pretty good picture of how Jesus thinks, reacts and interacts. I think we can clearly see, in the words of the Gospels, what his character and nature is like...and NOT like. (which is the exact representation of God’s character and nature)
His behavior does not fluctuate wildly…from forgiving and loving to wrath filled ragings. He seems to declare that people have some responsibility in all of this and calls for their repentance. He seems pretty up front and honest, in spite of the fact that he often speaks in parables. He told his disciples that there were many things he longed to tell them but they were not ready (could not bear them) so that seems a good reason he disguised much for the masses. Since Jesus' character never seemed to falter or change….and since he is God….and since God never changes, the only option that makes sense to me is that the stuff in the OT that does not fit with what I see of Jesus…just is not God.
Why the discrepancies? I’m not sure. I’m inclined to think that if scripture could be totally reconciled with itself we would be more inclined to worship the book. I think some people worship the book now. And I think he wants us to come to him. He wants a relationship with us….not just a Bible Study session. On Tentmaker someone said recently that we sometimes forget that the “author” of the book is right here with us….yet we ignore his presence sometimes and “read the book.” She wondered if he was with us in the flesh sitting there beside us…if we would ignore him and read the book. I thought that was a gem. How true it is.
That reminds me of the words of Jesus himself when he said in John 5:39-40.
"You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you'll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren't willing to receive from me the life you say you want.