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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Answering Bible Difficulties

Don Stewart :: What Are the Various Ways in Which Believers Approach Difficulties in Scripture?

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Question 11

What Are the Various Ways in Which Believers Approach Difficulties in Scripture?

All Bible believers admit that there are difficulties in Scripture. No one doubts this. However, not all Christians agree on how these difficulties should be approached. Generally speaking, there are five basic approaches to the subject.

  • We can summarize these various positions as follows:
  • Option 1: There Should Be an Attempt to Harmonize All Difficulties in Scripture Because There Are No Errors

    There is the position that all difficulties have an answer, and it is the responsibility of the believer to try to discover that answer, and harmonize the difficulty. It is the duty of believers to demonstrate that the Scriptures are what they claim to be; the error-free Word of God. Thus, each difficulty should be faced and answered.

  • Option 2: Inerrancy Should Be Assumed, but It Is Not Necessary to Try to Harmonize Difficulties

    Others who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible do not feel it is necessary for the believer to attempt to harmonize difficulties. There is so much evidence from the testimony of Scripture, as to its divine authority and inerrancy, that it is needless to spend time and energy harmonizing difficulties. The message of Scripture should be proclaimed, and the Bible should be preached and taught as being God’s inerrant Word. This is where the believer should place his or her effort.

  • Option 3: Proclaim the Word and Answer Difficulties

    This option is a balance between options one and two. The first duty of believers is to proclaim God’s Word, but when difficulties arise they should be dealt with; not merely ignored.

  • Option 4: Errors Exist in Scripture and Should Be Admitted

    There are some Christians who believe the difficulties in Scripture cannot be harmonized because they are actual errors. They do not believe there is any way these difficulties can be honestly harmonized. Consequently, they see errors as part of the Bible but do not think it really makes any difference.

  • Option 5: There Are Errors: in Scripture but with the Sources, Not the Writers

    A small minority of believers claim that some of the difficulties in Scripture are not the result of an error on the part of the biblical author, but rather upon the source the author used. Such things as the genealogies, which were matters of public record, were infallibly reproduced by the writers of Scripture. However, these sources were not error free. So what we have is an infallible reproduction of a source that contained errors.

What Is the Best Answer?

These are the various ways in which believers have faced Bible difficulties. What, therefore, is the best answer?

The best answer seems to be the third option. The Bible is indeed without error and Christians should spend their time proclaiming the truth of the message. However, difficulties should be faced, not ignored, and when necessary, harmonization of these difficulties should be done. There is no reason whatsoever to hold the fourth or fifth option that assumes the Bible contains errors. God’s Word is without any type of error or contradiction.

Summary - Question 11
What Are the Various Ways in Which Believers Approach Difficulties in Scripture?

The fact that the Bible contains difficulties has led Christians to respond to them in various ways. Some feel it is the duty of the believer to try to harmonize all difficulties. Others do not believe this is necessary. Scripture clearly teaches inerrancy and consequently, the believer should not be that concerned with certain difficulties that seem to be errors. Another view sees the truth as being a combination of options one and two. The duty of the believer is first and foremost to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ and assume the Bible is without errors in doing so. However, when difficulties arise, they should be faced and answered, not ignored. This seems to be the best answer to the problem.

Some feel there are errors in Scripture, and these errors should be admitted; but that the errors do not really matter. Finally, a small minority of Christians contend the errors are in the sources the writers used, not with the writers themselves. Thus, the writers infallibly reproduced the errors found in their sources. The fourth and fifth options are not necessary for believers to embrace. God’s Word does not make mistakes.

Why Should the Subject of Bible Difficulties Be Discussed? ← Prior Section
What Type of Difficulties Do We Find in Scripture? Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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