Christians often claim that biblical contradictions are solved if taken in context.
Here is an example of how I might respond if you feel like being one of the many who regularly tell me this!
from Steve F
Sun, Sep 26, 2010 at 8:28 PM
Why do you also believe that if you take the Bible out of context, no one will be the wiser? You have practiced taking the Bible out of context with almost (I have not read everything in your blog yet) every Bible reference you use. Now for those of us who know how ineffective an argument that is, you have completely wasted your time and effort.
For those who do not know what the Bible says in its full context, you have fooled most people into thinking the Bible is too stupid to be in existence. Really? The Bible has been in existence for over 4,000 years. Untruth, unworthiness, is completely without merit, worth or value, nor substance in anything, whether it's music, literature, art, Etc. It evaporates and leaves no hint of its existence within a matter of several years. Just how many willfully dishonest men and women have sat down to disprove the Bible in those thousands of years of time? Do you actually think what you have said and done here are original thoughts, not voiced by others? I do not think you do. But, you just want to stick your oar in too. Yet, as with all the others, your oar got caught, stuck in the truth, which does not let go until it finally exposes such dishonesty as you exhibit here as it has always done for millennia!
And what of all those people's expressions yours mirror so exactly, those as you, who would exhibit the desire to ignore and reject your Creator God, as a "logical" rationale base so that you think you are excused to do your own thing? Where are those people today? And yes, where are their writings in which they complained so vehemently about how false God's word is. Where are they today? They do not exist to any measurable degree, except in the hearts of fallen, unrepentant people, selfish people who put themselves before other people and before the God Who created them. Your outburst against the Bible can be compared to the proverbial tempest in a teapot, the unnoticed passing of gas effect upon the universe from a single person. When you are competing with the universal truth of the Lord God Almighty, you compete against One Who never loses. Because in God's timing, His Truth raises her beautiful head up to expose dishonesty in all of its faulty facets, and brings down the "Mighty Man" the liar, in all of his weakness and dishonesty. God will eventually deal with your pride and your arrogance against Him and strip you bare, "Oh man of dust...". Look it up, it's in the Bible. The Bible is so well known and accepted for its truth, that you can even Google it, even in this slick, modern, forward thinking age! Just think of it, the Bible in Google. Will anyone be able to Google the drivel of lies you have produced today now seen in Google, 5 years after you go to your reward? Think about it, oh man of dust, you are just like the rest of us, dust, with but one difference, I know where I am going, you do not know anything about where you are going, yet.
I would direct you to an honest man of letters, C.S. Lewis, past professor of Oxford and Cambridge Universities, one of the recognized and greatest men of letters of the 20th Century, and an avowed atheist. He set out to disprove the "myths", he called them, of the Bible. Like a diligent accountant, hardly able to wait to be able to stack up all those "contradictions" of the Bible on the debit side of the ledger which he knew were there in the Bible just waiting for him to find, and just knowing there would be few if any truths to stick to the credit side for the Bible on his ledger.
He was fortunate, he found out truth this side of the veil of death, there was nothing in the Bible after a 5 year search, to put into the debit column, but punctuation, spelling, and syntax errors that the scribes had made, but not God, Who is perfect. He admitted that he was on the horns of a dilemma. If he denied the truth, he would be welcomed to the largest club in the world, the Hypocrites and Liars Club. If he acted upon what he knew now was true, found out by his own mind and hand, he would have to become a Christian, and face all the terrible things he had said about God, the Bible and Christians. At the beginning, I told you he was an honest man, although an atheist. He refused to lie and deceive himself. So he became a Christian. He is long physically dead, but he knew where he was going. You have yet to discover where you are going, although you have searched the Bible for its nonexistent flaws, you have yet to search it for the truth it contains about you, and where you will be going as a believer and servant of Christ (home with Christ forever), nor where you will be going as one who rejects the One Who created you (hellfire - forever).
So the choice is quite clearly yours. Continue to deceive yourself as hypocrites and liars do, or open yourself up wide to the truth where only truth is found, the Holy Scriptures of God, and the saving grace of Jesus Christ. NOW PUT THOSE BITS AND PIECES YOU TORE ASUNDER FROM THE BIBLE'S TEXT AND PUT IT ALL BACK TOGETHER IN CONTEXT, AND THE TRUTH WILL BE OBVIOUS TO YOU AS THE NOSE ON YOUR FACE.
I am praying for you to do this.
from Steve Locks
to Steve F
date Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 9:52 PM
subject Re: CONTEXT
Yes you are right, it is important to take passages in context whether from the bible or any text. If you read a little further in my site you will see that I discuss this, so it is rather ironic that you took my snippets out of context and took me for such a buffoon!
Anyway, have a look at the first sentence in the page you criticise - i.e.:
A more interesting reflection than merely contrasting verses is given at Gospel Contradictions
Also see where I have discussed the context at some length, both available from http://sites.google.com/site/leavingxtianity/babble i.e.
There you will see examples of where Christians have tried to explain context and where I have admitted error or pointed out the deeper subtleties or shown the deep trouble with some of these passages. Can you supply the contexts that I ask for at http://sites.google.com/site/leavingxtianity/feedback/amanyahu ?
There are a number of other links at http://sites.google.com/site/leavingxtianity/babble where you can see that I and other critics are well versed in Christian apologetics and the attempts to defuse these verses. Have you tried explaining the contexts you think reconcile these verses on errancy discussion forums? I spent a number of years following such discussions and though impressively ingenious at times the Christians did a very bad job.
You mentioned C.S. Lewis - are you aware of the study I've done on people who convert to views they were opposed to and well read up on arguments against? See:
Asymmetry of Conversion My investigation into the asymmetry between the large number of well-churched Christians who leave Christianity versus the scarcity of those educated in the problems of Christianity who later become Christians.
I've read all of C.S. Lewis's religious writings. Do you know the passage where C.S. Lewis converts to Christianity in "Surprised by Joy?" After a complex argument which convinced Lewis of general theism he continues on to Christian belief with this non-apologetic describing an "epiphany" during a bus journey: "When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did. Yet I had not exactly spent the journey in thought." Quite so. Indeed when I was a Christian I lent "surprised by Joy" to an atheist friend with the hope of influencing him. My friend pointed out that although he was intrigued but unsatisfied by Lewis's complex arguments for theism, his reasons for becoming a Christian were pathetic. Indeed throughout his writings virtually nothing of the arguments or evidences I found in philosophy, psychology, history, biblical criticism and comparative religion that convinced me that Christianity is false were mentioned, let alone addressed [ref]. Lewis' main arguments are ones on the foundation of an innate moral sense which largely suffer from the fallacy of the Euthyphro dilemma [ref.]. This is the worst part though - that his arguments have some serious logical flaws. One can see just how poor his arguments are at "Mere Assertions" [ref.] and Review of "Mere Christianity" [ref].
When Christians ask for the bible to be taken "in context" what is the appropriate context? Should context be the understanding and interpretation of the person who is reading a text? Should it stop at a particular translation of the bible? Should it stop at the interpretation of a particular church or denomination? Should it include the culture of the time? Shouldn't context also include history, human psychology, comparative religion and everything we know about science etc. etc.? When Christians really put the bible in context they frequently become ex-Christians!
If you are impressed by people who change their beliefs then in contrast to C.S. Lewis's weak rationale for conversion to Christianity, what do you think of all the thousands of Priests, apologists, missionaries and other Christians available through my site who were much better versed than you probably are and were used to handling "biblical contradictions" and yet came to the conclusion that Christianity is a mistaken view of the world after much study in order to be a better exponent of and evangelist for Christianity? Far from your belief that looking for context brings people to Christianity, it is usually the road to deconversion. Seehttp://sites.google.com/site/leavingxtianity/home#links
Other writings of mine where I have discussed points in your email are: