Concerning the Synoptic Gospels, sometimes there’s clear difference in the story that shows similar events; why?
If you have not read Stories Versus Truth, you may want to read that before reading this.
Don’t forget where you’re going. You get past the questions/attacks so you can proclaim the Gospel. It’s the proclamation of the Gospel, not argumentation, that transforms minds. See Give Them the Gospel.
You may hear a question about the Synoptic Gospels like the following: “Sometimes there’s clear difference in the story that shows similar events; why?”
How to Handle This Question
(The parts in quotes are just examples of what you might say or ask.)
Don’t let Satan turn the discussion into a contest. Contests have winners and losers and no one likes to be a loser. Discuss without turning the other person into a loser or turning yourself into the winner. It is best to ask them a few questions first and to listen to their answers. Be careful of your tone that you are not shutting down the conversation. “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” Proverbs 18:13
- “Have you heard about a specific contradiction?”
- “Tell me about the contradictions that you know about?”
- “What is your understanding of what a contradiction is?”
- (if you can get to a specific supposed contradiction, you might be able to answer in a more specific way than the answer given here. You may have to do some research and you may have to pray before you fully understand. Most supposed contradictions are quite easily explained, since they are obviously not contradictions. And most of these supposed contradictions have been answered at some time by someone. Many books and web pages are available to give these answers.)
Let them know you understand. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
- “I can understand how you might ask this.”
- “I actually can relate to how you feel.”
- “I’m hearing what you are saying, and I think I understand.”
Relate to them. “A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.” Proverbs 18:19 “A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue.” Proverbs 11:12
- “When I first heard this question, it seemed to challenge what I know to be true.
- “I used to feel the same way.”
- “At first glance, this gives the appearance of being a problem.”
- “This is a valid question, and one that I have gone to God about.”
- “Would you like to hear why I believe that the perceived contradictions in the Bible are not really contradictions but rather paradoxes?”
Tell them what God has shown to you
- “As I was seeking the will of God on this matter, He showed me that there is a huge difference between a contradiction and a paradox. I have seen that many of those who are antagonistic toward the good news about Jesus are able to accept contradictions and find rescuing mechanisms for such things as Evolutionism and yet they take a paradox, something that is simply not yet understood about the Bible, and frame it in their mind as if it were a contradiction. If someone has tried to challenge your faith with these, then they are misusing the logical law of non-contradiction. In fact, they are saying that differences are contradictions. Differences are not contradictions. A contradiction exists only when two statements are mutually exclusive. For instance, though you cannot wear only red and wear only green at the same time, you can wear red and green at the same time. Though you cannot stand up and sit down at the same time, you can stand up and sit down at the same event but at different times. For a contradiction to occur, no explanation of the text could be possible that would not result in contradiction. You could listen to an unbeliever’s speech and make some suppositions and claim that the unbeliever was lying. That is what is called, “being judgmental.” Have you ever been accused of lying because someone misinterpreted what you said? The claims of contradictions in Scripture are of this nature. Sometimes, when we, as Christians,first hear the claim, it seems valid. However, with a little bit of thought, we realize that the claim is false. “
- “The reason that we believe that the Bible is the Word of God and that it is without error or contradiction is based in personal revelation. God shows us. Everyone recognizes the limits of raw human reasoning (the reasoning of the human mind without the Intelligence of the Creator flowing through the human mind) and observation, yet we place way too much emphasis on these weaknesses. For every person, God is speaking to us perpetually. 1 Peter 1:23 tells us that we have been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the utterance of God, which lives and abides to the eon. It is this utterance on which faith is based. Our faith is NOT based on nothing at all. Taking Roman 10:17 as it is written in the original language, it says: So then supernatural belief comes by hearing, and hearing by the utterance of God. Jesus told Satan that man shall not live by bread alone but by every utterance that proceeds from the mouth of the Father. How silly if we rationalize a solution that goes contrary to what God Himself is telling us. And if we want to do God’s will, we will be able to know the difference between that which comes from God and that which comes from Satan. There are, in the final analysis, only two ultimate sources of ideas, thoughts, and actions.”
It is then good to ask an open followup question (not a “yes” or “no” question) to allow them to process what you have said.
- “How do you see this as applying to your life?”
- “What are your thoughts?”
- “Where do you see this as different from your point/question?”