OrthodoxChristianity.net
November 23, 2014, 06:02:38 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: Reminder: No political discussions in the public fora.  If you do not have access to the private Politics Forum, please send a PM to Fr. George.
 
   Home   Help Calendar Contact Treasury Tags Login Register  
Pages: 1   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Resolving Apparent Biblical Contradictions  (Read 1207 times) Average Rating: 0
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
Justin Kissel
Formerly Asteriktos
Protospatharios
****************
Offline Offline

Posts: 30,178


that is not the teaching of...


« on: October 28, 2010, 11:52:11 AM »

Thoughts would be appreciated on the following examples of what seem to be contradictions in what the Scripture teaches…

1. Can God be seen? The Bible claims that "No man hath seen God at any time," (Jn. 1:18). Yet in Exodus God says: "And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen." (Ex. 33:22-23) So can part of God be seen then, as this verse seems to indicate? Or perhaps it is only the face that cannot be seen, as God said: "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live" (Ex. 33:20). Yet the same chapter in Exodus says: "And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend." (Ex. 33:11)  Of course you could say that Christians have seen God--in Jesus Christ, but that doesn’t really resolve the problem in the verses mentioned (unless you are going to claim that Moses saw Jesus Christ in Exodus).

2. Does God Change his mind?  The Bible speaks of God as being unchanging (Num. 23:19; Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8; etc.), and traditional Christian theology says that God doesn’t change his mind (after all, why would an omniscient God need to change his mind?) However, there are other passages in the Bible which seem to indicate that God does change his mind, such as:

“And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.” - Jon. 3:10

“And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” - Gen. 6:6-7

“And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.” - Ex. 32:14

Some Christians say that this is merely anthropomorphic language, not to be taken in a woodenly literal way. Let‘s say that‘s accepted for the moment: what then is the point that the authors are trying to get across with such language? If God cannot actually change his mind or make a mistake, then what message are such passages trying to convey?
Logged
coptic orthodox boy
Elder
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 448


« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2010, 12:02:46 PM »

If Christ opened the gates of heaven and if no one was able to enter the gates before his death and resurrection, where did god take Enoch and Elijah (this one always gave me trouble)?
Logged
tomowapig
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: Christian (struggling)
Posts: 51


« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2010, 12:39:23 PM »

Wow!  Great questions!!  Being singularly unqualified to answer them, however, I will watch this thread carefully to see what emerges.
Logged
Papist
Patriarch of Pontification
Toumarches
************
Offline Offline

Faith: Catholic
Jurisdiction: Byzantine
Posts: 12,359


Praying for the Christians in Iraq


« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2010, 12:41:59 PM »

Asteriktos,
I PMed you since I am not allowed to respond to these question in the "Faith Issues" sub-forum.
Logged

You are right. I apologize for having sacked Constantinople. I really need to stop doing that.
Papist
Patriarch of Pontification
Toumarches
************
Offline Offline

Faith: Catholic
Jurisdiction: Byzantine
Posts: 12,359


Praying for the Christians in Iraq


« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2010, 12:42:24 PM »

If Christ opened the gates of heaven and if no one was able to enter the gates before his death and resurrection, where did god take Enoch and Elijah (this one always gave me trouble)?

Limbo?  Wink I Kid! I Kid!
Logged

You are right. I apologize for having sacked Constantinople. I really need to stop doing that.
JLatimer
OC.net guru
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: ROCOR
Posts: 1,202



« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2010, 12:52:03 PM »

If Christ opened the gates of heaven and if no one was able to enter the gates before his death and resurrection, where did god take Enoch and Elijah (this one always gave me trouble)?

Limbo?  Wink I Kid! I Kid!
LOL
Logged

1 Samuel 25:22 (KJV)
So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.
Justin Kissel
Formerly Asteriktos
Protospatharios
****************
Offline Offline

Posts: 30,178


that is not the teaching of...


« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2010, 01:21:37 PM »

Asteriktos,
I PMed you since I am not allowed to respond to these question in the "Faith Issues" sub-forum.

I'm not sure why this is...? I didn't see anything in your PM (thanks, btw) that an Orthodox Christian couldn't have said...
Logged
ialmisry
There's nothing John of Damascus can't answer
Warned
Hypatos
*****************
Offline Offline

Faith: جامعي Arab confesssing the Orthodox Faith of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church
Jurisdiction: Antioch (for now), but my heart belongs to Alexandria
Posts: 37,963



« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2010, 01:26:50 PM »

Thoughts would be appreciated on the following examples of what seem to be contradictions in what the Scripture teaches…

1. Can God be seen? The Bible claims that "No man hath seen God at any time," (Jn. 1:18). Yet in Exodus God says: "And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen." (Ex. 33:22-23) So can part of God be seen then, as this verse seems to indicate? Or perhaps it is only the face that cannot be seen, as God said: "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live" (Ex. 33:20). Yet the same chapter in Exodus says: "And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend." (Ex. 33:11)  Of course you could say that Christians have seen God--in Jesus Christ, but that doesn’t really resolve the problem in the verses mentioned (unless you are going to claim that Moses saw Jesus Christ in Exodus).

Moses saw Him in His Energies and not His Essence. Of course, Christ saw, actually sees, God in His Essence.

Quote
2. Does God Change his mind?  The Bible speaks of God as being unchanging (Num. 23:19; Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8; etc.), and traditional Christian theology says that God doesn’t change his mind (after all, why would an omniscient God need to change his mind?) However, there are other passages in the Bible which seem to indicate that God does change his mind, such as:

“And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.” - Jon. 3:10

“And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” - Gen. 6:6-7

“And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.” - Ex. 32:14

Some Christians say that this is merely anthropomorphic language, not to be taken in a woodenly literal way. Let‘s say that‘s accepted for the moment: what then is the point that the authors are trying to get across with such language? If God cannot actually change his mind or make a mistake, then what message are such passages trying to convey?

Quote
And what wonder is it if those in Christ who were entrusted with such a duty by God, appointed those [ministers] before mentioned, when the blessed Moses also, a faithful servant in all his house, noted down in the sacred books all the injunctions which were given him, and when the other prophets also followed him, bearing witness with one consent to the ordinances which he had appointed? For, when rivalry arose concerning the priesthood, and the tribes were contending among themselves as to which of them should be adorned with that glorious title, he commanded the twelve princes of the tribes to bring him their rods, each one being inscribed with the name of the tribe. And he took them and bound them [together], and sealed them with the rings of the princes of the tribes, and laid them up in the tabernacle of witness on the table of God. And having shut the doors of the tabernacle, he sealed the keys, as he had done the rods, and said to them, Men and brethren, the tribe whose rod shall blossom has God chosen to fulfil the office of the priesthood, and to minister unto Him. And when the morning had come, he assembled all Israel, six hundred thousand men, and showed the seals to the princes of the tribes, and opened the tabernacle of witness, and brought forth the rods. And the rod of Aaron was found not only to have blossomed, but to bear fruit upon it. What think ye, beloved? Did not Moses know beforehand that this would happen? Undoubtedly he knew; but he acted thus, that there might be no sedition in Israel, and that the name of the true and only God might be glorified; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
St. Clement-I Clement 43

To your specific instances, Gen. tells the "once-saved-always-saved" crowd that yes, if you turn from Him He can and will turn from you. Ex., on the other hand, tells those who despair of their sins that the Lord's Hand is not shortened that He cannot save and He is ever ready to turn a slap into a pat on the head.
Logged

Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth
Papist
Patriarch of Pontification
Toumarches
************
Offline Offline

Faith: Catholic
Jurisdiction: Byzantine
Posts: 12,359


Praying for the Christians in Iraq


« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2010, 01:57:43 PM »

Asteriktos,
I PMed you since I am not allowed to respond to these question in the "Faith Issues" sub-forum.

I'm not sure why this is...? I didn't see anything in your PM (thanks, btw) that an Orthodox Christian couldn't have said...
You're welcome.
Logged

You are right. I apologize for having sacked Constantinople. I really need to stop doing that.
Ortho_cat
Protokentarchos
*********
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: AOCA-DWMA
Posts: 5,392



« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2010, 02:01:32 PM »

Asteriktos,
I PMed you since I am not allowed to respond to these question in the "Faith Issues" sub-forum.

I'm not sure why this is...? I didn't see anything in your PM (thanks, btw) that an Orthodox Christian couldn't have said...

But then again, he isn't an Orthodox Christian... Wink
Logged
Ortho_cat
Protokentarchos
*********
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: AOCA-DWMA
Posts: 5,392



« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2010, 02:03:38 PM »

These types of questions used to bother me. Now, not so much. If I focus on the deeper spiritual meaning of the passage instead of the literal straight-forward meaning, then the contradictions tend to fade away (or lose their significance).'

I forgot who the saint was at the moment, but he suggested that God interjected specific passages into the scriptures (contradictions being one of them) so as to point us away from the literal interpretation when he wanted us to look deeper.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2010, 02:08:00 PM by Ortho_cat » Logged
Ortho_cat
Protokentarchos
*********
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: AOCA-DWMA
Posts: 5,392



« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2010, 02:12:44 PM »


Some Christians say that this is merely anthropomorphic language, not to be taken in a woodenly literal way. Let‘s say that‘s accepted for the moment: what then is the point that the authors are trying to get across with such language? If God cannot actually change his mind or make a mistake, then what message are such passages trying to convey?

In this situation, I would say that the writers of the scripture were human, and as such interpret God's actions through human eyes and emotions. Not to mention, the OT writers had an incomplete picture of who God has revealed himself to be (i.e. they did the best with what they had).

Also, I believe that this dilemma of 'contradictions' is a relatively new phenomena (i.e. scholastic era on). The Jews of old and early Greeks used to frequently re-interpret (bring fresh meaning to) the scriptures whenever they would get together to read them. Things like contradictions simply didn't concern them; they were focused on drawing the deeper meaning out of the text so that they could relate it to their lives.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2010, 02:22:48 PM by Ortho_cat » Logged
coptic orthodox boy
Elder
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 448


« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2010, 07:05:51 PM »


Some Christians say that this is merely anthropomorphic language, not to be taken in a woodenly literal way. Let‘s say that‘s accepted for the moment: what then is the point that the authors are trying to get across with such language? If God cannot actually change his mind or make a mistake, then what message are such passages trying to convey?

In this situation, I would say that the writers of the scripture were human, and as such interpret God's actions through human eyes and emotions. Not to mention, the OT writers had an incomplete picture of who God has revealed himself to be (i.e. they did the best with what they had).

Also, I believe that this dilemma of 'contradictions' is a relatively new phenomena (i.e. scholastic era on). The Jews of old and early Greeks used to frequently re-interpret (bring fresh meaning to) the scriptures whenever they would get together to read them. Things like contradictions simply didn't concern them; they were focused on drawing the deeper meaning out of the text so that they could relate it to their lives.
Interesting.  These contradictions used to bother me while I was still practicing my faith, but never enough to make me lose my faith (in fact, I found the teachings of Jesus to be very inspiring as well as very challenging).
Don’t know exactly how this changed, but somehow it did for me (I wonder if I was accepted into the EO communion instead of the OO communion whether I would still be practicing or not).
Logged
xariskai
юродивый/yurodivy
OC.net guru
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Posts: 1,436


יהוה עזי ומגני


« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2010, 09:11:53 AM »

Thoughts would be appreciated on the following examples of what seem to be contradictions in what the Scripture teaches…

1. Can God be seen? The Bible claims that "No man hath seen God at any time," (Jn. 1:18). Yet in Exodus God says: "And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen." (Ex. 33:22-23) So can part of God be seen then, as this verse seems to indicate? Or perhaps it is only the face that cannot be seen, as God said: "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live" (Ex. 33:20). Yet the same chapter in Exodus says: "And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend." (Ex. 33:11)  Of course you could say that Christians have seen God--in Jesus Christ, but that doesn’t really resolve the problem in the verses mentioned (unless you are going to claim that Moses saw Jesus Christ in Exodus).
Exodus clearly states God's face (cf. essence) cannot be seen, AND that His "back" or "glory" (cf. energies) can be seen. Face and back here are best understood as metaphors.

Cf. Orthodox Wiki on Gregory Palamas:

"Contrary to Barlaam, Gregory [Palamas] asserted that the prophets in fact had greater knowledge of God, because they had actually seen or heard God himself. Addressing the question of how it is possible for humans to have knowledge of a transcendent and unknowable God, he drew a distinction between knowing God in his essence (in Greek, ουσία) and knowing God in his energies (in Greek, ενέργειαι). He maintained the Orthodox doctrine that it remains impossible to know God in his essence (God in himself), but possible to know God in his energies (to know what God does, and who he is in relation to the creation and to man), as God reveals himself to humanity. In doing so, he made reference to the Cappadocian Fathers and other early Christian writers.

Gregory further asserted that when the Apostles Peter, James and John witnessed the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ on Mount Tabor, that they were in fact seeing the uncreated light of God; and that it is possible for others to be granted to see that same uncreated light of God with the help of repentance, spiritual discipline and contemplative prayer, although not in any automatic or mechanistic fashion.

He continually stressed the Biblical vision of the human person as a united whole, both body and soul. Thus, he argued that the physical side of hesychastic prayer was an integral part of the contemplative monastic way, and that the claim by some of the monks of seeing the uncreated light was indeed legitimate. Like St. Simeon the New Theologian, he also laid great stress in his spiritual teaching on the vision of the divine light."
Quote from: Asteriskos
2. Does God Change his mind?  The Bible speaks of God as being unchanging (Num. 23:19; Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8; etc.), and traditional Christian theology says that God doesn’t change his mind (after all, why would an omniscient God need to change his mind?) However, there are other passages in the Bible which seem to indicate that God does change his mind, such as:

“And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.” - Jon. 3:10

“And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” - Gen. 6:6-7

“And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.” - Ex. 32:14

Some Christians say that this is merely anthropomorphic language, not to be taken in a woodenly literal way. Let‘s say that‘s accepted for the moment: what then is the point that the authors are trying to get across with such language? If God cannot actually change his mind or make a mistake, then what message are such passages trying to convey?

Exodus 32:14 "So the LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people."

Jeremiah 26:19 "Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him to death? Did he not fear the LORD and entreat the favor of the LORD, and the LORD changed His mind about the misfortune which He had pronounced against them? But we are committing a great evil against ourselves."

Amos 7:1-3 "Thus the Lord God showed me, and behold, He was forming a locust-swarm when the spring crop began to sprout. And behold, the spring crop was after the king's mowing. And it came about, when it had finished eating the vegetation of the land, that I said, "Lord God, please pardon! How can Jacob stand, For he is small? The LORD changed His mind about this. "It shall not be," said the LORD (cf. vs 6).

Exodus 4:24-26 "Now it came about at the lodging place on the way that the LORD met him and sought to put him to death. Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son's foreskin and threw it at Moses' feet, and she said, "You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me." So He let him alone. At that time she said, "You are a bridegroom of blood "-- because of the circumcision.

Note that the blessing of obedience/prayer/intercession and cursing of disobedience according to covenant do not change in any of the above examples. In this sense God did not change his mind in any of the above instances, though he is said to in anthropomorphic/phenomenological terms. He did what he stated he would do from the beginning; what that is in particular varies in accordance with what men do (cf. Deut 28 excerpt below).

If I am walking against a strong wind, and turn around, I may say "the wind was against me but is now with me." But the wind didn't really change; it was I who changed direction in relation to the wind.

Deuteronomy 28:13-20 13 "And the LORD shall make you the head and not the tail, and you only shall be above, and you shall not be underneath, if you will listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I charge you today, to observe them carefully, 14 and do not turn aside from any of the words which I command you today, to the right or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them. 15 "But it shall come about, if you will not obey the LORD your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. 16 "Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country. 17 "Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 18 "Cursed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock. 19 "Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out. 20 "The LORD will send upon you curses, confusion, and rebuke, in all you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken Me.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2010, 09:20:15 AM by xariskai » Logged

Silly Stars
Justin Kissel
Formerly Asteriktos
Protospatharios
****************
Offline Offline

Posts: 30,178


that is not the teaching of...


« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2011, 12:34:17 AM »

Thank you all, for your thoughts. I'm still not totally sure I understand the "God changing His mind" thing, if anyone else wants to chime in...

EDIT--Though now that I think about it, some of the responses in the thread on Anthropomorphic Language, combined with stuff on this thread, is starting to get through to me...
« Last Edit: January 08, 2011, 12:36:27 AM by Asteriktos » Logged
Theophilos78
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Faith: pro-Israeli Zionist Apostolic Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction: Adonai Yeshua
Posts: 2,043



« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2011, 03:42:09 AM »

“And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.” - Jon. 3:10

“And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.” - Ex. 32:14


I cannot actually see God change His mind in these kinds of verses. "God's repenting of the evil" points at the consequences of the reciprocal relation between God and mankind. If men repent, God does not punish/destroy them, which is similar to His repenting of His punishment. In short, if men repent, so does God, but in a different sense.

“And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” - Gen. 6:6-7

I always take this verse as an example of figurative language. This hyperbole (God grieving at heart...) probably functioned to stress the wickedness of the human race.
Logged

Longing for Heavenly Jerusalem
Tags:
Pages: 1   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.18 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Page created in 0.081 seconds with 43 queries.