471) The Bible is Full of Contradictions?

     Tony Campolo is a university professor and a respected sociologist.  He is also an ordained Baptist preacher.  Campolo does a lot of public speaking, both in churches and universities.  One time when he was speaking at Harvard he made it very clear that he was a Christian, a faith not shared by most of the students in the lecture hall that day.  After the lecture, one of the students had this question.  “Mr. Campolo,” he said, “you are well educated, well credentialed, and clearly very intelligent, yet you say that you believe the Bible is true.  How can someone with your academic background believe in the Bible?”

     “I believe in the Bible,” Tony said, “because I decided to believe in it.”  He then continued, “A long time ago I considered all the options available in the intellectual marketplace, and I made a decision to believe in the Bible.  Having made that decision, I have spent the rest of my life constructing arguments and gathering information that would buttress my beliefs.  But to be honest, I believed first.  All my thinking and philosophizing since then has been designed to support my prior faith commitment.”

     The young Harvard student was taken back a bit by Campolo’s blunt honesty, but then he smiled and rolled his eyes and said, “Ya, I thought so.”  Coming to faith first and then doing the research later did not sound to him like intellectual honesty.  The young man started to sit down.

     “Hold on a second, Sonny,” Campolo said; and then added, “Now I have a question for you.  Why don’t you believe in the Bible?  Isn’t it because you have decided not to believe it?  Have you read it from cover to cover, tested out what it has to say, and gained the empirical evidence to decide it is false?  Have you come to your conclusions with complete objectivity and without any presuppositions?”

     “Well, no”, stammered the student, “but everyone knows that the Bible is full of contradictions.”

     “Can you name for me even one of those contradictions?” Campolo shot back.

     “Ah…, no,” said the student.

     “Well it sounds to me,” said Tony, “like you have made up your mind ahead of time without giving this any thought at all.  You have complete faith in your uniformed opinion, and yet you want to ridicule me for my beliefs.”

Tony Campolo

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“One cannot simply read the Bible like other books. One must be prepared really to inquire of it.
Only thus will it reveal itself. Only if we expect from it the ultimate answer shall we receive it.”
–Deitrich Bonhoeffer

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Matthew 13:44-46  —  (Jesus said),  “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.  When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.  When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

Isaiah 29:14  —  (The Lord says),  “Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.”

Romans 10:9  —  If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

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O Lord, heavenly Father, in whom is the fullness of light and wisdom, enlighten our minds by your Holy Spirit, and give us grace to receive your Word with reverence and humility, without which no one can understand your truth.  For Christ’s sake.  Amen.

–John Calvin (1509-1564)