The chart above represents the 63,779 cross-references found in the Bible. A single arc depicts each cross-reference. Compare this to the 439 alleged contradictions from the chart Sam Harris commissioned (reported in Fast Company).
This cross-reference chart does not prove the Bible is not filled with contradictions, but it is a graphic representation of the unity, harmony, and consistency of the Bible.
Some Major Themes Throughout The Bible
God’s initiative—“I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God” (Exod 6:6-7 and also see Gen 17:7, Exod 19:4-5, Lev 11:45, Lev 26:12, Deut 4:20, Deut 29:13, 2 Chron 23:16, Isa 7:14, Isa 8:8, Jer 32:38, Eze 37:27, Zech 2:11, Zech 8:8, Ezek 34:24, 2 Cor 6:16). Christ is the embodiment of God’s desire to dwell among God’s people (Exod 25:8, Exod 29:42-45, Lev 26:9-13, Ezek 37:26-28, Matt 1:23, John 1:14, Eph 2:21, Rev 7:15, Rev 21:3).
God’s initiative despite our disobedience and rebellion—“If we are faithless, He remains faithful” (2 Tim 2:13 and also see Exod 34:6-7, Numbers 14:19, Ps 6:4, Ps 31:17, Ps 44:26, Ps 51:1, Ps 109:26, 1 Thess 5:24).
God’s initiative despite our disobedience and rebellion resulted in the cross—“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly….God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:6-8 and also see 1 Cor 15: 3-6, 1 Pet 3:18, 1 John 2:2. 1 John 4:9-10).
Scriptures Bear Witness About Jesus
The reliability of the Bible is important, not so we feel better about having an answer to the flimsy claims of skeptics, but because the Bible contains all things necessary to our salvation.
Jesus makes it clear that studying Scripture is a means to an end (saving knowledge of Jesus Christ) and not the end in and of itself: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).
Commenting on this passage, Martin Luther writes about how to read the Bible:
- Here Christ would indicate the principal reason why the Scripture was given by God. Men are to study and search in it and to learn that He, Mary’s Son, is the one who is able to give eternal life to all who come to Him and believe in Him. Therefore, he who would correctly and profitably read Scripture should see to it that he finds Christ in it; then he finds life eternal without fail. On the other hand, if I do not so study and understand Moses and the prophets as to find that Christ came from heaven for the sake of my salvation, became man, suffered, died, was buried, rose, and ascended into heaven so that through Him I enjoy reconciliation with God, forgiveness of all my sins, grace, righteousness, and life eternal, then my reading in Scripture is of no help whatsoever to my salvation. I may, of course, become a learned man by reading and studying Scripture and preach what I have acquired; yet all this would do me no good whatever. (Luther’s Works, 51, 4)
Doug Wilson picked two randomly (#208 and #211) and deals with them to show how contrived these “contradictions” are. Matt Perman wrote a post regarding the appearance of contradictions and some of the hard texts of the Bible.
As a sidenote and just for fun, the Sam Harris/Fast Company chart on the supposed errors of the bible has a few of its own: “contradictions” #7 and #9 are duplicates as are #263 and #264 as are #323 and #324. #404 should read “by” and not “buy.” #406 reads “When when did the transfiguration occur?” That sentence only needs one “when.”