Bible is harmonious throughout (Talk.Origins)
- The Bible's internal harmony around a central theme testifies to its divine authorship. It is 66 books written over 16 centuries by some 40 different writers of diverse backgrounds, but every part follows the same theme.
Source: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1985. Life—How Did It Get Here? Brooklyn, NY, p. 215.
Actually this could be classed as a gross understatement of the truth.
1. The Bible's harmony can also be attributed to the fact that its contents were selected and edited, by people, to make it harmonious (Friedman 1987).
J. P. Holding has the following to say about Talk.Origins' source for this (Friedman): "Friedman in writing this book does not offer many specifics in defense of the [JEDP] theory, and in fact seems unaware that it is in terminal condition". The JEDP theory was based on assumptions that have since been shown to be wrong, but it continues to be held by some despite the evidence.
2. The Bible is not harmonious on some very important points.
- Many people have noticed the difference between the Old Testament God, who is vengeful and bloodthirsty (e.g., Gen. 6-8; Exod. 7-11) and commands and aids the slaughter of one's enemies (e.g., Exod. 32:27-28; Deut. 3:6; Num. 31:1-18), versus the New Testament God, who preaches peace and commands people to love their enemies.
Talk.Origins has misrepresented what the Bible teaches. The God of the Old Testament is one who is teaching His people right from wrong, and who metes out justice against individuals and nations that defy His will. In the New Testament, Jesus teaches us that we should offer mercy to those who have wronged us. This might seem like a different (but not contradictory) approach, but one cannot offer mercy except as an alternative to justice. That is, without the foundational principle of one deserving just punishment, mercy is meaningless.
It also overemphasizes the acts of judgment in the Old Testament and ignores the acts and teachings of mercy. The great Golden Rule of Christianity and other philosophies which says "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is simply derived from the Old Testament teaching of "love your neighbour as yourself". When the Almighty describes his characteristics in Exodus 34, he doesn't simply say he judges and punishes sins, but that he is also gracious, compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in mercy, protecting kindness, and forgiving all manner of sins. This is just one example out of many Old Testament examples that show that the treatment of Talk.Origins is unwarranted and unbalanced.
- Some parts of the Bible say the sins of the father are inherited by future generations (e.g., Exod. 20:5, Deut. 5:9). Other parts (Ezek. 18) says they are not.
These passages are interpreted a number of ways, but even on face value, Talk.Origins ignores some of the biblical text. The part that Talk.Origins deals with in Exodus 20:5 and Deut 5:9 deals with punishment. The sins themselves are not inherited but the punishment or the effects of the punishment can be felt by future generations. Also the scripture says the sins of the father are visited or dealt with (not inherited) on the future generations of those that hate the Creator. This implies that the future generations also hate the Creator as well, so their punishment is justified.
It also ignores the next clause that the Almighty shows kindness to those who love him and keep his commandments. This implies that if anyone who hates the Creator changes his ways and repents, he then becomes one of those who love the Creator and thus can attain mercy/kindness.
But whatever the case, the verse does not say that sins are inherited. It says that the punishment of sin can continue and roll-over, like the snowball/avalanche effect, in a family line that continues sinning.
Since Exodus 20:5 and Deuteronomy 5:9 are not talking about inherited sin, the point Talk.Origins makes is irrelevant.
Ezekiel 18 shows people wondering why they are feeling the punishment of the sins of their fathers. The Creator shows the same principle that is in all of scripture: that everyone is responsible for their own actions. The sins of the father are not inherited by the son. The son/child can decide whether to do right or wrong. A good son is not punished for the sins of his father. A bad son is not exalted for the goodness of his righteous father. Everyone is responsible for their own actions and the consequences that fall upon them.
So, to reiterate, the point Talk.Origins makes is irrelevant and inaccurate.
See Daddy Pays Up for more information.
- Much of the Bible emphasizes the unity of God. Genesis 1, for example, stresses that all of creation came from the same God, not different gods as other contemporary religions taught. However, the New Testament, particularly Revelation, introduces a good/evil dualism akin to Zoroastrianism, which has become particularly common in Christian tradition.
The New Testament is consistent with the Old Testament. Colossians 1:1–16 (NIV) says:
- For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
That stresses that the one God (Jesus) was and is responsible for all of creation. However, the Bible also teaches that there is an Evil One (created by God as an angel that subsequently rebelled against Him) who is opposed to God. But this Evil One is no match for God; dualism is not compatible with Christianity.