Not so long ago...I was going to a church where both the Pastor and the assistant Pastor would occassionally fail to be able to handle certain difficult passages in the Bible successfully and would suggest then that this was due to certain contradictions and/or inconsistencies within the Bible. Yet those Pastors and that church's doctrinal statement both hold to the inerrancy of the Bible. How could there be contradictions or inconsistencies in the infallible Word of God? Surely to novices there are 'seeming' inconsistencies, but are there 'actual' inconsistencies? If there are then how can we claim it to be without error? The inconsistencies are not in the Bible but rather the individuals own theological understanding.
Let me use the following approach to try and make some sense out of how this is so.
Satan said to Jesus, "...it is written, `HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU'; and `ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.' " Jesus said to him, "On the other hand, it is written, `YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.' "
Jesus agrees with satan and says yes, 'such and such', is indeed written. But then He goes on to respond that, even though "it is written", there is a larger principle yet at work here. Therefore you have to take the whole of God's word into account before you make a bold proclamation using just one single verse. Both statements of scripture mentioned above by Christ and satan are correct within their own context but one of them does not contain the whole Truth.
And this is perhaps partly how the leaders of this other church I attended at one time became confused to the point of believing that there are inconsistencies and contradictions in the Word. They would get hung up on certain seemingly contradictory passages after not isolating each passage and looking at it's own unique context in order to get it's meaning; which would have then possibly allowed them to see each passage's unique truth come into harmony with the unique truth of each and every other passage of the Bible.
Here's the root of the problem. This just dawned on me out of the blue this afternoon. The problem is not that there are inconsistencies and contradictions between the passages of the Bible, but rather, between the bible as a whole and their own theological system. Their personal theological system makes it impossible to reconcile the Truth of the Bible to itself. The problem is their flawed theological method.
Well...this idea sure is underdeveloped. It's late at night after an exhausting week. But I've been pondering where this sort of thinking comes from for a long time. I think I may have hit on a partial explanation here. This explanation, which I'm sure has dawned on many others as well, should be useful as a foundation for helping folks like these handle those potentially deceptive passages that would mislead them into believing that there are doctrinal errors, inconsistencies or contradictions in something so True.
I'll probably rework this post a little bit more in the near future. This demands a little more thought than I can give it tonight.
Hearty thanksgiving with you to the Lord.