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Bible Difficulties: Should We Discuss Them?

The following has been adapted from Don Stewart’s FAQs, available at the BLB.


That there are difficulties in the Bible—parts that seem hard to believe or seemingly contradict other parts—is a fact. How then, should the reader, in general, deal with the subject of Bible difficulties?

1. Not Afraid Of The Truth

We should not be afraid to discuss so-called contradictory passages. There is nothing gained in overlooking the difficulties that are in Scripture. We should not have the attitude to just take everything by blind faith. Scripture encourages us to respond to questions:

Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person (Colossians 4:5,6).

Jesus said:

and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32).

Paul encouraged the king to check out the facts when it came to the story of Jesus (Acts 24:8).

2.We Do Not Know Everything

In addition, we should not be afraid to ask tough questions about the Christian faith. Seemingly, the older we get the more difficult it is for us to admit we do not know certain things – it is tough to have to ask questions. Some wrongly assume that asking questions shows signs of weakness. However, it is a mark of maturity to admit there are still many things in this world that we do not know. Because we do not now have an answer, does not mean that we never will get the answer. If we do not continue to ask, we will not continue to learn.

3.Not Lack Of Faith To Ask

For believers, we are not offending God by asking legitimate questions about the Christian faith. Asking questions is not the same as unbelief. Asking honest questions will get us honest answers. Discussing the questions with others is also a good idea. The Bible says:

Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17).

4.We Need To Think

Unfortunately some people do not like to think. It is more comfortable for them to merely hold on to preconceived notions and prejudices. When we come across difficult passages in Scripture, or sayings that we cannot quite understand, it is easier to fall back on what we have always believed rather than re-evaluate what the text might be saying. This, however, is not the way we can grow in our Christian experience. We need to be able to assess what we believe in light of all the facts. If new information comes to us that causes us to change something we have previously believed, then we must be intellectually honest enough to admit we have been wrong in the past.

5.We Should Be Unlike The Cults

Furthermore, we do not want to be like cultic groups which do not tolerate questions from their people. Honest answers from cult leaders would cause the leaders to lose control. Christians should not blindly follow what some leader says – no matter who it is. Faith will only increase when our questions are answered. Blindly obeying favorite Bible teachers is not a Scriptural attitude.

6.Not Alone In The Question

Chances are the questions we have are not unique to us. Others have had the same problem as they have read Scripture and thought about the truth of the Christian faith. It is highly doubtful that someone will come up with a new question about Christianity, or the Bible, that no one else has thought of in the history of the church. Each question we have about the Bible has been asked and answered hundreds, if not thousands of times, since the time of Christ.

7.The Difficulties Have Been Answered

The crucial questions regarding what God has done in history and difficult biblical passages are not unique to our generation but have been answered time and time again. Peter Berger comments

The fundamental questions of theology have been passionately considered for at least three thousand years. It is not only insufferable arrogance to think that one can begin theology in sovereign disregard of that history, it is also extremely uneconomical. It seems rather a waste of time to spend, say, five years working out a position, only to find that it has already been done by a Syrian monk in the fifth century (Peter Berger, A Rumor of Angels, p. 98).

8.Accept The Answer And Then Go On

Once we receive an answer to our question, then we should go on. It is wrong to keep asking a question once the answer has been given. It is also wrong to doubt the Bible when there are a number of possible answers to a particular question, yet we are not certain which is the right answer. An example of this would be the problem of the two accounts of the genealogy of Jesus found in Matthew and Luke. There are, at least, four different ways of reconciling the two genealogies, yet we are not absolutely certain which is the correct resolution. This does not mean they are in error – it means we are not certain which of the possible answers is correct.

9.Bible Difficulties Gets Rid Of Unbelievers

People use difficulties in Scripture as an excuse for not believing in Jesus or following Him. The difficulties in Scripture can help to remove those who are not genuinely interested in the truth of God’s Word. God is on record as saying that He will condemn those who reject His clearly revealed word:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of humanity, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:18-20).

We find an example of this in the life and ministry of Jesus:

Many therefore of His disciples, when they heard this said, This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it? But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, Does this cause you to stumble? . . . As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore (John 6:60,61,67).

The difficult sayings of Jesus caused certain would be disciples to withdraw from Him.

10.An Excuse For Not Believing

Often we find people not willing to look beyond the surface meaning of what Jesus said. They believe this will remove them of any responsibility. Consequently they use Bible difficulties as an excuse for not following Jesus. They are blind to the evidence because they are willingly blind. Ultimately, they do not want to find a way to reconcile difficulties in Scripture.

No Explanation Satisfies

Since they do not want to know the truth, any explanation that attempts to clear up a difficulty will fall upon deaf ears. However this does not remove the responsibility from them as they would like to believe. Scripture teaches that God will ultimately hold all of us responsible on how we deal with the evidence that He has presented to us.

11.Serious Study Of The Word Needed

If we remain ignorant of the things of God, it is only because we have self-imposed this darkness upon ourselves. The answers are there, but we must spend the time to find them. This can only come about from a serious study of the Word of God. This is what is needed when difficult passages of Scripture come our way. When we patiently and intently examine problem passages in Scripture, the result pays big dividends. Serious students of God’s Word want to understand what it is saying.


The subject of Bible difficulties should definitely be a topic of discussion. The biblical attitude toward difficult questions is to face them head-on. They should not be ignored or glossed over. It is not lack of faith to bring up the difficult areas in Scripture or to try to find an answer. Once an answer to a particular difficulty is found, we should then move on. When these difficulties are cleared up after serious study, the reader is greatly benefited by the exercise.