I have a non-believing friend who grew up in a Baptist, not necessarily Christian, home. He claims to be agnostic, believes in evolution, says he is moral and has no need of forgiveness. Recently, he proudly informed me that he purchased a King James Bible to read for himself. A mutual friend told me yesterday, that our agnostic friend had given him several New Testament verses that were contradictory and asked that he explain that. I looked up one of the verses in Matthew and it said something about criminals on the cross not believing, while the other scripture mentioned that one believed. We are thinking that our friend has not had time to read the Old Testament yet, let alone discover seemingly contradictory scripture on his own. We are thinking that some agnostic society, Jehovah Witness, or Mormon has brought this to his attention. Even so, we are not sure how to respond. Any ideas?
According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, an agnostic is defined as “of or relating to the belief that the existence of God is unknown and unknowable.” An agnostic is one who believes that you cannot know anything for sure, especially about God and heaven.
The condition of your friend is not surprising, given the history that you have stated — that he is a non-believer, despite being raised in a Baptist home. The Bible gives a very serious warning to those who know the truth and reject it. II Peter 2:20-22 says, “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, THE LATTER END IS WORSE WITH THEM THAN THE BEGINNING. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”
I have seen many young people raised in churches, and then live very wicked lives once they leave home. In fact, they often seem to live more wicked lives than do the unbelievers who have never gone to a fundamental church. “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, THE LATTER END IS WORSE WITH THEM THAN THE BEGINNING.”
They are a lot like Manasseh in the Old Testament. His dad was Hezekiah, a very godly man. II Kings 18:1-6 says, “Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah. And HE DID THAT WHICH WAS RIGHT in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did. He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan. He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For HE CLAVE TO THE LORD, AND DEPARTED NOT FROM FOLLOWING HIM, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses.” Hezekiah was a very godly man.
But consider his son, Manasseh. II Kings 20:21-21:12 says, “And Hezekiah slept with his fathers: and Manasseh his son reigned in his stead. Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hephzibah. And HE DID THAT WHICH WAS EVIL IN THE SIGHT OF THE LORD, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel. For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel; and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them. And he built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD said, In Jerusalem will I put my name. And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. And he set a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which the LORD said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever: Neither will I make the feet of Israel move any more out of the land which I gave their fathers; only if they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded them. But they hearkened not: and MANASSEH SEDUCED THEM TO DO MORE EVIL THAN DID THE NATIONS WHOM THE LORD DESTROYED BEFORE THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL. And the LORD spake by his servants the prophets, saying, Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols: Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle.” Manasseh did worse than the heathen, even though he had been raised in a godly home.
Sometimes the biggest enemies of the cross are those who have been raised in its shadow, and have rejected it. “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, THE LATTER END IS WORSE WITH THEM THAN THE BEGINNING.”
As you state, some of them may not have been raised in truly “Christian” homes. That is, it may be that no one in the house was really a born-again believer, even though they went to church. But the fact that they attend church for some years, and hear much truth, and then reject it, is a dangerous situation. Oftentimes, it is that type of young person who is the most vocal against God and the Bible.
That type of a young person often goes on to get more education after high school, and is further deceived into thinking that Christianity is filled with contradictions and is believed by the simple. They look at themselves as wise and educated, and feel it is their lot in life to “inform” and “enlighten” those that are still “ignorant in their simplistic faith in God.” I Corinthians 1:18-31 says, “FOR THE PREACHING OF THE CROSS IS TO THEM THAT PERISH FOOLISHNESS; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? FOR AFTER THAT IN THE WISDOM OF GOD THE WORLD BY WISDOM KNEW NOT GOD, IT PLEASED GOD BY THE FOOLISHNESS OF PREACHING TO SAVE THEM THAT BELIEVE. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: BUT GOD HATH CHOSEN THE FOOLISH THINGS OF THE WORLD TO CONFOUND THE WISE; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, AND THINGS WHICH ARE DESPISED, HATH GOD CHOSEN, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
When you stated that your friend believes in evolution, that fits right in with what the Bible says about the agnostic. II Peter 3:3-9 says, “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days SCOFFERS, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this THEY WILLINGLY ARE IGNORANT of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. BUT, BELOVED, BE NOT IGNORANT OF THIS ONE THING, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. THE LORD is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but IS LONGSUFFERING to us-ward, NOT WILLING THAT ANY SHOULD PERISH, but that all should come to repentance.
Your friend is “willingly ignorant.” He is unwilling to admit his need before God, so he remains yet blind to the truth. John 9:39-41 says, “And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.”
I would highly recommend that you contact Dr. Kent Hovind in Pensacola, Florida, and get his video tape series on Creation Science Seminar (it is also available on cassette tape). If you would listen to it, and then let your unsaved friend listen to it, you may be able to reach him for Christ. You can reach Dr. Hovind at “http://www.drdino.com”.
As to the supposed contradictory verses that people come up with in the Bible, I would highly recommend a book called “Things Hard To Be Understood,” by David Cloud. His web site is “http://wayoflife.org/~dcloud”.
There is an answer to every supposed contradiction in the Bible, even though we may not personally know what it is for some time in our lives. FIRST, the unsaved person is not going to understand the Bible, if he is intent on rejected what the Bible clearly reveals. I Corinthians 2:14 says, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” SECOND, even the Christian is told to “study” the Bible, which means that not all things are quickly and easily understood. II Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” THIRD, even seasoned Christians have to keep studying and reading and praying to understand some passages. II Peter 3:15,16 says, “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; IN WHICH ARE SOME THINGS HARD TO BE UNDERSTOOD, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” FOURTH, we know that there are no contradictions in the Bible, because God’s Word is pure. Psalm 12:6,7 says, “The words of the LORD are PURE WORDS: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” Proverbs 30:5,6 says, “EVERY WORD OF GOD IS PURE: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”
As to the matter of the thieves, there is no contradiction. Matthew 27:38-45 says, “Then were there TWO THIEVES crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. THE THIEVES ALSO, WHICH WERE CRUCIFIED WITH HIM, CAST THE SAME IN HIS TEETH.”
Luke 23:32-43 says, “And there were also TWO OTHER, MALEFACTORS, LED WITH HIM TO BE PUT TO DEATH. And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. THEN SAID JESUS, FATHER, FORGIVE THEM; FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. AND ONE OF THE MALEFACTORS WHICH WERE HANGED RAILED ON HIM, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. BUT THE OTHER ANSWERING REBUKED HIM, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
Both passages are true. Both thieves started out mocking Jesus, but one of them saw Jesus’ response to all of the suffering and mocking (“THEN SAID JESUS, FATHER, FORGIVE THEM; FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO”), and he repented. The other thief continued on in his scoffing of Jesus.
I pray that your friend might see Christ in you — a firm faith, and a compassion for his soul, and that he might be like the repentant thief and receive Jesus Christ as his Savior.