McDonald: I never cease to be amazed of the things that cause people to lose their faith in God and his word. Someone named Nate, who claims that he has changed from Christianity to atheism because, after studying the book of Daniel, he came to the realization that the Bible is not inspired of God. On March 14, 2011 he wrote the following article concerning the death of Judas.
Nate:“Contradictions Part 7: Judas
The first post in this series can be found here.
You may already be familiar with this one, but please don’t skip it. There are some serious issues to think about here, and there are probably one or two points you haven’t considered.
Judas’s death is recorded for us in two places. The first is Matthew 27:3-8, which says:
Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.
Now, let’s look at the account found in Acts 1:18-19:
Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.
On the surface, I think we’d all have to agree that these accounts have almost nothing in common. So the typical answer is to simply put them together into something like this:
When Judas saw that Jesus was condemned, he was sorrowful and hanged himself. At some point, the rope broke, and his bowels burst open and gushed out when he hit the ground.
Taking this approach creates a possibility for explaining the discrepancy in Judas’s death. However, there’s nothing from either account that indicates this was the full picture. Also, I’m not sure how comfortable we should be in accepting a version of his death that can not be found in any account within the Bible. But even if this acceptably answers his death, there are other specifics that aren’t as easily answered by simply putting the two accounts together.”
McDonald: He tells us that there is almost nothing in common I the two accounts of Judas’ death. His problem is that he expects everything to be exactly parallel in the Bible when there are two different accounts of an event. He would not demand this of any other work. He knows that two newspaper reporters covering a single event will give different information, and both be right. Why does he feel differently about the Bible? People try to hold the Bible to some special rule; if God authored the Bible, every account on every event would say exactly the same thing. Why? If the Bible was written for men, and if two different writers giving different information about an event was what people understood as right and proper, then why wouldn’t the writers of the Bible do this?
(1) Many believe in dictation inspiration, rather than plenary verbal inspiration. This means that God selected the words for the writer, inspired the writer himself, and allowed him to use his own style and manner of writing to write what he wrote. Why do people think that if God authored the Bible it would have to be by dictation? There is no good answer to this question, other than people seem to hold the Bible as a book that cannot be read by the common man using writing rules with which man is accustomed. If two uninspired men had written these two accounts, there would be no question as to the truthfulness of both accounts. It is only because the Bible claims inspiration, and therefore we must understand it differently than we otherwise would.
People do this every day. In the every day world we recognize that certain things are normal, logical and in keeping with good common sense. However, when the same principle is found in the Bible, we throw out normal; we throw out logic, and we throw out common sense and argue that it must be different. If a parent sends a child into the store with money, and orders a half a gallon of 2% milk and a loaf of white bread, that child understands that this is all that is authorized to be bought. However, when it comes to something like instrumental music in worship (where all that is authorized is singing and making melody in our hearts Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16), people throw normal, common sense and logic right out of the window and argue that the Bible must forbid instrumental music in order for it to be wrong.
- Holding the Bible to a standard that does not allow normal, common sense and logic is a tool used by Bible critics to get people to see things their way. They know that the Bible believer believes that the Bible is the word of God, so they start making rules and regulations (that they won’t even make for their own writings—but they contend that their writings are accurate) so that the weak and unlearned will get lost in the twisted rule and see things their way. Those of Peter’s day scoffed because Christ had not returned during that time:
“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” (2Pe 3:3-5).
In every day life, if one promises to come, without any reference to WHEN that coming will be, we understand that it is up to the person traveling as to when they get there. We don’t say, “well they said they were coming, but did not in the time that we feel that they ought to come, therefore they lied.” No, we understand that if there is no indication as to when the arrival will be, there is no problem with them not showing up when we look for them. However, these scoffers, knew of the promise of the Lord, but because he had not come, they ridicule Christians for belief in his second coming. They throw normal, common sense and logic right out of the window because the Bible must be held to a different standard than anything else. Now while the Bible is held to a higher standard, this does not mean that common every day phrases and concepts were not used in its writing.
So there is no reason for Nate to dismiss the Bible because it didn’t write something in the way that he thought it should be written. Now let us continue on looking at his blog.
Nate: “For instance, who bought the field? According to Matthew, the priests bought it. According to Acts, Judas bought it. It’s often said that since the priests used Judas’s money, then it’s correct to say that he bought it. But if I bought beer with your money, would it be correct to say that you bought it? Or if I killed a person with your gun, would it be correct to say that you killed them?”
McDonald: He seems to be disturbed over who bought the land. The land was bought with the money that Judas received for betraying Jesus. The fact that Judas did not personally purchase the land does not necessitate that Judas did not buy the land. The money was his, and when he threw it back to the chief priests they could not put it back in the treasury because it had been used to purchase innocent blood. So when Judas went out and hanged himself, the chief priests took the money and purchased the land where he died to bury strangers in. Judas bought it because it was bought with his money. What is so hard to understand about this. If this was not part of the word of God, then there would be no problem with it. People would understand it perfectly. But because it is part of God’s word (because of the two above reasons) critics argue that the Bible isn’t perfect. As far as legalities are concerned, if a person leaves a gun out where a small child can play with it and the child kills either himself or another person, it is reasonable for us to say that the adult killed that person because he made it easy for the person to be killed with his gun. In an episode of Law & Order McCoy went after a gun company because they had manufactured a gun that could be adapted to a fully automatic weapon and several women were killed by a disturbed individual. The gun company’s defense was “we didn’t pull the trigger.” McCoy’s rebuttal was that no, they had not pulled the trigger, but they had made it easily accessible. Thus they were responsible. Now while this is TV, the Law & Order shows are taken from news headlines. So somewhere something like that had happened.
Nate: “Another problem concerns the name of the field. Both accounts agree that it was called the “Field of Blood,” but Matthew says it was because it was bought with blood money. Acts says that it was called Field of Blood because Judas’s intestines burst all over it. Those are very different reasons.”
McDonald: Is it possible that both reasons are the reasons that the field had this name. The Bible isn’t stating that this is God’s reason for naming it thus, but it is simply stating that these are the reasons that man has given it this name. Notice, if you will, that Luke wrote “And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood” (Act 1:19). Now look at Matthew’s account: “And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day” (Mat 27:7-8). From this we see that those who actually made the purchase named it this for their own reasons. So you have the people calling it the field of blood for one reason (Judas’ bowels falling out on the land), and the chief priest naming it that for yet another reason (the money used to purchase it was blood money). So where is the difficulty?
Nate: “Why is it that these accounts differ so much on the details? Why do neither of them offer hints at the fuller story (if combining the accounts is the correct version)? If I told you that someone died in a fire, but then you found out that they were actually shot to death and the body was burned in a fire, wouldn’t you be frustrated at me (or at least confused) for not telling you the whole story? There are some real differences in this story, and it should at least make us consider that we might just be reading the opinions of two different people and not the infallible word of a perfect deity.”
McDonald: Why are there differences? Because the common people called it “the field of blood” for one reason while the chief priests called it that for a completely different reason. That seems like a pretty trivial reason for one to lose his faith in the inspiration of the word of God. He asked if he told us that a person died in a fire, but we found out that he was actually shot to death and the body burned, if we wouldn’t be frustrated with him? Why would that frustrate us? My, Nate must be easily frustrated to get frustrated on something like that. If Nate was one reporter reporting that man X died in a fire, and reporter B reported that man X was killed by a firearm, and his body was burned, I wouldn’t be confused, but I guess I watch too much CSI and know that not all the information is given in initial reports. I would assume that Nate did not have all the information when he made his report. When I was a police officer, I investigated a traffic accident (one car had backed into another) in a parking lot. I saw no damage during the investigation, so I put in the report “no apparent damage.” A couple of days later, a new officer (right out of the academy) who had the rank of Sgt. got mad at me because I put “no apparent damage” in the report when I didn’t know if there was damage or not. I explained to her that after working hundreds of accidents over my 9 years as a patrolman, I had learned that you cannot always see damage, so it is then that you put “no apparent damage.” However, I informed the owner of the car that was backed into that she needed to have her car checked out for damage that could not be seen in the initial investigation. The owner of the car was present when the Sgt jumped me, and I took the owner aside and told her that I had conducted hundreds of traffic accidents over my years and told her that she should take the report to her insurance agent, and if he wanted me to re-write it, I would. I saw the owner a couple of weeks later at a school function, and asked her what her agent’s recommendation was. She told me that he agreed with me.
The point of that little story, is that initial reports do not always reveal everything. As it turns out there was damage to the car, but it had to be found with scanners. So would Nate be confused? Probably! However, the writers of the Bible only wrote what they were told to write. The Spirit told Matthew to write one thing, and he told Luke to write yet another. So what does this mean? Neither Matthew nor Luke gave the whole story. Matthew’s story deals with what the chief priests did and Luke deals with what the common man said. Where’s the difficulty? This is some reason to give up one’s faith in the Bible. If I am to stand before God and give an account of why I gave up faith in his word (2 Cor. 5:10), then I hope my reasons will be a little more than the chief priests calling the land this name for one reason, and the common man calling it for a completely different reason.
Nate: “There’s actually another problem too. Matthew 27:9-10 adds this:
Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”
Matthew attributes this “prophecy” to Jeremiah, when it is actually from Zechariah. Yes, you read that right: Matthew attributes it to the wrong guy. Now there are some people who will tell you that this passage is also in Jeremiah. But I encourage you to read Jeremiah for yourself – this prophecy is not there.
Other people have tried to explain this issue by saying that Jeremiah could have said this too, but just didn’t write it down. But this attempt is pretty ridiculous. Matthew offers this attribution as proof that all these things had been foreseen. But if no one can go back and read the prophecy he’s referring to, then it’s not proof at all and there’s no point in referring to it.”
McDonald: He claims that the defense of Jeremiah speaking the prophecy, and not writing it down was pretty ridiculous. Really? Jeremiah spoke many things, and only a few of them were written down. Why would he have to write everything that he spoke. I preached for 30 years, and I preached many more sermons than I wrote articles. Thus you could say that I spoke something (which is exactly what Matthew wrote—spoken by Jeremy the prophet), but I never wrote it down. Now I realize that the Old Testament prophets were said to have spoken different prophecies. However, some of these were spoken in writing and some were spoken verbally. There is no indication as to which is done here.
Nate: “Another explanation is that the scroll of the prophets in Matthew’s day often started with Jeremiah. Therefore, he’s just referring to the scroll and not the actual prophet. I could buy that as an explanation if this were just something that Matthew himself was writing. But Christians say that he was inspired by God. Wouldn’t God know which prophet had actually said this? And for the readers in Matthew’s day, wouldn’t they have known where to find Zechariah, if they wanted to read this for themselves? Plus, think of how strange this would sound to us today. All the books of the Bible are contained in one book for us today. So would it be acceptable for me to say “As Abraham the prophet said, ‘There is no temptation that has overcome you except such as is common to man…’”? (Paul said that, if you’re unaware).”
McDonald: If Paul was ever known as Abraham, it would be appropriate, but he wasn’t. However, Zechariah was often spoken of as Jeremiah just as John the Baptist was known as Elias (Mt. 17:11-13). John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elias so he was considered to be Elias. Zechariah had written in the spirit of Jeremiah (as Jeremiah wrote), thus he was called Jeremiah. What is so difficult about that? Also if you will look at the following verse:
“And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Luk 24:44).
Jesus said that all things concerning him, written in the law of Moses, the prophets and the Psalms concerning him. Why did he leave out all the other books? Because the Psalms was the first book of this section and it was the longest. Thus only its name was mentioned. Tell me that Nate did not give up his hope that is in Christ Jesus because he did not understand this simple process!
Nate: “Surely we can see that the most likely explanation is that Matthew made a mistake and was not actually inspired by God.”
McDonald: Wrong! Matthew did not make a mistake. He wrote what the Holy Spirit told him to write. Nate just couldn’t figure out some simple process so he threw his entire hope of eternal life out the window.
Nate: “As one final point, let’s look back at Zechariah to see exactly how it was prophesied that Judas would do these things:
And I took my staff Favor, and I broke it, annulling the covenant that I had made with all the peoples. So it was annulled on that day, and the sheep traders, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the LORD. Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver. Then the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”— the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD, to the potter. Then I broke my second staff Union, annulling the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
Okay, I see the reference to the “potter,” and there’s a reference to “thirty pieces of silver.” Where is the reference to someone betraying Jesus? Or the reference to someone killing himself and bleeding all over a field? In fact, where is there a prophecy in this passage at all?”http://findingtruth.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/contradictions-part-7-judas/
McDonald: Nate seems to be of the opinion that everything had to be prophesied in order for it to be in reference to this event. This is because he did not understand Biblical prophecy because many of the prophecies were just like this. A prophecy was given, but the fulfillment would be more complex than the prophecy. There doesn’t have to be a reference to Jesus, or to the bleeding in the field. In the prophecy of Jesus going in Nazareth, as a child, we don’t find everything that happened in fulfillment in the prophecy. In the prophecy of Rachael weeping, we don’t find every thing that happened in fulfillment. This does not mean that those weren’t prophecies, it just means that in many old testament prophecies, the fulfillment included much more than what the prophecy had stated.
I have seen nothing that would cause me to give up my faith in God and his word. Nate really ought to re-think his position before he gets so steeped in atheism that he will not be able to come back.
In Christ Jesus