...and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. - Matthew 1:16
Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli... - Luke 3:23So whose son is Joseph, anyway? Unless there is some way that the father-son relationship is not symmetric. And this ties in with the next one...
And do not call anyone on earth 'father', for you have one father and he is in heaven. - Matthew 23:9
Keep in mind that this was written in Greek, so it likely isn't exclusive to the single English word "father". If you've ever called your...well, the man who conceived you "father", "dad", "papa", or any equivalent, you have broken this command of Jesus, as interpreted literally. This is especially interesting considering that Matthew wrote this and earlier called Jacob the father of Joseph (and many other people "father" as well), indicating that he was not taking Jesus' command literally, while inspired by the Holy Spirit to write his gospel.
Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. - Psalm 26:1
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. - Romans 3:23Now, you could argue that David simply hadn't sinned yet and Bathshebagate hadn't happened, but seeing as he was probably at least twenty when he wrote this, that is very difficult to believe.
Because on [the Day of Atonement] atonement will be made for you. Then, before the Lord, you will be clean from all your sins. - Leviticus 16:30
Because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. - Hebrews 10:4Did the Israelite's God-given rituals for atonement of sin work or not? Is there a difference between being made clean from all your sins and having them taken away?
Leave [Shimei] alone; let him curse [David], for the Lord has told him to. - 2 Samuel 16:11b
For I [Shimei] your servant know that I have sinned. - 2 Samuel 19:20a
When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. - James 1:13Is telling someone to sin different from tempting them to sin? I am of the view that God telling someone to sin is the same as Him causing someone to sin since He gives them the impossible choice of obeying Him by sinning, or sinning by disobeying Him.
He [Solomon] made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it. - 1 Kings 7:23This one is an old favorite of skeptics. But seriously: did Solomon, one of the wisest men ever to live, believe that π is exactly 3, and that God has created our mental faculties in such as way as to be unable to do math or basic observation correctly to confirm this fact?
Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material. - Leviticus 19:19b
Make the ephod of gold, and of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen--the work of a skilled craftsman. - Exodus 28:6So that's gold, linen, and yarn (which may have been made of linen). It is true that God tells the Israelites to disobey this commandment before it was technically given, but this is hardly an explanation since God is eternal and does not change (Malachi 3:6); as well, this commandment was given (relatively) shortly after the Mt. Sinai episode, when the priests were still going strong in their ministry, and for God to condemn the priests' attire which He had previously prescribed is...difficult to accept.
Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes. - Proverbs 26:4,5No further comment.
I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commandments, my decrees, and my laws. - Genesis 26:4-5
It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. - Romans 4:13
Were Abraham and Isaac blessed because of their obedience to law, or not?
Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. - Deuteronomy 30:11-14
And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness. - Deuteronomy 6:25
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. - Romans 3:20This is the question that shattered the last figments of my own belief in Biblical literalism. Moses tells the Israelites that the law is already in their hearts so they can obey it and be righteous; Paul writes that no one can be made righteous by the law and no one can even love God or obey Him until God writes His law in their hearts. (Which apparently has not happened yet). There is simply no way to affirm both of these passages if they are interpreted literally.
I am not presenting these difficulties with the intent to show that the Bible is false or contradictory. My point is that in a strictly literalist system for interpreting the Bible that doesn't have its head planted firmly in the sand, these questions and many others become impossible to ignore. From the plain-faced, "objective" reading of the text that the literal view espouses, these really are contradictions, and Christians do themselves and their witness no favors by ignoring this fact.
Of course, there are many ways to resolve these conflicts, but they all involve moving away from a purely literal interpretation. For the conflicts between the genealogies, for instance, many commentators argue that Matthew presents Jesus' legal lineage through Joseph, and Luke His actual lineage through Mary, which is certainly possible, but the fact is that the text really says that Joseph is the son of both Jacob and Heli, and this harmonization disagrees. Or for #4, you could argue that the priestly garments were exempt from the law against wearing heterogeneous clothing, but, again, the text itself contains no hint at such an exemption.
This is understandably disconcerting for someone from an evangelical background such as myself. It feels wrong or disrespectful to God to treat what He seems to be saying nonliterally as if dismissing it--and yet, the text demands it. We misuse God's word if we expect it to be other than it is, namely written so as to conform to modern/postmodern conceptions of truth and objectivity, hermeneutical and interpretive methods, and scientific knowledge that did not exist when it was written. This is a form of eisegesis--reading meaning we want to see into the text, instead of allowing it to read into us. I'm still working through the implications of this and will likely be doing so for a while, but I think it's a step on the journey toward a God who is (thankfully) too huge for me to comprehend.