July 11, 2019 by SLIMJIM
For today’s post we will tackle the question the Skeptic Annotated Bible asked: Is God the author of confusion?
Here are the two answers which the skeptic believes indicate a Bible contradiction:
“Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called [c]Babel, because there the Lord confused the [d]language of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:7-9)
“but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27)
“for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” (1 Corinthians 14:33)
(All Scriptural quotation comes from the New American Standard Bible)
Here’s a closer look at whether or not there is a contradiction:
- When dealing with skeptics’ claim of Bible contradictions it seems one can never be reminded enough of what exactly is a contradiction. A contradiction occurs when two or more claims conflict with one another so that they cannot simultaneously be true in the same sense and at the same time. To put it another way, a Bible contradiction exists when there are claims within the Bible that are mutually exclusive in the same sense and at the same time.
- One should be skeptical of whether this is a Bible contradiction given the Skeptic Annotated Bible’s track record of inaccurately handling the Bible. See the many examples of their error which we have responded to in this post: Collection of Posts Responding to Bible Contradictions. Of course that does not take away the need to respond to this claim of a contradiction, which is what the remainder of this post will do. But this observation should caution us to slow down and look more closely at the passages cited by the Skeptic Annotated Bible to see if they interpreted the passages properly to support their conclusion that it is a Bible contradiction.
- A bit of background of each verse in its context might be helpful for readers.
- Genesis 11:7-9 in a chapter that is about the tower of Babel. Humans were trying to gather and build a Tower that reached heaven but then we see God frustrate that attempt.
- Both 1 Corinthians 1:27 and 1 Corinthians 14:33 are verses in a letter written by the Apostle Paul to a church in Greece at a major city of Corinth. Here he writes to them even as the church is in chaos and confusion about right doctrines and practice.
- The skeptic cited 1 Corinthians 14:33 as denying that God is the author of confusion.
- Note in the context it is talking about the necessity of having church service in an orderly fashion. Verse 33 appeals to the basis for that is because “God is not a God of confusion.“
- The Greek word for “confusion” here is ἀκαταστασίας. In the NASB ἀκαταστασίας in Luke 21:9 is translated as commotion, in 2 Corinthians 6:5 is translated as tumults, in 2 Corinthians 12:20 as disturbance and James 3:16 as disorder. We thus see here from the lexical range that 1 Corinthians 14:33 is denying God is any of those things in His attribute of who He is within Himself (the genitive case is showing an attribute of God here).
- To be technically correct 1 Corinthians 14:33 says “God is not a God of confusion.” It does not say God is not an “author” of confusion, whatever that means by the skeptic. This is an important distinction in that God within Himself in His character is not confused but that does not mean God might ordaining confusion outside of Himself for His own purposes.
- The skeptic cited 1 Corinthians 1:27 as denying that God is the author of confusion but the skeptic hasn’t properly interpreted that verse.
- 1 Corinthians 1:27 talks about God shaming the wise and the strong people of the World because of God’s election of the unwise and the weak.
- Here the skeptic is making a categorical fallacy in interpreting this verse: God shaming sinful prideful people is not the same thing as somehow God being the author of confusion. Shaming someone is not the same thing as bringing about confusion per se (you can shame someone without confusing them).
- Moreover part of shaming them means that they will have some understanding adequate enough to feel ashamed. And that understanding is contrary to confusion.
- The skeptic cited Genesis 11:7-9 as asserting that God is the author of confusion but it still does not contradict with 1 Corinthians 14:33 when both verses are properly interpreted.
- Remember 1 Corinthians 14:33 is talking about God’s attribute not being a God of confusion within Himself and it is not about God not being able to bring about confusion in circumstances outside of Himself, for His greater purposes.
- Genesis 11:7 and Genesis 11:9 clearly reveal that God did confuse the people’s language at the tower of Babel.
- However that does not mean that God Himself is a God of confusion as His internal attribute.
- That is because God can bring about confusion upon others as an act of punishment. Within the Biblical worldview a just punishment doesn’t mean the judge is somehow the attribute related to those punishment in other contexts divorce from acts of justice such as being a sadistic pain giver, etc.
- Likewise God is a God who is acting in judging sin in Genesis 11 with the story of the Tower of Babel.
- So this does not contradict 1 Corinthians 14:33.
- Also it might seem paradoxical but it not an actual contradiction to say that God in a penal way brought about confusion of language and yet He is not a God of confusion. For example I was in the Marines and knew a sniper who saved the lives of four other Marines. He was a life saver. Yet in saving the life of others he taken the life of those who were violently trying to kill those Marines. He’s a life saver, because he saved lives of his fellow Marine; yet to do this he did have to act in the capacity of taking lives. Still given the context it would still be proper to say he’s a life saver. Likewise God is not a God of confusion and since He is orderly He has to judge sin and frustrate the plans of sinners.
- Patrick Hawthorne also added this insight: ” God confused their language but not their minds. By that I mean, God’s intent was not to confuse the people through deceit. He stayed true to His Word without any violations or contradiction. The people were still able to think and act according to the plans and purposes of God which never changed. The only difference was that the were unable to communicate with each other at the present moment.” Think of a riot. Those in law enforcement might hinder the communication of rioters (use of tear gas, specific removal of riot leaders, etc) by means that seems chaotic but one wouldn’t say the law enforcement group are breaking the law of being disorderly when they are trying to bring about order.
- We shouldn’t miss that worldviews are at play even with the skeptic’s objection to Christianity. The worldview of the author of the Skeptic Annotated Bible actually doesn’t even allow for such a thing as the law of non-contradiction to be meaningful and intelligible. In other words for him to try to disprove the Bible by pointing out that there’s a Bible contradiction doesn’t even make sense within his own worldview. Check out our post “Skeptic Annotated Bible Author’s Self-Defeating Worldview.”