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It’s pretty common these days for people to dismiss Christians as inconsistent because “they follow some of the rules in the Bible and ignore others.” The challenge usually sounds something like this: “When the Bible talks about certain sexual behaviors as sin, you quote that; but when it says not to eat shellfish or that you should execute people for breaking the Sabbath, you just ignore it. Aren’t you just picking and choosing what suits you best?”

I’ve found that this objection carries a lot of weight, and not just with non-Christians. Many Christians have a hard time answering it … which is why we just secretly hope it never comes up.

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The opening chapters of Genesis are incredibly rich. (If you haven’t noticed, they’ve been bouncing around my head quite a bit recently. Consider Exhibit A and Exhibit B.) But I’ve found that it’s nearly impossible to bring up Genesis 1—regardless of the setting—without certain key questions coming up. For some people, these are the only questions that matter. As you’ll see here, I don’t think that’s the case. But they’re important questions nonetheless.

The primary two questions I get about Genesis 1 and 2 are:

Question 1: Don’t the creation accounts of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 contradict each other?

If you’re a careful reader and you decide to pick up the Bible for the first time, you’re liable to get tripped up pretty quickly. In the first two chapters of Genesis, there seem to be two different accounts of creation—one in Genesis 1, and one in Genesis 2. And it doesn’t take a sleuth to recognize that the order of events is different.

We’ve talked a lot recently about biblical “contradictions” (check out our discussion of Mark and John), and much of that applies to this as well. When you come to an apparent contradiction in Scripture, you should attempt to give a charitable reading. Look for the ways in which the contradiction might actually be a complementary rendering before crying foul.

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Earlier this week, we’ve been considering the question of whether the Jesus depicted in Mark’s Gospel contradicts the Jesus in John’s Gospel. For a review of that argument, click here. For Part 1 of our rebuttal, click here.

The purpose of this post is to question whether Mark’s depiction is actually all that different from John’s. Spoiler: we believe it’s not.

To recap, the argument goes something like this: Mark’s “Jesus” is shy, coy, and human. He doesn’t claim to be God and doesn’t want other people thinking he is. But John’s “Jesus” is overt in his claims to divinity.

It is often said that error is truth out of proportion. That certainly applies here. The grain of truth in this is that Mark’s depiction of Jesus is more indirect and more secretive than John’s. For the modern reader especially, it’s easier to understand Jesus’ claims to divinity in the book of John than in the book of Mark. They are legitimately distinct portraits, emphasizing different aspects of Jesus’ ministry.

But recognizing differing emphases doesn’t mean we’re talking about two contradictory people. Let’s take each side of the argument and look at the Gospels themselves.

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