The Question/Argument: How can you base your faith in a book with discrepancies? For example, one book says Judas hung himself, another that he fell in a field and split open… Only one can be true, so that means there is something untrue, if something is untrue in it, what else is untrue? How can we put faith in anything it says when there are discrepancies in the Bible?
The first thing to look at here is what a ‘discrepancy’ and ‘contradiction’ actually is or means.
For example, a really simple and obvious case in the Bible is the number of angels seen in the tomb of Jesus after he was resurrected. Matthew and Mark tell of a (one) man/angel (Mark 16:5, Matthew 28:1-2), while Luke and John tell of two angels (Luke 24:4, John 20:12). Some people assume then that either there had to be two angels or one, seeing as both accounts cannot be correct, that means one set of accounts is false, meaning there are things in the Bible that aren’t true and as such we cannot believe anything it says.
If you take a look at the verses however, you see that neither Matthew nor Mark explicitly say there was only one angel or man at/in the tomb. So it is not a contradiction at all. If there were two angels, there certainly had to be one.
There are many ways to explain the potential contradictions in the Bible and many argument to be made for and against them. A simple Google search shows up a lot of results, and there are way too many for me to discuss here. A good site that I found useful in giving some explanations to many popular ‘discrepancy’ issues is here, and there are a lot more out there as well.
On a less technical note though, when considering the apparent discrepancies in the Bible, another thing to keep in mind is that God did not influence those who wrote the letters and books and design the Bible in such a way as to be easily understood (1 Corinthians 2:13, 2 Peter 3:16). Throughout the Bible we are instructed to ask God for wisdom, understanding and discernment (James 1:5, Proverbs 2:2-6). The Bible is about searching for God and understanding and finding deeper meanings and truths that ultimately lead us closer to God.
I believe God made the Bible to be intellectually stimulating and require study and focus and even God’s help (1 Corinthians 2:12, John 14:26, 2 Timothy 2:7, Colossians 1:9) to develop an understanding of it. Also the differences in accounts between the apostles strengthens the evidence that the Bible was not just some big corroboration between religious people, but was actual historical recordings made individually between witnesses.
Regardless of evidence or perceived contradictions or whatever else people may come up with to credit or discredit the Bible, the bottom line is that it cannot be proven or dis-proven that God exists. In the same way it cannot be proven or dis-proven that the Bible isn’t true regardless of whether there are apparent contradictions or discrepancies that the reader may not be able to explain or comprehend. In the end, belief in God does require faith which is the foundation of following God. Not to say there isn’t evidence to support that faith (that is to say, faith in God is not completely ‘blind’, for example there are reasons why I believe in God), but at the end of the day, either you choose to ‘believe’ in God or you do not.
The Bible was not made to be easily understood, nor is the Bible a rule book, or just a historical accounting of events. The Bible came into being through God’s design as a way for us as humans to develop a relationship and understanding of who God is and what he desires for our lives and it shows us the way to accept the gift of eternal life God gave to us.