One of the ways that atheists and their ilk attack the Bible is by exposing contradictions that they claim occur between the Old and New Testament.
In the New Testament, Jesus said that we needed to love our neighbours as ourselves (Mark 12:31) and love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), while the Old Testament talks of an eye for an eye, projecting the idea of like punishment for crimes (Exodus 21:24).
They claim these contradictory themes expose a flaw in the Bible’s message. However, in doing this, they make one fundamental error. The Old Testament involved the law set down for the nation of Israel and its courts, and Jesus’ message was personal. It was for the individual, you and me.
While the individual needs to forgive any offence done to them, in the more serious cases, the nation must still dispense justice.
And this was on display in the sad case involving Darrin Ray. In 2006, while studying counselling with the intent of entering the Christian ministry, Ray and his daughter were on their way to church, when their car was hit in a headlong collision by a drunk driver who was also high on drugs.
Ray was travelling at 20 MPH in a school zone, and the drunk driver was hitting speeds of 60 MPH, when he crossed the centre line hitting Ray’s car headlong.
Though his daughter was basically untouched in the accident, both of Ray’s legs were crushed, his right ankle and left thigh was broken, and he ended up with burns when his car’s battery acid spilled on him.
In the end his right leg was amputated because of the damage. Ray returned to seminary but struggled with resentment to the man who caused the accident.
Though the drunk man was punished by the legal system for causing the crash, there was still the court case involving a $2.5 million settlement for Ray’s family.
In an interview with the Christian Post, Ray said that when he saw the 49-year-old man walk into the court, God began to soften his heart to the man who looked like he was 70.
At that moment, Ray remembered the words Jesus spoke in the Lord’s prayer:
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
14 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (Matthew 6:12, 14 NASV)
Though Ray struggled he realized that he needed to forgive this man the $2.5 million debt he owed his family and asked God to help him forgive.
Even the judge was surprised when Ray said that he wanted to forgive the man for his $2.5 million debt.
The Christian Post reports what happened next:
“The judge looked at me and said, ‘Why do you want to forgive this man that debt?’ he said. ‘And I looked at the judge, and told him, ‘Because I have a Saviour that forgave me. He paid my debts that I could never repay.'”
Ray says at the moment, he made this decision to forgive, he was “instantly freed from bitterness and anger.”
And this is the message of the Bible as individuals we must be willing to forgive, but this does not contradict a country’s need to dispense justice.
I did a podcast, a while back, on how the Old Testament law of an eye for an eye was at the very heart of Jesus’ teaching on loving our neighbour as ourselves.