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The above quotes suggest one of two possible scenarios. In the first, “son of God”
can be understood to mean Messiah, King of Israel, “man of God,” “holy one of God,” or
simply a righteous man, for parallel gospels relate these terms as if synonymous. For
example, the demons identified Jesus as “the holy one of God” in one account and “Son
of God” in another, and the centurion identified Jesus as the “Son of God” in Matthew
and Mark, but as “a righteous man” in Luke. So maybe these terms mean the same thing.
In the second scenario, parallel accounts recording the same events in different
words could represent biblical inaccuracy. In either case, there’s a problem. If the
differing terms are synonymous and a person can’t trust the Bible enough to understand
the meaning of “Son of God” in one instance, how can anybody interpret the same phrase
with confidence elsewhere? And if the disagreements represent biblical inaccuracies, in
which one gospel author got it right and the other(s) got it wrong, then to which account
should we entrust our salvation?
A minor example is that two of the above­referenced gospels tell different stories,
though witnessing the same event. Matthew 8:28­29 records two possessed men in the
tombs and Luke 8:26­28 only one possessed man. Even if a person defends the Bible as
being the inspired word of God—not the actual word, but the inspired word—would God
inspire an error? Even a small one?
Some wonder why Christians smooth over biblical discrepancies. Others take a
more jaundiced view. The Christian world would like to believe that church authorities
are devoted to truth and not deception. But how many people would bend the truth to
gain 10% of the gross income of an entire congregation? Suspicion can be fairly high  that, in the words of George Bernard Shaw, “A government which robs Peter to pay Paul
can always depend on the support of Paul.”100 In other words, a church which tithes the
congregation in order to fund the salary and living expenses of the clergy can always
depend on the support of the clergy.
A follow­up question is, “How many Bible­toting, Sunday school­teaching church
leaders would bend the truth under pressure of wealth?” The person who conceives of
none is either daft, naïve, or lying. Current affairs document countless priests and
ministers who not only bend the truth, but the altar boys as well. Jesus warned about
these false “men of God” in Matthew 7:15­16 when he said, “Beware of false prophets,
who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will
know them by their fruits …”
Nonetheless, we find ourselves returning once again to the unanswered question,
namely, what does “Son of God” mean? Would the original Hebrew translate from ebed
to “slave,” “servant” or “son?” Even if the correct translation is “son,” how is this
different from all the other “sons of God” who were clearly nothing more than righteous
individuals or, at most, prophets? Commenting on R. Bultmann’s historical criticism of
the New Testament, The New Catholic Encyclopedia states, “Son of God has recently
been denied a place in theology on the grounds that, as found in NT writings, it is part of the mythological garb in which the primitive Church clothed its faith…. The problem
confronting one constructing an adequate theological idea of Son of God is to determine
the content that the idea expresses.”


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