In general, I think we would agree that anything we believe needs some sort of foundation. A very simply example could be: “Cars need fuel to work”. Whether this is petrol, diesel, or electricity, cars need fuel. This belief is pretty easy to back up: just wait until the fuel gauge on your car reaches empty and see if it keeps working!
This is a simple example. But, whether its a complex belief or a simple one, we must have something to back it up.
Why does this matter? Because, as a minister, I need a foundation for what I believe and do. This should be beyond personal experience, because, as I have reflected elsewhere, the best basis for a belief is something objective and free (as far as possible) from the limited perspective of humans. That being said, my own experience of faith can be a powerful tool in ministry.
This foundation is offered to Christians through the Bible. God speaks to us through the Bible, revealing His character, His plan to save from sin, as well as revealing the best way for us to live with one another in this world. The Bible can be described as “God’s Word made flesh”, because God’s Word is available to us in this physical form. “God’s Word made flesh” also applies to Jesus Christ. We look at Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and teaching as the climax of all that God has to say to us about salvation and how to live.
God gives us this insight into his eternal perspective so that we can draw upon to shape our lives. This provides us with the objective foundation upon which we can build our beliefs.
This does not mean Christians believe things just, “because God says so”! The contents of the Bible can, by and large, be verified using other sources, like archaeological evidence, or records from other Ancient writers.
The contents of the Bible also makes a great deal of sense when looked at either philosophically or epistemologically (this can get quite complicated, however, so I will reflect on them elsewhere). All of these things serve to make the Bible a reliable source which can give us a healthy and moral perspective on life, as well as connecting us to God.
It is also worth noting that, for the Christian faith to make sense, the Bible needs to be a foundation. I know it might seem odd for me to say this now, since I’ve been implying it all through this post, but for some Christians, the Bible is not the foundation for their faith. Instead, what they do is come with their own views and beliefs, and cherry-pick the bits of the Bible which suit them and back up what they believe, and chuck the rest.
This is not an appropriate thing to do, because what you end up with is a belief system designed from the subjective point of view of the individual, and backed up by blatantly disregarding certain parts of the Bible. I would hardly describe this as a “solid foundation” for belief!
In order to have this firm foundation, we must take the Bible in it’s entirety, including all the bits which make us feel uncomfortable! We then wrestle with it in order to understand how God’s Word can impact and change us today, making us better people.
As the Bible says about itself:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16-17 NIVUK)