The Foundation of our Faith - the Bible or Jesus Christ?
In his series The Bible, the Qur'an, Bart Ehrman, & the Words of God, Mark Roberts writes:
his realization that the original text of the New Testament was passed on imperfectly led Ehrman to abandon his belief that the Bible was inspired, and ultimately his belief in God.I find this very sad, not just that Ehrman has lost his faith, but that this was the route of his logical deduction. It seems that his logic was formerly "the Bible is true, therefore God exists"; and because he is now unsure about the premise he has decided that the conclusion is unsafe and has become agnostic.
However, it seems to me that this logic is entirely backwards. I don't see how anyone can conclude that the Bible is true and the authoritative Word of God without first believing in God. There is no evidence or logical argument for the authority or infallibility of the Bible except through belief in God.
The logical way to come to belief in God is not through belief in the authority of the Bible. People come to believe in God in many ways. For some it is through spiritual experience. For others, like the author of "Who Moved the Stone?", it is because they realise that there is no way to explain the Bible accounts (even if they are not presupposed to be authoritative) except by understanding that there is a God, who raised Jesus from the dead. When people do come to accept that God exists, and that the Christian description of him is basically correct, they can accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, and then move on to an understanding that the Bible is inspired and authoritative.
And then of course there are those who believe in God because they have been brought up to do so and told that they should do because the Bible tells them to. ("Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so" - a song I would like to see rejected as false teaching.) Perhaps Ehrman was one of these. When these people actually start to think critically, of course they will realise that this is not a firm foundation for their faith. And if they do not have a real personal experience of God, they are then likely to fall away into agnosticism as Ehrman has done.
To bring this back to the original topic of the Mark Roberts' series, which was the Pope's comments on Islam and Christianity: Muslims believe that the foundation of their faith is the Qur'an. They take the Qur'an as their infallible text in its own right, and so don't accept any questioning of its literal truth. But Christians understand, or should do, that the foundation of their faith is not the Bible but Jesus Christ. Only a faith built on him can survive and grow.
PS One small point on which I would take issue with Mark Roberts. He wrote:
If you were to remove from the Bible every single passage where there is legitimate uncertainly about the original text, the impact on Christian theology and practice would be minimal at most. (The only folk I know who would be in trouble are the snake-handling Christians of Appalachia...)One other such practice is the use of fasting in relation to exorcism, which is supported in the NT only from Matthew 17:21 (MT, KJV), omitted in most modern versions, and Mark 9:29 where the word "fasting" is probably a later addition. Another practice which is in part dependent on a verse omitted in most modern versions is the requirement of a confession of faith before baptism, based on Acts 8:37 (MT, KJV).