Friday, April 27, 2018

PEW: "9 in 10 Americans Believe In God"---But Which God?

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Pew Research, not a conservative organization, says their research has found that 9 in 10 Americans say they believe in God, but what do they mean---which God do they believe in?

Dr. Thomas D. Williams, who studied the research, says, "Despite recent signs of ebbing religious faith among Americans, the vast majority still believe in God or some sort of divinity," according to the report.

A closer look at the study is very interesting...maybe a little surprising, and hopefully challenging.

The Pew Research Center study asks, "When Americans say they believe in God, what do they mean?"

"When respondents say they don't believe in God, what are they rejecting?" Pew inquires.

The researchers ask if those who say they don't believe in God are rejecting a belief in any higher power, or "are they rejecting only a traditional Christian idea of God---perhaps recalling images of a bearded man in the sky?"

"Or some other spiritual force?"

Breitbart published an article that takes a closer look at what the study reveals.

People's beliefs in general.

While 10% of Americans claim to be atheists, there are still 90% who are not---and claim to believe in a higher power, with 56% saying they believe in the God of the Bible.

Among US adults who claim to be Christian, 8 in 10 say they believe in the God of the Bible, and only 1 in 5 say they do not believe in the biblical God but do believe in a higher power of some kind.

I thought it was interesting that 56% of Jews in America say they do not believe in the God of the Bible, but do believe in some other higher power or spiritual force in the universe.

Americans who say they believe in the God of the Bible generally believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing, loving deity who determines most or all of what happens in their lives. Those who do not believe in the God of the Bible tend to believe more in chance or luck, etc.

Most Americans believe in a God who directly intervenes in the course of human events and say they have been blessed or rewarded and punished by God.

And 3 in 4 (75%) say they try to talk to God (or another higher power) and 30% say they believe God talks back to them.

People's beliefs according to political affiliation.

Pew found 70% of those who lean toward the Republican Party say they believe in the God described in the Bible, whereas among Democrats and those who lean toward the Democrat Party, 45% believe in the God described in the Bible.

Nearly 3 times as many Democrats as Republicans say they do not believe in any higher power or spiritual force at all.

Politically speaking, the most irreligious group in America is white Democrats.

People's belief according to ethnicity.

A majority of nonwhite Democrats, on the other hand, say they believe in God as described in the Bible, and more than 70% say they believe God is all-loving, all knowing or all powerful.

Interestingly, in this way non-white Democrats have more in common with Republicans than they do with white Democrats.

Why people believe, or do not believe in the God of the Bible.

Neither Pew, nor Breitbart gives any conclusion to these findings, so I'll offer one.

The reason people believe or don't believe in the God of the Bible falls on the front door of the Christian church. Particularly at the pulpit.

Christ's great commission to His church was to go and preach the gospel to the whole world---because that would save them.

The Apostle Paul took His words seriously and personally. He said, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ---it is the power of God unto salvation."

More than 2 billion people alive on earth today identity as being a Christian, because others throughout history have also taken Christ's great commission seriously.

Paul also noted that some claim Christianity, but deny the power of the gospel.

Our American Christian churches are, in too many cases, putting so much emphasis and effort and focus into "relating" to the culture---being relevant, that they have become nothing more than a social and self-help gathering.

This is why people, especially millennials, are not necessarily interested in the local church. There's no power.

Charles Finney, himself a great preacher of the gospel, said, "If the presence of God is in the church, the church will draw the world in. If the presence of God is not in the church, the world will draw the church out."

The presence of God is in the preaching of the gospel. The story of Jesus Christ is what separates Christianity from all other world religions.

CS Lewis said, "Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important."

The importance of the gospel of Christ is that it claims that God became flesh, was born of a virgin, was crucified and raised from the dead for your personal sins. In accepting Him as your Savior, you spend eternity with God in heaven. If you choose to reject Him and His gospel, you are choosing to spend eternity in hell.

Sermons that present 5 ways to be happy this week are not the gospel. While the benefits of being in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ brings much happiness and joy and peace and assurance---the benefits are not the gospel, nor will merely talking about the benefits bring those benefits to anyone.

Charles Spurgeon said this: "The motto of all true servants of God must be, 'We preach Christ.' A sermon without Christ in it is like a loaf of bread without any flour in it. No Christ in your sermon, sir? Then go home and never preach again until you have something worth preaching."

If the Christian Church will preach Christ and His gospel, the confusion over which God people serve will be cleared up to a great degree. If they accept Him, they will know Him. If they reject Him, they remember doing so.

In either case, they will not be ambivalent.

The challenge, then, is will the Church be the Church and preach the gospel? Or will we continue to be "moderately" important to a world that desperately needs help and hope?

Be Informed. Be Bold. Be Prayerful.