Wednesday, October 17, 2018

New Survey: Most Evangelicals Confused About Core Biblical Beliefs

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A new survey reveals that a majority of evangelicals now believe God accepts the worship of all religions---Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

This reflects a growing confusion among evangelicals regarding core doctrines of the Christian faith, and the confusion is being reflected in our culture.

Be informed.

The 2018 "State of Theology" survey was conducted by LifeWay Research and released yesterday by Ligonier Ministries.

"Evangelicals" are defined as those who believe these statements to be true:

  • The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.
  • It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.
  • Jesus Christ's death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.
  • Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God's free gift of eternal salvation.

Chris Larson, president of Ligonier Ministries says the results of the survey show an urgent need for bold teaching of historic Christianity.

He says, "It's disheartening to see many within the evangelical church confused about what the Bible teaches."

About 3000 self-identified evangelicals were interviewed.

Some of the most troubling confusion reflected in the interviews.

In the survey, evangelicals were asked if they believe "God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam."

51% of evangelicals agreed with the statement, while 42% disagreed. Just 2 years ago, 49% agreed, while 43% disagreed.

This cuts to the heart of biblical teaching that says Jesus is the "only" way to God. The Bible is clear that the Gospel is the only way, and God will not accept the worship of other faiths. It is only through Jesus Christ and by His Spirit that we are able to worship the Father in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

In John 14:5,6, we find a confused Thomas who is explaining to Jesus, "We do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"

Jesus' answer is crystal clear: "I am the way, the truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

Later, Peter, who had failed miserably, lying to a young girl about his relationship to Jesus, stood boldly on the Truth of God's Word.

In Acts 4 we see him arrested, then confronted by the religious leaders of his day demanding to know (v7) "'by what power' is he doing these things?"

He points out to them the problem, then the solution. The problem:. "You crucified Jesus of Nazareth," but, "God has raised Him from the dead---this is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone."

He then gave them the solution: "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

If you read on, you notice that when the religious elite saw the boldness of the uneducated preachers---Peter and John---"they marveled," looked at the man who had just been healed now standing nearby, and decided to have a follow-up strategy meeting to discuss what to do with these two men.

The survey revealed that 53% of evangelicals believe that people are basically good by nature even though everyone sins a little bit.

Stephen Nichols, the academic officer of Ligonier and president of their Reformation Bible College says, "These results are a serious cause for concern. It is the depth of man's sin that led Jesus to die on the cross. How, then, can a majority of evangelicals say most people are good by nature?"

He says the evangelical community is in danger of slipping into irrelevance when it casually forgets the Bible's doctrine."

How this confusion translates and creates a confused culture.

In recent years, the evangelical church has focused on "relating" to the culture in order to win non-Christians to Christ. And that's exactly what Jesus commanded us to do---"Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel..."

However, while the church has "gone into all the world," we are not always "preaching the Gospel."

We are all to often consumed with "relating."

There are countless polls and surveys that reveal the same concerns as the survey above. This is just the most recent one.

A combination of ignorance of biblical teaching and powerful non-biblical worldviews are too often reducing the power of the gospel to a mere discussion of ideas.

Consider this:

1. Personal stories and "personal truth" are driving biblical interpretation.

In our culture today, personal stories are how we discover our individual "truth." The individual---me--- is the primary focus, and therefore the primary point of meaning and fulfillment. Our culture looks inside, to our own experience.

Morality is no longer defined by any outside source, like the Bible, but by "my" truth.

A couple of examples that I have written about recently and talked about on our daily live radio program:

During the Senate hearings on Brett Kavanaugh, his accuser, Ms. Ford, told her story. It didn't matter that her story could not be collaborated by anyone, those who opposed Kavanaugh, like Sen Cory Booker and others, repeatedly referred to Ms. Ford's testimony as "her truth."

It didn't have to be confirmed by any other source. Her "truth" was valid because it was "her" truth.

When former state senator, later Seattle Mayor, now disgraced child molester Ed Murray led Washington State in legalizing so-called same-sex "marriage," he repeatedly told the press that if Washingtonians could hear our story, they will support redefining marriage.

He was right. He and other homosexual activists told their stories of exclusion, being misunderstood, struggling with being different, etc., therefore they deserved the right to marry whom they love---and a majority of those who voted approved legally redefining marriage---because it was "the right thing to do."

A number of professing Christians voted in favor because they were not "bigots."

The current culture is superior---more evolved, than the culture of the Bible.

That worldview goes something like this: We moderns know more than people who lived long ago. They were ignorant. We're not. They didn't have the knowledge and data we have today.

They contend that the writers of the Bible related to their times. These are different times.

No one can explain this better than Hillary Clinton did while speaking at the Women in the World Summit in 2015.

She, a professing Christian and proud United Methodist, said,
"Far too many women are denied access to reproductive health care and safe child birth, and laws don't count for much if they're not enforced. Rights have to exist in practice---not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will...And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed."

Saint Hillary was trying to save Christians from Christianity. And advance her political aspirations.

This authoritarian, condescending attitude is advocating that when biblical beliefs clash with secular sacred golden calves, the biblical beliefs are to be dispensed with in favor of the new evolved truth.

Stand firm.

Be Informed.

"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light into my path" (PS 119:105).

Be Faithful.

"Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not against thee" (PS 119:11).

Be Blessed.

"And ye shall know the truth and the Truth shall make you free" (John 8: 31,32).