Friday, October 09, 2020

52% of Evangelicals Now Reject Absolute Moral Truth

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Probably the only thing the right and the left agree on these days is that our culture is in a state of chaos.

A survey, earlier this year by Barna, found that 52% of church-going people who claim to be "evangelicals" say they no longer believe in absolute moral truth.

Barna says the study "finds that the nation's four main Christian groups---evangelicals, Pentecostals and Charismatics, and Catholics---are creating new worldviews that are only loosely tied to the biblical teachings that have traditionally defined them."

Alarming. Therein lies the problem in our culture.

Be informed, not misled.

Once an individual cuts free from the mooring of biblical truth, they become like a ship without a sail or without a rudder---being tossed "to and fro" by the winds and whims of those who seized power and influence.

The culture transforms them, rather than them transforming the culture.

The result is always chaos and destruction.

Barna's survey found that 52% of evangelical churchgoers now reject absolute moral truth---specifically, they are rejecting biblical teaching on any number of issues.

The Cultural Research Center located at Arizona Christian University and headed by Dr. George Barna says "alarmed" best describes their response to what the survey has revealed.

Barna says:

"Rather than transforming the culture around them with biblical truth, the opposite is happening. American Christianity is rapidly conforming to the values of the post-Christian secular culture."

This is some of the key findings from the survey:

  • Evangelicals are embracing secularism: A majority (52%) of evangelicals reject absolute moral truth; 61% do not read the Bible on a daily basis; 75% believe that people are basically good, not sinful as the Bible teaches. About one-third of evangelicals embrace beliefs and behaviors that are contrary to biblical teaching.
  • Pentecostals and charismatics take secularization a step further: 69% reject absolute moral truth; 54% are unwilling to define life as sacred, with half claiming the Bible is ambiguous in its teaching about abortion; and 69% say they prefer socialism to capitalism.
  • Mainline Protestants are the most secular of the four faith families: 60% of mainline Protestants, beliefs directly conflict with biblical teaching. Three key values define this group: truth and morality are relative; life has no inherent value or purpose, so individuals should pursue personal happiness or satisfaction; and traditional religious practices are no longer seen as central or essential to their Christian faith. Only 41% of mainline Protestants claim to be "born again."
  • Catholics are increasingly secular and permissive: Catholics' beliefs are surprisingly similar to those of mainline Protestants but considerably different from that of evangelical and charismatic Protestants. They are most likely to believe in salvation through works or living a good life, and least likely (28%) to be born again. Today's Catholics are more permissive than other groups regarding sex outside marriage, lying, and stealing.

I wish this weren't true. Could Barna be wrong? Yes, but he has a 30-year track record of being pretty accurate in surveys having to do with Christianity. He is an evangelical Christian.

Michael Faust notes that the survey also found that among evangelical churchgoers:

  • 43% believe Jesus sinned.
  • 43% do not believe that there is a common, God-given purpose to humanity.
  • 42% seek moral guidance primarily from sources other than the Bible.

Barna concludes with this: 

"Unfortunately, the theology of this reformation is being driven by American culture rather than biblical truth. The worldviews embraced by the adherents of these distinct religious communities reflect contemporary, worldly influence, rather than biblical influence."


He calls the results "alarming."

The evil and destructive effects of relativism.

Some of the following are taken from the writings of theologian and teacher John Piper. Some are my own.

Relativism commits treason.

Relativism is a revolt against the objective reality of God. It is a pervasive rebellion against the very concept of divine law. Therefore it is the most thoroughgoing rebellion against God. It is a treason that is worse than outright revolt because it is devious. Instead of saying to God's face "Your word is false," it says to man, "There is no such thing as a universally binding divine word. This is treason.

Relativism cultivates duplicity.

Everyone knows in their heart that believing relativism to be true is contradictory, and no one consistently practices relativism. They are selective in how they apply it. They are hypocrites. Relativism breeds hypocrisy and duplicity.

Relativism cloaks greed with flattery.

Flattery is the use of language to make someone feel good about himself with the view of getting what you want. When relativism has abolished truth as the governor of language, language itself goes on sale. If you can get more money and influence by telling people what they want to hear, then give them what they want to hear.

The Christian church has miserably failed in this area. Paul called it teachers who satisfy, "itching ears."

The pulpit has failed to speak to cultural issues from a biblical perspective. Now the church is drowning in a pool of our own doing.

Relativism cloaks pride with the guise of humility.

In today's culture, if you believe in a truth that all people must embrace, i.e., biblical truth in order to be saved, you are called arrogant. On the other hand, relativism is put forth as a mark of humility.

People with strong beliefs in today's culture are shunned and sometimes punished. Those without firm beliefs are celebrated as tolerant, inclusive, and welcoming.

Relativism enables pride to put on humble clothes and parade through the streets. But don't be misled, relativism chooses every turn, every pace, every street, according to its own autonomous preferences, and submits to no truth.

This generation has not heard "truth" from too many of our pulpits, and today do not recognize the pride under those humble clothes.

Relativism always leads to totalitarianism.

Michael Novak wrote, 

"Vulgar relativism is an invisible gas, orderless, deadly, that is now polluting every free society on earth. It is a gas that attacks the central nervous system of moral striving. The most perilous threat to free society today is, therefore, neither political nor economic. It is the poisonous, corrupting culture of relativism."

And he said, "During the next hundred years, the question for those who love liberty is whether we can survive the most insidious and duplicitous attacks from within, from those who undermine the virtues of our people, doing in advance the work of the Father of Lies."

This culture has become a self-obsessed, selfie culture. We've turned inward and embraced "truth" as that which you believe to be true---get in touch with yourself---follow your feelings---discover your own truth, as Oprah says.

Novak says: "Those who speak in this way prepare the jails of the next century. They do the work of tyrants."

Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Vigilant. Be Prayerful. Be Faithful.