Evangelicals are in trouble. More and more, they are losing sight of the truth of the Gospels.
If there are any who, like myself, watch other evangelicals throw themselves at the feet of an adulterous, abusive, unrepentant man, such as Donald Trump, and wonder why they gaze at him with worshipful adoration, we now may have a clue.
And they were depressing.
The president of Ligonier Ministries, Chris Larson, suggests that the results of the survey show how urgent the need for teaching historic Christianity is in our churches.
"The State of Theology survey highlights the urgent need for courageous ministry that faithfully teaches the historic Christian faith. It's never been popular to talk about mankind's sinfulness or the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ, but at a time when a darkened world needs the light of the Gospel, it's disheartening to see many within the evangelical church confused about what the Bible teaches. We hope this survey provides local churches with a little more insight into what people in our neighborhoods and in our pews actually believe," Larson said in a statement.
Among those things today’s evangelicals are confused about is the path to God.
The survey sampled 3,000 American evangelicals, testing their views on theological statements, such as, "God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam."
So what do you think the survey showed, when we consider what the Bible teaches about worship?
John 14:6 AMP – “6 Jesus said to him, “I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
It seems pretty clear, doesn’t it? Jesus was more than a prophet or a rabbi. He was all of that and more. He was God in the flesh, sent to redeem sinful man.
Apparently, it’s not as clear to evangelicals today as it was in 2016.
In 2016, 49 percent of evangelicals agreed with the statement, and 43 percent disagreed. That’s shocking enough. Today, however, more than half – 51 percent – agree with the statement, in opposition to the Word of God, while 42 percent disagree.
"The Bible is clear that the Gospel is the only way of salvation, 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)," the researchers note.
Where else are American evangelicals losing their way?
Among other troubling theology embraced by evangelicals according to the survey, is that a majority of evangelicals believe that most people are basically good by nature and that Jesus was the first and greatest being created by God the Father — some 78 percent of evangelicals agree with this. Only 71 percent of evangelicals supported this idea in 2016.
Truly, Jesus is great, so I’d like to think there were some reading comprehension problems with those taking the survey, but no. People are not basically good by nature. Our nature is that of sin. Apart from God, we will fail. Were it any other way, the world would not be in the shape it is in today.
As for Jesus being created, my personal favorite passage from the Bible is found in John 1:1-3:
“In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. 2 He was [continually existing] in the beginning [co-eternally] with God. 3 All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him not even one thing was made that has come into being.” (AMP)
C’mon, evangelicals, do you even church?
"These results show the pressing need for Christians to be taught Christology, especially as the outcome has gotten worse since 2016. There is a general lack of teaching today on the person of Christ, a doctrine for which the early church fought so hard," Ligonier Ministries said.
I don’t want to say it’s because evangelicals today have found other things to worship besides Jesus Christ – but evangelicals have found other things to worship besides Jesus Christ.
Stephen Nichols, the chief academic officer of Ligonier Ministries points out the disturbing nature of more than half of evangelicals (53 percent) that believe in the “good nature” of everyone, even though everyone “sins a little.”
"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? Down through history, Christians have proclaimed that Jesus is truly God, not some sort of created being. The evangelical world is in great danger of slipping into irrelevance when it casually forgets the Bible's doctrine," he said.
The results of the 2018 State of Theology survey, which was conducted from April 24 to May 4, 2018, echoes previous studies which have been pointing to a rejection of orthodox Christian beliefs by many American Christians.
What is going on here?
One consideration is that the Bible is a mirror. Too many are afraid to hold it up and look into it, afraid of seeing their own flaws in it. They’re so afraid, and so prideful, they neglect the message of redemption and renewal. Why face our sin if there are others in high position giving lip service to Christ, but rejecting his teachings with their actions?
It's just easier to "play church" than to be the church.
The message of the Bible does not end with our failures, but rather, the triumph of Jesus at Calvary.
In 2008, a Pew Research Center Study found that more than half of all American Christians believe that at least some non-Christian faiths can lead to salvation. Nearly a decade later, a study earlier this year showed that even among the most traditional Christian groups, significant minorities are also rejecting God as described in the Bible.
And if evangelical leaders don’t adjust their focus and begin teaching the truth of the Gospel, the American church will be swallowed up by history.
We cannot live apart from our source, and our source is the Gospel of Christ. The further from that truth we move, the closer to extinction we are.