A survey conducted last year by LifeWay Research and commissioned by Ligonier Ministries has found that most core Christian beliefs are lost on Americans in general. The survey of 3,000 Americans found that the belief in the Trinity and in the dual nature of Christ (divine and human) were the only basic doctrines that clear majorities still affirm. The rest, according to a compilation from LifeWay writer Bob Smietana, is abysmal:
- More than half believe Jesus is “the first and greatest being created by God.”
- 64% believe God accepts the worship of all religions
- 65% say that though everyone sins a little, most people are good by nature
- 74% believe the “smallest sins” don’t earn eternal damnation
- 60% believe that “everyone eventually goes to heaven”…although half of those still affirm that belief in Jesus is the only means of salvation
Things weren’t much better among evangelical Christians. The survey identified as evangelical only those who affirmed that the Bible as their highest authority, personal evangelism is important, and trusting in Jesus’ death on the cross is the only way of salvation. Nearly half of this group still believes that God accepts the worship of all religions. Evangelicals are also more likely than others to say heaven is a place where all people will ultimately be reunited with their loved ones.
Shane Morris analyzed the results at TheFederalist.com and concluded that the leavening power of the Christian faith is all but gone when the specifics of its claims are rejected or no longer even known.
“Jesus told us knowing the truth sets us free. Believing lies enslaves people….Christ also told us the greatest commandment includes loving God with our minds. That means dusting off grandpa’s Bible, and revisiting a catechism or confession.”
Morris is correct. The de-emphasis on pure doctrine and the preaching and authority of Scripture will, over the course of a few generations, lead to overt paganism. One or two generations may still retain all of the language and forms of their cultural faith. But inevitably, a succeeding generation will view the empty forms of religion and ask “why?”
Then the answer will be a deafening silence.