Seth Udinski, FISM News
This past month, Ligonier Ministries, the teaching ministry of the late Presbyterian theologian and pastor R.C. Sproul, released its biannual “State of Theology” report, which sets out to gauge the theological temperature across the United States.
The poll’s results reveal a drastic trend away from the biblical worldview and towards secularism, even among professing evangelicals.
In partnership with Lifeway Research, the poll surveyed over 3,000 Americans. Included in the poll were questions about the nature of God, sin, salvation, judgment, the Church, and authority.
Starting with questions about God, the poll revealed that 71% believe in a basic definition of the Triune God. However, 67% believe that God accepts the worship of all faiths, including non-Messianic Judaism and Islam. Even more troubling, 56% of professing evangelicals believe God accepts the worship of all faiths.
The poll also revealed that while two-thirds of respondents believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, over half (55%) believe Jesus was a created being and 53% believe He is not truly God. A shocking 43% of professing evangelicals deny the divinity of Jesus, up from 30% in 2020.
Regarding sin, 65% of evangelicals believe humans are born innocent, contrary to the biblical doctrine of original sin. 66% of all those polled said they believe most people are good, while only 25% believe what the Bible teaches about sin’s punishment, that even the smallest flaw results in eternal death outside of a relationship with and the forgiveness of Christ.
Just over half (51%) believe the Bible is accurate in all teachings. 53% – a 5% increase from 2020 and a 12% increase from 2014 – believe the Bible is a “myth” that may contain beneficial facts but is not actually true. 26% of professing evangelicals deny the truth claims of the Bible. On somewhat of an encouraging note, 60% believe that only those who trust in Christ alone receive salvation.
American opinions on the local church also appear to have dipped. 66% believe that gathering for worship on the Lord’s Day is not necessary, while only 36% argue that every Christian is obliged to join a local church.
Among professing evangelicals, a whopping 38% believe religious belief is a matter of option and not absolute truth. Additionally, 37% of professing evangelicals believe gender identity is a matter of choice.
In a final encouraging note to the poll, 91% of evangelicals believe abortion is a sin, which is a 3% increase from 2020.
Author’s Biblical Analysis:
Christians should not be shocked to read that the American public at large has moved away from a biblical worldview. We live in a post-Christian society where, much like the pre-Christian society of Ancient Rome, Christianity is seen as dangerous and is being pushed to the margins.
However, it should bother faithful Christians to discover that professing believers seem to be rejecting a biblical worldview as well. Throughout Church history, her greatest dangers never came from outside attacks. The Church has proven to thrive under fire. No, the greatest danger to the Church is from those within who profess Christ with their lips but teach and live a false worldview.
Christians must remember several things in light of this report. The first – doctrinal fidelity, while never a means of salvation, is vital to the growth and health of the Church.
There are some in the Church who believe that pastors should not teach precise, deep theological truths because they are inherently divisive. Firm theological fidelity, however, is necessary for the strength of the Church.
If you hear a pastor teach that Jesus was a created being, you must call that to account. If you hear a pastor teach that salvation is not by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, you must call that to account. If you hear a pastor teach that the Bible is not totally accurate and totally true, you must call that to account. Those are each areas of false doctrine that many professing Christians would dismiss as trivial.
Doctrinal clarity and fidelity are necessary. Theological conviction is not what saves, but a faulty theological conviction can and has contributed to the condemnation of many. Your theological conviction, while playing no part in your justification, can play a heavy role in your sanctification, or lack thereof. Do not take sound theology lightly.
The second is a reminder and encouragement for Christians – Unity is vital, but never forsake truth at the expense of unity.
Christians must be unified. There will be theological issues of secondary or tertiary vitality that, while important, do not threaten the health of the church or call into question a person’s salvation, and on these we must not allow disagreements with the specifics to threaten our unity.
Some issues like these would include debates on the end times, worship style, and certain debates on the age of the earth. Some that carry perhaps greater importance could be structures of church authority, as well as the debate on baptism. These issues are vital for discussion and may even cause denominational divides, but they would not be considered core issues of the Christian faith.
Those issues, of utmost importance, must be defended even if it causes disunity.
On these issues, Christians must agree completely, without exception. These would include such things as the existence, goodness, and power of the Triune God; the doctrine of justification by faith alone; the deity, humanity, life, substitutionary death, and victorious resurrection of Jesus; the authority of sacred scripture; and the foundational tenants of the gospel.
We must not waver on these vital truths, even for the sake of unity. To do so would be to call into question the truthfulness of the Christian faith.
Believer, stand firm. Do not waver to the right or to the left. Do not be unnecessarily confrontational or divisive. But when it is necessary, and it will be, defend the faith with boldness, humility, courage, and tenacity. If you do so, it will please your Father in heaven, and he will not forget your faithfulness.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:1-2