Theology matters. What you believe about God, his Word, and the person and work of Jesus Christ matters. Poor, weak, and inaccurate theology leads, at best, to faith that produces no, little, or bad fruit, is stagnant, will not stand the tough times that will inevitably come in a sin-cursed and broken world; or, at worst, such wrong beliefs won’t save you because you don’t truly understand or believe the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Every two years, Ligonier Ministries releases a new survey titled the “State of Theology,” and the 2020 results were published this week. And they are shocking, to put it mildly. Now the survey was of the American population as a whole, but the results could be filtered for those who are considered “evangelical.” What is an “evangelical?” Such a person is defined as believing these four statements:
Survey respondents were asked whether they agreed (strongly or somewhat), disagreed (strongly or somewhat), or weren’t sure about a variety of statements. Here’s how those who are considered evangelicals responded to the following statements regarding basic beliefs about the person and work of the Godhead—prepare to be shocked by almost all of these:
For those who are familiar with the Bible and the most basic tenets of theology, these results are shocking and show that many who are considered “evangelical” are far from it.
For those who are familiar with the Bible and the most basic tenets of theology, these results are shocking and show that many who are considered “evangelical” are far from it. They believe outright heresy when it comes to the person of Jesus Christ, his work on the cross, and the person of the Holy Spirit! Personally, I believe such studies show a phenomenal failure of the modern church. Couple all this with the fact the younger generations are leaving the church in droves!
Here are evangelicals’ responses to statements regarding basic beliefs about the Bible:
It’s no wonder there are so many false beliefs about God in the church when what we know about God comes from his Word and a sizeable minority of evangelicals don’t believe the Bible . . . or that our faith is grounded in objective reality! (And for those who do believe the Bible is “literally true”—what do they mean by that? Many who believe in evolution, millions of years, no Adam and Eve, and a local flood will say they believe the Bible is “literally true” when they actually don’t believe that at all!)
Here are evangelicals’ responses to statements regarding basic moral issues—as you read these results, keep in mind that 80% of evangelicals affirm “the Bible has the authority to tell us what we must do” and 90% affirm “the Bible is the highest authority for what I believe”:
What a mess the church is in!
So 80% of evangelicals will say that the Bible has the authority to tell us what to do, and 90% claim the Bible is their highest authority, but these results show that they either (1) don’t actually believe that and/or (2) have no idea what the Bible teaches on various moral issues to allow it to guide their principles and beliefs! What a mess the church is in!
The terrible trends regarding evangelicals’ beliefs continue the downward slide each year. Why? After all, here in America, Christians have greater access to churches, Christian teaching ministries, Christian colleges and seminaries, Christian resources, Christian programming, and the Bible itself than any other nation on earth. So why are we seeing such ignorance regarding the Bible and basic biblical beliefs?
Well, people aren’t reading the Bible, so they don’t know what it says. Many Christian teachers either don’t teach the Bible at all or will just sprinkle a few verses in here and there to make what they teach sound Christian when it’s far from it. Parents, particularly fathers, have abdicated their role in discipling their families in the ways of the Lord, leaving it to the church . . . or simply not emphasizing or prioritizing it at all. Many Bible-believing churches have just assumed their congregations know what the Bible teaches when many don’t! Or they’ve focused more on entertainment or inspiration at the expense of good theology and spiritual growth. Many churches have made music the centerpiece of their services and watered down the teaching of the Word.
We need to be teaching children, young people, and adults to think foundationally—to understand that God’s Word is the foundation for our thinking in every area.
We need to be teaching children, young people, and adults to think foundationally—to understand that God’s Word is the foundation for our thinking in every area. And that a truly biblical worldview must come from the foundation of God’s Word, as we take everything and compare it against the authority of the Word of God. And, of course, that is only possible if families are reading God’s Word themselves, so they know what it actually teaches.
There is a lack of Bible teaching in families and churches. Many have focused instead on inspirational messages, devotionals, and music—obviously, there’s a place for them, but never at the expense of solid biblical teaching from God’s Word. Also, there’s been a great lack of teaching apologetics in churches and homes to counter the false ideas of the day that are used to brainwash the younger generations through the education systems, museums, and media.
Ultimately, as much as this is a problem in churches, if we truly want to see generational change, we must start in the home with families. Ultimately, the spiritual discipling and training of children is not the job of the church. The church is to come alongside parents and families, supporting them in their God-given mission to train up a child in the way he or she should go. Parents—your family is your responsibility and it should be your first and primary one! Nothing is more important than discipling your children in the ways of the Lord, in his Word, and in the gospel!
Commit to training them to know and love the Lord and his Word, with a theology rooted in God’s Word.
Parents, if these statistics concern you (or if you read them and wonder “what’s the big deal?”), take action with your children. Commit to training them to know and love the Lord and his Word, with a theology rooted in God’s Word. Here are some practical ways you can begin to do that as a family:
The trends in the church are truly awful—but, by God’s grace, they can be reversed as a generation of parents who love God and his Word prioritize teaching and training their children in righteousness. Parents, I will leave you with this command from Deuteronomy 6:6–7 that is just as true for us today as it was for the ancient Israelites who first heard it:
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
This important item was discussed yesterday on Answers News with cohosts Avery Foley, Tim Chaffey, and Bodie Hodge. Answers News is our weekly news program filmed live before a studio audience here at the Creation Museum and broadcast on my Facebook page and the Answers in Genesis Facebook page. We also covered the following topics:
Be sure to join us each Monday and Wednesday at 2 p.m. (ET) on my Facebook page or the Answers in Genesis Facebook page for Answers News. You won’t want to miss this unique news program that gives science and culture news from a distinctly biblical and Christian perspective.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
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