Yesterday I received an email from Ligonier Ministries that caught my attention. The subject line read: “A Poll of Eternal Significance.” How could I not click on that? Fifteen minutes later, I was sad, but not at all surprised by what this poll revealed.
The link they provided took me to the results of a survey that Ligonier Ministries and Lifeway Research conducted. Their summary report, “The State of Theology,” demonstrated that those who identify as Evangelical Christians have, over the last ten years, significantly conformed their thinking to that of the world rather than that of God’s Word.
Here are some examples of what today’s evangelicals believe:
• 46% of self-identified evangelicals agree or somewhat agree that God accepts the worship of all religions.
• 36% believe that by the good things they do they contribute to earning their place in heaven.
• Only 52% of self-identified evangelicals who attend church once or twice per month believe that sex outside of marriage is a sin.
Go to: www.TheStateOfTheology.com for more.
Stop and think about this for a moment. When we go to our national men’s and women’s conferences, or participate in non-denominational or parachurch events that are targeted to or bill themselves as being “Evangelical,” these statistics are more or less representative of who we are. But what should we do with this information? Ligonier Ministries offers a wonderful piece of advice in the conclusion to their introduction to the survey’s findings:
“Faithful Christians can look at these survey results and lament the state of theology in America. Or, we can look at these results and engage our Great Commission work with a renewed urgency and purpose. Ligonier Ministries is taking the latter approach. It is easy to get distracted by cultural trends and apply our resources toward chasing novel methodology. This survey reminds us of the necessity of teaching foundational truths: God’s holiness, Christ’s person and work, humanity’s true need to be saved from the wrath of God, and the Bible’s authority—even in the twenty-first century.”
Doctrine matters! As a church, we have been spending considerable time over these past two months considering the centrality of doctrine in the prescribed discipleship program for the New Testament church. Paul’s letter to Titus makes clear that as shepherds, the elders as particularly tasked with teaching what is “in accord with sound doctrine” and “stressing” doctrinal themes in their discipling ministries. Be sure that you are pursuing sound doctrine and stressing the right doctrines in your own life as well!
And do be aware of the church that we are a part of – pray for the Presbyterian Church in America! We are a self-identified reformed and evangelical church. And we are not immune to the magnetic pull of popular opinions and worldly-wise patterns and methods for “success.” We are not above watering down unpalatable truths or inconvenient methods. The best denominations and churches are nonetheless filled with as many sinners as there are members! On this side of heaven the struggle is real and the fight to take “every thought captive” (2 Cor. 10:5) must be taken seriously.
One great way to keep abreast of our denomination is to subscribe to our denominational magazine: byFaith is the online and in print magazine of the Presbyterian Church in America and it is chock full of news and insights into the life and health of this denomination. It will encourage you, challenge you, and inform you! And it will help you to pray for your church and her ministers and missionaries throughout the world. How can you subscribe? So glad you asked!
Go to: www.byfaithonline.com and subscribe!