13) Churches that do not preach from the Bible should not be considered a Christian church. Only 44% fell into the agree categories. That means 56% of respondents think Christianity can exist apart from the Word of God. How did they get to be this biblically illiterate? Because churches today rarely preach the Bible anymore. They may reference it but read Scripture aloud? Exposit? No beloved. Instead it is all topical sermons designed to scratch itching ears followed by proof texting to rip verses out of context so it seems the Bible supports their heretical teaching.
14) God will always reward true faith with material blessings. While it is encouraging that only 25% answered in the agreed categories that is still 25% of wildly misinformed people. Of course it is of little wonder with all of the wealth gospels being preached today.
15) Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God's free gift of eternal salvation. The split was 54-46% in favor of agreement but what does it say that nearly half the country does not believe in the most basic underpinning of Christianity? This is how you get to multiple paths the heaven. Of course their ignorance is only fueled by a church that has turned salvation into a joke. Emotionally manipulated into saying a two sentence prayer that does not address their sin, need for a Savior or repentance and then pronounced as part of God's family! Once again the church leading the way for the world to not put their faith in Jesus Christ.
There were plenty of other interesting highlights but for the sake of brevity I will cease at 15 examples. Before you go thinking this was more of a commentary on the larger group of "perceived" Christians, Lifeway also tracked the respondents who were Evangelical using strict criteria. Only people who believed the Bible as their highest authority, said personal evangelism is important, and indicated that trusting in Jesus' death on the cross is the only way of salvation, were labeled Evangelical. They totaled 586 survey-takers, or 20% of the 3000 base surveyed. With that statistically significant sample in hand, how did Evangelicals fare? Not much better I am afraid.
1) Seventy percent said that Jesus was the first being created by God, which was more than the general respondents.
2) Fifty-six percent agreed that the Holy Spirit is some divine force instead of a personal being.
3) Twenty-eight percent denied the trinity.
4) Almost half of Evangelicals believed God accepts worship from all religions.
5) Two-thirds of Evangelicals, again outpacing the general respondents, said that heaven is a place where we will be reunited with our loved ones.
6) Forty percent believe worshiping alone or at home is acceptable alternative to attending a church.
I could go on to talk about how 46% believe sin is not a big deal and how lesser sins are not punishable by eternal; damnation but the point has been made. There are consequences associated with the watering down of the Gospel and the implementation of the Purpose Driven Church model. The first consequence is a body of Christ comprised of Biblically illiterate baby Christians or even worse -- falsely converted goats who believe they are saved. How else do you explain people who believe that the Bible is their highest authority but also believe God created Jesus? How can we explain that they believe in personal evangelism yet also believe God accepts all religions? How can we explain that they believe the cross is the only way to salvation yet also believe that heaven is a big ole family reunion?
The other thing this study reveals however is the elephant in the room no one in the modern purpose driven movement wants to discuss or own. In their constant striving to be relevant to the culture, they have lost who they were supposed to be as the church. The wishy-washy faith revealed by this scientific study exposes flaws in how the church has represented traditional orthodoxy to a world that desperately needs it. The humanistic ideas of everyone going to heaven, sin not being a big deal, and the Bible not being inerrant are all ideas they found within the walls of the church. You cannot compromise the Gospel to find relevance with a world that finds the Gospel foolishness to begin with. If you do, this is the end result. The city is no longer shining and no longer on a hill. It does not stand out anymore. It is time for the church to get back to being the church even if it means that false growth is sacrificed on the altar of pure orthodoxy. It is time to drive out the money changers and slay the elephant.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- November 6, 2016