Pastor Keith Williams,
High Prairie Bethel Baptist Church
Since we are unable to meet at church I have been trying to put out a weekly newsletter to the congregation. In a recent letter I shared this article that I would like to in-turn share with you. [Edited to fit within a word limit.] American evangelicals are “deeply confused” about some core doctrines of the Christian faith – and the fourth-century heretic Arius would be pleased, according to a new survey.
Ligonier Ministries has examined the State of Theology in the United States, based on interviews with 3,000 Americans.
Ligonier wanted to know what Americans “believe about God, salvation, ethics, and the Bible. For example, a majority agreed that Jesus died on the cross for sin and that He rose from the dead.
However, they rejected the Bible’s teaching on:
- The gravity of man’s sin.
- The importance of the church’s gathering together for worship.
- The Holy Spirit.
- More than two-thirds [69 per cent] of Americans disagree that the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation, and 58 per cent strongly disagree. Ligonier finds this “alarming”.
- A majority of American adults [58 per cent] said that worshiping alone or with one’s family is a valid replacement for regularly attending church. Only 30 per cent disagree.
- A majority of American adults [59 per cent] say that the Holy Spirit is a force, not a personal being. Ligonier cites relativism for such a “casual outlook”. In the survey, six in 10 Americans agree that religious beliefs is a matter of personal opinion [and] not about objective truth” and one in three evangelicals [32 per cent] say the same.
When it comes to Americans with “evangelical beliefs” the survey found that a majority say:
- Most people are basically good [52 per cent].
- God accepts the worship of all religions [51 per cent].
- Jesus was the first and greatest being created by God the Father [78 per cent].
“However, all of these beliefs are contrary to the historic Christian faith,” stated Ligonier, citing Romans 3:10 on sin, John 14:6 on God, and John 1:1 on Jesus.
“For example, while an overwhelming 97 per cent of evangelicals do believe that ‘there is one true God in three persons, three out of four of them attempt to give Jesus first-place honours even though that belief ’ has been rejected by the church down through the centuries.”
Strangely, while most evangelicals strongly believe in justification by faith alone, they are confused about the person of Jesus Christ. On one hand, virtually all evangelicals express support for Trinitarian doctrine. Yet at the same time, most agree that Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God, which was a view espoused by the ancient heretic Arius.
Arius was condemned at the Council of Nicaea in 325, and again the Council of Constantinople in 381.
Yet the number of American evangelicals who agree with his view has increased from 2016, when 71 per cent agreed and 23 per cent disagreed, to today when 78 per cent agree and 18 per cent disagree.
“These results show the pressing need for Christians to be taught Christology. There is a general lack of teaching today on the person of Christ, a doctrine for which the early church fought so hard.”
“The State of Theology survey highlights the urgent need for courageous ministry that faithfully teaches the historic Christian faith,” stated Chris Larson, president and CEO of Ligonier Ministries.
“It’s never been popular to talk about mankind’s sinfulness or the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ. But at a time when a darkened world needs the light of the gospel it’s disheartening to see many within the evangelical church confused about what the Bible teaches.
“The evangelical world is in great danger of slipping into irrelevance when it casually forgets the Bible’s doctrine.”