Religious Survey, unbelievers do best

Recently the results of a religious survey were released and they are causing a bit of a rucus.  The "U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey"1 polled 3,412 people and asked 32 questions dealing with the Bible, Christianity, Judaism, Mormonism, world religions, atheism, the role of religion in public life, and knowledge of nonreligious topics.  It seems everyone except Christians are boasting about the results.  Why?  Because Christians didn't fare too well.

surveyIf by any chance you have heard me on the radio, you would know that I regularly decry the lack of spiritual and biblical knowledge of Christians.  This is one of the primary reasons that the CARM website exists:  to equip Christians.  And, it is also why the survey doesn't surprise me one bit.

In my many years of preaching, teaching, and defending the Christian faith I have discovered that Christians are woefully ignorant of biblical theology, biblical history, and world religions.  The cults seem to do better at training their people than Christians, but this makes sense because in order to keep a cult working you have to constantly feed your people information -- information that is delivered through the particular group's truth filter.  Still, does that excuse Christians for doing worse than cults and even atheists?  Not at all.  But we need to ask, why are we in such bad shape?

In my opinion,  too much of Christianity has become infested with the stereotypical TV preacher style, ear tickling messages that deal with "How to get a better whatever-it-is," and sermons that are stripped of Christ-centered preaching.  You'd think that Christians don't want to actually think and be challenged the way they flock to mega churches that preach a politically correct, kindler, gentler Jesus.

When I go to hear preachers, too often I find myself getting bored.  Maybe it's just me.  Maybe as an apologist I am simply too critical.  Maybe studying as much as I have for 30 years has clogged my ears and prevents me from simply listening to a sermon without my antennae up.  But, if you don't mind enduring my whine for just a little longer, let me say that when I visit churches I do not often find verse by verse exposition or even topically based solid exegesis.  Instead, I sometimes find that feelings have replaced the mind, and how-to's have replaced knowledge.

I long to listen to a preacher who can dig into the original language, who can teach the majesty of the text, who has passion for what he says, who speaks of how Christ and his crucifixion is the reason for the message, and who calls Christians to be more than simply pew sitters.  Yes, there are many pastors who do this and I praise God for them, but they are too few and far between.

Maybe the Christian church is in the shape it's in because in our culture of comfort, a message that doesn't soothe drives people away.  After all, aren't we accustomed to a host of menu items that we need only to request in order to satiate our hunger?  Aren't we accustomed to microwaved meals, air-conditioned churches, and heated pools?  Of course we are.  We like things quick, easy, and comfortable.  That philosophy is very much unlike true Christianity.

Anyway, America, is filled with church members who, to our shame, would rather save their money for coffee and lunch after church than tithe and support missions, the clergy, and hungry children.  But boy, have I digressed.  Let's get back on topic.

The fact that Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, secularists, etc., are all making headway in our culture is because, in my opinion, true Christians have collectively stuck their heads in the sand. Why?  It is probably because in the past 50 years or so an anti-intellectual movement has permeated American Christianity.  Instead of us adapting to the truth of God's word, we adapt God's truths to our lives.  Such bending and flexing of biblical truth invariably leads to breaking points and fractures that ultimately weaken the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. The result is more and more Christians seeking quick fix solutions, and preachers who cater to their needs.  Instead of making fishers of men, the pastorate all too often produces keepers of the aquarium.

That, combined with relativism and a pervasive liberal media, Christians have been intimidated into hiding in their Sunday morning corner and focusing not on external things like the culture, suffering, righteousness, and moral purity.  Instead, they are looking for ways to survive in a hostile world -- instead of changing it.  Such myopic and inward focused attention serves only to stagnate the hearts and minds of God's people who need to be out in the world flexing their spiritual muscles and straining against the force of perpetual ungodliness.  Only in such struggles is true spiritual development attained.

So, what does this all add up to?  It adds up to a failing grade for Christians as a whole.  We who have the truth of God's word, the inspired Scripture, and a risen Savior who was God in flesh, should be bold and confident in what we stand for.  We, who are called to further the kingdom of God for his glory, should study to show ourselves approved unto God (2 Tim. 2:15) .

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