A recent article in The Christian Post entitled, “US Christians increasingly departing from core truths of Christian worldview, survey finds” offers some interesting though not altogether revelatory findings (see below).
If you could go hoarse from repeatedly writing about the same thing, I would have lost my voice decades ago. If hypocrisy is one side of the evangelical coin, ignorance is the other. The two are inextricably linked.
I have been seeing similar surveys pop up every few years with the same results. Bottom line: Christians don’t have any idea what it means to be a Christian, doctrinally speaking and therefore practically speaking.
I would bet my left arm if you randomly sampled a thousand “Christians” either going or leaving church, most would fail a simple ten question orthodoxy test. I’m not talking about the “Filioque” clause or iconoclasm. I referring to the relationship of the dual natures of Jesus, the nature of the Trinity, original sin, the procurement of salvation or divine inspiration. These core tenets once determined if you were an heretic or not. American churches are packed with unwitting heretics.
So what? Who cares whether a Christian can parse the complex interaction of Jesus’ human and divine natures? And does it really matter if one understand Paul’s teaching on the universal nature of sin and propitiation? What about unlimited atonement or efficacious grace?
I remember when I was first introduced to the wonderful world of theology. It filled my head and warmed my heart. It made me want to be a better Christian. The more I learned of the underpinnings of my Christian faith, the more appreciative I was and the more I wanted to tell others. Knowledge has a way of transforming oneself and when it came to biblical knowledge even more so.
Imagine if you believe you are learning God’s truth from his holy word. Think about how powerful it is to be fortunate enough to study the mind of God. I bathed in his word and not just in class. I took time each day, about an hour, to meditate and memorize his word so it would infuse me and transform me. This is the nature of the Christian life. If you are not living a victorious life over sin and the temptations of the world, you are not a Christian.
I have been monitoring the evangelical world with keen interest for three decades. I was immersed within it for fifteen years academically and ministerially. One thing that was painfully apparent was the lethargy that pervades evangelicalism. Generally speaking, most are “good” people who live “good” lives and try to be “good” to others. Very few are living extraordinary lives of righteous devotion and dedication to the service of God. For instance, how many live sacrificial lives, as commanded by Jesus?
Sacrifice, servanthood, selflessness and service are not words you associate with American evangelicals. Comfort, convenience, success and consumerism are however. How many evangelicals would rather study (not read) their Bibles than play on their smart phones? How many engage in cold or confrontational evangelism or practice intercessory prayer? How many would rather give up a meal to feed someone else or stop eating ice cream or drinking sugary drinks and reduce their “temple” footprint? What about pornography or premarital sex?
I pick on evangelicals because they more than any sect of Christianity boasts commitment to God’s sacred word and attempt to inflict their ideology on others. The truth is, they don’t submit to the very word they profess to be inerrant and morally binding. The disconnect between their words and actions is obvious.
My informed assessment after careful observation and analysis is most evangelical Christians are in it for the prize at the end — heaven. They maintain a vague semblance of faith to give them assurance of salvation when the die but their faith is weak. Why are so few willing to fully invest their time, energy and resources in their faith?
Answer: The Rapture
The Rapture theory is evangelical Christians get out of jail free card. It promises escape from future pain, suffering and of course judgment. Furthermore, attached to this noxious teaching is equally reprehensible doctrine of eternal security which guarantees salvation. American evangelicals have created this fast food style gospel which is cheap, quick, easy and certain. It is also lacks spiritual nutrition.
Spiritually speaking, American evangelicals are fat, lazy and lethargic. Churches are smorgasbords of pop psychology wrapped in Christian jargon. Words such as repentance and discipline have dropped from the lexicon having been replaced with self actualization and prosperity. Evangelicals have adopted a victimization mentality seeing religious persecution around every corner. Pain, suffering and persecution are meant to be badges of honor for a true disciple of Christ not a reason to whine and complain.
If an alien was told there are parts of the world where people believe in a God who demands righteous obedience from his followers, it would never conclude America was one such place. The most Christian nation on earth (statistically speaking) seems to be falling far short of the expectations associated with that title.
Deism was a wonderful compromise between the burgeoning world of science and theistic religion. It gave religious people an out. They could maintain a belief in a transcendent and impersonal God who did not meddle in the affairs of mankind nor expected much from mankind in return. One could embrace the discoveries of science and coronate rationalism as the new sovereign while still hoping in a blissful afterlife. Evangelicals have by and large made this transition in practice if not in theory. The fear of God is a powerful force in dictating how one lives. Evangelicals seem entirely bereft of such awareness perhaps because they think God isn’t really interested. They sure act like it.