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The State of Christian Theology in America

In September of 2022, Lifeway Research published its biennial poll on the state of Christian theological beliefs in America. It contained some very interesting and somewhat conflicting results.  For detailed findings the following links are provided:

Methodology

Three thousand adults were surveyed in the month of January 2022, resulting in a sample having 95% statistical confidence of accuracy +_ 1.9%. There was some minor weighting in order to accurately reflect American population demographics.

Who Is God

  • 66% of American adults believe God is perfect and will never make a mistake.
  • 51% believe God learns and adapts to varying circumstances.
  • 67% believe God accepts worship from all religions, including Islam
  • 71% believe in the Trinity
  • 32% believe God is not concerned with what they do on a daily basis, while 58% disagree. This lack of concern is up from 2020, at 25%, and is the highest percentage ever recorded from the start of polling in 2014.

Nearly 7 in 10 see the same God operating within multiple and totally contradictory belief systems.

Who is Jesus and the Holy Spirit

  • 55% of American adults believe Jesus is the greatest created being.
  • 53% believe He was a great teacher but not God.
  • 59% believe the Holy Spirit is a force and not a being.
  • 66% believe the physical bodily resurrection of Jesus, based on the Biblical record, was completely accurate.
  • 62% believe the Holy Spirit cannot tell them to do something forbidden in the Bible.

More than half of Americans do not accept Jesus as God, yet (from above), 71% believe in the Trinity.

The Bible

  • 51% of American adults believe the Bible is 100% accurate in all that it teaches.*
  • 52% believe the Bible has the authority to tell us what to do.
  • 53% believe the Bible, like other sacred books, provides helpful viewpoints but is not literally true.*
  • 40% believe modern science disproves the Bible.

*The question of 51% + 53% being greater than 100% was not addressed in the study. However, some can view the Bible as being accurate in its teachings and theology, yet still not be literally true in areas such as history and science.

Religion

  • 60% of American adults see religious beliefs as a matter of personal opinion and not objective truth.

If 6 out of 10 adults believe Biblical Christianity is not “objective truth” from God, then it is no wonder so many place their own values and morals above Scripture.

Mankind

  • 78% of American adults believe God created males and females,
  • 42% believe that gender identity is a matter of choice, however. This is the highest percentage ever recorded back to 2014. 
  • In a separate 2020 study, 72% of Pastors felt it was morally wrong for someone to believe their gender identity was different from their biological sex. 

If 80% of Americans believe God created separate males and females, yet 42% believe gender is a matter of [human] choice, then 22% of us believe God made a decision that we choose to reject.

Sin and Hell

  • 66% of American adults believe that everyone sins a little but most people are good by nature.
  • 71% believe everyone is born sinless in the eyes of God.
  • 59% of American adults believe Hell is a real place where people will be punished forever. This is up from 56% in 2020 and 54% in 2018.
  • 25% believe that even the smallest sin “deserves eternal damnation”, which was 26% in 2020 and only 18% in 2014. 

Nearly 7 in 10 adults believe man is “good by nature”, even in the face of the sin which reigns all around us. Further, why is the belief in an eternal Hell continuing to rise?

Is Church Attendance Important

  • In 2022, 66% responded that worshiping alone or with family was just as valid as worshiping in church. In 2020 only 58% of Americans responded to a similar question in that way.
  • In 2022, 56% believe that Christians should not feel obligated to join a local church.

The spiritual damage accelerated by the pandemic is hard to overstate.

Marriage

  • 53% of American adults felt sex outside of traditional marriage was a sin. This percentage has been steadily increasing from 49% in 2016.

LGBTQ+

  • 46% of American adults believe the “Bible’s condemnation of homosexual behavior” is no longer applicable today.

Abortion

  • 53% of American adults believe abortion is a sin, while 39% disagree.
  • From a previous study, 12% believe abortion should not be legal in any situation.
  • 50% of Americans believe abortion in situations where health issues are not involved, should be allowed no later than 12 weeks. 

Politics

  • 30% of American adults believe Christians should stay silent on political issues, which is a marked increase from 2020 at 24% and represents the highest percentage since the beginning of polling in 2014. 61% disagree. 

Conclusion

As one would expect, the state of Biblical Christianity in America is both concerning and deteriorating as successive generations fail to draw strength and their moral compass from an all-knowing, all-powerful Creator of the universe. 

Particularly concerning are the results that seem to be in tension with each other. For example, 71% of American adults believe in a trinitarian God, yet 67% believe Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Clearly, this falls outside the range of acceptable theology from either religion. Further, 60% of Americans believe religion, in all its forms, does not offer objective truth. The Bible speaks directly and clearly to both these eternal points by stating,

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6


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Jeff Hilles BCWorldveiw.org, a 501(c)3 Nonprofit

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