By Dr. Don Bierle, FaithSearch President
Ligonier Ministries, an evangelical Christian group, surveys adult Americans every two years, capturing their views on theological issues. After reviewing Americans’ convictions about God, the Bible, salvation, and humanity/ethics, they came to the following conclusion:
These results convey the ongoing need for the church to be engaged in apologetics, helping unbelievers by providing a well-reasoned defense of the Christian faith, and helping believers by strengthening their clarity and conviction regarding why they believe what they do. Additionally, the people of God must continue to obey the Great Commission by communicating the whole counsel of God in biblical evangelism and discipleship. The need is great…*
That statement would fit if it were placed on our Web site as the mission of FaithSearch International. That is what we do! FaithSearch ministry is totally relevant to today’s needs in America, and likely around the world.
Let me summarize some of the results of the survey. I have placed some biblical references throughout the discussion which indicate what the Bible teaches about each subject. Get out your Bible, look up those references, and use this article as a “laboratory” to strengthen your own worldview—and to articulate it to others—in these areas.
Throughout the article I have also placed pictures of relevant resources available at FaithSearch. Request a FREE copy of any or all of them for your personal spiritual growth and to advocate for the truth of the Christian faith in your network of influence. Send your request before December 31, 2023, to [email protected] or call our office, 952-401-4501 (Tuesday-Thursday, 9 am-4 pm).
Note: The book Surprised by Faith (SBF, on right) and our flagship event Discovery (on left, available on DVD and as a FREE course on the free Bible Learning Center are the best detailed sources for God, the Bible, and salvation.
Surprisingly, according to the Ligonier study, 70% of American adults (AA) believe there is one true God who exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19; Mark 1:9-11). However, confusion on this matter becomes evident when 59% of them said the Holy Spirit is only a “force” but not a personal being. (The personal attributes of intellect, will, and emotion are identified with the Holy Spirit: 2 Corinthians 2:10-11; 1 Corinthians 12:11; Ephesians 4:30).
Furthermore, 53% of AA said Jesus is not eternal (cf. Hebrews 13:8), saying He was the first and greatest creation by God (cf. John 1:1-3), and He was a great teacher but not God (cf. John 10:30-33; Luke 22:70). Finally, 52% think God learns and adapts over time to different circumstances (yet Malachi 3:6).
About the Bible
Christians should be encouraged to learn that 62% of AA in the survey said the Bible is the highest authority for what they believe (Matthew 4:4), and 51% said it is 100% accurate in all that it teaches (John 17:17). However, confusion sets in again when 53% said the Bible contains accounts of ancient myths and is not literally true (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12), and 40% said modern science has disproven the Bible (cf. Isaiah 45:9, 12; Jeremiah 10:12; Romans 1:18-20). (See page 1: Surprised by Faith; Discovery (DVD).)
Once again, here we have mixed responses from AA. On one hand, 60% said only those who trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior receive the free gift of eternal life (Acts 4:12; John 14:6), and 64% agreed that Jesus’ death on the cross is the only sacrifice which can remove the penalty of our sin (1 Peter 2:24; Romans 5:8-9). On the other hand, 67% believe that God accepts all religions (cf. Galatians 1:8-9; 1 Timothy 2:5), and 60% think religious belief is a matter of personal opinion and not about objective truth (1 Timothy 1:15; 2 Peter 1:21-22; John 16:12-15).
About Humanity and Morality
There is not a lot of correct thinking among AA in this area. It is a hopeful sign that 53% believe abortion is a sin (see Genesis 9:6; Psalm 139:13-16). However, 70% think everyone is born innocent in the eyes of God (yet Psalm 51:5; Ephesians 2:3), 46% said the Bible’s teaching on homosexual behavior no longer applies today (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Romans 1:26-27), and 42% that gender identity is a matter of choice (in spite of Genesis 1:27).
Reaching Our “Jerusalem”
FaithSearch has a mission to “extend the Gospel with evidence to all peoples everywhere.” Indeed, we have an active ministry among Russian-speaking people; have reached thousands in India and the Philippines; and Adrian has reached thousands in many countries through his Gospel illusion ministry.
It is short-sighted, however, to think that international ministry can be sustained without reaching our own “Jerusalem” (America). Christian people in the U.S. have contributed more prayer, finances, and missionaries to reach the world with the saving Gospel of Jesus than those from any other country in the history of humankind. However, this survey reveals there is a steady decline of Christian and biblical convictions in America. FaithSearch ministry helps to restrain this slide, having recorded over 73,000 known commitments to follow Christ; over one million people hearing our many Good News in-person presentations; and multiple millions hearing and reading the Gospel through our use of print, video, and online media.
My appeal is that we pray for a renewed conviction regarding the salvation of our own countrymen. I refer you to read the apostle Paul’s compassion regarding the salvation of his own people, the Jews: “For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh…if somehow I might…save some of them” (Romans 9:3; 11:14).
Please join us in this high calling as we partner together with the power of the Holy Spirit going before us (John 16:8)!
*Source: “The State of Theology, US 2022.” The State of Theology survey, by Ligonier Ministries and LifeWay Research, has been conducted every two years since 2014. https://thestateoftheology.com, accessed 21 September 2023.