The results of a study just came out and there are about as many reactions as there are results. Some are very alarmed at the findings; while others couldn’t care less. Personally, I think that there are some interesting statistics from which we can learn. Go to the link at the bottom of this article and check out the findings for yourself.* You may find yourself enlightened and disturbed at the same time.
Today, in response to the survey conducted by The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, a story came out on Fox News entitled, “Survey: Many Americans Know Little About Religion.”** The part that has every one in a tizzy is the following:
“Atheists and agnostics scored highest, with an average of 21 correct answers, while Jews and Mormons followed with about 20 accurate responses. Protestants overall averaged 16 correct answers, while Catholics followed with a score of about 15.”
Should this be a shock? I mean, really, what do we as Christians expect? Since when do we teach about the dogmas of other faiths in our Sunday Schools? How often, at least in our more rural Baptist churches, do we even attempt to preach or teach the critical doctrines or our own faith? When we do, if we do, the people in the congregation start complaining that the subject matter is over their heads. I don’t advise that we spend the little time we have in church and training to go into detail about the five pillars of Islam, or even the differences between Vishnu and Krishna. But what I am saying is that Christians should at least know at least the fundamentals of the Bible and key doctrines of the faith.
As I looked over the survey results, I did find some things that I thought were interesting, if not humorous. One of those things had to do with atheists. What is it that an atheist is supposed to believe? According to atheists, the reason that they cannot trust in Christ is because they don’t believe in God. Not believing in the existence of any god is at the root of the very term “atheist” (from ἄθεος, meaning ἀ- [without]+ θεός [god]).*** Why is it then, when asked about the existence of God, 8% were “absolutely certain” He existed? What?! And get this, they even believe in heaven and hell, too (heaven = 12%; hell = 10%)! So, maybe we should give the Christians a little slack, huh? You can’t even trust an atheist to know what he believes anymore. Dang!
Another humorous finding in this survey was tucked away in the percentage numbers of “believers” within the population. To start, it was not unusual to see that nearly 80% of Americans consider themselves Christian (Protestant 51.3; Catholic 23.9; Mormon 1.7; Jehovah’s Witness 0.7; Orthodox 0.6; Other Christian 0.3), but it was funny/sad to see that both Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are becoming recognized as official Christian denominations. What is worse is when you look at the statistics, more Mormons and J.W.s believe in a personal God (91% and 82%) than even evangelical churches (79%). These cults, sadly, are looking more like Christians than the TRUE followers of Christ.
But the real point of the story is that Christians know less about their faith than the Enemies of their faith.
Paul knew way back long ago what Timothy needed to do, so he said, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). When we ONLY go to church for the fellowship and singing, or the food and good times, even when they are spiritual and up-lifting, we fail to grasp what the early church did in Acts 2:42a, “…they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine…”
The church in America is on the decline, the reason for which could be debated in volumes. But one thing is for sure, we need to know what we believe, why we believe, and in Whom we believe. Once we know these truths, then we need to defend them, preach them, and live them, “ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you” the questions on a survey about your faith.
Oh! By the way…Muslims only make up .06% of the population. Why are we running in fear?