The sobering reality of American beliefs
It’s no secret that many Americans—regardless of their beliefs—are confused about what Christianity actually teaches. We see it all the time in books, blogs, and Facebook conversations (and sometimes in church services). But until recently, no one had done an in-depth study to discover what Americans actually believe about foundational doctrines such as heaven, hell, the Trinity, the Church, and even our role in our salvation.
That’s why, in 2014, Ligonier Ministries commissioned Lifeway Research to investigate what Americans really believe in seven key doctrinal areas. The results were recently published by The Gospel Project in a new eBook entitled, The State of American Theology: Knowing the Truth, Loving the Church, Reaching Our Neighbors. If you saw some of the coverage you won’t be surprised to know the answers are sobering. Among them:
- More than 6-in-10 Americans think the Holy Spirit is a force, rather than a person
- 71% of Americans believe “an individual must contribute his/her own effort for personal salvation.”
- Less than half of Americans believe the church plays an essential role in the life of believers.
An opportunity to strengthen disciples
The answer, however, to the bad news about American beliefs is not to throw in the towel or retreat into a holy huddle. Instead, we should see this as an opportunity to equip and strengthen believers, to correct errors and invite people to see God for who He really is.
“The more we read, study, meditate on, and prayerfully apply the word of God, the more we will find ourselves in awe of Him,” writes Jared Wilson. “Like a great ship on the horizon, the closer we get, the larger He looms.”
Theological study is the responsibility of every believer, an expression of our love for God. Christians needs to see that theology really is for the theologians—and everyone’s a theologian.
The Gospel Project and Ligonier Ministries want to provide you with a free copy of this new eBook, The State of American Theology: Knowing the Truth, Loving the Church, Reaching Our Neighbors. In addition to the research, the eBook also contains a collection of thoughtful essay responses from renowned theologians including R. C. Sproul, Ed Stetzer, John Piper, Alistair Begg, Thabiti Anyabwile, Trevin Wax, and many more. Download your copy here.