Author Topic: Survey Shows Most Evangelicals Don’t Understand the Core Beliefs of Their Faith  (Read 1118 times)

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Offline Mr. Beagle

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This isn't really surprising and from a salvation point of view it really doesn't matter. In Christianity salvation isn't dependent on what you know and do not know. This is why in Catholicism it wasn't all that big of a deal that the Mass was in Latin or most of the Divine Liturgy for that matter. It was far more important to receive the sacraments. Granted, Evangelicals reject most of the sacraments but the core theology is still the same that salvation is not dependent on understanding of dogma. Sola Gracia.

In the heavily Dutch immigrant area where I grew up there were three variants of the Calvinist Dutch Reformed Church that separated over how "true" they were to Calvin, especially on the doctrines of "the elect" and the related "predestination of the saved."

To my best understanding of these doctrines, God knows everything now and in the future, which then must include whether YOU will go to heaven, known by God at the time of your birth. These "predestined saved" are "the elect."

1. The moderate Reformed Church in America found both of these doctrines increasingly uncomfortable in trying to integrate into the US culture in the late 1800s, and downplayed them through some rather wishy-washy new interpretations of John Calvin.

2. The Christian Reformed Church split off because of this and preached the predestination of the saved. Not coincidentally, they have been, since that time, closely allied with the South African "Afrikaner" church, sharing ministers and seminaries. To the old Boers, the whites are clearly "the elect," and this was how they justified apartheid. Also not coincidentally, Northwest Iowa, the home of the infamous white nationalist congressman Steve King (likely to be re-elected tomorrow) has one of the largest remaining populations of these strict Calvinists in the U.S., and it is home to one of their two colleges (Dordt College). When I was a kid delivering newspapers, you could tell these folks because they did not want Sunday newspaper delivery, as reading the paper on Sunday was a sin.

3. This stance was not good enough for the Protestant Reformed Church, a much smaller group who still preach "double predestination," which says that not only does God know from your birth whether you will go to Heaven, but also whether you will go to Hell. These were the most strict of the three groups.

I guess John Calvin was, in a way, a strict determinist. ;)

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Offline Billzbub

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3. This stance was not good enough for the Protestant Reformed Church, a much smaller group who still preach "double predestination," which says that not only does God know from your birth whether you will go to Heaven, but also whether you will go to Hell. These were the most strict of the three groups.

Wouldn't you be in hell if you weren't in heaven?  Is there a 3rd option in the belief systems you are talking about?
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Offline Shibboleth

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This isn't really surprising and from a salvation point of view it really doesn't matter. In Christianity salvation isn't dependent on what you know and do not know. This is why in Catholicism it wasn't all that big of a deal that the Mass was in Latin or most of the Divine Liturgy for that matter. It was far more important to receive the sacraments. Granted, Evangelicals reject most of the sacraments but the core theology is still the same that salvation is not dependent on understanding of dogma. Sola Gracia.

In the heavily Dutch immigrant area where I grew up there were three variants of the Calvinist Dutch Reformed Church that separated over how "true" they were to Calvin, especially on the doctrines of "the elect" and the related "predestination of the saved."

To my best understanding of these doctrines, God knows everything now and in the future, which then must include whether YOU will go to heaven, known by God at the time of your birth. These "predestined saved" are "the elect."

1. The moderate Reformed Church in America found both of these doctrines increasingly uncomfortable in trying to integrate into the US culture in the late 1800s, and downplayed them through some rather wishy-washy new interpretations of John Calvin.

2. The Christian Reformed Church split off because of this and preached the predestination of the saved. Not coincidentally, they have been, since that time, closely allied with the South African "Afrikaner" church, sharing ministers and seminaries. To the old Boers, the whites are clearly "the elect," and this was how they justified apartheid. Also not coincidentally, Northwest Iowa, the home of the infamous white nationalist congressman Steve King (likely to be re-elected tomorrow) has one of the largest remaining populations of these strict Calvinists in the U.S., and it is home to one of their two colleges (Dordt College). When I was a kid delivering newspapers, you could tell these folks because they did not want Sunday newspaper delivery, as reading the paper on Sunday was a sin.

3. This stance was not good enough for the Protestant Reformed Church, a much smaller group who still preach "double predestination," which says that not only does God know from your birth whether you will go to Heaven, but also whether you will go to Hell. These were the most strict of the three groups.

I guess John Calvin was, in a way, a strict determinist. ;)

Yes Calvinism is strict in predestination. Luther skirted the subject and talked about bound will. They both have an issue with the semi-Pelagian point of view that at least on some basic level you must accept the gift of salvation or at least not reject it. Luther would freak out at such a claim saying that you can do nothing to assist in your own salvation you snow covered pile of dung.
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3. This stance was not good enough for the Protestant Reformed Church, a much smaller group who still preach "double predestination," which says that not only does God know from your birth whether you will go to Heaven, but also whether you will go to Hell. These were the most strict of the three groups.

Wouldn't you be in hell if you weren't in heaven?  Is there a 3rd option in the belief systems you are talking about?

Purgatory? Or is that a Catholic thing?
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Offline Shibboleth

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3. This stance was not good enough for the Protestant Reformed Church, a much smaller group who still preach "double predestination," which says that not only does God know from your birth whether you will go to Heaven, but also whether you will go to Hell. These were the most strict of the three groups.

Wouldn't you be in hell if you weren't in heaven?  Is there a 3rd option in the belief systems you are talking about?

Purgatory? Or is that a Catholic thing?

According to most forms of Christianity very few people are actually in heaven or hell right now but awaiting judgement day in Sheol. The third place in Catholicism which is neither denied or approved as dogma is limbo. Purgatory or purgation is a cleansing process or sanctification process that souls go through if they are saved. They go through that before they enter Paradise.
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Offline Mr. Beagle

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3. This stance was not good enough for the Protestant Reformed Church, a much smaller group who still preach "double predestination," which says that not only does God know from your birth whether you will go to Heaven, but also whether you will go to Hell. These were the most strict of the three groups.

Wouldn't you be in hell if you weren't in heaven?  Is there a 3rd option in the belief systems you are talking about?

A Christian Reformed friend told me one time that, while this is implied, it seems presumptuous/cruel to say that God condemns people to Hell, so they don't talk about that. There are several ways to waffle around this paradox.

None of this makes sense, mind you, but they do fight about these things.
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Offline arthwollipot

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Most, if not all, evangelical denominations have conventions or similar denominational where these things are defined. And this is what often leads to denominations breaking up, when they disagree about some significant or insignificant part of their doctrine.

The problem is that these conventions are often contradictory.

The core beliefs are always based on the New Testament and always include the key teachings of Christ from the gospels. That's what the survey shows most evangelicals don't understand.

No, it isn't.

Quote from: that survey
Evangelicals have a great concern for the gospel, the evangel, yet a majority of them also express some views that are contrary to the truth of the Bible. For example, although evangelicals believe that Jesus died on the cross for their salvation (see below), many do not fully understand the gravity of sin...

[insert graph showing that 53% of evangelicals believe that most people are good]

This idea flatly contradicts the Bible, which teaches the radical corruption of every human being and declares that no one does good by nature (Rom. 3:10–12). This is why we need the gospel in the first place—because none of us is good.

Evangelicals are also confused about the exclusivity of Christianity and its objective claims to truth. There has been a slight increase in people who agree with this unorthodox view since 2016, though future surveys will need to confirm this trend.

This small extract from the original article (ie, not the Patheos blog) shows very clearly that it is Ligonier Ministries who is deciding what is a "core belief". In other words, it's one church saying that other churches don't believe the same things that it does. This is not news. In no way is it saying that there are "core beliefs" that all Christian churches have as doctrine that are not believed by those churches' followers. It is only saying that other churches disagree with us.

Not news. Not even remotely interesting, and it is certainly not saying what many people are saying it's saying.
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This small extract from the original article (ie, not the Patheos blog) shows very clearly that it is Ligonier Ministries who is deciding what is a "core belief". In other words, it's one church saying that other churches don't believe the same things that it does. This is not news. In no way is it saying that there are "core beliefs" that all Christian churches have as doctrine that are not believed by those churches' followers. It is only saying that other churches disagree with us.

Not news. Not even remotely interesting, and it is certainly not saying what many people are saying it's saying.

Good post. It's always better to read the original source when possible.

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Offline arthwollipot

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This small extract from the original article (ie, not the Patheos blog) shows very clearly that it is Ligonier Ministries who is deciding what is a "core belief". In other words, it's one church saying that other churches don't believe the same things that it does. This is not news. In no way is it saying that there are "core beliefs" that all Christian churches have as doctrine that are not believed by those churches' followers. It is only saying that other churches disagree with us.

Not news. Not even remotely interesting, and it is certainly not saying what many people are saying it's saying.

Good post. It's always better to read the original source when possible.

Amazing that it took three pages of posts for us to get there.
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Offline Nemmzy

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So I have a hang up on this based on my background of being raised in an evangelical home. As other posters have mentioned there are many denominations and there is not a unified evangelical doctrine. I had no idea who Ligonier Ministries is but with a bit of Googling I found they were founded by a Presbyterian minister.  Lifeway seems to be billing its self a multidenominational but staff listed on the site attended various flavors of Baptist seminaries and universities. So we can assume the view of 'biblically correct theology' is heavily influenced by those churches.

Quote
and (3) that Jesus was the first and greatest being created by God the Father. However, all these beliefs are contrary to the historic Christian faith.

There are evangelical denominations that teach that in John 1 the "the Word" is a stand-in for Christ. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." or "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. "  NRSV goes on to say "All things came into being through him, and without him, not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it."

The multi-denominational Christian Youth conference I attended in 1994 put a lot of emphasis on this. 'Jesus was there in the beginning' all based on John 1. Jesus Christ is the word made flesh. That is confusing.

But, I think it is a bit much to say
Quote
These results show the pressing need for Christians to be taught Christology, especially as the outcome has gotten worse since 2016. There is a general lack of teaching today on the person of Christ, a doctrine for which the early church fought so hard. The Ligonier Statement on Christology has been carefully formulated to restate historic, orthodox, biblical Christology."
- From the original source, not the blog. When this 'misunderstanding' is likely the result of direct pastoral teaching.

Regardless your local pastor is not interested in getting their flock to understand Christology.

I find most of the content of this survey to be good news from a secular point of view. With ideas like 'most people are good', 'other faiths are acceptable',  "Religious belief is a matter of personal opinion"  and  "The Bible’s condemnation of homosexual behavior doesn’t apply today." holding a surprising amount of popularity. Although, its authors are worried. ;)


 If the pseudo-intellectual leadership of a few denominations are worried about the entire protestant evangelical flock not hating gays that's a good thing.  This is actually progress, not an example of how ignorant Christians are.

Quote
If Christianity and its doctrines, such as the holiness of God and the resurrection of Christ, are merely matters of personal opinion, then we are truly lost.
Quote
In only a few short decades, America’s sexual ethic has changed significantly, and it continues to move away from a Christian ethic to a secular and relativistic one.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2018, 07:31:00 AM by Nemmzy »

 

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