A majority of evangelicals now believe that God accepts the worship of all religions, according to a new study released by Ligonier Ministries that shows many have also grown confused about some core doctrines of the Christian faith.
Chris Larson, president of Ligonier Ministries, says the results of the 2018 State of Theology survey conducted by LifeWay Research and released Tuesday shows an urgent need for bold teaching of historic Christianity.
"The State of Theology survey highlights the urgent need for courageous ministry that faithfully teaches the historic Christian faith. It's never been popular to talk about mankind's sinfulness or the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ, but at a time when a darkened world needs the light of the Gospel, it's disheartening to see many within the evangelical church confused about what the Bible teaches. We hope this survey provides local churches with a little more insight into what people in our neighborhoods and in our pews actually believe," Larson said in a statement.
In the survey in which a representative sample of 3,000 Americans were interviewed, evangelicals were asked about their views on a series of theological statements including: "God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam."
Some 51 percent of respondents were shown to agree with the statement, while 42 percent disagreed. Two years earlier in 2016, 49 percent of evangelicals were found to agree with the statement while 43 percent said they disagreed.
"The Bible is clear that the Gospel is the only way of salvation, and God will not accept the worship of other faiths. It is only through Jesus Christ and by His Spirit that we are able to worship the Father in spirit and in truth (John 4:24)," the researchers note.
Among other troubling theology embraced by evangelicals according to the survey, is that a majority of evangelicals believe that most people are basically good by nature and that Jesus was the first and greatest being created by God the Father — some 78 percent of evangelicals agree with this. Only 71 percent of evangelicals supported this idea in 2016.
"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," Ligonier Ministries said.
Stephen Nichols, chief academic officer of Ligonier and president of Reformation Bible College, also noted that it's a cause for concern when 53 percent of evangelicals believe that most people are good by nature even though everyone sins a little.
"These results are a serious cause for concern. It is the depth of man's sin that led Jesus to die on the cross. How, then, can a majority of evangelicals say most people are good by nature? Down through history, Christians have proclaimed that Jesus is truly God, not some sort of created being. The evangelical world is in great danger of slipping into irrelevance when it casually forgets the Bible's doctrine," he said.
The results of the 2018 State of Theology survey, which was conducted from April 24 to May 4, 2018, echoes previous studies which have been pointing to a rejection of orthodox Christian beliefs by many American Christians.
In 2008, a Pew Research Center Study found that more than half of all American Christians believe that at least some non-Christian faiths can lead to salvation. Nearly a decade later, a study earlier this year showed that even among the most traditional Christian groups, significant minorities are also rejecting God as described in the Bible.
In the 2018 State of Theology survey, evangelicals were identified as those persons who strongly agree with the following four statements:
- The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.
- It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.
- Jesus Christ's death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.
- Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God's free gift of eternal salvation.