The State of Theology in America

Every two years Ligonier Ministries, founded by R.C. Sproul, conducts a survey amongst the adults in the United States to determine the current state of theology in America. I was introduced to this survey study in 2018 and have been keeping tabs on it this year. They conducted their research in March 2020 and have released the entire study as well as some key findings.

The highlights that we’ll discuss shortly make a distinction between U.S. adult respondents and U.S. evangelical adult respondents. The study defined evangelicals as those who strongly agreed 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.

Highlights:

Statement: “God chose the people he would save before he created the world.”
Results: 26% agree, 50% disagree
Respondents: U.S. adults

My commentary: Read Romans 9 and Ephesians 1:11-14. This is a hot topic amongst different denominations. Embracing unconditional election and understanding the tenants of the Reformation was my main personal topic of study last year. I have done much research and have had many conversations with evangelicals regarding this topic. If you would like to chat about unconditional election, please reach out. Also, be sure to read John Piper’s article about unconditional election.

Statement: “Religious belief is a matter of personal opinion: it is not about objective truth.”
Results: 54% agree
Respondents: U.S. adults

My commentary: My next book will cover objective versus relative truth, so stay tuned!

Statement: “Everyone sins a little but most people are good by nature.”
Results: 46% agree in 2020, 52% agree in 2018 and 54% agree in 2016
Respondents: U.S. evangelical adults

My commentary: This answer concerns me the most. Understanding and acknowledging our total depravity without Christ is central to the message of the gospel. The trend has moved in a more positive direction since 2016. But this still means that about half of professing evangelicals do not know the truth! Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Also, check out this more comprehensive Scriptural list of our total depravity.

Statement: “God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.”
Results: 42% agree in 2020, 51% agree in 2018, 48% agree in 2016
Respondents: U.S. evangelical adults

My commentary: Again, the trend has moved in a more positive direction. But this still means that four of ten evangelicals would say that God accepts all religions. How is this possible when Jesus claims, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” (John 14:6)? If these evangelical respondents strongly agree that, “the Bible is the highest authority for what they believe,” then Jesus’ statement about being the only way to God cannot be false. So, how is it possible to believe that He would accept all religions which have different ways to God?

These were just a few highlights I found interesting. I do recommend that you continue reading the State of Theology’s 2020 key findings.

Overall, Ligonier Ministries says it best, “These results reveal an urgent need for clear biblical teaching on the person of Christ, the gospel of grace, and the way that the truth of God informs our ethical decisions in everyday life. There is much work to be done in this age of confusion, but we hope the findings of this survey will serve the church in its calling to reach more people with the faithful proclamation of God’s Word.” Source: Ligonier Study Key Findings

If you’re looking for a resource that teaches directly from God’s Word, I encourage you to check out Verse by Verse International Ministries. They have in-depth Bible teaching via their website and app on many Old and New Testament books.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ligonier Ministries conducted a study amongst U.S. adults and adult evangelicals to determine the current state of theology today.
  • Many of the responses reflect how necessary it is for churches today to teach directly from God’s Word.

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