New Research: Spiritual Maturity Tied to Strong Doctrinal Beliefs
Consumers in America are accustomed to having endless combinations of choices for every want in life. Biblical truth is radical because it teaches that eternal life is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ alone.
If churches stopped to assess their congregation on these biblical truths, many would be surprised to find out how many are struggling with basic doctrinal issues. Every church has a different mix of mature disciples and spiritual infants who still need a diet of the basic gospel message. A discipleship process must help every person take the next step in his or her spiritual journey. Too many churchgoers are stuck on square one.
A new LifeWay Research study on "Doctrinal Views" shows that among Protestant church attendees 81 percent say "When you die, you will go to heaven because you have confessed your sins and accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior," 26 percent agree "If a person is sincerely seeking God, he/she can obtain eternal life through religions other than Christianity." Fifty-seven percent disagree. These are people who actually attend church, not just those who claim to be Christians who attend Protestant churches.
That's not the only responses we got. Here are some of the others:
-- When you die, you will go to heaven because you have tried your best to be a good person and live a good life (selected by 7 percent of churchgoers).
-- You have no way of knowing what will happen when you die (5 percent of churchgoers).
-- When you die, you will go to heaven because God loves everyone and we will all be in heaven with Him (4 percent).
-- When you die, you will go to heaven because you have read the Bible, been involved in church, and tried to live as God wants you to live (2 percent).
-- There is no life after death (1 percent).
Churchgoers strongly hold to the accuracy of the Scriptures, the survey reveals. Eighty-two percent agree with the statement: "The Bible is the written word of God and is totally accurate in all that it teaches." Ten percent disagree and 8 percent neither agree nor disagree.
While the majority of churchgoers (75 percent) strongly hold the God of the Bible is not the same god worshiped in other world religions, 13 percent say the God of the Bible is no different from the gods or spiritual beings depicted by world religions such as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. Another 12 percent neither agree nor disagree with the uniqueness of the God of the Bible.
The study also shows nearly two-thirds (71 percent) agree with the statement: "God is just and sin has to be punished." However, 13 percent of churchgoers disagree and 16 percent neither agree nor disagree with the statement.
To help pastors, churches and individuals measure spiritual development, LifeWay Research used the study's data to develop a questionnaire for believers, called the Transformational Discipleship Assessment (TDA), an online evaluation that delivers individual and group reports on spiritual maturity using the eight attributes of biblical discipleship. The TDA also provides helpful and practical suggestions for churches and individuals on appropriate next steps for spiritual development.
You can read the full release with methodology here.