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Salad-Bar Christianity

Too many believers pick and choose their own truths.
2000Check out CT's latest issues to see how we handle this and other topics today.

I received a letter recently that illustrates how alien philosophies infiltrate today's churches. Julie, a Bible-study leader in a solid evangelical church, wrote to tell me of a discussion with moms in her church about their favorite books for children. She was appalled that so many touted books with naturalistic themes.Julie picked up one of the books—a Berenstein Bears title—and showed the moms the page that read, "Nature is all there is, ever was, or ever will be."They didn't get it. The moms were too young to remember Carl Sagan or the famous line from his book and film, Cosmos: "The cosmos is all there is, all there ever was, and all there ever will be.""How do we wake people up?" Julie asked in her letter.Good question. If the polls are correct, foreign ideas have penetrated not only children's books but our most basic beliefs. Gallup reports that 20 percent of born-again Christians believe in reincarnation and 26 percent in astrology. Forty-five percent of those George Barna classifies as born again believe that "if people are good enough they can earn a place in heaven." And Wade Clark Roof in Spiritual Marketplace writes that half of born-again baby boomers believe all religions are "equally good and true," almost half have no involvement in a conservative Protestant church, and a quarter believe in communicating with the dead!Admittedly, poll data can be ambiguous, and the term born again has certainly been trivialized. Still, the data paint a shocking picture of the state of evangelical Christianity. On any Sunday, an alarming number who fill our pews are either biblically illiterate or, worse, syncretists.How can we explain this? Roof offers one answer: boomers tend to substitute feelings for objective reality, ...

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Charles Colson
Charles Colson was the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries, an outreach to convicts, victims of crime, and justice officers. Colson, who converted to Christianity before he was indicted on Watergate-related charges, became one of evangelicalism's most influential voices. His books included Born Again and How Now Shall We Live? A Christianity Today columnist since 1985, Colson died in 2012.
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