Do people have the ability to turn to God on their own initiative? Can individuals contribute to their own salvation? Did God create Jesus?
These are 3 of nearly 47 positions LifeWay Research asked 3,000 Americans in a recent study for Ligonier Ministries on heresy. The study, which included a sample of 586 evangelicals, asked respondents their beliefs on 47 theological statements. (Read CT’s full report.)
When the report was released two years ago, the results indicated that many self-identified evangelicals held unorthodox views on the Trinity and salvation. This year, the National Association of Evangelicals and LifeWay Research developed a new definition of evangelical. But the results were similar.
LifeWay Research director Scott McConnell doesn’t think researchers’ definition of evangelical needs to change, but he does believe the survey suggests just how “shallow many people’s beliefs are.”
“The fact is that God’s message to us and God’s relationship to us is really a tapestry. Each of those threads of belief and love and relationship are woven together,” said McConnell. “It takes an individual really loving God enough to want to know this whole message and want to understand how it fits together.”
One potential obstacle: People—evangelicals—don’t take or make this time to learn about God.
“Sometimes, as Christians in America, we’re so busy running from one thing to another without taking the time to really closely see how this relationship with God works,” said McConnell. “I think you can see this in the variety of responses [to this survey] where people are in the right theologically on several questions and then completely missing it on others.”
McConnell joined Morgan and Ted on Quick to Listen this week to discuss what contributes to Christians’ misunderstandings of the Holy Spirit, what the limits of these findings are, and if pastors should preach any differently in light of the survey results.