Ligonier Ministries’ 2022 State of Theology survey “provides eye-opening insights.”

Some excerpts... Think "God learns and adapts to different circumstances": U.S. Adults 51%, Evangelicals 48%. Think "Everyone is born innocent in the eyes of God": U.S. Adults 71%, Evangelicals 65%. - Ligonier Article, and The Survey 

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dgszweda's picture

Not surprising, as you see the trend prevelant in churches today.

What is more shocking is how they define an evangelical.  If the question is asked, if 43% of evangelicals agree that Jesus was not God, than what is an evangelical?  We would claim that this individual was a heretic, which I would claim would squarely push that individual outside of a evangelical.  I would argue that the two cores ideas of an evangelical would be that the Gospel is the perfect Word of God and that Jesus Christ was divine.

I guess we are really messed up when 91% believe abortion is a sin, but 43% don't believe that Jesus was God.

dgszweda's picture

I guess was defines an evangelical (if you were to use these survey results) is that you 1) don't believe in sex outside of marriage, and 2) you believe abortion is a sin.  Actual Biblical Doctrines are a bit irrelevant in defining an evangelical.  I guess this points to the strong evangelical support of the Republican party.

JD Miller's picture

dgszweeda, what are your views on abortion and sex outside of marriage?  Are you suggesting that Christians should be more accepting of them or are you just bothered that these are connected with the GOP?  I am a bit confused.  I am also wondering if we should reject any political party that holds to Christian moral values if unbeleives also hold to those same moral values.

dgszweda's picture

JD Miller wrote:

dgszweeda, what are your views on abortion and sex outside of marriage?  Are you suggesting that Christians should be more accepting of them or are you just bothered that these are connected with the GOP?  I am a bit confused.  I am also wondering if we should reject any political party that holds to Christian moral values if unbeleives also hold to those same moral values.

I believe that abortion is sin.  And I believe that sex outside of marriage is a sin.  I am mostly bothered that these are the defining attributes of an evangelical, in contrast to core doctrines.  It appears that evangelicals are more concerned with abortion than the Divinity of Christ.   The candidate that most evangelicals will support is based on their stance on abortion regardless of most anything else.

If the majority of evangelicals believe that the Bible is full of myths, it is clear why they trend where they trend.  The goal is not to save babies from death through the legislation of morality upon sinners, but to save all from death through the gospel.  But when abortion is real and the gospel is a myth, you can see why the Christian world is turned upside down.

Mark_Smith's picture

I think what this survey shows is "evangelicals" don't know what they believe. Too much emphasis, in my opinion, is placed on things like "be a good husband" and "be a good dad" or "be a good worker." Too little is placed on "be holy because God is holy." Too little theology is taught. This leads to what you see with this survey, a lot of evangelicals answering that Jesus is not God and that he is instead the first created being!

Did you also notice that around 2/3 agreed with the statement that "being born again" precedes faith in Jesus. I realize this is Ligonier, so they believe this, but does 2/3 of the evangelical church really believe that? I think people just have no clue so they answered yes because it sounded good. I myself believe doctrinally that "regeneration" precedes faith, but "being born again" is the whole package, not just regeneration.

WallyMorris's picture

Significant results but not unexpected. The worship at many "Evangelical" churches focuses more on the "worship experience", staging, mood lighting (imitating secular concerts) in order to fill seats and pay bills. Theology is minimal and entertainment the core priority with a little Jesus thrown in. Also sad to see more Fundamentalist churches adopting some of these characteristics. One independent Baptist church in southern Georgia eliminated their doctrinal statement and started using CCM in order to keep its doors open.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

It’s a bit confusing, but apparently Lifeway is involved in this study also: https://research.lifeway.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Ligonier-State-o…

Also: https://research.lifeway.com/stateoftheology/

I guess it’s a Ligonier/Lifeway partnership? They should be more clear about that.

The PDF lays out lots of methodology details, including this (p.3):

  • Evangelical Beliefs are defined using the NAE Lifeway Research Evangelical Beliefs Research Definition based on respondent beliefs
  • Respondents are asked their level of agreement with four separate statements using a four-point, forced choice scale (strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree). Those who strongly agree with all four statements are categorized as having Evangelical Beliefs
    • 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

I don’t think it’s possible to define Evangelical much better…   So we really do have widespread ignorance of basic doctrine of God among evangelicals.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Mark_Smith's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

It's a bit confusing, but apparently Lifeway is involved in this study also: https://research.lifeway.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Ligonier-State-o...

Also: https://research.lifeway.com/stateoftheology/

I guess it's a Ligonier/Lifeway partnership? They should be more clear about that.

The PDF lays out lots of methodology details, including this (p.3):

  • Evangelical Beliefs are defined using the NAE Lifeway Research Evangelical Beliefs Research Definition based on respondent beliefs
  • Respondents are asked their level of agreement with four separate statements using a four-point, forced choice scale (strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree). Those who strongly agree with all four statements are categorized as having Evangelical Beliefs
    • 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

I don't think it's possible to define Evangelical much better...   So we really do have widespread ignorance of basic doctrine of God among evangelicals.

I saw that Aaron. What the report reveals is a shocking amount of people who say "yes, the Bible is my highest authority" have little idea what the Bible says, and its only getting worse. They know things like, marriage = good, divorce = bad, hetero = good, LGBTQ+ = bad, but they don't know Jesus was not created, or even know what is being talked about when someone asks if regeneration precedes faith.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Mark_Smith wrote:

...or even know what is being talked about when someone asks if regeneration precedes faith.

Plenty of us out here in greater evangelicalism are not Calvinistic, but do know what you are talking about.  I agree it's a pretty big indictment on "evangelical" churches where members have no idea about that or the other major doctrines of the faith.

Dave Barnhart

dgszweda's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

I don't think it's possible to define Evangelical much better...   So we really do have widespread ignorance of basic doctrine of God among evangelicals.

I think it is missing our core presupposition, which is that the Bible is the Word of God and is without error.  I think the other key element is the divinity of Christ, which has historically been a key dividing line.  The fact, that those two are missing is a key reason why the evangelicals say that the Word of God has errors in it and that Christ was just a good person.  In fact, you could argue that the Latter Day Saints align with the definition of evangelical that is outined in this survey.