Saturday, February 26, 2011

Protestant Experts Declare Protestant Biblical and Theological Knowledge and Belief is Poor.

While looking up something else on the internet I came across an interesting article at The article was entitled "Crisis in America’s Churches: Bible Knowledge at All-Time Low" by Michael J. Vlach, Ph.D. So I'm quoting from that somewhat in this post. It additionally states that the problem isn't unique to the USA.

I'll make some comments in regard these facts after presenting what I feel are the most important points stated.

"A crisis of basic biblical and theological knowledge exists in America’s churches, and church leaders must do all they can to address this growing problem, so say experts monitoring the beliefs of people in Christian churches across the United States.

'The Christian body in America is immersed in a crisis of biblical illiteracy,' warns researcher George Barna. 'How else can you describe matters when most churchgoing adults reject the accuracy of the Bible, reject the existence of Satan, claim that Jesus sinned, see no need to evangelize, believe that good works are one of the keys to persuading God to forgive their sins, and describe their commitment to Christianity as moderate or even less firm?'"
Barna Research Online, “Religious Beliefs Vary Widely by Denomination,”, June 25, 2001.

Vlach also points out that "The most widely known Bible verse among adult and teen believers is 'God helps those who help themselves'—which is not actually in the Bible."

He further points out that less than 10% of Protestants use the Bible, rather than the world view, in making life decisions.

He goes on to state _

"Gary Burge, professor of New Testament at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois... points to research at Wheaton College in which the biblical and theological literacy of incoming freshmen have been monitored. One-third could not identify Matthew as an apostle from a list of New Testament names."
Gary M. Burge, “The Greatest Story Never Read: Recovering biblical literacy in the church”

"Like Burge, George Lindbeck, the famous Yale theologian, has commented on the decreasing knowledge of Scripture from a professor’s perspective.

'When I first arrived at Yale, even those who came from nonreligious backgrounds knew the Bible better than most of those now who come from churchgoing families,' he says."
George A. Lindbeck, “The Church’s Mission to a Postmodern Culture,” Postmodern Theology: Christian Faith in a Pluralist World (San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1989), 45

"This is also the view of theologian and author David Wells. 'I have watched with growing disbelief as the evangelical church has cheerfully plunged into astounding theological illiteracy.'" David F. Wells, No Place for Truth or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 4.

In regard Barna, Vlach states _

"In his study of the beliefs of mainline Protestants (including Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians), Barna documented...Only 35% of mainline Protestant church members believe Christ was sinless; 34% believe the Bible is totally accurate; 27% agree that works don’t earn heaven; and 20% believe Satan is real.

Of Baptists (any type) in America, only 34% believe Satan is real. Only 43% believe that works don’t earn heaven. ... Only 55% affirm that Christ was sinless, and 66% hold that the Bible is totally accurate.

Of nondenominational Christian churches, Barna reports that 48% believe Satan is real; 60% say works don’t earn heaven; 63% affirm the sinlessness of Christ; and 70% believe the Bible is totally accurate."
“Religious Beliefs Vary Widely by Denomination.”

Vlach asks, "whatever happened to theology?"

He quotes Burge further _

"'many Christian churches have abandoned serious Bible exposition and theological teaching.'

'Rather than explaining the historical setting of a passage, texts become springboards for devotional reflection,' he notes. 'Biblical passages are taken out of context as the preacher searches for those stories that evoke the responses or attitudes desired.' As a result, 'The heart of a ‘good’ sermon is fast becoming the ‘emotional work’ that can be done in 20 minutes preaching time.'

'That is it in a nutshell,' he says. 'Christian faith is not being built on the firm foundation of hard-won thoughts, ideas, history, or theology. Spirituality is being built on private emotional attachments.'”
Burge, “The Greatest Story Never Read.”

"A third reason for biblical and theological illiteracy today is the tremendous influence unbiblical philosophies and worldviews are having on churchgoers. Liberalism promotes that the Bible is a human construct and not a divine document. In doing so, it continues to assail the traditional ... [Protestant] views of the inerrancy of the Bible, deity of Christ, reality of Satan, substitutionary atonement, and other key doctrines of the ... [Protestant] faith... Postmodernism has convinced many that there are no universal truths."

Vlach also states, "Only 32% of born-again ... [Protestants] still believe in the existence of absolute moral truth."

"Many Christians accept elements of these unbiblical worldviews without even knowing it. Because of this, Barna and Mark Hatch have noted that “we cannot really call the faith of American Christians a Bible-based faith.” George Barna and Mark Hatch, Boiling Point: It Only Takes One Degree (Ventura: Regal, 2001), 187.

"According to Barna and Hatch, Christians today have accepted and combined so many ideas from other worldviews and religions that they have created their own faith system.

But what can church leaders do about this crisis?"

Years ago Protestant church leaders got together to see what they could do about the failing numbers of church goers. They surveyed people to find out what they had against going to church. One of the big reasons people gave as an excuse was that the various religions professing belief in Christ couldn't even agree with each other. To combat this there became a need to water down theology. A new catch phrase was made, "as long as you believe in Christ." This made theology obsolete. It didn't matter what you thought God was, whether you accepted evolution, homosexuality, female ministers or any other anti-Biblical idea. As long as you profess Christ as your Savior you are saved.

So with that belief what does any of this matter? Yet even these Protestant theologians can see that the Protestant religions have become non-religions. For without theology what is Christ? Are we really to believe that all God demands is the knowledge of a name that we are prepared to speak? If so then I know a lot of blasphemers that are going to do really well in heaven. They are constantly confessing the name of Jesus and that he is the Christ. As Christ himself stated the devils know that he is the Christ. And we even have recorded instances in the New Testament books of evil spirits confessing that Jesus is the Christ.

Without theology Jesus Christ is just a name. It is what that name represents that counts. "And this is life eternal that they might know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent," (Jn 17:3) said Christ. So a knowledge of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ is essential. Without theology how can we know them? This coming to know someone takes time and much communication. It requires hearing their ideas and coming to understand why they think that way. We don't just know someone by knowing of them.

In looking at these statistics it is at least reassuring that most have noticed that the Scriptures state that you won't get into heaven without works. Yet I should qualify that to obtain forgiveness of sins doesn't require good works. It does, however, require a person to stop doing bad works (sinning). Protestantism doesn't understand that there is a difference between being saved from the hell we suffer for our sins, and getting into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Protestants themselves produce specials trying to make the Bible more palatable. I have seen them say that the Pharaoh's chariots merely got stuck in the mud, rather than drowning the Egyptians. An absolute nonsense to anyone who knows that chariots were deliberately made light so as to be fast. The Israelites were told to take all the gold they could from the Egyptians and with all their own goods obviously put on wagons, the chariots would have far more chance of making it across the mud.

Yet if their own ministers present this changing of the Bible to diminish God then what would we expect from the members? Also those trying to fit in with evolution, billions of years old earth and other such modern science religious drivel are going to have to sacrifice Biblical accuracy for modern trends.

And these problems have even crept into the LDS church. Fortunately our statistics are far superior to these. Yet there are enough that are attempting to change that. Even among our general authorities we have had those deceived in these areas. It is important that we hold to Scriptural truths and don't discard them for the trends of the world. We must remain truly Christian and not discard our heritage of a real BELIEF IN Christ.


Jason said...

Great article. I was a little disappointed though in your last comment about General Authorities leading people astray. Wouldn't it be better to help instill more faith in them than take away?

Do you have a specific example?

Doug Towers said...



In regard GAs it is a problem that some bend the Scriptures to fit with theory science. Those particularly that have been indoctrinated with these philosophies of men have come to compromise Scripture.

Henry B. Eyering and B. H. Roberts have both fallen into the trap of believing in some form of evolution and life upon the earth millions of years ago. I'm not suggesting they are evil or something. But these falsehoods come out in other opinions they express.

Having faith in anyone who teaches the truth I'd support. But I don't hold up those who oppose the word of God.

Some who come to my site have been glad to find that someone is prepared to put the concept of who to follow in its proper perspective. In fact some have expressed that they were near apostacy because of the contradictions of some GAs with each other VS the teaching that they are infallible. We have to be realistic in what we say.

Harold B. Lee pointed out that GAs disagreeing with Scripture are in error regardless of their positions.

As a people we need to realise the importance of using the Holy Ghost as guide and establishing communication with God person to person. It is the only way to obtain eternal life. Turning to another of our fellow human beings to do our work for us isn't going to get us there. It is only a starting point for new members, the weak, children, inactives, mentally disabled etc.

In saying this let me make it clear that I uphold Brother Monson as God's chosen key administrator for the church at this time. I also accept his automatic right to revelation relative to that office.

Jason said...

I think I agree with most of what you are saying. GAs are not infallible, but are quite human and can error in what they say. Recently Elder Snow of the Seventy visited our Stake and the Sat evening session he opened up for Q&A. Some of the things he answered were his opinion and I think most people took it as that, however, when he and others speak in General Conference those talks have been cleared by the First Presidency and should be taken as revelation for our current needs.

Thanks for your reply. I think were on the same page.

Doug Towers said...


I would agree that almost everything stated in conferences is correct and useful advice. They do go through a lot of vetting. I recall one GA mentioning he had to re-write bits of his talk twice. But 2 things are of note.

Those doing the vetting may not be any better informed than the writer in regard that issue.

As an example of this some Scriptures are taken out of context. I was raised in Protestantism and even they made those same errors in understanding.

For one, of many, examples Gen 3:17-19 is a curse, not a commandment to work, as has been claimed in conference many times over the years.

I have heard false statements made in conferences that are refuted by Scripture. Priesthood and power being a good example. These things may seem trivial. But they have far reaching consequences in what we do and how we view ourselves.

God allows his people to find their nitch according to how much they are prepared to hear. Thus when Christ came to earth he mentioned the problems the church had at the time in spite of it being run by a prophet.

Today he could say some of the same things. Cheif seats in the chapels. Being called by titles. Well do I like the statement, "millions shall know BROTHER Joseph (not President Smith) again." Sad that man refuses to change overall.