Theology Matters… A New Poll Shows Why

Bryan CribbBryan Cribb, Church, Culture, Theology

Every now and then, I come across a stark reminder of why we do what we do in the College of Christian Studies at Anderson University. Sometimes the reminder is in the form of a book or a blog or conversation. In this most recent case, it was a somewhat frightening, but not altogether surprising, Christianity Today article from Oct. 28, 2014, entitled “New Poll Finds Evangelicals’ Favorite Heresies.”

The LifeWay Research poll reported that many modern evangelicals hold to theological beliefs that at one time or another had been considered heretical by the church.

So, for instance, some 22 percent (nearly a quarter!) of evangelicals surveyed believe that God the Father is more divine than Jesus. Nine percent said they did not know. Survey says? Scary.

Some 16 percent believe that Jesus was the first creature created by God. I think Arias would agree; but we should not. Perhaps influenced by the Stars Wars generation, a whopping 51 percent believe that the Holy Spirit is a “force” and not a personal being. And some 56 percent believe that they contribute their own effort to achieve personal salvation.

Upon reading this article, my first reaction was “Yes, this is about what I expected.” And indeed, my guess is that probably 99 percent of pastors and Christian studies professors are not surprised by this type of theological ignorance in today’s experience-driven church.

At the same time, I was also challenged—challenged to continue to work to train theologically grounded ministers of the Gospel. This is why one of our core values of the College of Christian Studies is to be “solidly biblical”—teaching people to ground their ministries and churches firmly in the solid rock of the authoritative Scripture and its teachings, and teaching these minsters to disciple others to do the same.

I tell my students all the time that the only hermeneutics class, the only systematic theology class, the only personal evangelism class, the only church history class, the only preaching class, the only ecclesiology class most of you congregation members will ever take is you.

If you don’t disciple them in this intense, deeply theological manner, who will? I think this article answers that question.