"And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:42)
Last night I came across a brief article in the November 2016 issue of Christianity Today magazine that kind of "freaked me out"! It was not a long article; actually it was just their Go Figure column entitled, "Our Favorite Heresies". It seems LifeWay Research and Ligonier Ministries surveyed a group of evangelical Christian Americans and discovered they (or should I say "we"?) hold to a lot of beliefs that are incorrect and unbiblical! (If you get Christianity Today or can get access to the November 2016 issue, this piece is found on page 19.)
I know this will sound like Family Feud, but I'm deliberately using the "Survey Says" terminology because we may need to have sort of a "family feud" in our churches to set the record straight on these matters! Do you think that, "People have the ability to turn to God on their own initiative"? (in other words, that a person may just decide out of the blue to turn to God with no prompting from Him). The survey says that 82% of American born-again Christians believe this. In fact, it's incorrect! The New Testament clearly teaches that God [the Holy Spirit] draws a person to Himself and that even if a person thinks he or she is coming to God out of his or her own volition, it's just not so! And, again, 82% of us got it wrong. I was much more disturbed by what today's American evangelicals believe about the Holy Spirit. Do you think that, "The Holy Spirit is a force, not a personal being"? Many cults believe that the Holy Spirit is only a force, but the survey says that's also believed by 57% of American evangelical Christians! I would think that such a belief would grieve the Holy Spirit! (In fact, if you check out Ephesians 4:30, you'll see that grieving the Holy Spirit is a really bad thing to do. Might that be the reason the Holy Spirit is not mightily moving in many of our services?) Is it your belief that, "...most people are good by nature"? The survey says 54% of American evangelicals believe that. In fact, the Bible teaches no one is truly "good by nature". That's why we all need Jesus Christ, because without Him, we're all so messed up!
I won't go over the other categories. I think you get the point. It's been said that true Biblical Christianity, "is only one generation away from extinction"! The late Chuck Colson was one of those who prophetically warned about this fact. I know from my many years of pastoring that most Christians consider "doctrine" to be boring. If a church announces that it's offering a class on "Spiritual Warfare" or on "The End Times", you can usually get quite a few people to sign up for it. If, however, a pastor decides to have a class on someting like, "Sound Doctrine: Know What You Believe", even in a large church, he'd probably be hard pressed to get five people to sign up for it. Listen, I'm no different! Right now, I'm not pastoring. I'm a "regular church attender". If a class is offered on "Spiritual Warfare" or "The End Times", I'll usually try to go. Regarding a "Sound Doctrine" class, I'm likely to say, "Well, I know doctrine; I don't need that," as I really think, "Boy, that sounds kind of dull!"
May God help us and have mercy on us! Do we really "know the Bible" and are we really "sound in our doctrine" and unlikely to be tricked by a deceiver, or are we just kidding ourselves? Yeah, that Christianity Today article really shook me up last night!