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Americans fuzzy on religious details, study finds--- A heresy for some can be a tenet for others (link)

 Americans fuzzy on religious details, study finds--- A heresy for some can be a tenet for others (link)by TK Barger (Toledo Blade)


The headline that LifeWay Research gave its 2016 State of American Theology Study is “Americans Love God and the Bible, Are Fuzzy on Details.”

The findings from a survey conducted in April had some very un-Baptist results to consider for LifeWay Christian Resources, formerly known as the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

One result: “64 percent of Americans agree ‘God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam.’ ” Only 24 percent disagreed, and 12 percent were unsure. Almost half of Americans with evangelical beliefs agreed with the premise.

If there’s an afterlife, that indicates that heaven could be more open than many would expect. Not just more open, but without gates, pearly or otherwise. “Americans are less likely to believe doctrines related to eternal judgment,” LifeWay reported. “Only 4 in 10 agree hell is an eternal place of judgment. It is not surprising that 6 in 10 embrace the heresy that all people will go to heaven avoiding such eternal judgment.”

A heresy for some can be a tenet for others.

The study is sponsored by Ligonier Ministries, which was founded and is chaired by theologian R.C. Sproul, a Presbyterian Church in America minister who has the radio show Renewing Your Mind. As the research report put it, “Ligonier Ministries identified specific doctrines and heresies that they wanted to test. LifeWay Research helped refine these questions and to conduct a survey of 3,000 Americans.” The margin of error was 2 percentage points.

Ligonier’s take on the study, from its website thestateoftheology.com, is that “many Americans live with a great deal of theological confusion and even hold contradicting sets of beliefs.” It concluded, “Faithful Christians can look at these survey results and lament the state of theology in America. Or, we can look at these results and engage our Great Commission work with a renewed urgency and purpose. Ligonier Ministries is taking the latter approach.”

I look at this as representative of the changing state of religion in the nation. 

There’s some support for the “nones,” people without religion, from the fluidity of positions the research shows. There’s also a trend of being religious without church: 59 percent agreed with the statement, “Worshiping alone or with one’s family is a valid replacement for regularly attending church.”

The findings indicate that new ways are needed to do church and to support people in their spiritual and religious explorations.

Ligonier embraces the contradictions for renewed teaching of a more traditional Christian message.

My take is a little different: We’re more responsible individually for our theological nature, and religious education can be very broad in what is taught.

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