In case you hadn’t heard, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life conducted a massive survey on religion in America last year. 35,000 Americans were surveyed and the results on the survey are still being analyzed and discussed by the media. This week, David Van Biema of Time cited an disturbing statistic found in the survey. Apparently 70% of those surveyed agreed with the statement: “many religions can lead to eternal life.” Perhaps even more disturbing was the fact that 57% of evangelicals surveyed “were willing to accept that theirs might not be the only path to salvation.”
Obviously, such a claims do not square with the claims of Jesus or the Apostles:
I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. – Acts 4:12
Perhaps such blatant disregard of the Bible’s teaching is the most disturbing statistic not mentioned in survey. It is my suspicion that most of those who would claim to be evangelical, and yet hold out that there are ways to salvation other than through Christ, probably don’t think they are contradicting Scripture. If I have noticed one thing in my short time in the world of evangelicalism, it is this: the average evangelical doesn’t know his or her Bible very well. Implicit in these statistics is an evangelical world that is largely illiterate when it comes to knowing the Bible.
In fact, recent Research from the Nehemiah Institute indicated that 85% of students from Christian homes who attend public schools do not embrace a Biblical worldview. Students who attended private schools do not fare much better (Steve Wright, reThink, 33).
I suspect they just think they are being practical. D. Michael Lindsey, a sociologist at Rice University, thinks so. He says, “If you have a colleague who is Buddhist or your kid plays with a little boy who is Hindu, it changes your appreciation of the religious ‘other.’” In other words, in Lindsey’s mind, it’s just easier to be a pluralist. Lindsey is right there; it is easier, socially, to be a pluralist but it is not biblical nor is it true.
Thankfully, not everyone cited in the article was so ambivalent toward these statistics. Dr. Albert Mohler said “the exclusivity of the Gospel is the most vulnerable doctrine in the face of the modern world.” Mohler said that query about whether there are other ways to heaven is the most common question asked to him by college students and callers on his radio program. Dr. Mohler has been calling Christians to defend the biblical teaching of the exclusivity of Christ as the only way to salvation for sometime now.
Those of us who hold firmly to the exclusivity of Christ need to wake up and realize that the majority of our evangelical neighbors do not. Obviously there is a problem, but what should we do?
Well, I have a few suggestions:
- If we hope to see the people in our churches make a difference in the world we MUST teach them the Bible and we MUST expect them to live it out. That is why things like personal evangelism and regenerate church membership are such important discussions to have on the table in our churches–because they are biblical.
- If we hope to see our churches truly make disciples, we must begin by taking the Word of the Lord seriously.
- We must teach the members of our churches the Bible and expect them to live it out!