LifeWay Research reports that “Most Americans believe in God, the Bible, and a few heresies. An online survey of 3000 Americans showed there is much confusion about details of Christian theology. What is a heresy? Union University professor Nathan Finn says, “A heresy is a belief that denies a core teaching of the Christian faith…we are talking about the difference between being a Christian and not being a Christian. The most persistent heresies in church history revolve around the nature of God and the identity of Jesus.” For example:
- More than half of Americans say the Holy Spirit is a force, not a person. (includes 63% of churchgoers)
- Many believe Jesus was created by God. (includes 67% of churchgoers)
- Some (28%) say the Holy Spirit is not equal to the God the Father and God the Son.
- Most believe works can get you into Heaven. (52%)
- 85% of churchgoers believe a person can turn to God without the help of the Holy Spirit.
- Many (31%) do not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity – that there is one true God in three Persons.
- And 39% do not believe Jesus was both divine and human.
Because these are serious misunderstandings, Professor Finn says, “Pastors shouldn’t be afraid to talk about theology, because people in the pew want to know the truth about God.” Amen! So let it be. People need to hear what is true and what is not. Preachers need to give people what they need, not just what they want.
(adapted from Bob Smietana, Facts and Trends, Winter 2017, pp. 22-26)
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