Why hold a conference on the basic truths of Christianity?
The answer is simple. It's because ignorance of the Scriptures is epidemic in the Church today, even among those who call themselves Evangelicals. As a result, the average Christian does not have the slightest idea how to defend the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Even worse, many could not even define the fundamentals of the faith!
Poll after poll has shown that the most widely known Bible verse among both adult and teen believers is "God helps those who help themselves." The problem is that this is not a Bible verse, and even worse, it expresses an idea that is completely unbiblical!
Teens in a Spiritual Fog
Gary Burge, a professor of New Testament at Wheaton College in Illinois, has been testing the biblical literacy of incoming freshmen students for years. These are students who have been raised in Evangelical families and churches. He has discovered that one-third of the students could not put the following in historical order: Abraham, the Old Testament prophets, the death of Christ, and Pentecost. Half could not sequence the following: Moses in Egypt, Isaac's birth, Saul's death, and Judah's exile. One-third could not identify Matthew as an apostle from a list of New Testament names. One-third could not find Paul's travels (the book of Acts), and half did not know where to find the Passover story (Exodus).
This incredible biblical ignorance among Evangelical teens makes you wonder what is going on in youth ministries. Are they doing anything other than playing games and conducting wiener roasts?
Ignorance Among Adults
The situation among adults is not much better. Recent polls by the Barna organization (http://www.barna.org/) have revealed a shocking lack of biblical literacy among both the general public and those who considered themselves to be "born-again Christians." For example, only 9% of American adults have a biblical worldview, and only 19% of born-again adults have such a viewpoint. That means that 80% of those who claim to be born again do not have a biblical worldview!
The Significance of One's Worldview
Why is this important? As Barna puts it, "A worldview serves as a person's decision-making filter." It is what determines how the person will interpret and deal with the complexities of life. Barna's research has discovered that there are large differences in behavior related to matters such as media use, profanity, gambling, alcohol use, honesty, civility, and sexual choices — all depending upon one's worldview. And Barna's research has revealed that the worldview of the average person is firmly in place by the age of 13.
To get specific, Barna's research has discovered that those without a biblical worldview are:
- 100 times more likely to endorse abortion.
- 80 times more likely to say that exposure to pornography is morally acceptable.
- 31 times more likely to believe that living together before marriage is morally acceptable.
- 15 times more likely to believe homosexuality is morally acceptable.
- 18 times more likely to endorse drunkenness.
- 12 times more likely to accept profanity.
- 11 times more likely to say adultery is okay.
- 9 times more likely to gamble by purchasing lottery tickets.
Where Do You Stand?
Let's take a look at how the Barna organization determines whether or not a person has a biblical worldview. Here are Barna's eight determining questions:
- Do you believe that absolute moral truths exist?
- Do you believe the Bible defines those truths?
- Do you believe Jesus Christ lived a sinless life?
- Do you believe God created the universe?
- Do you believe Satan is a real living entity?
- Do you believe that salvation is a gift of God that cannot be earned?
- Do you believe that Christians have an obligation to share the Gospel with the unsaved?
- Do you believe the Bible is accurate in all its teachings?
Look over the above list carefully and ponder it in your heart. The fact that only 9% of those who claim to be born-again agree with all eight statements is mind-boggling. George Barna has concluded that "the primary reason Christians do not act like Jesus is because they do not think like Jesus."
A Famine of the Word
Billy Graham once said that "the Bible is the least read best seller of all times." That statement is more true today than ever before. The Old Testament prophet Amos predicted that one of the reasons the nation of Israel would be destroyed was because there was a "famine" of "hearing the words of the Lord" (Amos 8:11). Jeremiah predicted that Jerusalem would be destroyed because "the word of the Lord has become a reproach to the people; they have no delight in it" (Jeremiah 6:10-11).
We need to get back to the Word. Back to the fundamentals of the Faith. And we need to learn how to defend what we believe. That's what our conference for 2010 will be all about.