Friday, April 30, 2010

Why a Conference on the Basic Truths of Christianity?

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy Dr. David R. Reagan

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).


Bible Prophecy Conference

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:

  1. Do you believe that absolute moral truths exist?
  2. Do you believe the Bible defines those truths?
  3. Do you believe Jesus Christ lived a sinless life?
  4. Do you believe God created the universe?
  5. Do you believe Satan is a real living entity?
  6. Do you believe that salvation is a gift of God that cannot be earned?
  7. Do you believe that Christians have an obligation to share the Gospel with the unsaved?
  8. 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.


Register for the Conference!

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well said! Amen! I was one of those young adults! Grew up in a Christian home, but knew hardly anything about the Bible. God has been growing me the last 4 years via a trial and I praise His name for it! I'm hungry to learn and see even more then ever, just how important it is to be prepared to give an answer everyone who asks us to give a reason for the hope found in us!

May my pride be destroyed and humility gained, so that I can learn God's word and uphold His Holy name!

~Rachel

Anonymous said...

BTW, I've been reading the May/June Lamplighter magazine and it's fantastic!!! My husband came from a non-practicing Catholic family, but is now a born again Christian! I'm reading every article and saying "Amen!"

~Rachel

Anonymous said...

Your comments are both true and yet there is another side not addressed here.

The assumption is that the truth is not being preached and therefore people remain biblically illiterate.

Another situation exists. I am a preacher and former Bible translator. I have a firm grasp on the truth of the Scriptures and have committed my whole life to teaching the Truth. My children are believers and are also devoted to the truth of God's word.

However, a large portion of those to whom I preach are disinterested in hearing the Word and allowing the Word of God to transform them. They attend church yet live daily life without concern or interest in the things of God.

Ask those same folks about sporting events or TV programs and you'll quickly discover that they aren't interested in their Bibles because they have already fed at the trough of mass media.

I pray regularly along with you that these folks and others like them will turn away from the world's offerings and develop an appetite for the things of God.

hartdawg said...

i been a youth leader in youth groups for nearly 10 years and i`ll tell you EXACTLY what goes on 1)youth pastors who dont know much themselves but wanna be buddies. or who just wanna further their carreer in ministry. 2)youth groups who wanna get them saved with a God loves you message. they have games, food, give aways and other stuff. the problem is they wanna reach people who dont wanna be reached but just want the food and games and after the fun part they dont listen while the ones who want to learn arent getting anything cuz they cater to the ones who dont care.

hartdawg said...

3) society is getting worse and worse and the ones who havent been exposed to the word simply dont care and just love their sin too much. even the best churches cant do anything about that. there are more problems but those are the main ones i discovered. and finally the churches themselves did away with expository preaching and went seeker-sensitive and tell stories and jokes instead of Gods word.

hartdawg said...

sorry, but i wanna focus on number 3 a little more. there was a time when i always used to hear about people leaving drugs to follow jesus, but now i mostly see people leave jesus to do drugs. these students go to youth groups as a social event in jr high but when they start to drive they have better things to do. the funny thing is while the church is trying to get them saved with watered down fluffy sermonettes when i talk about prophecy, spiritual gifts and spiritual warfare they ask questions. (some do, most dont.)

Laura said...

Guess I'd be one of that 9% that doesn't agree with all 8 of those statements. In particular, I don't agree with #7. I used to, but I discarded that idea. You see, I don't see sharing the Gospel as an "obligation"--something I HAVE to do. It's an honor and a privilege and something I WANT to do, but it's definitely not something I have to do.

Acts 17:24-25 says, "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And HE IS NOT SERVED BY HUMAN HANDS, AS IF HE NEEDED ANYTHING, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else."

God doesn't NEED me to share or serve or preach the Gospel; therefore, I'm not motivated by a sense of obligation to "do" anything for God. Instead, my motivation is love--love for God and love for people.

When Jesus said, "You shall be my witnesses . . .," I always read that as, "You'd better get out there and witness or else." But I no longer read it that way. Instead, this verse says, "You can't help but be a witness for me--it'll happen whether you try or not!"

Seeing God through a grace-lens has certainly undone a lot of my faulty beliefs about God!

son of thunder said...

I have to disagree with that, Laura. What was Christ's final command given to His disciples? "Go into all the earth and preach the Gospel."

It is an honor to do it, but that's not a suggestion.

son of thunder said...

Another point: Paul asked the question, "How can a person believe if no one tells them?"

It's our mandate to not convert, but tell. Then God takes over. He's land owner, but we're the field-hands.

Anonymous said...

Obedience or Love? Why not both?

"And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.
And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love." (2 John 1:5-6)

Love is not an emotion. This is from someone(Jill) who does tend to get pretty emotional about all this. But emotions should never be the authority...that will get you to believe some strange stuff...barking like dogs in church etc...it was a move of the Spirit...hmmm...odd stuff really.

In many ways...it seems to me, you all are saying the same thing. Love God, love your neighbor...and use the Bible to define what love is. Sometimes there will be emotion..."good". Sometimes not..."good".

We are on the same team. Now that is "Very Good".

Take care,
Jill

Anonymous said...

Preacher,

I agree, there is another side. We(the church) spend too much time "amuzing" and not enough time "muzing".

Here is the defination of "amuse" from the Webster-Merridian Online Dictionary...it is a little disturbing.

amuse(verb)
1. to divert the attention of so as to deceive, to occupy the attention of
2. to entertain or occupy in a light, playful, or pleasant manner,to appeal to the sense of humor

As Christ followers, we should be "muzers"...aka...think, ponder, sheep that chew their cud.

How can one go from an amuzer to muzer? Ideas?

Take care,
Jill

Anonymous said...

What worked for me?

I used the tools in my tool-box, so to speak, that I learned when trained in Egypt...aka...public school and State University.

Egypt taught me to dissect secular literature. What is the major theme, minor themes, character development, what does the location tell you about the story, forshadowing, how is the author leading the reader through the story. This really helped provide a map or framework to approach the big book, the Bible...written by the greatest author...the Spirit throught the hands of men.

Also, it helped to have a pastor just tell us the major theme is the Gospel.

Have you ever had to write a compare and contrast paper? This works with Bible stories also...Tower of Babel and Pentocost.

Here is a good place for rules about these excercises...DON'T CHANGE DOCTRINE and CHECH YOUR HEART...are you really trying to cement the Words of God into your brain?..or is it disrespectful?

This is "muzing". It seems like "mental fitness" vs physical fitness.

(Hebrews 5:14) "But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil."

It seems like the word "trained" is the key. If the blue letter bible is correct, then the Greek word for trained is 'gymnazo' which means excercise naked, excercise vigourously. I think of all those Greek statues...now they worshipped 'physical fitness'.

Shouldn't we all be spiritually naked before our Lord? This brings my mind back to the Garden of Eden when, that nakedness seems to have been lost.

Anyway...we are all different, with different tools in our tool-box.

Take care,
Jill

Anonymous said...

Sorry, this is so long.

One last thing...now even when in conversation...I notice that I am putting on those "Bible Glasses"...seeing things through new lenses.

For example, my husband wanted to work on his golf game so decided to take some lessons. The instructor said his core was all wrong...they were NOT going to focus on his swing, but the core of his golf stance. They were not going to worry about his swing until the core was right.

Maybe, you have already translated that with your "Bible Glasses".

To me that seemed like good advice not only for golf, but our walk with God. Get the core right, then worry about the swing. Sure, you can play a decent game with the core wrong...but it will never be GREAT until the core is right.

This happens often...it is just fun. ...and "MUZING".

Take care,
Jill

Anonymous said...

Again...Don't change Doctrine!

Sometimes, my mind tries to see something through "Bible Glasses" and it does work out...or is off. That seems to be okay...it is a "mental workout"...we are promised that eventually we will be able to distinguish good from evil in Hebrews 5:14.

I am really done. For now at least. :)

Take care,
Jill

Anonymous said...

Finally, I think of all this as the "Musement Park" not Disneyland or Six Flags. Although, Six Flags is a great name for an amuzement park...six...number of man...a place to amuze. Now, that is an honest name. Love it.

So, another rule...Don't panick. When things like Six Flags is a great name...so it is. Stand back and just let the truth be the truth.

Christ followers are better served to visit Seven Flags, or Eight Flags...that is a play on the numbers 7 and 8. ...maybe, you don't like that...that is okay too.

Have you noticed how often seven pops up in the Bible? When eight pops up? ...hint..He is risen, indeed.

Remember the rules...

1. Don't change doctrine.
2. Check your heart. Are you being respectful to God's Word and trying to cement it into your brain?
3. Don't panic.

Hmmm...maybe, it is time to start my own blog...instead of clogging up yours. :) Call it "Musement Park".

Take care,
Jill

son of thunder said...

I had the word "amuse" explained this way: Muse means to think. In Greek, when you put an "A" at the beginning of the word it makes it mean the opposite. So "amuse" means to not think.

And, I think, as an expression of love to Jesus we follow his commands. He even said, "If you love Me, follow my commands." It's just like our parents: We express our love by obeying them.

Rodney said...

The idea to host a conference on defending the faith is a noble endeavor, however it is a little misplaced. The core issue is not one defending the faith, for the fact remains those that are scripturally literate, have no problem in this arena.

The problem that does exist is the absence of the effective desire to hear the Word and grow in faith and truth. When a majority of clergy today do not recognize the truth for themselves and broadcast fables from their pulpits, this creates a famine of the truth.

Faith only comes from the hearing of the Word of Truth, fables will bring about no spiritual growth, only the callous and lukewarm Christianity we have today. Instead of a conference on Defending Your Faith, we need one on Disipleship, this is one area in which the clergy today severely lack.

Whatever is popular today, like the new flavor of Starbucks, comes from the pulpit. The truth is discarded for profit and the recognition of men and women. We no longer have preachers we have movie stars and rock icons. This sums up the problem, we have seminary graduates producing their own fictional motion picture script for marketing.

Rodney said...

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers; having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables..II Timothy 4:3-4. The context here reveals an ample supply of apostate teachers available to those who despise the truth and cling to fables. Where do such teachers come from? The seminaries are pumping them out like a manufacturing assembly line.
Much like liberal infiltration in the universities, it has also infiltrated seminaries.

Anonymous said...

Rodney,

Well said...Discipleship. I will also 2nd you on the famine of the Word. I also wonder if some are Asleep. Can not one pray through the night? Wake-up.

Hope...there has been so many prayers sown with tears...Psalm 126...the Lord may yet send rain in our land...Are not we waiting for that rain cloud in the distance like Elijah? Rain, a true outpouring of the Spirit. How else can this famine end without Rain? Have not we already prayed from the depth of our very souls for this land and even the entire world? Have not we repented for the way the Lord's people have rebelled? Have not we prayed that the twisted lies be made known like Elijah at Mount Carmel? How long will the people waver between two opinions? Has not the Lord Jesus through the Spirit planted those very prayers, through different pictures and words, into your hearts for years?

I treasure the words spoken by all. Thank you. The Lord Jesus has, is, and will continue to move in, and through the His people.

Take care,
Jill

Rodney said...

But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and that they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them-Matthew 17:12. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse-Malachi 4:5-6.

As was the case when Elijah came among the people in the message of John known as the Baptist, so too now this second time, they refuse to acknowledge him. But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft rainment? behold they that wear soft clothing are in Kings' houses. But what went ye out see? A prophet? yea I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee-Matthew 11:8-10.

Anonymous said...

The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me(Elijah/John the Baptist).(Matthew 11:5-6)

May the spiritially blind, lame, and lepers today be healed.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
(Matthew 11:28-30)


Take care,
Jill

Anonymous said...

May the spiritally deaf now hear.

May the spiritally hungry find food/grain.

(Matthew 12:1-4)
"At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them."

"When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, "Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath."

"He answered, "Haven't you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?"

"He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread-which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests."

Arise Holy Nation Royal Priesthood.

Take care,
Jill

Anonymous said...

May those who are "dead" in their sins hear Jesus call their names and may they walk out of their tombs.

Jill

Anonymous said...

Oops...Matthew 11:5-6, this may not be clear in comments above... but these are not words about Elijah but words spoken by Jesus that would be comforting to Elijah.

Jill

...call me an optimist inspite of the mess

...granted John the Baptist/Elijah was beheaded

Cris Putnam said...

This is the focus of my ministry:
http://www.logosapologia.org/?p=48

Laura said...

Well, Thunder, let us agree to disagree then. I believe the end result is the same: We both tell people about Christ, but one of us is motivated by a "command," while the other is motivated by "love."

It's a world of difference, and it matters, just as all our behavior matters to God. It's not a question of "do you?" or "don't you?" It's the process of how we arrive at the point of action.

I've been under the "have to" yoke for most of my Christian life, and I clearly and loudly say I reject it utterly.

Only love is a true motivator; it doesn't control or shame or guilt you into anything. It is freedom, and I will stand firm and not be put under a yoke of slavery again.