This was the front page story in my local Dallas Morning News. According to this information, many Christians, not to mention mainstream Americans, no longer accept basic tenets of Christianity as absolute truth. Surprising? Well, no. I find it interesting nonetheless....
"As other surveys have indicated, the Pew study indicates that America has drifted slightly more secular over the decades, but overwhelming majorities continue to say they believe in God OR an "impersonal force" (92 percent), heaven (74 percent), hell (59 percent), and angels and demons active in the world (68 percent)."
Here's the interesting part:
"About seven in 10 of those surveyed said they believed that many religions can lead to eternal life and that there is more than one true interpretation of the teachings of their own religion."
SEVENTY PERCENT of CHRISTIANS think that there is not one way to eternal life. Wow. Wouldn't have guessed that. Sorry, I forgot that everyone can be right these days, except those who belief in Truth...
If this question were addressed to everybody, then I'd expect a higher percentage of universalism. But I absolutely don't understand how a majority of all the Christian groups represented (Evangelical, Southern Baptist, mainline denoms, United Methodist, historically black churches, Catholic) can believe multiple religions can lead to eternal life.
42% of the 36,000 interviewed said they believe that "Scripture is the literal word of God." So, let's turn to Scripture for insight, shall we?
Jesus said in John 14: "Trust in God; trust also in me...I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well."
That's pretty clear to me. I don't see much room for wavering or waffling. Jesus was pretty good about making distinctions and drawing lines in the sand. Just ask the Pharisees...
I don't know how we, as the American Church, have strayed so far from this foundation of Christianity. But if I may speak bluntly to my brothers and sisters in the Church, I think we must examine how we approach teaching Truth.
1. Preach the basic foundations of Christianity. PREACH THE GOSPEL! Why would anyone want to come to church for a watered down self-help course when they can get that on Oprah every day, with a lot more entertainment and from the comfort of their own couch? Please, preach the gospel! It's worked pretty well the past 2000 years.
2. Once one knows the Gospel, there is not any doubt as to the fact that Yahweh is the only God, and He manifests Himself in three persons. The only way to the Father is through Jesus the Son, as we are drawn by the Holy Spirit. I repeat: Jesus is the only way to the Father. However, there is NOT only one way to Jesus.
The way I read Scripture, Jesus came to abolish religion (man trying to please God/work his way to heaven). He did not abolish the Law, but He fulfilled it, ultimately by dying on the cross and being raised again to life. Through this, we can have a relationship with the Living God. God as the Holy Spirit lives inside of us when we have accepted Jesus as Savior and King. The point of Jesus coming to earth is to tell us that we no longer have to jump through hoops and follow rules to know God.
So this means that I can come to know Jesus in many ways. I can know Jesus even if I'm not in church every Sunday and Wednesday and Tuesday prayer meeting. I can know Jesus even if I don't sing hymns or the latest 7-11 (7 words sung 11x) chorus. I can know Jesus even if I don't know the catechisms, but I do listen to rock music. In fact, I can find Jesus by being influenced by music, friendships, literature, other people, nature and creation, science, world events, the arts, and just about anything and everything else.
God is not limited in His power! God can do, and will do, things in ways we would not expect!
I'm not asking the Church to compromise doctrine. I'm not asking the Church to water down its message to be seeker friendly. I am asking the Church to reach out to a lost and dying world by every means possible. Don't limit yourself to influencing non-Christians by handing them a track or dragging them to Sunday School.
I believe with all my being that Jesus is the only way to Life and Salvation. I also believe with all my being that Jesus should be found outside of the walls of the Church and the pages of the Bible. Therefore, you and I, Christian, must live the Gospel. We must radiate Truth and Love in our relationships. We must be Jesus to a world that sees no need for Him.