This newsletter is a bit ambitious. I want to explore a question that’s pervasive in American Christian discourse. If we all know that Christians aren’t perfect, why does Christian sin and hypocrisy drive so many people from the faith? After all, many of the giants of the faith committed dreadful acts. Can we demand that our pastors be better than, say, Peter or Paul?
To answer as best as I can, I want to tie together two seemingly unrelated strands of news. Last month, Lifeway Research and Ligonier Ministries published their biannual theological survey of American Evangelicals. The results were sobering. While an overwhelming percentage of Evangelicals believe in traditional Christian sexual morality (for example, 94 percent agree that sex outside of traditional marriage is wrong, and 91 percent say that abortion is a sin), a majority also misunderstand the nature of Jesus Christ himself, believing that he is “the first and greatest being created by God.”
In fact, a surprising 43 percent of Evangelicals say that Jesus was a great teacher, but not God at all. Both of these assertions flatly contradict scripture, which unambiguously states in John 1 that “In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Nicene creed is likewise clear: “We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father; God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God; begotten not made, one in being with the Father. Through Him all things were made.”
Second, as I referenced in my newsletter last week, a fascinating study of 57,000 American undergraduates at 159 top universities found that “Homeschooled and parochial schooled undergraduates are as or more likely to identify as LGBT or non-binary as those from public or private school backgrounds.” Here’s the precise data: