MARCHING ORDERS FROM THE KING
By Marsha West
February 2, 2007
The Barna Group did a survey asking people if they consider themselves to be evangelicals and 38% accepts the label. However, if you ask most self-professed evangelicals (SPE’s) to define the e-word you will be met with a blank stare, as they have no clue how to answer the question. So allow me to explain.
To begin with the public deems evangelicals as social conservatives who strongly support traditional family values. And they’re right, sort of. Where the public misses the mark is that theology plays a large part in determining real from phony evangelicalism. Socially conservative Christians fall into two theological camps: orthodox and liberal. The early evangelicalism movement emphasized doctrinal orthodoxy and a “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ. Strong preaching from the Bible, personal conversion (admitting you’re a sinner and asking God’s forgiveness), and evangelism were stressed. Sadly, many SPE’s are woefully ignorant of what the Bible teaches. SPE’s don’t attend church regularly and many have never done a serious study of the scriptures. (By far the best place to learn about the Bible is to attend a conservative church where God’s Word is taught from the pulpit. All of it. Not just the parts people want to hear.)
In a study done by The Barna Group in 2006 to define the social, political, and religious opinions and behaviors of evangelicals, Barna used 9 questions to categorize people as evangelicals. The criteria come from the belief statement of the National Association of Evangelicals. Barna aptly termed the segment "9-point evangelicals."
You say, “Who cares what we call ourselves as long as we’re all Christians. We believe in the same God, don’t we?”
Maybe. And maybe not.
When a person accepts Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior they are “born again.” Jesus Christ declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). Jesus did not mince words. Unless you’re genuinely born again, the kingdom of God is out of reach.
Evangelicals are those who meet the born again criteria. Born again Christians believe that the following two statements are true: 1. They have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today; 2. They believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they had confessed their sins and had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. Barna lays out seven other conditions: “Those include saying their faith is very important in their life today; believing they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians; believing that Satan exists; believing that eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works; believing that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; asserting that the Bible is accurate in all that it teaches; and describing God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today. Being classified as an evangelical is not dependent upon church attendance or the denominational affiliation of the church attended. Respondents were not asked to describe themselves as ‘evangelical.’”
According to The Barna Group’s survey those who don’t meet all the 9-point criteria are not real evangelical Christians. They’re SPE’s.
Barna compares the 9-point evangelicals to those who say they’re evangelicals. The results are telling:
“In fact, the Barna research also noted that one out of every four adults—who say they are evangelicals is not even born again, based upon their beliefs.”
Although most Americans may be sure of the value of religion, what this study reveals is that Christians are not very sure about the truth of what their own religion teaches. As Barna pointed out, Historic orthodox Christianity believes in a God who is the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today. Historic orthodox Christianity believes that God speaks to us through the scriptures, which is how He conveys who He is and His ways. A perfect God inspired the Bible, so it’s both reasonable and rational to believe in its accuracy.
The early Church was given a mandate by Jesus Christ to evangelize the lost. “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, ‘This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem’” (Luke 24:45-47).
The lost are individuals who have never heard the gospel (good news). The gospel message is short and sweet: Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Christians are to share the gospel with the people they know and love. It is not an option. Why is this so important? Because those who reject Christ are lost forever. If you’re a believer, it should bother you immensely that the unsaved are headed straight for hell. Saving people from hell is the reason Jesus Christ died on the cross. He didn’t sacrifice Himself so that His followers could become wealthy, enjoy excellent health and feel good about themselves!
Imagine if you will that your best friend was aboard a ship that went down in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Now she’s marooned on Devil’s Island and there’s no way for her to leave, ever. You will never see your dear friend again. This is no island paradise, with white sandy beaches, azure lagoons, swaying coco palms and friendly natives. The island’s nothing more than volcanic lava that’s hardened into rock and has no smooth surface to sit or lie down on. Your friend is not alone on the island. Natives who are anything but friendly inhabit it. In fact, the natives of Devil’s Island turn the lives of anyone who washes up on shore into a living hell.
Let’s back track to just before your friend’s ship set sail. What if you had a chance to warn her that she’s about to aboard a vessel that’s going to sink? Your friend’s a skeptic. She may not believe you. She may even get angry with you for upsetting her plans. But there’s no doubt in your mind that you’re right. The timber is rotten. The boat is going to the bottom. Wild horses couldn’t keep you from telling your friend that she’s headed for disaster!
Some readers are thinking, “Christians who try to evangelize unbelievers are religious fanatics. I don’t want to hear about Jesus!” That’s your choice. But remember that Christianity is not the only religion trying to win souls.
Many devotees of the Environmentalist religion believe that the Earth is our mother. Serious environmentalists are trying to save Mother Earth from what they believe is inevitable destruction caused by careless humans. The only way to save planet Earth is to expose people to their pantheistic worldview and they’re guilty of preaching about it. Radical environmentalists do not come with truth. They come with lies and half-truths.
The Secular Humanist religion holds to a belief in moral relativism. They see organized religion as the enemy of their perverted form of freedom. Secular progressives have gone to great lengths to push their godless religion on society. Hollywood, the liberal media, public schools and universities are preaching their message. They believe the only way to save society from religious moralists and anyone else who doesn’t agree with them is to shut down all dialogue. Secular progressives do not come in peace. They come with a wrecking ball.
So, the radical environmentalists are spreading the Gospel of Mother Earth. Secular progressives are spreading the Gospel of Moral Relativism. Liberal Christians are spreading the Gospel of Confusion. What do I mean by that? Half of SPE’s feel that they don’t have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs with others, in spite of the fact that Jesus commanded His followers to proselytize. But what’s even worse is that God isn’t a priority in the lives of 42% of SPE’s!
Why has the Church become so confused? Pragmatism (whatever works) has replaced Truth. Pastors are shifting the focus away from the cross. Theology is being changed to fit the culture. Church leaders are ignoring doctrine; hence believers are ignorant of the essentials of their faith. Instead of figuring out ways to grow people’s knowledge of the Bible, the focus is on how to grow the church. The message from the pulpit is no longer about sin and salvation; it has been adapted to fit the felt needs of the audience. Pastors are trying to sweet talk people into heaven. Woe to pastors who dare teach the doctrine of hell. Too divisive, you know. You don’t want to put the fear of God into anyone. It’s better to let them think that good people go to heaven than to bring up the devil or any of the scary stuff. People don’t like that. Nowadays if you speak the truth, there will be hell to pay.
“What is truth?” Pontius Pilot asked rhetorically. For Pilot truth was relative. For Christians Truth is a Person. “I am the way and the truth and the life,” proclaimed Jesus. “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
A true evangelical will preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. The reason they evangelize is clear-cut: No one goes to the Father in Heaven unless they believe in His Son. The Barna Group’s survey makes it clear that self-professed evangelicals have completely missed the point. Each and every Christian is commanded to evangelize the unsaved. If you’re a serious Christian you have no choice but to follow the King’s marching orders.
"Occult means "hidden." It covers practices that are not approved of by God e.g., astrology (Isaiah 47:13), casting spells (Deut. 18:11), consulting with spirits (Deut. 18:11), magic (Gen. 41:8), sorcery (Exodus. 22:8), witchcraft (Deut. 18:10), and spiritism (Deut. 18:11). Occult practices such as Ouija boards, tarot cards, astrology charts, contacting the dead, s©ances, etc. are to be avoided by the Christian and Jews alike." http://carm.org
© 2007 Marsha West - All Rights Reserved
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Marsha West is the Founder and Editor of the E-Mail Brigade News Report, an online news report for conservative people of faith. Marsha is a freelance writer specializing in Christian worldview. She is a regular contributor to NewsWithViews.com, Alainsnewsletter.com, CapitolHillCoffeeHouse.com, plus her commentaries appear in MichNews.com and bibleteacher.org.
is also designer and webmaster of a Christian apologetics website, On
Solid Rock Resources. She is currently writing a series of children's
books for homeschoolers. Marsha and her husband reside in historic Jacksonville
Although most Americans may be sure of the value of religion, what this study reveals is that Christians are not very sure about the truth of what their own religion teaches.