I am so thankful for the work of Lifeway Research. I worked for them until February of this year, so I’m biased, but I think the work they do is beneficial for pastors and church leaders around the world.
There’s a ton of data I could spend hours mining, but here are five of the more fascinating insights I encountered:
1. 64% of Americans agree believe that the Bible accurately reports the real event of the resurrection.
Considering the study found that 70% of Americans believe in “one, true God,” 64% of Americans believing the resurrection is a real event is quite remarkable. Not only that, these 64% of Americans believe that the Bible’s account of the event is accurate.
This point was interesting, and somewhat encouraging. I definitely did not expect 64% of Americans to affirm the resurrection and the Bible’s account of it.
2. 72% of Americans with Evangelical Beliefs believe Jesus was the first and greatest creature created by God.
This is depressing.
Now, surely some percentage of Christians affirming that Jesus was the “first and greatest creature created by God” is simply because people read the question too fast. It would be easy to skim this question and think, “Of course Jesus is the greatest being to exist,” not realizing that the question says “created by God.” So, that may be why this number is so high in part. But still, this number is really high.
At any rate, is is problematic that even half of American Evangelicals believe Jesus was created.
3. 38% of Americans with Evangelical Beliefs believe the local church has the authority to withhold the Lord’s Supper and exclude people from fellowship.
A number of statistics in this study are troubling when it comes to the authority and importance of the local church and worshiping with the body of Christ.
Approximately two-thirds of American evangelicals do not recognize the authority of the local church to decide who can and cannot be part of its gathering and take the Lord’s Supper.
This is an issue, but not surprising given the anti-institutional and pro-individualistic nature of the faith of many Christians today. Further, it explains why church discipline seems like such a harsh, primitive practice in the eyes of many today.
4. 76% of Americans believe an individual must contribute to his or her own salvation.
This is not a surprise, but it is still heartbreaking. The stereotypical American works-based view of self-worth makes a gospel of grace sound foreign and illogical.
Regardless, the gospel is the power of salvation, and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit can transcend American cultural norms. The grace of God offers salvation without asking for a payment of works in return.
5. 37% of Americans with Evangelical Beliefs believe God will always reward true faith with material blessings.
Now, upon first glance, this number may seem encouraging to you. Only 37% of American Evangelicals believe in a form of the false, heretical prosperity gospel. The number could be (and likely is, in some parts of the world) much higher.
But this statistic is not encouraging to me because only 25% of all Americans believe that God will always reward true faith with material blessings. This means that more “Americans with Evangelical Beliefs” believe in the prosperity gospel than all Americans. This is not surprising, in some sense, but it is sad nonetheless.
Americans on the whole are more aware of the lie of the prosperity gospel than evangelicals are. Lord, help us when we are tricked into believing our actions pressure you to make us healthy or wealthy.
This article originally appeared at Millennial Evangelical, and is used with permission.
Featured image credit, edited for size.