Mark G. Schroeder
A recent survey of religious beliefs should be more than a little shocking to us. Here are some of the results when members of a large Protestant church body were questioned about their views:
● Only 31 percent of those surveyed said that religion or biblical teaching is the source of guidance for what is right and wrong. The rest identified common sense, philosophy, or science, or stated that they simply didn’t know.
● When asked if there is an absolute standard for right and wrong, 69 percent said that there is no such absolute standard; right and wrong depends on the situation or your own beliefs.
● Fifteen percent of those responding said that they do not believe in heaven; 41 percent stated that they do not believe in hell.
● Sixty-five percent answered that they believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
● Nearly three-fourths (73 percent) of the members of that Christian denomination believe that homosexuality should be accepted; 65 percent approve of same-sex marriage.
● When asked about the origin of the universe and life, 78 percent expressed a belief in evolution.
● Fully 80 percent stated that the Bible is not necessarily the Word of God.
What is shocking about this poll is that those who answered belong to a church body with “Lutheran” in its name. (Hint: It’s not the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, or the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.)
It is my firm conviction that WELS members’ answers to these questions would be vastly different than the answers in this poll. But the point here is not for us to say with sinful pride that we thank God that we are not like others who have departed from the truth. The point is this: The Lutheran church body to which these members belong was formed at a time when members held and proclaimed the truths taught in the Scriptures. It’s a stark reminder that even faithful Lutheran church bodies and Lutheran Christians can—and do—stray sometimes very far from biblical truth.
The reason for poll results like this can be traced to the very last question listed above. If 80 percent of the members of a church (and probably a similar percentage of their pastors) no longer believe that the Bible is the Word of God, it’s not at all surprising that they adopt beliefs that are based not on Scripture but on their own ideas and opinions.
Not every church that believes that the Bible is the Word of God remains a correct-teaching church. Even Bible-believing churches can—and do—distort the truth of God’s Word even as they claim to hold on to it. But one thing is certain. A church that rejects the truth that the Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God cannot remain a church that teaches the truth.
So what are the lessons to be learned from these poll results? First, this is a stark reminder to listen to God’s loving warning that those who think that they are standing firm should be careful that they do not fall. Second, these poll results can lead us to be incredibly grateful that God has preserved his truth among us. Finally, this poll should lead us to encourage one another, pastors and members alike, to stand firmly on the Word of God as the unchanging truth that it is; to insist that our pastors preach and proclaim that truth boldly and without compromise; and to be filled with thanks and confidence that when our pastors say, “This is the Word of the Lord,” that’s exactly what we will hear.
Mark Schroeder is president of WELS.
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Author: Mark G. Schroeder
Volume 105, Number 6
Issue: June 2018
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