By Judson Casjens
Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs poll, conducted May 3-7, 2017, found that a “leftward movement in perceptions of what is morally acceptable has been ongoing,” with a shift in 13 of 19 issues over time (since 2001). In another section of the same poll, Gallup found that just 24 percent believe the Bible is the literal word of God—the lowest in Gallup’s 40 years of asking Americans about their biblical beliefs.
On several key social issues Americans responded in the most recent survey that it is morally acceptable to use birth control (91%), get divorced (73%), engage in opposite-sex sexual acts outside marriage (69%), engage in same-sex sexual acts (63%), have a baby outside of marriage (62%), commit physician-assisted suicide (57%), view pornography (36%) and practice polygamy (17%).
Southern Evangelical Seminary President and Evangelical leader Dr. Richard Land said the Gallup findings on social issues and faith in the Bible’s validity are certainly linked:
“There’s been a marked movement left in everything except adultery,” Land said of the surveys. “Cheating on one’s husband or wife still remains taboo. But as more and more people view the Bible as a book of fables, we can see an increasing level of paganism of the United States. The apostle Paul would recognize contemporary America because it looks a lot like ancient Rome and Corinth—except with modern conveniences.”
Land went on to say:
“The precipitous decline in traditional Judeo-Christian morality on these social issues is directly related to the decline in belief in the Bible’s moral authority,” Land said. “Besides the shift left in these crucial social issues, the decrease in the belief in the Bible as the literal, authoritative Word of God is even more alarming. It says something alarming about our culture, when for the first time in 40 years, biblical skepticism has surpassed biblical literalism. We can hope that the half who fall in the middle, believing that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, stay true to that conviction and are even strengthened in their belief of the Bible.”—excerpted from Southern Evangelical Seminary e-mail (5/22/2017) (quoted for informational purposes)
Where do we go from here? The proverbial snowball is rolling downhill and getting ever larger, and one can discern from reading about various nations, including Israel, in Scripture that the ending is not very pleasant. History demonstrates time and again that at the end is no revival, but rather judgement. While Gallup’s poll above includes evangelicals and non-evangelicals, other polls of evangelicals only don’t appear very encouraging either. For the most part, they merely reflect what is stated above. Land is correct in his assessment of the connection between people’s view of the Bible and moral decline. And if this is true, what we are seeing is only symptomatic and not the genuine cause.
What this means for true believers is that rather than supporting various crusades and rally’s around the country which purport to create a voice on various moral issues, we instead need to focus upon becoming holy in our lives and obedient insofar as the true Gospel is concerned. We can “clean up” the country, even get some laws changed; but then where are we? Using the examples of Jesus and the early Church, where do we find the effort and focus? Let me assure one and all that it was not cleaning up and changing paganism for the purpose of complimenting Christianity, but rather leading holy lives and “striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27) and using every effort in the spread of that very same Gospel . . . period. And the world of that day was not turned upside down by grandiose crusades or “festivals,” but by people like you and I relating to others just like you and I, and so the Gospel spread. We have turned way too much over to the so-called “professionals” and in so doing have diminished our own value, responsibility, and role in the spread of God’s kingdom.
Not at all unlike Israel of old, today’s evangelicalism is ever turning a deaf ear to God’s Words and warnings, the past polls of evangelicals only have shown similar movement away from the Bible as being verbally inspired and therefore as having diminished authority, all of which is playing a large part in the church’s drift away from biblical orthodoxy. In the middle of all this, the ecumenical push for unity is contributing mightily because all this “togetherness” requires the message of the one and only way of salvation not be mentioned, much less pressed; this movement seeks to find spiritual value and even instruction apart from Gospel truth, which by definition means paganism. James asks some rather pointed questions:
Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. (James 3:11-12)
What on earth are we doing by mixing and blending Truth with error and then calling it love and unity? Of necessity, the true Gospel must be the first casualty in this type of endeavor. The ideas of political correctness and tolerance in true Christianity for the purposes of being non-offensive are unknown in the whole of Scripture; the Gospel message is offensive for it declares that one is an offense to God, under condemnation already, and there is nothing one can do except trust in the provision made by God’s Son Jesus Christ—something the Catholic Church has declared “anathema” at least three times in Vatican II documents because theirs is a “works-based” system of salvation (sacramental).
What we find so prevalent in evangelicalism today is a refusal to notice and react when God’s Word is relegated to some mere movement, error, or teaching. When Israel had changed internally due to the admission of pagan practices and beliefs, even to the point of worshipping foreign goddesses, Yahweh sent the prophet Isaiah along with others, but what God said to Isaiah regarding His purposes and Israel’s response needs to be given very careful consideration:
And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate. (Isaiah 6:9-11)
In a similar discussion with His disciples in which their relationship with the world was discussed, Jesus uttered these thought-provoking words:
If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. (John 15:22-25)
We have become so focused upon “results” that we have forgotten that irrespective of another’s response, witness and testimony must be faithfully given, and that even rejection serves God’s purposes in that an opportunity for repentance has been given. That was Isaiah’s ministry, and that is a very sobering thought. So to all out there attempting to be faithful, don’t be discouraged due to little or negative response, even from evangelicals; in many ways, this is our calling.