ORLANDO -- Most Americans say that religious beliefs are simply a personal perspective and are not related to objective reality, according to findings released today from the State of Theology survey.
The survey found that 60 percent of Americans agreed with the statement "Religious belief is a matter of personal opinion; it is not about objective truth." Some 30 percent of Americans disagreed, while 10 percent said they were not sure.
The 2018 State of Theology survey was conducted for Ligonier Ministries by LifeWay Research, which interviewed a demographically balanced online panel of 3,000 American adults.
The breakdown of responses to this question was similar across the United States and when analyzed by age, sex, income, and other factors.
Evangelicals were the only group in which a majority disagreed with the statement (32 percent agreed vs. 62 percent disagreed). Regular churchgoers were fairly evenly split, with no majority either way (45 percent agreed vs. 49 percent disagreed).
Chris Larson, president and CEO of Ligonier Ministries, said:
"Many Americans appear to think religious beliefs are on the same level as whether someone likes one sports team over another or prefers to live by the coast instead of in the mountains. This presents an urgent challenge to Christians who understand that people's eternal destinies are at stake. The Bible declares the objective truth of who God is and what He has done, supremely through Jesus Christ. The idea that Christian beliefs are simply personal opinions cannot be reconciled with the facts of history recorded in the Bible."
Dr. Stephen Nichols, chief academic officer of Ligonier and president of Reformation Bible College, said:
"Pontius Pilate famously said to Jesus, 'What is truth?' Many Americans seem to have adopted the same casual approach to truth. But the Bible's message is true for everyone, whatever they may think about it. As Francis Schaeffer said, the Bible is 'true truth'-objective, public truth.
"Too few churches are robustly countering the relativism of the world around us. This leaves many Christians simply unable to engage with the world's ideas, let alone contend for the truth as the Bible urges us to do (Jude 3)."
The State of Theology survey was carried out from April 24 to May 4, 2018, and the results are available online at TheStateOfTheology.com.
Evangelicals were defined by LifeWay Research as people who strongly agreed with the following four statements:
The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.
It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.
Jesus Christ's death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.
Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God's free gift of eternal salvation.