Recently I stumbled upon a Gospel Coalition blog post that discussed an interesting poll. This poll aimed to ““take the temperature of America’s theological health”, or to know “how churched and unchurched people understood theology.” The findings themselves would undermine how we in India think of regular American folks and especially, American Evangelical Christians.
There is a general assumption in India that the U.S is largely “Christian”. Another prevalent assumption here is that all people from the West know more about Jesus and the Bible than Indian church-goers do. Considering these, some of the results might be surprising for us-
Only 18% of Americans say small sins lead to hell.
Around 71% Americans say people must contribute some effort toward their own salvation or rescue from sin.
Almost 60% of self-identifying evangelicals claim the Holy Spirit is a force, not a person.
50% of Americans think worshipping God just by yourself is as good as going to church.
82% don’t consider their local church as an authority with a say on their Christian identity.
Oh, the humanity.
Here are some valuable observations from TGC on what these results mean.
1) “Terminology like “Get right with God” and “make a decision for Christ” is likely to be heard by lost people as “get your act together” and “ask Jesus for help in being good. We must always stress our inherent sinfulness and Christ’s gracious rescue...”
2) “The pastor should handle Scripture, not as a manual for life betterment and moral instruction, but as a grand…formative story that shapes our attitudes and actions.”
3) “…Americans are more likely to look to Scripture as “helpful” rather than see it as objectively true.”
4) “Churchgoing…is an optional exercise judged primarily by its usefulness in one’s spiritual journey, not an essential part of faith and commitment.”
These painful observations may not be true just in the U.S though.
Two aspects urban India will identify with, in my very limited knowledge, are #1 and #4. Many churches here have members who misunderstand their role in salvation and even more think of God’s church community as a non-essential to their “individual” relationship with Jesus.
Here is an opportunity for Indian church leaders and others who know the Indian church scenario better.
Do you know where churches in India lack in their understanding of the Christian faith? Is it time we do a similar survey? We could also share how to lead & build up ourselves and others in Biblical ways.
The comments section is open for your thoughts.