Recently the Pew Research Center did an extensive survey on religion in America. I looked up the study and found it quite intriguing. (You can check it out here.)
The religious preferences of modern Americans are very interesting. Apparently almost 80% of our countrymen self describe themselves as Christian. About 50% of that group label themselves Protestant and 24% claim to be Catholic. The balance is spread among Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Orthodox and “others” (not sure what that would be!). By definition, that is a very broad spectrum of theology.
More than 25% of the adults taking this survey indicated that they have left the faith of their childhood. And a large group (about 16%) does not affiliate with any particular faith. And that group is the fastest growing segment of the population.
But an even more disturbing thought came as I looked at a sub-section of the article, the Religious Knowledge section. It was a 15 question quiz (go ahead and take the quiz)
It had a variety of questions designed to survey the general religious knowledge of Americans. It had a few questions focused on Bible knowledge (who led the exodus out of Egypt? Is “do unto others” one of the Ten Commandments? Which Bible figure is most closely associated with remaining obedient despite suffering?). It also asked a few church history questions like, “Whose writing and actions inspired the Protestant Reformation?” And it asked some general information questions about other religions.
What astonishes me are the results. Only 50% of the 3400 adults taking the quiz got the questions all correct. The highest scoring group was the Jewish population with atheist and agnostics right behind them! 92% of the Mormons got the question about Moses correct as compared to only 80% of the evangelical Protestants.
The bottom for you and me concerns the passage in II Timothy 2:15 where we are urged to “study to show ourselves approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Serving God requires faith. But after we have placed our faith in the finished work of Christ, we have some work to do. We need to study God’s word so we can understand His nature, His call on our lives, His expectations, and His standards. We need to know who He is and what He requires. We learn that by immersing our selves in His book. And if we do that, we should be able to outscore the atheists and agnostics on such a quiz!
In Bulgaria last week, thousands of people marched in the capital in support of a push to ensure that there are mandatory religion classes in their schools. They chanted, “Sixty-six years of atheism are enough!” You and I need to make sure such a chant isn’t part of our public debate 100 years from now. This week, let’s study God’s word in our homes, in our offices, in our cars, while sitting on a park bench or flying in an airplane. Let’s know what it says and do what it says!
By His Grace and for His Glory,
Sherry L. Worel