Ever since I have known him Len Sweet has boldly declared that the church is suffering from a ‘Jesus deficit disorder’
I met up with him again a few weeks ago and asked him if this was still the case. His response was, “It’s even worse now than it was two decades ago”. Is his view correct? Well, those of you who regularly read my posts know that I agree with Len 100%, that the church appears to have lost its focus on The Lord Jesus. But is there hard evidence to back up these claims? Yes… and here is one example.
Ligonier Ministries have recently released their latest survey, ‘The state of theology’ in the United States of America. Ligonier is part of the teaching ministry of Dr R.C.Sproul, a well-known Calvinist theologian. Some of the statements posed to the 3,000 Christians polled are phrased from a Calvinist perspective, but most are not and therefore give a good idea of general Christian thinking rather than just ‘reformed’ thinking.
Here are some of the statements that relate to the Lord Jesus Christ, along with the responses:
- Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God… 67% agreed or were not sure.
So, two-thirds of evangelical Christians in the USA believe that Jesus was and is a created being like some sort of super angel! The great historic creeds state the exact opposite. For instance, the Nicene Creed states that ‘we believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.’ Of course, the Creeds are merely statements of biblical truth written in order to combat error, truths such as Hebrews 1:2-4; ‘in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs’. There are several other scriptures I could quote but the point is made.
- Jesus is truly God and has a divine nature, and Jesus is truly man and has a human nature… 37% disagreed or were unsure! Over a third of those polled either believe that Jesus does not have a divine nature, or that He doesn’t have a human nature. Yet in Colossians 1:19 Paul boldly asserts that ‘God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him’. The very salvation that Jesus came to earth to procure for us depends on both His divinity and His humanity. So it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see the responses to the next statement.
- Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin… 38% disagreed. Yet John the Apostle wrote that Jesus ‘is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). And Paul wrote, ‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood (Romans 3:23-25).
- Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Saviour receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation… 44% disagreed! O my, O my… I don’t need to comment further.
So has the American evangelical church lost its focus on Jesus? Is it suffering from a Jesus Deficit Disorder?