Points to Ponder/Does A Biblical World View Make You Itch?
by Pastor Dennis Whitmore
I recall during my seminar years some students and professors who blithely blew off the concepts of biblical authority. I remember pondering in class all the gruesome stories I’d read of how believers in Christ suffered and died in horrific ways for the sake of the gospel. Today there are people sitting in awful prisons in far away places, with little hope of seeing family or freedom again because they dared to follow the scriptures and to teach others so to do. I considered the many centuries of sacrifice that was endured to preserve, translate, and to spread abroad the Word of God. Many known - and many more unknown - women and men risked everything to proclaim its truth.
With all of that history in mind, I was listening to professors who had not even walked the earth for half a century, putting more stock in the authority of their own reason than in the Word that has inspired generations and societies to learn of God and to devote their lives to serving Him. All of this came to me as I read about the recent Barna Research Group’s national survey (www.barna.org). The report says that only half of U.S. protestant pastors hold a biblical worldview.
The research defined a biblical worldview as believing that absolute moral truths exist, that such truth is defined by the Bible, and that six specific religious views are true - Jesus Christ lived a sinless life; God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He still rules today; salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned; Satan is real; a Christian has a responsibility to share his faith in Christ with other people; and the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings.
Of the 601 senior pastors polled from seven denominations, Southern Baptists had the highest percentage with a biblical worldview (71%), while the Methodists were lowest (27%).
The percentages of pastors from other denominations with a biblical worldview were:
* Baptist churches (other than Southern Baptist): 57 percent.
* Nondenominational Protestant churches: 51 percent.
* Charismatic or Pentecostal churches: 44 percent.
* Black churches: 35 percent.
* Leading mainline churches: 28 percent.
(Taken from The Pastor’s Weekly Briefing, 1/22/04; copyright 2004, Focus on the Family)
The scriptures themselves warn of these things. The ancient nation of Israel (more specifically the southern kingdom of Judah) drifted more and more into idolatry and self-centeredness. As the years went on they had a religion and the temple was busy, but God was not the Lord. Finally under King Josiah’s temple renovation plan, someone found a book of The Holy Scriptures (Torah). It was Deuteronomy, and they read it again - for the first time. To paraphrase Josiah’s shocking discovery of the Word of God, he heard its words and looked at the state of the nation and cried, “Uh oh! We’re in trouble!” (See II Chronicles 34). He said, “Great is the Lord’s anger that is poured out on us because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book.” (v.21) By then, it was too late. God’s grace extended for the sake of Josiah’s righteousness and humility, but the nation itself would fall.
Do you think any of the wise guys of that time thought so? Even as the prophet Jeremiah warned them of impending exile they scoffed and treated him like an extremist (read Jeremiah 26-28).
In the New Testament, Jesus wept over Jerusalem because they would not listen and recognize the time of their visitation by God (Luke 19:41-44). Also, Paul warned Timothy of what was to come, and now is:
“As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer. Some have wandered away from the truth and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.”
“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” (I Timothy 1:3, 6-7; 4:1-2 NIV)
In fact, if you study the 27 books of the New Testament, almost every one mentions that false teachers, “wolves in sheep’s clothing”, and hirelings instead of shepherds, are either in the church or will be.
In receiving the Barna survey results, we should not be surprised or discouraged. The Bible warns us that this is the normal state of humanity. We follow gods made in our own image rather than the Creator who made us in His. Our ears have a natural tendency to “itch”, and the truth of scripture seems to make some ears itch more for an alternative to the discomforting Truth.
Remember Paul’s warning as you consider Barna’s findings and be a “fruit inspector” as you look at your church and others.
“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardships, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” (II Tim 4:3-5 NIV)
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Whitmore serves God at the First United Methodist Church in Laurel, MD.