Friday, April 07, 2006

"I Don't Believe in the Resurrection of the Body"

And what could be a more fitting follow-up to a post on Gnosticism than a poll indicating that most Americans don't believe in the resurrection of the body?

Only 36 percent of the 1,007 adults interviewed a month ago by the Scripps Survey Research Center at Ohio University said "yes" to the question: "Do you believe that, after you die, your physical body will be resurrected someday?" Fifty-four percent said they do not believe and 10 percent were undecided.

"This reflects the very low state of doctrinal preaching in our churches," said Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and editor of the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology.

"I continually am confronted by Christians, even active members of major churches, who have never heard this taught in their local congregations," Mohler said. "We have a lowest-common-denominator Christianity being taught in so many denominations that has produced a people who simply do not know some of the most basic Christian truths." (HT: Slice of Laodicea)

Today, Mohler offers further analysis of the poll's findings on his blog:

The survey found strong support for other fundamental Christian doctrines among the general population. The great exception was belief in a personal resurrection.

I did find the survey most interesting (and alarming). These surveys do not reveal the inner life of the persons polled, nor their actual beliefs. Persons tend to respond with what they believe Christianity to teach. On most central matters, the majority of Americans respond in a generally orthodox manner. This does not mean that they are convictional and confessing Christians, but it does mean that they have some personal identification with Christianity and that they know at least something of the doctrinal shape of the Christian faith.

A glaring exception like this lack of belief in a personal resurrection probably demonstrates a profound lack of theological knowledge beyond the bare essentials known to the public. There was strong affirmation of the physical resurrection of Jesus (63 of those polled), so a generalized anti-supernaturalism does not seem to be operating here.

Instead, this is further evidence of the doctrinal evasiveness of today's churches. My firm guess is that the vast majority of Americans simply have no idea that the Bible clearly teaches a doctrine of personal resurrection and that the claim is central to the Gospel itself. Whose fault is that?

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1 comment:

Annie said...

I agree that many churches have failed to instruct their congregations. I was lucky to have a Southern Baptist Minister in Kentucky who made sure that his congregatin knew doctrine. His teaching 33 years ago remains with me still in Connecticut.