ORLANDO, Fla. -- A new survey from Ligonier Ministries reveals that the overwhelming majority of U.S. evangelicals have accepted a view of human identity that aligns more with American society than the teaching of the Bible.
Ligonier's biennial State of Theology survey provides insights into the views of Americans on a wide range of Christian beliefs. This comprehensive report provides key findings on beliefs about God, truth, the Bible, ethical issues, and worship. Conducted with LifeWay Research, the survey polled a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults. The complete 2022 results are now available at TheStateofTheology.com.
In 2022, 71 percent of polled U.S. adults agreed with the statement that "Everyone is born innocent in the eyes of God." While this is unsurprising, given the influence of humanistic philosophies and worldviews in America that teach self-determinism and a view of humankind as basically good, the survey also showed that 65 percent of polled evangelical Christians agreed with this same statement.
The fact that nearly two-thirds of U.S. evangelicals believe that humans are born in a state of innocence reveals that the biblical teaching of original sin is not embraced by most evangelicals. The Bible, however, makes clear that all humans are "by nature children of wrath" (Eph. 2:3). In other words, we are not sinners because we sin; rather, we sin because we are sinners. This truth is foundational for an accurate understanding of the gospel and of our absolute need for the grace of God in salvation.
Chris Larson, president and CEO of Ligonier Ministries, said:
"Absent an understanding of the holiness of God, it is unsurprising that most people do not acknowledge the depth of their sinfulness or their need for a Savior. Yet, the fact that many Christians have been so poorly or wrongly taught on this most basic of doctrines is jarring. It was Ligonier's founder, Dr. R.C. Sproul, who often reminded us that our corruption is a radical corruption, because it goes right to the root of our humanity. It affects every part of our character and being. We must come to terms with who we are by nature—violators of God's law who are justly exposed to His wrath, having no hope of forgiveness apart from His mercy in Jesus Christ. We aim for the results of the 2022 State of Theology survey to serve as a wake-up call to rouse Christians to more serious and active discipleship in the Scriptures. Eternal life and death are at stake, and we cannot afford to treat lightly that which God has revealed with utmost gravity."
In addition to reviewing the official survey results, anyone may take the survey for themselves at TheStateofTheology.com. The website also features an option to create private group surveys for use by churches, classes, and more. All are encouraged to participate in these secure, private, and anonymous surveys to help them facilitate discussion and better understand the beliefs of people in their communities.
LifeWay Research surveyed a nationally representative sample of 3,011 adults in the United States, including 817 professing evangelicals. The survey was carried out from January 5 to 23, 2022. More information can be found at TheStateofTheology.com.
Evangelicals were defined by LifeWay Research as people who strongly agreed with the following four statements:
- The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.
- It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.
- Jesus Christ's death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.
- Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God's free gift of eternal salvation.
About Ligonier MinistriesLigonier Ministries exists to proclaim, teach, and defend the holiness of God in all its fullness to as many people as possible. To that end, Ligonier's outreach today is manifold and worldwide. Founded by Dr. R.C. Sproul in 1971, Ligonier's teaching fellowship consists of theologians, pastors, and scholars. Ligonier publishes Renewing Your Mind and other podcasts, the Reformation Study Bible, Tabletalk magazine, books, and hundreds of teaching series. The ministry also offers an undergraduate degree program through Reformation Bible College. In addition, Ligonier hosts national and regional conferences, provides an online learning community through Ligonier Connect, streams 24-hour Christian internet radio through RefNet, answers biblical and theological questions with Ask Ligonier, pursues numerous translation efforts in other countries, and makes available thousands of unique educational resources online at Ligonier.org.