3. Sin isn’t important.
Original sin seems anathema to most Americans. Almost two thirds (65 percent) said that most people are good by nature, even though everyone sins a little. Three quarters (74 percent) of Americans disagreed that the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation—and 62 percent strongly disagreed!
Romans 3:22-23 explicitly declares that “there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Orthodox Christianity holds that only the perfect may enter heaven, and that even the slightest sin separates a person from God. Only the death and resurrection of Jesus can restore the relationship between the believer and God.
Seen as an eternal punishment for temporary sins, hell seems unfair. But orthodox Christianity holds that hell is the state of separation from God. Seen in terms of a relationship with a perfect God, even a little sin prevents the reuniting of man with God that is heaven.
While most Americans said sin does not deserve eternal damnation, more than half (57 percent) agreed it would be fair for God to show His wrath against sin. Perhaps pastors can open their congregation’s eyes by emphasizing the fairness of God’s wrath, rather than the eternal damnation meted out for every sin.
4. God accepts worship of all religions.
Sixty-four percent of Americans said God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Indeed, this belief united all kinds of Americans: 62 percent of those 18 to 34 years old believed it, as did 67 percent of those 50 and older. African Americans (69 percent), Hispanics (65 percent), whites (63 percent) and Asian-Americans (57 percent) also agreed that God accepts at least these three types of worship.
Even 48 percent of evangelicals agreed that God accepts all kinds of worship. The difficulty with this view is that these religions disagree on the nature of God. Christianity (and some forms of Judaism) sees God as one being with multiple persons: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Islam, by contrast, says that Allah is a monad—He is not multiple persons and He does not have a son.
Throughout the Old Testament, God showed Himself as a jealous God—ordering the destruction of idols and praising the kings who defiled pagan temples. While Jesus did liberalize worship to some extent, he also emphasized that worship must be rooted in the reality of God and man: He said it mattered less where people worship than that they worship God “in spirit and in truth.”
5. Jesus was created by God.
While a vast majority of Americans (69 percent) agreed in the idea of the Trinity—that there is one true God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—more than half (52 percent) said that Jesus is the “first and greatest being created by God.”
This is incompatible with the Nicene Creed, which declares that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, “begotten of the Father, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father.” Small-o orthodox Christianity insists that Jesus was not made by God, but begotten of Him, being the same nature as God the Father.
A majority of Americans (61 percent) agreed with the orthodox view of the dual nature of Christ: that He is both divine and human. This is an important doctrine, because Jesus is the bridge to reunite God with mankind. If He is not fully human, He could not die for the sins of man. If He is not fully divine, he could not unite them with God Himself.