Many Southern churchgoers believe the Bible is a book of silly myths. What I’m about to share with you applies to survey respondents who attend church “several times per week.” These are not the fringe folks who only show up on rare occasions. These are the regulars.
Twenty-five percent of these folks agree that “the Bible, like all sacred writings, contains helpful accounts of ancient myths but is not literally true.” In other words, whether the minister preaches from Ezekiel or Aesop’s Fables is immaterial to the mission. Either will do.
Next, 33% agree that “modern science disproves the Bible.” Based on the survey, the more frequently someone attends church, the more likely he is to agree. So, among Christians who “rarely” attend church, only 12% agree.
Third, 31% agree that “religious belief is a matter of personal opinion; it is not about objective truth.” Again, this is among churchgoers, not the “unchurched” crowd, the agnostics, or those who call themselves “nones.”
If we look at this in real-life terms, in the church of 100 faithful folks, 25-35 regular attenders don’t believe the Bible has any bearing on their lives. It is a book of myths; what people ultimately believe about God, man, sin, and salvation is up to the individual.
These folks frequently attend church but believe it has no bearing on their lives. They could just as well attend a mosque, Buddhist temple, or nowhere at all. Why do it? Why get up and go to church when you don’t believe what it stands for?
Some do so because it’s what “good Southern people” do. “It’s what grandma did, so it’s what I do.” In the South, we call this “cultural Christianity.” Others see the church as another activist organization. They believe the church’s mission is not God’s glory in worship but feeding the poor and cleaning the streets. Its goal is to achieve equal rights for “fill-in-the-blank.” For still others, the church is a social activity. They attend because their friends are there. It’s an easy place to network and socialize.
In all likelihood, these folks attend a church where the preaching is nothing more than homilies about how to make life feel better. Their church describes worship as an experience, not a place to be transformed by the transcendent truth of the Triune Godhead. Therefore, the sermon text is a poem or pithy saying from Mother Teresa.
The Church cannot exist apart from the Bible. The Church’s definition and mission come from Scripture, not vice versa. Scripture teaches us that Christ came announcing the arrival of his kingdom (Mark 1:15). He came to reign over the lives of his people. He rules over us when we obey his commands in Scripture, which requires believing that the Bible is God’s Word.
In John 18, Jesus said to Pilate, “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37). This statement elicited Pilate’s famous response: “What is truth?” (John 18:38). It is troubling that many professing Christians think like Pilate, not Jesus.