Thursday, April 16, 2009

Satan, the Holy Spirit and Christian education

Marv Knox, editor of The Baptist Standard, recently reported on the disturbing results of a new Barna survey. According to the study, nearly six out of ten self-described Christians in America believe in neither Satan nor the Holy Spirit. That's right, it appears that nearly 60% of U.S. Christians either strongly agree or somewhat agree that the devil and the Holy Spirit are symbols rather than living beings.

Knox outlines nicely the troubling dimensions of the results of this survey from a biblical and practical perspective and he makes an appropriate application of it to the tendency of Baptists to "avoid the Spirit." Check it out at the link above--good stuff. But I am wondering if this survey underscores the sorry state of Christian instruction in our churches. When nearly six out of ten Christians believe in neither the devil nor the Spirit then something is not working well in our Christian education.

In Baptist life we used to have much more instruction relative to worship services. Now, in most churches, we have fewer opportunities for Christian instruction and these tend to be more sparsely attended than in years past. With the death or near death of Training Union/Discipleship in many Baptist churches, systematic doctrinal instruction is nearly nonexistent.

Acts 2:42 tells us that believers in the early church devoted themselves to teaching. I don't think we do so today and I cite this recent Barna survey as evidence.