Monday, October 22, 2018

Parsing the Ligonier survey

A few observations about the recent Ligonier survey. They plug this video:

I don't see the point of going to downtown Seattle and sticking a microphone in the face of random pedestrians. Is that supposed to be a representable sample? Of whom? Notice, too, that it's the same handful of respondents. 

Regarding some of the test statements in the survey:

1. God is a perfect being and cannot make a mistake.

According to open theism, God does make mistakes. So much the worse for open theism.

2. Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God.

A classic Arian formulation. I wonder how many Americans in general have the theological literacy to understand that statement. 

3. Jesus Christ is the only person who never sinned.

So either the Father and the Spirit are sinful or else the Father and the Spirit aren't persons. Ditto: the angel Gabriel, Archangel Michael, seraphim and cherubim. 

4. Even the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation.

I don't think that's the best way to frame the issue. It's not first and foremost about particular sins, but the moral and spiritual character of the sinner. That's the source of sins. 

5. God counts a person as righteous not because of one’s works but only because of one’s faith in Jesus Christ.

A good Pauline formula, but I wonder how many Americans in general have the theological literacy to grasp what that means.

6. The Bible, like all sacred writings, contains helpful accounts of ancient myths but is not literally true.

That's really two statement bundled into one:

i) The Bible contains ancient myths

ii) The Bible isn't literally true

But should we give the same answer to both parts? Surely the Bible can be entirely true without being entirely literally true. Take the parables of Jesus. 

7. There will be a time when Jesus Christ returns to judge all the people who have lived.

Again, that's two statements bundled into one:

i) Jesus will return

ii) He will return to judge everyone

Regarding (ii), what about a passage like Jn 5:24? "Judgment" has ambiguous connotations.  

8. Sex outside of traditional marriage is a sin.

Presumably, "traditional" means "heterosexual monogamous" marriage in this context. But do Americans in general understand that?

9. Gender identity is a matter of choice.

On the one hand, transgender activists say it's a social construct. On the other hand, they say some people are psychologically trapped in a body of the wrong biological sex. But if that were true, it wouldn't be a choice. So it might be better to have two test statements on transgenderism.

10. The Bible’s condemnation of homosexual behavior doesn’t apply today.

What about homosexual attraction? Is that condemned? If so, why leave it out? 

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