Theologian: More than scripture, pluralism infecting evangelical thought

Wednesday, October 28, 2020
J.M. Phelps (

Bible redaction revisionA recent published survey reveals that many Christian evangelicals in America are confused about the exclusivity of the one true God – leading one theologian to issue a warning about the influence of false beliefs.

Ligonier Ministries recently partnered with LifeWay Research to conduct their biennial State of Theology survey. Since 2014, the survey has compared the responses of a general adult population with those of an evangelical adult population.

OneNewsNow spoke to Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow, Dr. Stephen Nichols, about one alarming find. The Reformation Bible College president shares that he was disturbed, but not surprised at responses to the statement: "God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam." The statement is related to the issue of pluralism – and the results, he says, should garner the attention of Bible-believing Christians.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of adult Americans agreed with the statement – reflecting, as Nichols points out, that Americans are living in "a pluralistic culture and moment." However, he found it "alarming and something the Church must pay attention to" that 42% of evangelicals agreed with the statement.


"The fact that nearly half of evangelicals agree with the statement is telling for a lot of reasons," Nichols observes. It shows primarily, he suggests, how deeply culture influences American evangelicals – but also that "they are very much swayed by cultural pressures and cultural beliefs much more so than Scripture."

Scripture plainly teaches that salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone, Nichols points out, reciting John 14:6: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Clearly, the educator notes, Jesus was not a pluralist but an exclusivist. "He taught that salvation is exclusively found in him and in his work," Nichols explains.

With the results of the survey in mind, the teaching fellow contends "evangelicals – who have at the core of the name, the gospel – are denying the very heart and truth of the gospel itself" and, in its place, giving in to cultural pressures. And that, he continues, should be a "wake-up call" for evangelicals.

"A better job in teaching theology in our universities and our churches must be done, so that we keep from continuing to fall prey to cultural, false beliefs," the college president adds.

However, Nichols does admit that he can see where a person could make the argument that "this is not a loving God, and this is not a God that some would want to worship – a God who is going to condemn people, [including] all of these adherents of other religions."

But Nichols argues that speaking the truth in love – despite the cultural pressure against sharing one's faith – is the most kind and neighborly thing a Christian can do.

"There is this subtle temptation for us to think that we are doing God a favor by having a more tolerant view of other religions – but the reality is we're not doing anyone a favor by telling them a lie," he concludes.

"[Those of us who know the truth] need to shore up the Church and shore up individuals in the Church to be able to contend for the gospel and withstand the influence of culture."


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