Evangelicals’ Favorite Heresies

Christianity Today posted this article about surveys done of evangelical Christians, which revealed how many American evangelicals hold views condemned as heretical by some of the most important councils of the early church.

Here’s the article:

New Poll Finds Evangelicals’ Favorite Heresies: Survey finds many American evangelicals hold unorthodox views on the Trinity, salvation, and other doctrines.

It’s worth reading. Here are a few of the poll results:

The concluding statements were also very insightful and worth taking note of:

Beth Felker Jones, professor of theology at Wheaton College, said, “Orthodoxy is life-giving, and God’s people need access to it.” Participants who gave unorthdox answers are not heretics, but probably lacked quality resources, she said. “Church leaders need to be able to teach the truth of the faith clearly and accurately, and we need to be able to show people why this matters for our lives.”

For Nichols, one way forward in understanding God and ourselves is to consult the historic church. “While slightly over half see value in church history, [nearly] 70 percent have no place for creeds in their personal discipleship,” he said. For Nichols, the church’s knowledge of its past will determine its future. Knowing heresies and how they were overcome, he says, will help the church stay on the right track theologically.


9 thoughts on “Evangelicals’ Favorite Heresies

  1. Maybe this is nitpicky but polls like that are rarely as clear as they need to be. While I think evangelicals do have many heretical views, I don’t think this poll was fair in how things were phrased. Also, these aren’t the things I think of when I think of their crazy views.
    May you find blessings on your journey.

    1. I think you might be right about it being skewed. However, I think that modern evangelical culture tends to assume that people know more than they do. In the day and age we live in, with more unchurched people in our midst, we cannot allow ourselves to make those assumptions. Many evangelical churches have gotten away from the practice of catechesis, which addresses these fundamental doctrines, which has left a good many theologically, historically and biblically illiterate. For me, that’s the big takeaway from this study.

      1. In a way I agree, but I do worry sometimes that churches spend so much time on the basics because people don’t want to read for themselves and thus either way the church generally speaking ends up being under theologically educated.

      2. The model that we follow is to teach systematically through the Scriptures. In this way we hit both the basics and the deep, as we as not avoiding the uncomfortable or difficult passages. I find it to be a very healthy way to teach a congregation and speak to both the new believer and the seasoned veteran. I have also been considering how I might be able to introduce a form of adult education as a setting to teach subjects such as church history, as well as systematic theology, narrative theology, etc. for which Sunday sermons alone are not the right setting for.

      3. Oh it’s not that I can’t, it’s that I think Sunday morning is a time for proclamation of the Gospel, therefore I choose to teach the Scriptures in a way that contains meat, milk and application. Teaching those other topics is important – and I believe a faithful Christian should not only “do church” on Sunday mornings but be involved in various settings for teaching and fellowship.

  2. Historically – calling for a council, bringing together all the leaders in one room never really solved heresies. It just forced people to choose sides by calling one side ‘orthodox’ and the other site ‘heterodox’. If you look up enough councils, you see that some teachings considered orthodox were branded heretical the next council only to have the judgement reversed later on. At this point, it’s difficult to say if the orthodox teachings aren’t slightly heretical given so much biblical tug-of-war. Besides, if two people have a different interpretation of one scripture, you can’t always choose one to be right and one to be wrong, both might have some elements of rightness and wrongness depending on who you ask.

    1. To an extent I agree that not everything the councils concluded was always completely free of error. However, with the particular questions in view in this poll, I believe the councils got it right. The point remains regardless that there is a level of theological, Biblical and historical illiteracy in today’s evangelical movement which stems from assuming rather than teaching the fundamentals.

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