Grounded in the Truth

About a half-century ago, a man named Paul Little wrote a book aimed primarily at college students called “Know Why You Believe.” It was a response to the anti-establishment counter-cultural mindset of the late 1960’s when there was such an upheaval of the belief system across our country, especially on college campuses. It was a tumultuous time in which the notion of absolute truth was undermined and the long-held beliefs of orthodox Christianity were constantly questioned.

Little was a seminary professor who had spent a great deal of time discipling students through the ministry of InterVarsity, and, before that, with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He had a good feel for the pulse of Christian thought across the country, and wanted to provide an apologetic resource for those who sought to defend their faith. The focus of the book was the “reasonableness” of Christianity, and he affirmed the truths of the Bible with intellect and cultural relevance.

After the success of that book, Little followed it up with another, “Know What You Believe,” spelling out the basic doctrines of historical biblical Christianity. Both books became classics from that generation and are still in print today. I read them in my own college and seminary days and they were helpful to ground me in what and why I believed.

I bring that up because, some fifty years later, Americans are still grappling with what they believe and why. A recent survey by Ligonier Ministries revealed some alarming statistics and disturbing trends in regard to the beliefs of professing Christians in America. “The State of Theology: What Do People Really Believe in 2018″ came out in October, with evidence of the effects of increasing relativism in our post-modern culture, even among church-goers.

Findings from the polling data show that less and less Christians are confident of the long-affirmed orthodox doctrines of our faith. One of the things that stood out was the illogical inconsistency of belief among American Christians. For example: 91 percent of evangelicals affirm that people are justified by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, but 51 percent of evangelicals also believe that God accepts the worship of all religions. If one believes that people can only be made right with God by faith in Christ, and Him only, how can he or she also believe that God considers valid the worship of other religions? Such is the understanding–or misunderstanding–of “truth”in our mixed-up world today.

The past few weeks our students in junior high, senior high and college have taken the same survey that Ligonier conducted, as we seek to gauge where our students are and what kind of foundation they have in basic Christian doctrine and theology. Some signs were encouraging, especially in comparison with the American church as a whole. Many of our students have a firm grasp of sound Biblical teaching. Others, not so much. There’s no doubt that we are in a battle in our culture over Biblical truth and ethics, and we want to make sure that we are equipped for the battle as we minister to our students, and our entire church body, based on the data we have collected so far.

Like Paul Little, it is our desire at The Church at Shelby Crossings that each follower of Christ would be grounded in the truth of Scripture, and would know what and why they believe. Likewise, we want to make sure they know who it is they believe in, namely Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. As important as doctrinal fidelity is, we miss the mark if we don’t have a living and vibrant relationship with Christ.

The last couple of weeks we have joined together in Sunday worship to affirm a simple truth in song, that we believe that Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth and the life.” That verse from John 14 is a pretty good starting place for all of us. I hope you know Him, and that you are committed to growing in maturity and depth in His word.

I’m sure glad we are in this thing together.