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God May Not be in the Classroom, Yet Most Americans Think Studying Theology is for More Than Pastors

Ligonier Ministries
Sept. 3, 2020

ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 3, 2020 /Christian Newswire/ -- A recent survey reveals that only 15 percent of American adults agree with the statement, "Learning about theology is for pastors and scholars only." While the increasingly secular culture of the United States gives the impression that studying the truth of God is no longer relevant and should be confined to the ivory towers of academia, a large majority of U.S. adults actually disagree with this notion.

Ligonier Ministries' biennial State of Theology survey provides key findings on what Americans think about God, truth, the Bible, worship, and ethical issues. Conducted with LifeWay Research, this survey polled a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults. The full results for the 2020 survey are available online at TheStateofTheology.com as of September 8.

An even greater majority of U.S. evangelicals affirms that theology (the study of God and all that He has revealed) is not exclusively the task of specialists and ministers but a calling on all of our lives. Only 10 percent of professing evangelicals agree that "Learning about theology is for pastors and scholars only."

While many people deny basic tenets of the Christian faith, it may be the case that they still desire to have some understanding of who God is, even if it is their own self-constructed theology apart from biblical revelation. Particularly with the fears and concerns occasioned by COVID-19, people may now be giving more thought to ultimate matters of eternal significance.

Although a significant percentage of the U.S. population concedes that the knowledge of God has a place in the lives of everyday people, data from the State of Theology survey suggests a great need for teaching that is grounded in the historic Christian faith and based in the truth of the Bible.

Chris Larson, president and CEO of Ligonier Ministries, said:

    "Illiteracy about the Bible's teaching on the character of God has deepened the worldwide theological famine. This 2020 State of Theology survey shows that people inside the church need clear teaching just as much as those outside the church. The founder of Ligonier Ministries, Dr. R.C. Sproul, understood this well. Despite widespread efforts within our culture to remove all mention of God from the classroom, from scientific inquiry, and from civil discourse, no one can escape the Creator of all things who reveals Himself plainly in nature and in Scripture. People know that God is, but they do not know who He is. Our sociocultural problems are at root theological. Theology is not a luxury; it's for everyone because it is essential to right living and thinking."

LifeWay Research surveyed a nationally representative sample of 3,002 adults in the United States, including 630 professing evangelicals. The survey was carried out from March 10 to 18, 2020. More information can be found at TheStateofTheology.com after September 8.

Evangelicals were defined by LifeWay Research as people who strongly agreed with the following four statements:

  • The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.
  • It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.
  • Jesus Christ's death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.
  • Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God's free gift of eternal salvation.

About Ligonier Ministries
Ligonier Ministries exists to proclaim, teach, and defend the holiness of God in all its fullness to as many people as possible. To that end, Ligonier's outreach today is manifold and worldwide. Founded by Dr. R.C. Sproul in 1971, Ligonier's teaching fellowship consists of theologians, pastors, and scholars. Ligonier publishes Renewing Your Mind broadcasts, the Reformation Study Bible, Tabletalk magazine, books through Reformation Trust, and hundreds of teaching series. The ministry also offers an undergraduate degree program through Reformation Bible College. In addition, Ligonier hosts national and regional conferences, provides an online learning community through Ligonier Connect, streams 24-hour Christian Internet radio through RefNet, answers biblical and theological questions with Ask Ligonier, pursues numerous translation efforts in other countries, and makes available thousands of unique educational resources online at Ligonier.org.

SOURCE Ligonier Ministries

CONTACT: Deborah Finnamore, Publicity Manager, 407-333-4244 ext. 1158, definnamore@ligonier.org