For 25 Years, Southern Evangelical Seminary Has Been Teaching Christians to Defend Their Beliefs in the Tough Conversations of Life; SES Hosts On-Campus and Online Open House on Saturday
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—If it wasn’t already clear during the November election and in the months since the inauguration, conservatives and liberals have some “irreconcilable differences” when it comes to their outlook on the world, especially when it comes to who God is, the inerrancy of the Bible, the definition of success and the meaning of life.
A new study from the American Culture & Faith Institute confirms these differences with a worldview survey released just last week.
For 25 years, Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES, www.ses.edu) has been educating Christians about how to best defend their beliefs during the toughest conversations of life—and especially when discussing the most important topics of the day with someone who may have a completely different worldview.
As an example, SES President and Evangelical leader Dr. Richard Land pointed to the findings of social science researcher George Barna, who several years ago, discovered that just half of Protestant ministers in the United States had a Christian worldview. Those with the highest percentage were Southern Baptists at 70 percent, and the lowest were Methodists at 20 percent.
“Those awful statistics have now filtered down to the general culture,” Land said. “When the pulpit gives forth an uncertain sound, the people suffer. A separate study by the American Culture & Faith Institute recently found that seven out of 10 Americans call themselves Christians, but just one in 10 have a truly biblical worldview and are able to answer basic questions about the Bible and about Christian beliefs. The news is even worse for millennials—the future. Among millennials, just 4 percent were able to answer basic questions about Scripture and to articulate a biblical worldview.
“Proverbs 29:18 tells us, ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish. But he that keepeth the law, happy is he,’” Land continued. “Today in America, far too often the pastors—the shepherds of God’s flock—are unable or unwilling to articulate a biblical worldview. And where there is no vision from the pulpit, the people perish.”
This begs the question: “What is a biblical or a Christian worldview?”
Land answered in a recent installment of his daily radio feature, “Bringing Every Thought Captive:”
“A Christian worldview is a view that understands the world through the filter of the truths that are revealed to us in Holy Scripture, for instance, that some things are always right and some things are always wrong, that there is a spiritual world, that we are not just material beings, and that human beings are the special creation of God. Thus, every human being is of incalculable value. We are not ‘merely specks of dust blown on the wind of fate,’ as Bertrand Russell once proclaimed that we are. Life has meaning. Life has purpose, and human beings have value. Human life is sacred.”
Land added that Harry Blamires, one of C.S. Lewis’ pupils, describes a Christian worldview this way: “A mind trained, informed, equipped to handle data of secular controversy within a framework of reference which is constructed of Christian presuppositions.”
“What are those presuppositions?” Land asked. “The supernatural—all things are related to man’s eternal soul. And everything stands or falls on an eternal perspective no matter how trivial the issue. Eternality gives it a different and a new perspective. Also, I believe in evil, that we do not live in a morally neutral world. We live in a world that is rampant with evil activity. Human beings are not neutral. The environment in which we live is not neutral, but is contaminated by evil and by sin. Modern secularism asserts that the opinionated self is the only judge of truth. Christianity imposes divine revelation. Some things are always right. Some things are always wrong. As Blamires puts it, ‘A Christian worldview has an overriding sense that the truth it clings to is supernaturally grounded, revealed, not manufactured, imposed, not chosen, authoritative, objective, and irresistible.’”
The American Culture & Faith Institute’s “Worldview Measurement Project” shows how vastly different the core beliefs of conservatives and liberals have become.
The nationwide survey measured how many people have a biblical worldview and “discovered that people who are politically conservative are more than twice as likely as those who are politically liberal to have biblical positions” on 20 statements, according to ACFI. The survey also found that political conservatives are about 60 percent more likely to hold biblical positions than are those who are politically moderate.
Fifteen of the 20 statements showed a significant dichotomy between the two groups, with a 25-percent-point chasm or more:
- Saying that God is the all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect creator of the universe who still rules it today (a 43-percentage-point difference between the two segments)
- Strongly agreeing that the main purpose of life is to know, love, and serve God (40-point gap)
- Asserting that everyone is a sinner in need of a savior, repentance and forgiveness (39 points apart)
- Believing that the Bible is the word of God, with no errors (38 points)
- Strongly disagreeing that Satan does not exist but is just a symbol of evil (36 points)
- Saying that God created human beings in what is pretty much their present form, just as the Bible says (34)
- Strongly agreeing that the Bible is totally accurate in the life principles it conveys (33)
- Believing that God is aware of everything happening and remains actively involved in peoples’ lives (33)
- Believing that the Bible is the most reliable source of absolute moral truth (32)
- Believing that the most important indicator of personal success in life is one’s commitment and obedience to God (31)
- Believing that success is best indicated by commitment and obedience to God (31)
- Firmly asserting that their religious faith is very important to them (31)
- Contending that there are moral absolutes that are unchanging (30)
- Saying it is very important to be engaged in developing a deeper relationship with God (27)
- Saying it is very important to increase their personal understanding of God’s ways, as described in the Bible (27)
According to the research, “Those statistics reveal that conservatives and liberals have substantially different perspectives on such central beliefs as the nature and influence of God; the reliability of the Bible; the definition of success in life; the existence of moral absolutes; the purpose of life; the centrality of faith; and the existence of evil.” Read more about the survey here.
These significant differences in worldview, Land concluded, prove that conservative Christians must know how to defend their beliefs rationally, intelligently and lovingly in daily life—and to know exactly what they believe and why they believe it.
In an effort to introduce even more Christians to apologetics education—or the practice of learning more about the Christian faith and how to defend beliefs—SES will host an open house on its campus from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday, March 18, at 3000 Tilley Morris Road in Matthews, N.C.Registration is open online. Prospective online students can attend the open house virtually by checking the “Live-Stream” option when registering.
SES also recently announced the 2017 National Conference on Christian Apologetics, one of the largest events of its kind, with the fitting and timely theme of “Pursuing a Faith That Thinks.” The conference, offered for 24 out of SES’s 25 years, is set for Oct. 12-14, 2017, at Calvary Church in Charlotte, N.C.
The conference will welcome the nation’s top apologists, who will give the thousands in attendance new presentations on studies, research, history and insight into apologetics and other intellectual, scientific and religious fields. In addition to Land and SES co-founder Norman Geisler, confirmed conference speakers include Richard Howe, Greg Koukl, Jay Richards, Hugh Ross, Frank Turek and J. Warner Wallace, along with many others. The event will also feature a debate between SES professor emeritus Richard Howe and co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, minister turned atheist Dan Barker, on the topic “Is There A God Who Speaks?”
SES was incorporated on Jan. 6, 1992, and began offering classes on Sept. 10, 1992. The year-long 25th anniversary celebration will culminate at the conference.
At SES’s apologetics blog, www.WhyDoYouBelieve.org, Land and other SES voices address the most pressing issues of the day. SES also explores ethical issues through its “Ethics in Emerging Technology” program; for more information, visit www.ethics.ses.edu.