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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A la cart religion

I read an article in USA Today whose headline stated "Survey: More have dropped dogma for spirituality in U.S.". It's an article that describes a sampling of American's beliefs about certain tenents of religion and life. Here are some numbers/percentages taken from the article.

The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 0.6 percentage points for overall findings. The margin is a bit larger for subgroups such as "evangelicals" (26.3% of adults, who share strict ideas on salvation and common historic origins), mainline Protestants (18.1%, who share "a less exclusionary view of salvation and a strong emphasis on social reform") and historically black churches (6.9%, "shaped by experiences of slavery and segregation"). Among the highlights:

• 78% overall say there are "absolute standards of right and wrong," but only 29% rely on their religion to delineate these standards. The majority (52%) turn to "practical experience and common sense," with 9% relying on philosophy and reason, and 5% on scientific information.

• 74% say "there is a heaven, where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded," but far fewer (59%) say there's a "hell, where people who have led bad lives and die without being sorry are eternally punished."

• 70%, including a majority of all major Christian and non-Christian religious groups except Mormons, say "many religions can lead to eternal life."

• 68% say "there's more than one true way to interpret the teachings of my religion."

• 44% want to preserve their religion's traditional beliefs and practices. But most Catholics (67%), Jews (65%), mainline Christians (56%) and Muslims (51%) say their religion should either "adjust to new circumstances" or "adopt modern beliefs and practices."

• 50% say "homosexuality is a way of life that should be accepted by society," but the most consistently traditional religious groups say society should discourage it — 76% of Jehovah's Witnesses, 68% of Mormons, 61% of Muslims and 64% of evangelicals.

• 51% have a certain belief in a personal God, but 27% are less certain of this, 14% call God "an impersonal force," and 5% reject any kind of God. "People say 'God,' and no one knows who they mean," says Kosmin, director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.

• 14% of all surveyed, including 28% of evangelicals, say religion is the "main influence in their political thinking."

Let's start... 78% overall say that there are absolute standards for right and wrong. On the surface, that sounds encouraging, but of that number, only 29% get that standard from their religion. Now the shoking thing is this number includes ALL religions. We are not just talking about Christians, so the number would drop even further is we take others out of the equation. Common sense and community experience accounts fot the remainder.

I think that it's interesting to note that the number of people who say that "there is a Heaven..." have the rest of that statement, "where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded" to consider. I would have liked to have seen "there is a Heaven for people who have accepted the atoning work of Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross", but that would probably be too narrow for the sampling that was taken.

Nevertheless, it's the narrow road, regardless of how society thinks, that is the way to eternal life.

Yes, it means that all roads don't lead to God.

Yes, it means that there is only one true way to interpret the teachings (there are many applications, though)

Yes, it means that there are absolute standards for what is right and for what is wrong. For the 22% that said there wasn't, are you absolutely sure of that? :)

Yes, it means that there is one rule and guide for our lives - the Bible. We should NOT adopt modern beliefs and practices as our practice.

Rev. Frank Page, past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, sums the article up nicely by saying that, "The number (of churches that) teach a clear doctrinal Christianity are a minority today. How would people know it when they never hear about how to be saved?"

Still, Page is undaunted. "Jesus predicted all this," he says, quoting from the Bible (Matthew 15:8): "People honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me."

"We still work as hard as we can to share the good news," he says, "even though we know most will reject the way."

As he song says, "Come, come let us return to the Lord..."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

We're on a mission!

Today is a very special day. We just finished our GA and RA camping trip (which was great, even though we got rained on). How in the world did I fit all of that gear into the car for the trip here? ...and why can't I fit it in on the way back?... lol

I also said goodbye to G3 this morning as he left with our youth pastor and others from our church to go to Georgia to help build another church. This is the second mission trip that he's been on, but this one is a bit different. There's a week's worth of very hard work ahead. He will be serving, working 10 hour days along side people from our church and others doing tasks that he's probably never done before, but he is embracing the opportunity.

He is looking forward to it and I am very proud of him and the attitude of service that he has. I pray that God will continue to grow and mature him after His heart.

Friday, June 13, 2008

A-camping we will go...

It's been a while since I've posted, so I wanted to update the "goings on" around the house. Tonight, I will be taking the some of the kids camping. This is pretty cool because I haven't been camping for a few years. The last time was when Matt and I went on the Father-Son campout.

This should be a fun experience. We are going on a GA and RA combined expedition. Well, it feels like an expedition with all of the sleeping bags, chairs, lanterns, compasses, etc.

I do want to mention something funny. As we were loading all of the equipment into my little car last night, the kids were handing me things to pack. I look up from the trunk to see Matt standing there with an ax. He casually said, "Well, we're going to need to chop wood." I don't think the ranger at the park would like that, besides, we're bringing out our wood. He was a bit disappointed, but understood.

Whew... that's one less thing to cram in the trunk :)

The only thing that really stinks is that we are supposed to have thunderstorms over the next few days. I hope that it holds off.

Oh, well, it should be fun :)