Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Beliefs vs. Doctrine

What the church thinks Christians believe and what Christians actually believe are not the same. This is highlighted by a new survey by The Barna Group which found that not only are many beliefs not in line with the peron's churches teaching, but they labeled some as "contradictory" and "inconsistent."

The summary of the survey is online here: Most American Christians Do Not Believe that Satan or the Holy Spirit Exist.

The inconsistencies they cite are:
  • about half (47%) of the Christians who believed that Satan is merely a symbol of evil nevertheless agreed that a person can be under the influence of spiritual forces such as demons.

  • About half (49%) of those who agreed that the Holy Spirit is only a symbol but not a living entity also agreed that the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches, even though the Bible clearly describes the Holy Spirit as more than a symbolic reference to God’s power or presence.

  • About one-third (33%) of the self-defined Christians who agree that the Bible, Koran and Book of Mormon all teach the same truths simultaneously contend that the Bible is totally accurate in its principles, even though the three sacred books have very different ideas about truth, salvation, and the nature of God.

Examples of beliefs not in line with church teaching are that a quarter of persons who describe themselves as Christians did not believe God to be the "all-powerful, all-knowing Creator of the universe who rules the world today" but gave answers like "everyone is god" and "god refers to the realization of human potential."

Also more than a fifth of respondants (22%) strongly agreed that Jesus Christ sinned when He lived on earth, with an additional 17% agreeing somewhat.

Is the underlying problem the church's inability to teach convincingly? Or will there always be a quarter to a third of Christians who claim views that are contrary to core Christian beliefs like one's view of the perfection of Jesus or the meaning of the divinity of God the Father?

Is this a problem or is living the faith more important than doctrine? What if you lived as Jesus lived and taught without believing any core doctrine of Christianity? What if you believed all the core doctrines of Christianity and didn't live as Jesus lived and taught? While neither is optimal, which is preferable? How could we have both reasonably orthodox beliefs and reasonably orthodox lives?

The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor



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