A recent survey of Evangelical Christians revealed that a majority of them acknowledge that God accepts the prayers of Jews. Although this seems to be a positive development in Jewish-Christian relations, the idea that basic tenets of Christianity can be cast aside is the source of serious concern for the Christian clergy.
The results of the 2018 State of Theology survey conducted by LifeWay Research was recently released. The survey asked 3,000 American Evangelicals about their theological beliefs. Fifty-one percent of respondents agreed with the statement that “God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam,” while 42 percent disagreed.
Chris Larson, president of Ligonier Ministries, told Christian Post that the results indicate “an urgent need for bold teaching of historic Christianity.”
“The State of Theology survey highlights the urgent need for courageous ministry that faithfully teaches the historic Christian faith,” Larson said in the interview. “It’s never been popular to talk about mankind’s sinfulness or the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ… but at a time when a darkened world needs the light of the Gospel, it’s disheartening to see many within the evangelical church confused about what the Bible teaches. We hope this survey provides local churches with a little more insight into what people in our neighborhoods and in our pews actually believe.”
“Indeed, among Christians who believe many religions can lead to eternal life, 80% name at least one non-Christian faith that can do so.
The Lifeway researchers noted that the results indicated that the majority of respondents did not accept one of Christianity’s core beliefs: it is only through accepting Jesus that a person can achieve salvation.
David Nekrutman, the executive director for the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC), responded to the poll results with a question.
“Why are we blending salvation and worship?” Nekrutman asked rhetorically. “This survey asks if there is room within Christian thought that my prayers as a Jew to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be accepted by God within Christian thought. Of course, there is no question that Jews believe their prayers are accepted. Judaism also holds that anyone who prays to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, his prayers are accepted.”
Nekrutman noted that the Lifeway survey raises more questions than it answers.
“One question is ‘When a Christian comes to the Kotel (Western Wall), who does he think we are praying to?” Nekrutman asked. “Does he believe that all our prayers are automatically rejected by God?”
This recent survey seems to be more of a long-term trend among evangelicals toward accepting other religions than a temporary anomaly. A 2008 Pew Survey showed a majority of all American Christians (52 percent) think that at least some non-Christian faiths can lead to eternal life. The survey indicated that this Christian open-mindedness was primarily focused on Jews. The overwhelming majority (69 percent) of non-Jews who said that many religions can lead to salvation believed that Judaism can bring eternal life. Though evangelicals were less likely than other groups to say that non-Christian faiths can lead to eternal life, about two-thirds of evangelicals who did believe that there are multiple paths to salvation felt that Judaism can bring eternal life.
Tommy Waller, the founder of Hayovel, an organization that brings Christian volunteers to harvest grapes in Israel, was cautiously optimistic about the Lifeway survey results.
“This may be a product of progressiveness on Christianity,” Waller told Breaking Israel News. “This may be an attempt to make everybody happy, make everyone feel comfortable in the church. This results in not having a solid stance on anything, embracing some things which simply cannot coexist with faith in God and the Bible. A liberal mindset is very problematic.”
“There is a bit of positive in this,” Waller said. “I think Christianity needs to move toward accepting Judaism in Israel. As a Christian, I see a God connection in Jews returning, in the fulfillment of God’s covenant. Accepting this into my faith is not a rejection of any core faith. It is embracing what is written in the Bible; the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. In this respect, there is a significant difference between Islam and Judaism.”
“You can be too conservative, stuck in the old ways that are not relevant to changes that have taken place. I believe that Christians need to open their minds and their hearts. But for me, opening up does not mean not embracing every religion, but there is hope for every religion.
“Jesus prayed as a Jew, practiced Judaism in Israel, and loved the Temple,” Waller emphasized. “How can we, as Christians, reject that?”