Dr. James Dobson, founder of the powerful and influential Christian
ministry, Focus on the Family, added a postscript to a letter sent to
members. A brand new Gallup Poll was released this week. ... According
to the latest survey, 74 percent of Americans indicated they have made
a personal commitment to Jesus Christ, compared to 66 percent in 1988
and 60 percent in 1978! Ninety-five percent of those professing a relationship
with Christ were willing to call it a born-again experience.1
Pretty impressive ... until you realize this letter was written in 1990.
After fifteen years of moral decline unprecedented in American history,
these glowing statistics indicated only one thing ... things were not
what they seemed. However, Dobson gives us an insight into how to make
sense of the amazing statistics. Even if only half of these are
what might be considered valid spiritual commitments (only God knows),
the number is still encouraging.2
Those twenty-two words contain the problem in a nutshell. While rejoicing
that perhaps 74 percent of Americans are saved, he casually acknowledges
the possibility that half of them could be deceived. This blasé
attitude would be acceptable if he was talking about how many Americans
believe in God or think theyre basically good, but hes referring
to people who believe they are going to heaven because they said a salvation
prayer. And to make matters worse, most of these people believe there
is no way they can lose their salvation no matter how they live their
lives. According to Barna Research Group, these unfortunate individuals
make up most of evangelical Christianity in America.3
No wonder the Christian Right movement is a mile wide, but only an inch
deep; why the majority of Americans think theyre Christian while
they act like heathen; why 88% of the children raised in evangelical homes
leave church at the age of 18, never to return; why the divorce rate of
evangelical church members is virtually the same as the general population.
The scandal of modern evangelism isnt a scandal like Watergate--its
much more serious. In this scandal, people dont go to prison; they
go to hell.
Are we fulfilling the Great Commission or just fooling ourselves? Billy
Graham said that perhaps only a fourth of the decisions made at his crusades,
including those who receive counseling and long-term follow-up, result
in people being born again.5
But modern evangelism theology dictates that we tell everyone who repeats
a salvation prayer they are saved. This deplorable practice has become
commonplace in most evangelical churches, giving the vast majority of
those who walk away from the altar a false sense of security.
When Christianity was legalized in fourth century Rome, the number of
proclaimed Christians grew from 10 percent to over 90 percent of the population
in fewer than 100 years6
due to admitting heathen who were willing to perform a symbolic act. The
fact that churches were watered down by worldliness was looked on as a
necessary evil in the interest of survival and expansion of the faith.
As a result, Christianity became the establishment religion during the
most decadent period of Roman history.
A similar condition exists today in America. Since the 1950s, the number
of evangelicals has increased in proportion to the use of the salvation
prayer system. We are now the establishment religion, but at what cost?
The decline of evangelical holiness has left us unable to stop the moral
freefall of our society. Most pastors have a dont ask, dont
tell policy toward sin in their congregations.
Dr. Rod Bell, president of the Fundamentalist Baptist Fellowship of America,
believes 50 percent of people that go to church are lost.7
Evangelist Luis Palau said of the 80 percent of Americans who claim to
be Christian, Few live any differently from pagans or atheists,
as though God has no claim on their lives.8
Dr. James Dobson admitted, The majority of Americans are dabbling
in religious expression that has no substance.9
Bill Bright said, ... many who call themselves Christians are not
really biblical Christians at all. Although they may be religious people
who attend church regularly, they
have never experienced the new birth and a personal relationship with
Bright blamed our backslidden state on a lack of sanctification.
As you learn about modern evangelism, youll see the obvious truth.
One hundred years ago, evangelists were ecstatic if 10 percent of the
people who came forward for altar calls were born again. Today, a 100
percent success rate is assumed. Either weve improved the way we
deliver the Gospel, or our methods are producing a staggering number of
And were exporting our methods. Ive sat through more than
a few missionary presentations in which I was expected to believe village
natives who had never before heard the Gospel all got saved after a single
sermon. How different this is from the experience of missionaries before
the twentieth century! Adoniram Judson, Americas first foreign missionary
to India, worked for seven years before gaining his first converts. David
Livingstone, missionary to Africa, worked four years before anyone was
saved. William Carey, British missionary to India, worked seven years
before he saw his first salvation. Even today, when native missionaries
labor for the lost in untouched Indian villages, one or two converts the
first year are considered very good. But send an American evangelist to
that same village with the Jesus film and everyone gets saved!